In this chapter, we describe a program of research on the relation between moral identity and generativity development in late adolescence and emerging adulthood. Both constructs share a central concern, with the well-being of others as a core focus, leading us to expect that they will show considerable overlap in development. In examining moral identity, we draw on the framework of McAdams (2006a) specifically regarding the development of narrative identity.
We concentrate here on two complementary questions – first, how do the patterns in personal moral narratives relate to standard measures of moral values, moral behavior, and moral identity in emerging adulthood; and second, how do narratives of moral commitment assessed in late adolescence predict to generativity of personality? We begin by describing the construct of generativity in the personality literature, and then discuss the idea of moral identity and its development, focusing on a narrative approach. Following this, we examine the rationale for studying the interrelations between these two constructs of moral identity and generativity, summarize the results of two recent studies from our research, and finally consider the potential for a narrative approach to moral identity development.
GENERATIVITY OF PERSONALITY
Generativity was originally conceived by Erik Erikson (1963) as the hallmark of the period of midlife in the human life cycle, the seventh of eight life stages in his model of ego development (generativity versus stagnation). Erikson saw parenthood as the prototype of generativity, the commitment to caring for future generations as a legacy of the self into the future.