Analyzing a Published Research Article

The article titled Late Adolescent Identity Development: “Narrative Meaning Making and Memory Telling” written by Kate C. McLean speaks about several relevant topics with the identity development being one of them. For instance, one learns that meaning-making is an essential element of the coherence used by adolescents in their attempt to build their life story and thus develop their identity. The human life story would start to emerge in people as they mature, establish themselves in the world through work, school and family. The memories of oneself were undoubtedly the key towards self-identity and self-understanding. These memories and the life story which constitute the frames of personal reference apparently influence the future behavior of people.

Memory telling is believed to be the primary reason for identity construction concerning personal and social functions of individuals. Entertaining and self-explanation are the two most essential elements of memory telling. The article pointed out that particular research that was used in colleges would indicate that students would use their life story to entertain others and thus transfer the knowledge of oneself to others.

One learns that important factor in self-defining lies in the audience to whom memory telling is related and reported. Parent and peer audiences for telling functions appear to be important for the following reasons. The parent audience remains important during adolescent years, while peer audience grows more and more important in adolescent years. It is explained by the fact that adolescents start to voluntarily spend more time with their peers for socialization and romantic purposes rather than with the family. Family/parents make up the audience in early years while peers and other adolescents make up the audience in subsequent years. Transferring to a university of college apparently is a crucial period when the self-telling is done for peer audience rather than for the family audience. As self-explanation is more intimate than entertainment, peers are likely to engage in self-explanation before each other rather than in entertainment.

From the article, one learns that adolescent girls share experience and engage in intimacy more eagerly and at a faster rate than boys. Boys and girls act out intimacy in different ways. Self-disclosure and shared experience were predictors of intimacy for boys. The article strived to research and explained to the reader the hypothesis that the memories told to explain an individual (self-explain) could contain more meaning than memories told to entertain others. The self-explanation memories, as another hypothesis, were found out to be shared more with peers than with family to whom one did not have to explain oneself. The family would remain significant audience to adolescents only in early years while the importance of peer audience will grow with time.

Speaking about the methods, one should remember that the article effectively depicted 185 participants with 42% of them being males. The age ranged from 16 to 27 years, while 62% of the respondents were Caucasian (white), 17% were Asian, 6% were Latino, 1% were black, while 14% were of mixed race. The rest of the participants would be categorized as other or would not report their ethnicity.

One would use a self-defining questionnaire that takes approximately 30-45 minutes to complete. The first part of the questionnaire would collect demographic information about participants and describe the features of a self-defining memory of participants where they would be told what it is as well as report on three self-defining memories in their life. Participants would describe the memory accurately using the 4W+1H approach to contribute much greater detail. Subsequently one has to identify other people with whom the memory was shared. The article provided a sample questionnaire and noted that participants would be asked in the survey if telling the memory (writing it) would help them better understand it.

The participants would then code the memory as either no meaning, lesson learning or gaining insight to illustrate how that particular memory would affect their future life.

Confounds and Ethical issue

From the article, I found out no apparent biases present in the selection of participants. They were of different ages, sex, and race.

Also, I did not see any biases present during the running of the study as the questionnaire would provide similar conditions for all participants, clear instructions and grading criteria.
The participants did not disclose their names or other sensitive information such as their address or how their questionnaire could be identified. The personal memories, together with facts and data could effectively be used by psychologists and researchers against the participants who would apparently contradict the ethical guidelines of the APA. The safeguards instituted in the study involved complete anonymity of the respondents.

I believe that the ethical issues were all resolved in the study as the participants besides not disclosing their names could quickly make up names for people involved in the memories, thus presenting anonymous yet accurate information to the researchers.


The study would involve descriptive statistics which would apparently tell us what percentage chose to present entertainment or self-explanation memories, gender, race and age differences.

Inferential statistics were used to a much smaller degree due to the specific structure of the questionnaire that primarily involved descriptive statistics. The presence of standard deviation and other means of the variance of the results made us infer that apparently, the study involved a high degree of unpredictability much of which needs to be inferred. Taking into account the percentage figures of males and females that made up the audience for males and females, one could note that females were less likely to share their memory with anyone than males. The fact that the self-explanation memories would most likely comprise the memories about relational gains implies that during adolescent years relationship building is a vital goal which takes up a greater part of person’s mind.

The statistics supported the hypothesis stated at the beginning of the article allowing the researchers to note surely that adolescents speak primarily for self-explanation and entertainment purposes and have identity development based on their life stories.

Yes, the results were applicable only to the US adolescents, so it would take another research or more to state that all adolescents share similar experiences. So far one can say just about a chosen group used for the analysis.


The authors draw some major conclusions regarding how the memories represent self-identity at different ages. For instance, one learns that memories about relationship building and romantic elements are pertinent to younger ages (younger than the average age of 19 for the study). Older students have other stories. One also learned about the entertainment memories that are used to show only parts of the personal identity in order not to disclose well before strangers.

Yes, the results provide support for the hypothesis and have provided an answer to the research questions posed as noted in the discussion section of the article. Much of the findings were also related to the prior research undertaken by numerous social scientists as referenced at the end of the article/study. The conclusions follow logically from the results while there were still some assumptions of causality such as the choice of two not necessarily exclusive memory functions.

The authors of the study suggest any theoretical implications such as that female in early aged do share less their memories than males do. I also agree with the theoretical interpretation of the decreasing role of the family as an audience because the family starts to play a lesser role. I have to note that due to the facts that the research presents I indeed agree with the theoretical interpretations. Still, I believe that the study might not be very accurate as some people would be shy about explaining or talking about truly intimate stories despite retaining confidentiality. It is just in the human nature not to disclose something very wicked about themselves or very silly which they keep it only to themselves. It is one of the flaws that the study possessed. To overcome these shortcomings, I believe that one should throw a completely blind interrogation online for the university students (or another target group for the research). In this way, people will be even more comfortable and will have more time to think about something personal to present it in their stories.

I believe that the experiment was well executed and run. There were little practical implications shown directly in the article. Still, it gave me a better understanding of the human nature and their identity development as represented by the self-explaining and entertainment stories. Now when communicating with adolescents, I would be more able to take a glance at the motivations that underlie their stories. If the stories appear to be more of an entertaining nature, I will conclude that as the study noted these people do not want to say much about their true self, i.e., they do not want to become too close or too intimate with their listener. On the other hand, a person who presents more self-explanation stories is likely to have a higher level of comfort and will be more willing to get closer. I have to add here that the conclusions as such can be truly extended to other US students not only those depicted in the study, since most US students share similar cultural aspects. Still, if I were to speak about Japanese students or French students, I would certainly have to make some adjustments and not be surprised if their identity development would be different from that of the US students.

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