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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Contextualizing Narrative Identity

  • Author(s): McCoy, Tara
  • Advisor(s): Dunlop, William L
  • et al.

Personality has been assessed in relation to situational changes primarily using a trait approach; this has offered great insight into the contextualized factors regarding these aspects of personality. Little work, however, has explored personality utilizing narrative identity in relation to contextualized changes. Therefore; the present dissertation, in three studies, explored the impact and relations between situations and personality byway of narrative identity. In Study 1 I investigated the impact of assessment context on autobiographical narratives across four experimental conditions. I found that the expression of individuals’ narrative identity is impacted by the way in which their narrative is elicited within a research setting. In Study 2 I explored the narrative differences between Adult Children of Alcoholics (ACOAs) and Adult Children of non-Alcoholics (non-ACOAs). All participants shared three narratives regarding anything from their lives and three narratives specifically including parents. Results indicated that ACOAs tended to depict less control in their narratives compared to non-ACOAs. They also tended to have less positivity when discussing narratives which included parents than non-ACOAs. In Study 3 I considered the social context of narratives by investigating the similarity between participant and informant reported narratives; this similarity was referred to as Narrative Interpersonal Congruency (NIC). I also assessed the relations between NIC and participants’ well-being variables and relationship closeness among participants and informants. I found that the NIC rating between participants and informants was relatively high, however, NIC was only trending in significance to well-being and no associations were found between NIC and relationship closeness. Each of these studies depicts the highly contextualized nature of narrative identity.

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