Comprehensive autobiographies of middle-aged and older individuals are probed for self-presentations of both the authors’ subjective sense of continuity and change of self and their views about the course of development of the self. Compared with nomothetic data on these two major components of personal theories about the life-span development of self, the autobiographical data provide an especially rich source of information about the complexity and psychological centrality of self-perceptions characterizing such theories. These features are clearly evident in the fusion of self-appraisals of change and sameness reported by autobiographers as they compare their present self with retrospective selves mostly drawn from their distant past. The autobiographers’ self-presentations suggest that adults seem to be distinctly impressed by the powerful impact of chance encounters and events on their subsequent development. Furthermore, the progress they have made toward actualizing the ‘true’ self stands out as a major criterion in the autobiographers’ overall evaluation of the course of development of the self.

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