Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)




Faculty of Science

First Advisor

Michael Pratt

Advisor Role

Thesis Supervisor


Past research suggests that difficult life events can disrupt the expected flow of life, often necessitating increased cognitive effort and reflection to assimilate into the greater life story. In the present longitudinal study, 104 emerging adults (M=26 years) narrated stories about their most difficult life experience. The relationship was examined between certain characteristics of the participants’ low point narratives (depth of learning and coherent positive resolution) at age 26 with their identity development, feelings of support, and parent-child relationships from late adolescence (M=17) to emerging adulthood. Depth of learning refers to the extent to which participants extract more sophisticated forms of meaning, such as gaining insight, from their life narratives as opposed to more simplistic forms of meaning, such as lesson learning, while coherent positive resolution refers to the ability to come to a clear and positive resolution to low point narratives. Narratives of more serious content and those with themes of mortality contained greater depth of learning than other narratives. Participants who were more diffused in their identity development (i.e., lacking identity exploration and commitment) demonstrated less depth of learning in their narratives while participants who had more advanced identity statuses or who showed an increase in identity development from age 17 to 26 demonstrated greater resolution in their narratives. Coherent positive resolution was a partial mediator in the relationship between perceptions of good parenting at age 17 and self-reporting well-being at age 26. Narrative resolution was a partial mediator in the relationship between concurrent perceptions of family support and well-being at age 26. These results suggest the importance of identity development, healthy parenting and family support as unique contributors to personally meaningful and resolved low point narratives in emerging adulthood.

Convocation Year


Convocation Season


Included in

Psychology Commons