Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)




Faculty of Arts

First Advisor

Michael Pratt

Advisor Role

Thesis Supervisor


The purpose of the present study was to investigate Erikson’s construct of generativity, defined as care and concern for the next generation and usually viewed as important for midlife adults, in a late adolescent sample using a developmental perspective. Generativity was studied using the seven component model developed by McAdams and de St. Aubain (1992). The current study examined the presence of four components of the generativity model at age 22: generative concern (concern for future generations), generative commitment (commitment to leave a lasting contribution to future generations), generative acts (actions or behaviours that benefit future generations), and generative narration (life story narratives that integrate the other components into an expressed identity). This study also investigated possible factors which may contribute to the development of generativity at ages 17 and 19. Questionnaire and interview data were collected from 30 participants, 22 females and 8 males, over a 5 year period when they were ages 17, 19 and 22. Questionnaires included measures of community involvement (measured generative actions at all three ages), identity development (at all three ages), generative concern (ages 19 and 22 only), generative strivings (measured commitment; age 22 only), and altruism (age 22 only). During all three interviews, participants were asked to discuss a turning point in their life story; participants also discussed a proud moment in their life story at ages 19 and 22. To measure the narrative component of the model, proud stories and turning point stories were coded for generative themes, according to the system devised by Peterson and Stewart (1996). Turning points were also coded for redemption according to the system devised by McAdams and Bowman (2001). Results indicated that identity development was positively related to generative concern. Also, community involvement, especially at age 17, was positively related to generative concern at age 22. There were not significant gender differences in the generativity measures. Surprisingly, generative concern decreased significantly from age 19 to age 22, whereas community involvement did not differ significantly across time. In narrative the generativity component, generative theme usage did not change over time, but use of redemption structures in turning point stories increased over time. Generative themes were not significantly related to generative concern, but redemption scores at all three times were positively related to generative concern. Results from this study highlight the potential importance of community involvement in the development of generativity. They also indicate that individuals have begun to integrate generative concern into their personal, life story narratives as early as age 17. Finally, results emphasise the need for researchers to adopt a lifespan perspective when studying generativity, rather than simply investigating midlife samples.

Convocation Year


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