Thematic coherence is a term that can be used both in linguistics as a literary technique or in developmental psychology; in the last case, it's said to be an organization of a set of meanings in and through an event. In education, for example, the thematic coherence happens when a child during a classroom session understands what all the talking is about.
This expression was termed by Habermas and Bluck (2000) alongside with other terms such as temporal coherence, biographical coherence, and causal coherence to examining the coherence that people — during their all process of life: since they were a child until adolescence and adulthood, but especially in childhood and adolescence — have to narrate their own personal experiences (or many different episodes in their life) and that needs to be structured within a context.
In conversation — although this technique also can be found in literature — the thematic coherence is when a person (or character) "is able to derive a general theme or principle about the self based on a narrated sequence of events." Dan P. McAdams in his books gives a long example writing that:
"...a businessman may explain the origins of his politically conservative values by appealing to a series of events and realizations that transpired in his earlys 20s, after he graduated with liberal views and a humanities major but could not find a job - and then his liberal girlfriend dumped him, and then he enrolled in business school and was impressed with a politically conservative economics professor, and then he started up a small business but he really had to struggle because of oppressive tax laws and regulations, and then he married a woman who was pretty conservative herself and helped to reinforce his views, and then he became disillusioned with the [Bill] Clinton administration and the impeachment scandal and decided he would never vote for a Democrat again, and then his business grew and he became pretty successful, and now he and his wife have two young children and worry a great deal about safety in their suburban community, and on the story goes."
McAdams also cites Habermas and Bluck, for whom the thematic coherence are rare before adolescence but increase in prominence as a person moves toward emerging adulthood.
- Child development and human development
- Private speech
- Speech perception and Speech repetition
- David Bloome, Stephanie Power Carter, Beth Morton Christian, Sheila Otto, Discourse analysis & the study of classroom language & literacy events: a microethnographic perspective (Routledge, 2004), p.33. ISBN 0-8058-5320-0, ISBN 978-0-8058-5320-9
- Habermas, T., & Bluck, S. (2000). Getting a life: The development of the life story in adolescence. Psychological Bulletin, 126, 748-769.
- Robyn Fivush, Catherine A. Haden, Autobiographical memory and the construction of a narrative self: developmental and cultural perspectives (Routledge, 2003), p.192. ISBN 0-8058-3756-6, ISBN 978-0-8058-3756-8
- Dan P McAdams, The redemptive self: stories Americans live (Oxford University Press US, 2006), p.86. ISBN 0-19-517693-6, ISBN 978-0-19-517693-3
- Routledge, 2004, p.39.
- Habermas, T., & Paha, C. (2001). The development of coherence in adolescents’ life narratives. Narrative Inquiry, 11, 35-54.