Growth is not just for the young: Growth narratives, eudaimonic resilience, and the aging self

Jack J. Bauer, Sun W. Park

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

40 Citations (Scopus)


Abstract In this chapter we present the case that growth is a central concern in older adults' self-identity, facilitating dispositional well-being and resilience in older adulthood. Contrary to the view that “growth is for the young and loss is for the old,” research on personal goals and memories demonstrates that older adults are at least as concerned with gain and growth as they are with loss. As for personal memories, we turn to quantitative research on narrative self-identity. Growth-oriented narratives are common in older adulthood. They predict well-being, differentiate hedonic from eudaimonic well-being, and differentiate two forms of eudaimonic well-being. Finally, we present a framework for studying resilience: hedonic resilience involves affect regulation in the wake of loss or potential trauma, whereas eudaimonic resilience includes affect regulation but additionally considers meaning regulation. Introduction Psychological resilience in old age, like in any period of adulthood, is intimately tied to self-identity. Some forms of self-identity are more likely than others to facilitate resilience across the lifespan (Greve and Staudinger,2006). For example, growth-oriented identities are more likely than others to precede increases in meaning-making and adaptation (e.g., Adler, 2009; Bauer and McAdams, in press; King and Smith, 2004; Pals, 2006b). In this chapter we argue that a growth orientation in one's self-identity serves as a central feature of the aging self and in doing so facilitates resilience. We make three claims about resilience and the aging self. First, growth is a normative, often central concern in older adults' personal goals.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationNew Frontiers in Resilient Aging
Subtitle of host publicationLife-Strengths and Well-Being in Late Life
PublisherCambridge University Press
Number of pages30
ISBN (Electronic)9780511763151
ISBN (Print)9780521509855
Publication statusPublished - 2010 Jan 1

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Psychology


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