Get access

Narrative identity and forensic psychology: A commentary on Youngs and Canter


Dr Tony Ward, Deakin University, Geelong Waterfront Campus, 1 Gheringhap Street, Geelong VIC 3217, Australia (e-mail:


Purpose. In this commentary, I will take a closer look at Youngs and Canter's (2011) paper on narrative roles in offending and examine the ideas underpinning their study and its methodology.

Methods. I briefly overview some important theoretical ideas within the area of narrative research and highlight a number of unresolved and crucial issues. I then summarize the Youngs and Canter paper, concentrating on explicating its findings and identifying the major assumptions underpinning the study. Finally, I critically examine the paper in light of narrative research and theory.

Result. There are three classes of problems evident in the paper, which map onto issues evident within the broader field of narrative theory and research. These problems are definitional vagueness, lack of clarity concerning the nature of the self and its relationship to narrative roles, and methodological problems involving reliability and validity.

Conclusion. The Youngs and Canter paper makes an important contribution to the application of narrative theory to the forensic and correctional areas although there are some areas of weakness.