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date: 17 July 2019

Abstract and Keywords

A central psychological challenge of emerging adulthood is the construction and internalization of a self-defining life story or narrative identity. In authoring one’s own life, the emerging adult develops a personal narrative that selectively reconstructs the past and imagines the future in such a way as to provide life with purpose, meaning, and a sense of temporal coherence. This article sketches the main themes and processes involved in the development of narrative identity in emerging adulthood by briefly reviewing empirical studies and describing two notable case examples. Both Barack Obama and George W. Bush sought to create self-defining life narratives during their emerging adulthood years and, despite their many differences, both drew on important social relationships and deep cultural sources to develop powerful stories of personal redemption. As illustrated in the case examples, the development of narrative identity sets the psychological stage for meeting life challenges of the 30s and midlife.

Keywords: Emerging adulthood, narrative identity, Barack Obama, George W. Bush, life authorship

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