The nature of narrative coherence: An empirical approach

Jonathan M. Adler, Theodore E.A. Waters, Justin Poh, Sophia Seitz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Coherence represents a foundational element of personal narratives, but the empirical nature of narrative coherence remains elusive. The present study applied an inductive empirical approach to determining the structure of narrative coherence, exploring shared and unique contributions from different established coding systems. Life stories from a diverse sample of 158 community adults were coded using three common coding systems for operationalizing narrative coherence (Baerger & McAdams, 1999; Lysaker, Clements, Plascak-Hallberg, Knipscheer, & Wright, 2002; Reese et al., 2011). Principle components analysis indicated three components, which were labeled Temporal Detail, Psychological Context, and Meaning/Interpretation. The three components do not map onto the existing coding systems in a one-to-one manner. This study suggests future directions for the quantitative study of narrative coherence.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)30-34
Number of pages5
JournalJournal of Research in Personality
StatePublished - Jun 2018


  • Coherence
  • Development
  • Identity
  • Narrative

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • General Psychology


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