B.A., University of Chicago
Ph.D., University of California, Berkeley
My research examines processes of self-definition and identity construction in adolescence and adulthood, with a specific focus on how people connect memories of past events to the present self through the narration of a life story. I am primarily interested in narratives of identity challenging life experiences, including negative events and experiences pertaining to social identities that may involve struggle or uncertainty, such as bicultural identity. I identify individual differences in how adults interpret such experiences in relation to self (e.g., growth, conflict, defensive minimization) and relate those differences to personality, social/cultural contexts, and important outcomes in adult life, including well-being, maturity, and physical health. My work suggests that incorporating identity challenges into one’s story, in a way that acknowledges the difficulty and integrates a sense of positive self-growth, is optimal for personality development and well-being in adulthood.
Lilgendahl, J. P., Helson, R., & John, O. P. (2013). Does ego development increase during midlife? The effects of openness and accommodative processing of difficult events. Journal of Personality, 81, 403—416.
Lilgendahl, J. P., McLean, K. C., & Mansfield, C. D (2013). When is meaning-making unhealthy for the self? The roles of neuroticism, implicit theories and memory telling in trauma and transgression memories. Memory, 21, 79—96.M
Lilgendahl, J. P., & McAdams, D. P. (2011). Constructing stories of self-growth: How individual differences in patterns of autobiographical reasoning relate to well-being in midlife. Journal of Personality, 79, 391-428.
McLean, K. C., & Lilgendahl, J. P. (2008). Why we recall our highs and lows: Relations between memory functions, age, and well-being. Memory, 16, 751-762.
McLean, K. C., Pasupathi, M., & Pals, J. L. (2007). Selves creating stories creating selves: A process model of self-development. Personality and Social Psychology Review, 11, 262-278.
McAdams, D. P., & Pals, J. L. (2006). A New Big Five: Fundamental principles of a science of personality. American Psychologist, 61, 204-217.