Self-Continuity Across Developmental Change in and of Repeated Life Narratives

  • Alexa Negele
  • Tilmann Habermas
Part of the Advancing Responsible Adolescent Development book series (ARAD)


LUCAS participated in our longitudinal study of 8-, 12-, 16-, and 20-year olds, who narrated and re-narrated 4 years later their life stories in a free-standing monologue. He initiates his second life narrative at time 2 by referring to his first life narrative at time 1 or at least to the stories he remembers having told then. He also lets us know that this time he will tell different stories about his life, providing a changed version of his life and providing continuity across developmental change. In this chapter we ask both how adolescents reflect on biographical change and continuity in repeated life narratives, and how stable life narratives are across time by comparing them in exploratory analyses of repeated life narratives of eight adolescents and young adults from a 4-year longitudinal study.


Personality Development Good Friend Life Story Temporal Distance Subjective Perspective 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



We thank the children, adolescents, and young adults for their continued participation in the study. Thanks also go to Verena Diel and Martha Havenith, Elisa Pasch, and Jennifer Schröder who supported the data collection together with and under the guidance of Cybèle de Silveira at time 1 and Alexa Negele at time 2.


  1. Bieri, P. (1986). Zeiterfahrung und Personalität. [The experience of time and personhood.] In H. Burger (Ed.), Zeit, Mensch und Natur (pp. 261–281). Berlin, GE: Arno Spitz.Google Scholar
  2. Bluck, S., & Glück, J. (2004). Making things better and learning a lesson: Experiencing wisdom across the lifespan. Journal of Personality, 72, 543–572.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Bluck, S., & Habermas, T. (2000). The life story schema. Motivation and Emotion, 24, 121–147.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Chandler, M., Lalonde, C., Sokol, B. W., & Hallett, D. (2003). Personal persistence, identity development, and suicide. Monographs of the Society for Research in Child Development, 68.Google Scholar
  5. Damon, W., & Hart, D. (1986). Stability and change in children’s self-understanding. Social Cognition, 4, 102–118.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Diel, V., Elian, C., & Weber, A. (2007). Manual for dividing life narratives into thematic segments. Unpublished manuscript, Frankfurt a.M., GE.Google Scholar
  7. Erikson, E. H. (1968). Identity: youth and crisis. Oxford, England: Norton & Co.Google Scholar
  8. Habermas, T., & Bluck, S. (2000). Getting a life: The emergence of the life story in adolescence. Psychological Bulletin, 126, 748–769.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Habermas, T., & de Silveira, C. (2008). The development of global coherence in life narratives across adolescence: Temporal, causal, and thematic aspects. Developmental Psychology, 44, 707–721. PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Habermas, T., Ehlert-Lerche, S., & de Silveira, C. (2009). The development of the temporal macrostructure of life narratives across adolescence: Beginnings, linear narrative form, and endings. Journal of Personality, 77, 527–560.Google Scholar
  11. Habermas, T., Hachenberg, H., & Stauffenberg, C. (2003). Manual for segmenting oral narratives into propositions. Unpublished manuscript: Frankfurt a.M., GE.Google Scholar
  12. Habermas, T., & Paha, C. (2001). The development of coherence in adolescent’s life narratives. Narrative Inquiry, 11, 35–54.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Haden, C. A., Haine, R. A., & Fivush, R. (1997). Developing narrative structure in parent-child reminiscing across the preschool years. Developmental Psychology, 33, 295–307.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Josselson, R. (2000). Stability and change in early memories over 22 years: Themes, variations, and cadenzas. Bulletin of the Menninger Clinic, 64, 462–481.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  15. Labov, W., & Waletzky, J. (1967). Narrative analysis: Oral versions of personal experience. In J. Helm (Ed.), Essays on the verbal and visual arts (pp. 12–44). Seattle, WA: University of Washington Press.Google Scholar
  16. Linde, C. (1993). Life stories. New York: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  17. McAdams, D. P. (1985). Power and intimacy. New York: Guilford.Google Scholar
  18. McAdams, D. P., Bauer, J. J., Sakaeda, A. R., Anyidoho, N. A., Machado, M. A., et al. (2006). Continuity and change in the life story: A longitudinal study of autobiographical memories in emerging adulthood. Journal of Personality, 74, 1371–1400.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. McLean, K. C. (2005). Late adolescent identity development: Narrative meaning making and memory telling. Developmental Psychology, 41, 683–691.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. McLean, K. C., & Pratt, M. W. (2006). Life’s little (and big) lessons: Identity statuses and meaning-making in the turning point narratives of emerging adults. Developmental Psychology, 42, 714–722.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. McLean, K. C., & Thorne, A. (2003). Late adolescents’ self-defining memories about relationships. Developmental Psychology, 39, 635–645.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Nelson, K., & Fivush, R. (2004). The emergence of autobiographical memory: A social cultural developmental theory. Psychological Review, 111, 486–511.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Pasupathi, M., & Mansour, E. (2006). Adult age differences in autobiographical reasoning in narratives. Developmental Psychology, 42, 798–808.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Pasupathi, M., Mansour, E., & Brubaker, J. R. (2007). Developing a life story: Constructing relations between self and experience in autobiographical narratives. Human Development, 50, 85–110.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Peterson, C., & McCabe, A. (1983). Developmental psycholinguistics: Three ways of looking at a child’s narratives. New York: Plenum Press.Google Scholar
  26. Rosenthal, G. (1995). Erlebte und erzählte Lebensgeschichte. [Lived and told life story.] Frankfurt a.M., GE: Campus.Google Scholar
  27. Schiff, B. (2005). Telling it in time: Interpreting consistency and change in the life stories of Holocaust survivors. International Journal of Aging and Human Development. 60, 189–212.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Selman, R. (1980). The development of social understanding. New York: Academic Press.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PsychologyGoethe University FrankfurtFrankfurtGermany

Personalised recommendations