Being Brave, Being Nice

Themes of Agency and Communion in Children's Narratives

Richard Ely, Gigliana Melzi, Luke Hadge, Allyssa McCabe

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

Although much is known about the presence of themes of agency and communion in adults' autobiographical stories, little is known about the presence of these themes in children's autobiographical stories. In this paper we examine the extent to which children describe themselves and others as agentic and communal beings in ordinary conversational narratives. Subjects were 96 rural, working-class children between the ages of 4 and 9 years. Personal narratives were elicited in the course of informal conversations with an adult experimenter. Narratives were analyzed for the presence of storyworld participants, and for the presence of themes of agency and communion. For both genders, themes of agency were more common than were themes of communion. Girls, however, were more likely to describe themes of communion than were boys, and were more likely to include family members in their narratives than were boys. Finally, correlations between themes of agency and communion were generally low. The findings extend the age to which the concepts of agency and communion can be productively applied to personal narratives. Implications for future theoretical and empirical work are also discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)257-284
Number of pages28
JournalJournal of Personality
Volume66
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 1998

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Personal Narratives

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychology(all)
  • Social Psychology

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Being Brave, Being Nice : Themes of Agency and Communion in Children's Narratives. / Ely, Richard; Melzi, Gigliana; Hadge, Luke; McCabe, Allyssa.

In: Journal of Personality, Vol. 66, No. 2, 04.1998, p. 257-284.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Ely, Richard ; Melzi, Gigliana ; Hadge, Luke ; McCabe, Allyssa. / Being Brave, Being Nice : Themes of Agency and Communion in Children's Narratives. In: Journal of Personality. 1998 ; Vol. 66, No. 2. pp. 257-284.
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