Work is the refuge of people who have nothing better to do. : Oscar Wilde

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Two Kinds of Life Stories

Jesse Bering writes regular articles for Scientific American magazine. In What’s Your Story? The Psychological Science of Life History Research he introduced me to a new line of psychological research about how people connect the events in their lives to make stories. Bering writes, “To put it starkly, McAdams has found there are basically two types of people in this world.” Events in early adulthood are either “contaminative episodes” or “redemptive episodes”.

If you're interested in stories then this is a place to start.


John FitzGerald said...

Or perhaps there are two types of life. The experiences of my early adulthood were very helpful to me. A long-ago friend of mine used to say that when we leave home we're all pretty weird, but the experiences of the next few years turn us into human beings. But maybe you have to have the right trials and tribulations.

A very interesting little research note.

Bill Bell said...

Thanks for commenting, John.

C. L. Cotton said...

A very interesting read, Bill. I confess I tend to be skeptical about two dichotomies as being oversimplified. Yet in the next moment, I find myself wondering whether those persons who perceive life crises as "contaminants" tend to be extrinsically motivated while those who view life crises as "personal growth opportunities" are more intrinsically motivated. Certainly, I have met people whose behaviour during life crises exemplifies both the "contaminant" and "growth opportunity" response. Does Jessie Bering believe a person can alter his/her basic response? Mmm - like to hear from others on this topic.

Bill Bell said...

I would really like to hear what others have to say too! Thanks for writing, Carole.