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Katie Grein '13 presents her SMP

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Students can visit the College Archives (Calvert 009-ground floor) to read or view past St. Mary's Projects Mondays and Thursdays from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. (appointments recommended).

Access to a full SMP can depend on how a student completed a release form, but most SMPs can be read or viewed in the College Archives without restriction.

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Katherine Grein

Grein, Katherine. (2013, May). Literature and the self: Perspective change, reflection, and the relationship of leisure reading to identity development. * Winner of the Psychology Department SMP Award for 2013.
Mentors: Dr. Laraine Glidden & Dr. Renee Dennison


Narratives occupy an important organizational and descriptive position in human life, with theories of narrative impact and the processes involved in reading even fictional narratives suggesting a possible capacity to influence such central processes as identity development (Bruner, 1986). Yet little research to date has empirically examined narrative impact from this more lasting, developmental perspective. In the current study the researcher sought to examine the relationships between vicarious experiences in the form of leisure reading narratives and processes of identity development in a sample of emerging adults (N = 184, M age = 20 years).

Results demonstrated both quantitative and qualitative evidence for a link between leisure reading and identity development. In a factor analysis combining 3 sources of reading-related variables, 5 distinct components of the reading experience emerged:  Insight and Reflection, Investment, Character Connections, Intellectual Interest, and Early Reading Experiences. These 5 factors highly resembled the main themes of reading experience to emerge from follow-up semi-structured interviews (N = 10), and were related to identity development in different ways. Insight and Reflection, Investment, and Character Connections proved most important in these relationships, as assessed by both correlations and regressions, with measures of empathy and transportation – a construct encompassing emotional and imaginal engagement in a text – modifying these relationships. Interestingly, components of the reading experience related only to measures of identity exploration, not identity commitment.

Implications of these findings for identity exploration, reading research, narrative theories, and therapies are discussed. 


Read the paper (download the pdf)