Abstracting and extracting: Causal coherence and the development of the life story

Azriel Grysman, Judith A. Hudson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

26 Scopus citations


This study compared life story memories of emerging adults and early adolescents to other auto-biographical memories. Participants described three scenes of their respective life stories, a high point, low point, and turning point narrative, and described the connections between them in a fourth narrative. Participants also related four autobiographical narratives from corresponding time periods for comparison. Narratives were analysed for two measures of causal coherence, narrative complexity and meaning making, and for thematic coherence. Life story narratives contained more self-related lessons and insights and greater recognition of complexity than non-life-story narratives, but these differences were confined to narratives of turning points and connections between events. Thematic connections between narratives were more abstract and self-related in life story narratives. Emerging adults' narratives, when compared to those of early adolescents, showed more evidence of self-related abstract thinking and recognition of multiple dimensions. Findings indicate consistent ways in which life story memories differ from other autobiographic memories, and show evidence of development in adolescence.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)565-580
Number of pages16
Issue number6
StatePublished - Aug 20 2010

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Psychology(all)
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)


  • Adolescence
  • Autobiographic memory
  • Life story
  • Narrative

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