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ERIC Number: EJ1049917
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2013-Jul
Pages: 10
Abstractor: As Provided
ISSN: ISSN-0012-1649
The Future Is Bright and Predictable: The Development of Prospective Life Stories across Childhood and Adolescence
Bohn, Annette; Berntsen, Dorthe
Developmental Psychology, v49 n7 p1232-1241 Jul 2013
When do children develop the ability to imagine their future lives in terms of a coherent prospective life story? We investigated whether this ability develops in parallel with the ability to construct a life story for the past and narratives about single autobiographical events in the past and future. Four groups of school children aged 9 to 15 years imagined their future lives and produced past life stories, as well as a cultural life script (i.e., culturally shared assumptions as to the order and timing of important life events). They also produced narratives about single autobiographical events to take place in the near future or recent past. Past and prospective life story coherences developed in parallel across ages, that is, older children told more coherent life stories than younger children, irrespective of temporal direction. However, children produced more coherent stories about single events in the past than in the future. Across age groups, prospective life stories were shorter, contained more life script events and were more positive than past life stories. Life script normativity increased with age and predicted the coherence of prospective, but not of past, life stories. The findings indicate that the ability to tell coherent life stories for the past and future develops in parallel and relies on similar processes. Life script abilities might be a major factor in the development of past and prospective life story coherences but not for the development of single event story coherences.
American Psychological Association. Journals Department, 750 First Street NE, Washington, DC 20002. Tel: 800-374-2721; Tel: 202-336-5510; Fax: 202-336-5502; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Research
Education Level: Grade 3; Primary Education; Elementary Education; Early Childhood Education; Grade 4; Intermediate Grades; Grade 5; Middle Schools; Grade 6; Grade 8; Junior High Schools; Secondary Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: Denmark
Grant or Contract Numbers: N/A