Life Stories

Life stories are described as internal stories about our life course including past, present, and future. Thus, life stories are not just written biographies, but are a part of our mental world. Based on a process termed autobiographical reasoning, we create meaning and coherence in our life stories. Meaning and coherence are supported through the construction of temporally ordered stories with causal connections between selected events and periods. For example, a childhood period may be interpreted as having caused later events and as having influenced who you are as a person: “During my childhood we moved around a lot. And even though it was difficult to settle in each time we arrived at a new place, it has certainly strengthened my abilities to develop new friendships”. By choosing some events as important – and not others – we create a sense of who we are. In other words, our life stories support our self-understanding and identity.

Within the past couple of decades life stories have become a central area of research within psychology. Research is focused on how we use our memories to construct life stories, how our personality is related to the way we think about our life stories, how culture and others – family and friends – influence the way we create and tell our life stories, and when children are able to tell life stories. In our group we focus on the following questions: 1) What are the functions of periods or chapters in life stories?; 2) How are life stories related to well-being?; and 3) What do we know about other people’s life stories? You can read more about our studies by clicking on ongoing studies”.