The life story is a special cognitive-communicative format which allows understanding persons from a biographical perspective through autobiographical reasoning and life narrating. Reviewing research on the development of the life story from the past 15 years, we clarify the conceptual and developmental specificity of the life story by comparing it to single event stories, and the specificity of autobiographical reasoning by comparing it to other forms of reasoning. To support the claim that the life story emerges only in adolescence, we review the earlier development of self and autobiographical remembering leading up to the life story. We outline the significance of autobiographical reasoning for bridging biographical ruptures, and we discuss the meaning of the cultural context for the development of the life story and its functionality. Finally, we suggest major developmental research questions that remain to be pursued.

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