Dan P. McAdams

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Dan P. McAdams
Born (1954-02-07) February 7, 1954 (age 68)
Scientific career
FieldsNarrative psychology and Thematic coherence
InstitutionsNorthwestern University (professor)

Dan P. McAdams (born February 7, 1954) is personality psychologist and the Henry Wade Rogers Professor in the Department of Psychology at Northwestern University.[2][3]

He was raised in Gary, Indiana, where he attended nearby Valparaiso University. In 1979 he was awarded a Ph.D. from the Harvard Department of Social Relations.[4]

McAdams is the author of The Person: An Introduction to the Science of Personality Psychology,[5] a classroom textbook.[1] He co-edited, with Amia Lieblich and Ruthellen Josselson, the eleven-book series "The Narrative Study of Lives".[6] He is a member of The Human Capital and Economic Opportunity Working Group at the Becker Friedman Institute for Research in Economics.[7]

Three Levels of Personality[edit]

His three level model of personality [8] was used in Jonathan Haidt's The Happiness Hypothesis[9] The three levels are :

  1. Dispositional traits, a person's general tendencies. For example, the Big Five personality traits lists: Openness, Conscientiousness, Extraversion, Agreeableness, Neuroticism.
  2. Characteristic adaptations, a person's desires, beliefs, concerns, and coping mechanisms.
  3. Life stories, the stories that give a life a sense of unity, meaning, and purpose. This is known as Narrative identity.



Selected publications:[2]

  • McAdams, D. P. (2015). "The art and science of personality development" New York: The Guilford Press
  • McAdams, D. P. (2011). "George W. Bush and the redemptive dream: A psychological portrait." New York: Oxford University Press.
  • McAdams, D. P., & Olson, B. (2010). "Personality development: Continuity and change over the life course." In S. Fiske, D. Schacter, and R. Sternberg (Eds.), Annual Review of Psychology (Vol. 61, pp. 517–542). Palo Alto, CA: Annual Reviews, Inc.
  • Bauer, J. J., & McAdams, D. P. (2010). "Eudaimonic growth: Narrative growth goals predict increases in ego development and subjective well-being 3 years later." Developmental Psychology, 46, 761–772.
  • McAdams, D. P. (2009). "The person: An introduction to the science of personality psychology" (5th Ed.). New York: Wiley.
  • McAdams, Dan P. (2008). Foreword to Explorations in Personality, by Henry A. Murray. New York: Oxford University Press.
  • McAdams, D. P., Albaugh, M., Farber, E., Daniels, J., Logan, R. L., & Olson, B. (2008). "Family metaphors and moral intuitions: How conservatives and liberals narrate their lives." Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 95, 978–990.
  • McAdams, D. P., & Pals, J. L. (2006). "A new Big Five: Fundamental principles for an integrative science of personality." American Psychologist, 61, 204–217.
  • McAdams, D. P. (2006). "The redemptive self: Stories Americans live by." New York: Oxford University Press.
  • McAdams, D. P., Josselson, R. & Lieblich, A. (2001). "Turns in the road : narrative studies of lives in transition" Washington, DC : American Psychological Association.
  • McAdams, Dan P (2020). The Strange Case of Donald J. Trump: A Psychological Reckoning. Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0197507476. Retrieved 29 October 2020.

Articles and essays[edit]

  • McAdams, D. P., & Guo, J. (2015). Narrating the generative life. Psychological Science, 26, 475–483.
  • Manczak, E., Zapata-Gietl, C., & McAdams, D. P. (2014). Regulatory focus in the life story: Prevention and promotion as expressed in three layers of personality. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 106, 169–181.
  • McAdams, D. P. (2013). The psychological self as actor, agent, and author. Perspectives on Psychological Science, 8, 272–295.
  • McAdams, D.P. (1995). What do we know when we know a person? Journal of Personality. 63:3, 365 - 396. Duke University Press.


  1. ^ a b "Narrative psychology: Internet and resource guide". Le Moyne College. Retrieved January 22, 2013.
  2. ^ a b "Faculty Profiles". Department of Psychology, Northwestern University. Retrieved January 22, 2013.
  3. ^ "About Dan McAdams :: The Redemptive Self: Stories Americans Live By :: Northwestern University". redemptiveself.northwestern.edu. Retrieved 2022-06-06.
  4. ^ "faculty profiles". UNDERGRAD PSYCH ASSOC. Archived from the original on January 2, 2013. Retrieved January 26, 2013.
  5. ^ "Dan P. McAdams Author Page". Amazon.com. Retrieved January 22, 2013.
  6. ^ "Foley Center". Foley Center, Northwestern University. Retrieved January 22, 2013.
  7. ^ "The Human Capital and Economic Opportunity Working Group". Becker Friedman Institute. Retrieved January 22, 2013.
  8. ^ "What Do We Know When We Know a Person?" (PDF). Journal of Personality, 1995. Retrieved January 22, 2013.
  9. ^ The Happiness Hypothesis: Finding Modern Truth in Ancient Wisdom. p. 142.