Faculty » William Dunlop

I’m interested in the ways in which individuals make sense of themselves and their lives. For many, such sense-making efforts manifest via the construction of a coherent and compelling life story, wherein the narrator draws ties between his or her past, present, and future. These stories are fascinating because they convey both the uniqueness of the individual as well as the timbre of the social and culture contexts that this individual is a part of. In my recent research I have examined life stories in relation to variables such as health behavior and psychological well-being. Specifically, I’ve explored the role that the construction of a redemptive story, wherein an individual construes a negative experience as leading to an improvement in the self, plays in the recovery from substance abuse. I’ve also considered the relation between the motivational content of life stories and well-being. In each case, I’ve found that individuals’ personal stories correspond strongly with the outcome variable(s) considered. In future, my work will continue to investigate the ways in which the stories we tell correspond with the lives we lead.

Selected Publications

Dunlop, W. L., Bannon, B. L., & McAdams, D. P. (in press). Studying the motivated agent through time: Personal goal development during the adult lifespan. Journal of Personality.

Dunlop, W. L. (2015). Lives as the organizing principle in personality psychology. European Journal of Personality, 29, 353-357.

Dunlop, W. L. (2015). Contextualized personality, beyond traits. European Journal of Personality, 29, 310-325.

Dunlop, W. L., Walker, L. J., & Wiens, T. K. (2013). What do we know when we know a person across contexts? The differing relationship between self-concept differentiation and adjustment at the three levels of personality. Journal of Personality, 81, 376-389.

Dunlop, W. L., & Tracy, J. L. (2013). Sobering stories: Narratives of self-redemption predict behavioral change and improved health among recovering alcoholics. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 104, 576-590.