How your personality affects your life story with psychologist Dan McAdams

Check out Dan on his faculty page which has his contact info, too! 

Check out Dan on his faculty page which has his contact info, too! 

How do you tell the story of your life? Turns out a big part of your personality are the snapshots of experiences you assemble and re-assemble of your past and future. Of course, that means that you can curate and shape those things, refine them based on what works for you and how others respond. When you stop and think about it, we have a lot more control over the frames we choose then we think, a lot more control of how we design our own narrative and how it works with our character. The more aware we are of the story we want to tell with our lives, the clearer our choices for the future can be. That means that the narrative habits we have, the micro-stories we tell, get hardened over the years, don’t really need to be that way. 

This week’s guest, Dan McAdams chairs the Psychology department at Northwestern University and got his own doctorate from Harvard. Dan has written over 200 scientific articles on personality and life-span development. You can think of it as someone who has devoted their career to understanding how we develop our personal myths. He’s also written the books “The Redemptive Self” and “The stories we live by” and his work has been featured in the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and USA Today among others. In fact, he recently wrote the Atlantic cover story analyzing Donald Trump’s personality, which he talks about later in this episode. In this quick episode, Dan does a great job breaking down how the layers of our personality form our identity and how they work together to create our life story.

(Music credit: Story of my life, One Direction. Image credit: Tom Hussey)