Dan P. McAdams is the Henry Wade Rogers Professor of Psychology at Northwestern University, and he is also the chairman of the Psychology Department. He is the author of over 200 scientific articles and chapters in psychology, and 6 books. His research and writing focus on the stories that people construct about themselves in order to provide their lives with meaning and purpose. His 2006 book, The Redemptive Self, won the William James Award from the American Psychological Association for best general-interest book in psychology. Professor McAdams received a B. S. from Valparaiso University in 1976 and a Ph.D. in Personality and Developmental Psychology from Harvard University in 1979. Before coming to Northwestern, he taught at Loyola University of Chicago. Professor McAdams will describe his research on the life stories of highly caring and productive midlife adults who are committed to having a positive impact on the next generation. These highly “generative” adults tend to see their own lives as stories of redemption, wherein the protagonist is repeatedly delivered from suffering to an enhanced status or state. Stories of atonement, upward mobility, liberation, and recovery are among the most loved American narratives of redemption, and variations on these ideas often appear in the life stories of highly generative American adults. Redemptive life stories provide an invaluable psychological resource for midlife adults who work hard to make a positive difference in the world. At the same time, these same redemptive stories reprise classic themes from American history and heritage, such as the sometimes dangerous idea that I have been chosen to live out a personal “manifest destiny.”
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