Characterizing lifespan development of three aspects of coherence in life narratives. A cohort-sequential study

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    • Publication Information:
      American Psychological Association
      Richmond, Va. [u.a.]
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      LeibnizOpen (The Leibniz Association)
    • Abstract:
      The ability to narrate stories and a synchronic self-concept develop in the pre- and primary school years. Life story theory proposes that both developments extend to an even later developmental stage, that is, to adolescents' acquisition of a coherent life story. Cross-sectional evidence supports the emergence of a life story in adolescence, but is mixed in terms of later life span development. The present study examines longitudinally the development of global coherence in life narratives across almost the entire life span. Starting in 2003, a total of 172 participants narrated their lives over the course of 8 years (aged 16, 20, 24, 28, 44, and 69 when last tested) resulting in up to 4 life narratives per person. Three aspects of global life narrative coherence-temporal, causal-motivational, and thematic coherence-were measured with global ratings and predicted by their respective textual indicators. Children lacked most aspects of global coherence. Almost all indicators of temporal and causal-motivational coherence increased substantially across adolescence up to early adulthood, as did thematic coherence, which continued to develop throughout middle adulthood. (DIPF/Orig.)
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