Self and Identity across the Life Span
Part II. Social and Emotional Development
Published Online: 20 SEP 2010
Copyright © 2010 John Wiley & Sons, Inc. All rights reserved.
The Handbook of Life-Span Development
How to Cite
McAdams, D. P. and Cox, K. S. 2010. Self and Identity across the Life Span. The Handbook of Life-Span Development. II:6.
- Published Online: 20 SEP 2010
This chapter reviews trends in research and theory on the development of the self across the human life span, as they appear in a wide range of social-science disciplines. The review is organized in terms of three main guises of the self—the self as actor, agent, and author. Features of the self-as-actor emerge first in the life span, as manifested in the young child's observations of his or her own social performances and dispositional traits. With development, features of the self-as-agent—personal goals and plans and their psychological scaffolding—layer over basic dimensions of the actor-self. In emerging adulthood, the self-as-author rises to the fore to address the modern psychosocial challenge of creating a meaningful story, or narrative identity, for one's life.