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Examining the Life Script of African-Americans: A Test of the Cultural Life Script


  • Justin T. Coleman

    Corresponding author
    1. Department of Psychology, University of Nebraska-Lincoln, Lincoln, USA
    • Correspondence to: Justin T. Coleman, PhD, Department of Psychology, 238 Burnett Hall, University of Nebraska-Lincoln, Lincoln, NE 68588, USA.


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Life scripts are expectations of the timings of important events in the normative life and are considered to represent an idealized lifecourse. However, whether they always represent an idealized lifecourse has not yet been tested in groups that may experience an increased prevalence of negative emotional events, such as historically unfairly treated minorities. In the present study, 255 African-American adults completed a test of the life script. To ascertain the existence of a unique, African-American life script, half nominated events likely to happen in the prospective life of a typical infant and half nominated those events for a prototypical infant of their race. Whereas some novel events specifically relevant to African-Americans were mentioned in the current study, and a larger proportion of infrequently mentioned events were present compared with previous studies, overall, the findings support the expectations of the life script, as described by Rubin and Berntsen. Copyright © 2014 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.