Date of Completion

Spring 5-9-2010

Thesis Advisor(s)

Julie Wargo Aikins

Honors Major



Child Psychology | Psychology | Social and Behavioral Sciences


This study examined the meaning making processes of self-defining memories in adolescents, as well as how they co-construct the narratives of these events with their parents. The sample consisted of 53 students, aged 12-14, who came in for recorded laboratory sessions to discuss self-defining memories with their parents. These sessions were later coded on levels of meaning making and co-construction. These codes were, then, analyzed with the adolescents’ questionnaire scores regarding friendship quality, internalizing, and externalizing behaviors. The data revealed that adolescents and parents were both rated higher for more complex levels of meaning making and that those rated higher for more complex meaning making abilities had better friendship qualities. The implications of these findings were discussed in terms of their importance for parents supporting their children’s emotional expressivity, narrative abilities, and meaning making strategies.