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J Adolesc. 2019 Dec 23;79:16-25. doi: 10.1016/j.adolescence.2019.12.003. [Epub ahead of print]

Narrative coherence, psychopathology, and wellbeing: Concurrent and longitudinal findings in a mid-adolescent sample.

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University of Otago, New Zealand. Electronic address:
University of Otago, New Zealand.
Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand.



Research with adults and older adolescents has found that people exhibiting higher narrative coherence in life stories also report higher psychological wellbeing; however, this link has not been investigated longitudinally. The current study investigated concurrent and longitudinal relationships in mid-adolescence between narrative coherence (causal and thematic coherence) of turning point narratives and psychopathology (depressive symptoms and rumination) and psychological wellbeing (life satisfaction). Hypothesis one was that in concurrent analyses, narrative coherence would be negatively associated with psychopathology and positively associated with wellbeing. Hypothesis two was that higher narrative coherence would predict lower psychopathology and greater wellbeing over time.


A sample of 132 adolescents (ages 14-18 years) wrote a narrative about a turning point event in their life and completed psychopathology and psychological wellbeing measures twice, approximately one year apart.


Partial correlations on concurrent data showed that only causal coherence was associated with lower psychopathology and higher wellbeing. Longitudinal regressions showed that causal coherence predicted higher wellbeing one year later.


These findings suggest that causal coherence in life stories may play a causal role in increased life satisfaction over time for adolescents. Experimental research is required to further investigate this possibility.


Adolescent mental health; Autobiographical memory; Life narratives; Narrative coherence; Narrative identity

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