Psikhologicheskie Issledovaniya • ISSN 2075-7999
peer-reviewed • open access journal


2017 Vol. 10 Issue 52

Zaitseva J.E. Strategies of identity processes and identity styles in autobiographical Self-Narratives

Full text in Russian: Зайцева Ю.Е. Стратегии и стили конструирования идентичности в автобиографических Я-нарративах

St. Petersburg State University, St. Petersburg, Russia

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Autobiographical Self-Narrative is studied as a basic social-cultural and cognitive instrument of identity construction. We consider identity construction strategy as a scheme of global temporal coherence of life events in the frame of a personal sense of agency and its meaning-constructive attribution to personal motives, values, life style or traits of a narrator. Empirical-based evidence of gender/age, generation membership, social-cultural context and discursive situation (prescription of narrator’s time perspective: the story about the past; stories about the past and the future; the story about the past and the present from the future perspective), effecting the choice of identity construction strategy, are given. Research sample of 62 autobiographies of three generation members:  BB (1943-1963), X (1964-1983), Y (1984 – 2003), age 13-80, from the (auto)biography’s corpus, collected by Biographical Archive of The Sociological Institute of the Russian Academy of Science was empirically studied. Sample includes three types of autobiographical narratives: (1) free style autobiographical essays (mostly collected in 1990th); (2) two thematic self-narrative «My life story» and «My life in N years» (N was defined by participant), collected in 2000th; 3) thematic self-narrative «My life story narrated in 2026», collected in 2016. In addition, we analyzed 43 biographical interviews (collected in 2016), 43 autobiographical essays «Brief story of my life» (20 min, A4 paper) and ISI-5 identity style score  of 25 people (10 m, 15 f), age 18– 25 (generation Y: 1991–99) and 18 people (4 male, 14 female) age 35–55 (generation X:1961–81). Metaphorical representation of time perspective was also measures by Likert scale, set of 16 words semantically correspondent to subjective experience of the “time in my life”; N=454, age 17 до 62: 25% - emerging adults; 54,4% - early adulthood; 18,3% - middle adulthood; 2,4% - late adulthood (83% - female; 13% - male). Objective: (1) Global temporal narrative coherence of autobiographical Self-Narrative; (2) Cognitive schemas of life-course time perspective mental representation, its metaphorical description and underlying image schemas; and (3) Self-Defining memory and Life Goals perspectives integration in autobiographic Self-Narratives are analyzed as effected by different generation membership/ age group/ identity style of narrator and discursive pattern of life story telling. Quantitative analyze methods: MANOVA, Mann–Whitney U test, Spearmen Rs correlations, H- Kruskal–Wallis test, IBM SPSS Statistics 21. Qualitative analyze methods: type of narrative coherence, scored by Allé’s modified coding system; discursive markers of autobiographical time; personal valuations in self-defining memories and future time perspective, scored independently by 4 coders. Thematic type of narrative coherence in autobiographical Self-Narrative is discovered more often in texts of generation BB than X or Y; it increases with age; and moving the narrator’ position into the future helps to coordinate life events and identity in thematic coherence. We identify discursive markers for personal (phenomenological) and social (cultural, historical) chorography in autobiographical time synthesis in Self-Narratives of different narrative coherence types. Metaphoric representation of life-course time in different age groups is discovered and discussed. Specifics of Self-Defining memory and Life Goals integration in Self-Narratives of people of different age and identity stiles are considered. Identity processes, its styles, and strategies in post-modern culture are questioned and discussed. Autobiographical Self-Narrative as an instrument of identity construction was explored as a paradigm for existential, cultural-historical, cognitive and relational psychology studies.

Кeywords:  identity, autobiography,  self-narrative, time perspective, narrative coherence, identity processes, identity style; life course development, discourse


The study was supported by the Russian Foundation for Basic Research, project 15-36-01357.


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Received 29 October 2016. Date of publication: 27 April 2017.

About author

Zaitseva Julia E. Ph.D., Associate Professor, Department of General Psychology,  Faculty of Psychology, St. Petersburg State University, Uniersitetskaya nab., 7/9, 199034 St. Petersburg, Russia.
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Suggested citation

Zaitseva J.E. Strategies of identity processes and identity styles in autobiographical Self-Narratives. Psikhologicheskie Issledovaniya, 2017, Vol. 10, No. 52, p. 3. (in Russian, abstr. in English).

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