This chapter begins with an account of the life of Bob Love, a professional basketball star from the early 1970s who struggled for years with a debilitating speech impediment only to emerge, in his midlife years, as a corporate spokesman. Love's case provides a moving account of personal redemption and, more importantly, introduces the general idea that people tend to construct stories about their lives in order to provide their lives with unity, purpose, and meaning. Drawing from twenty years of research and theory in personality and developmental psychology, cognitive science, and the narrative study of lives, the chapter traces the development of life stories from the emergence of a sense of self in the second year of life to the revision of life narratives in midlife. The importance of the social audience for a life story is illustrated through the case of former American President Ronald Reagan.
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