What's the plot? Applying narrative theory to research in psychology

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Narrative theory is of increasing interest to psychologists. This paper provides some theoretical background from a range of disciplines. The idea of narrative as a mode of thought and as a root metaphor in psychology is introduced, and the notion of narrative identity is outlined. The application of narrative theory to research in psychology is illustrated by reference to three research projects. One project sought autobiographical narratives from women on the theme of infertility and assessed them according to aspects of narrative theory, the second drew on the canonioal romantic narrative to explain common findings in relation to adolescents' use of condoms, and the third identified both autobiographical and canonical narratives in interviews with teenage mothers. It is suggested that narrative theory is invaluable to psychologists who want both to retain the complexity of the individual lives they study and to investigate multiple interactions among individuals and cultures.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)30-38
Number of pages9
JournalAustralian Psychologist
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2002
Externally publishedYes

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