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dc.contributor.advisorReese, Elaine
dc.contributor.advisorSalmon, Karen
dc.contributor.authorMitchell, Claire Elizabeth
dc.identifier.citationMitchell, C. E. (2021). Narrative identity and wellbeing in mid-adolescence: The neglected middle child in narrative identity research (Thesis, Doctor of Philosophy). University of Otago. Retrieved from
dc.description.abstractThe way in which we talk about events from our past has implications for our psychological wellbeing. Narratives about past events that are high in narrative coherence may reflect a stronger narrative identity, which could be one pathway through which we can experience better psychological wellbeing. These links have been studied in adults and adolescents, but less attention has been paid empirically to those in the mid-adolescent age group. Additionally, recent research has shown that narrative coherence may be modifiable over long periods of time, but it is unknown whether or not this growth is also linked to psychological wellbeing. The work in this thesis addresses these gaps in the literature by investigating how narrative coherence presents in mid-adolescence and also what its relationship is with psychological wellbeing in this age group, both concurrently and longitudinally. It also extends on a previous longitudinal study investigating an intervention to improve narrative coherence. In the first study, we assessed the relationship between narrative coherence (causal and thematic coherence) and psychological outcomes (depressive symptoms, rumination and life satisfaction) in a sample of middle adolescents (Mage= 16.1 years). Causal coherence was associated with lower depressive symptoms and rumination, and higher life satisfaction concurrently. Causal coherence also predicted higher life satisfaction one year later. This is the first research to suggest that causal coherence may play a causal role in increasing life satisfaction in adolescents. In the second study, using the same sample as in the first study, we compared “repeaters” (those who chose to write about the same event one year later) to “non-repeaters” (those who chose a different event to write about) in terms of their narrative coherence and psychological wellbeing. There was no difference between the groups with their narrative coherence, but repeaters reported higher psychological wellbeing than non-repeaters. These findings suggest that selecting the same event to narrate over time may be beneficial. The final study was an extension of an experimental longitudinal project. The effects of a maternal elaborative reminiscing intervention, delivered to mothers when children were approximately 19 months old, were assessed when the children were 15 years of age. The outcomes of interest were narrative coherence and psychological wellbeing. Those whose mothers were in the intervention group displayed higher levels of causal coherence and reported fewer emotional symptoms than those whose mothers were in the control group. Further analyses showed that the relationship between the intervention and lower emotional symptoms was not mediated by causal coherence. This study shows that the benefits from an elaborative reminiscing intervention early in childhood continue to have benefits well into adolescence, with respect to both narrative coherence and psychological wellbeing. Overall, we found evidence for narrative coherence playing an important role in the psychological wellbeing of mid-adolescents. It may contribute to higher psychological wellbeing over time, and appears to be modifiable via an intervention in early childhood.
dc.publisherUniversity of Otago
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dc.subjectnarrative coherence
dc.subjectnarrative identity
dc.titleNarrative identity and wellbeing in mid-adolescence: The neglected middle child in narrative identity research
dc.language.rfc3066en of Philosophy of Otago
otago.openaccessAbstract Only
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