Dan P. McAdams

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Dan P. McAdams
Born (1954-02-07) February 7, 1954 (age 67)
Scientific career
FieldsNarrative psychology and Thematic coherence
InstitutionsNorthwestern University (professor)

Dan P. McAdams (born February 7, 1954) is a professor in the Department of Psychology at Northwestern University.[2]

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.[3]

McAdams is the author of The Person: An Introduction to the Science of Personality Psychology,[4] a classroom textbook.[1] He co-edited, with Amia Lieblich and Ruthellen Josselson, the eleven-book series "The Narrative Study of Lives".[5] He is a member of The Human Capital and Economic Opportunity Working Group at the Becker Friedman Institute for Research in Economics.[6]

Three Levels of Personality[edit]

His three level model of personality [7] has been widely cited[8] and 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, 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 9780197507476. 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. ^ "faculty profiles". UNDERGRAD PSYCH ASSOC. Archived from the original on January 2, 2013. Retrieved January 26, 2013.
  4. ^ "Dan P. McAdams Author Page". Amazon.com. Retrieved January 22, 2013.
  5. ^ "Foley Center". Foley Center, Northwestern University. Retrieved January 22, 2013.
  6. ^ "The Human Capital and Economic Opportunity Working Group". Becker Friedman Institute. Retrieved January 22, 2013.
  7. ^ "What Do We Know When We Know a Person?" (PDF). Journal of Personality, 1995. Retrieved January 22, 2013.
  8. ^ "Google Scholar Citations". Retrieved January 22, 2013.
  9. ^ The Happiness Hypothesis: Finding Modern Truth in Ancient Wisdom. p. 142.