Journal of Adult Development

, Volume 12, Issue 4, pp 183–198 | Cite as

Portraits of Life: Patterns of Events Over the Lifespan

  • Johannes J. F. Schroots
  • Marian H. J. Assink


This explorative content-analytic study completes earlier studies on the lifespan distributions of number and affect of past and future life-events, collected by means of the Life-line Interview Method (LIM), for three age groups of men and women (young, middle and late adulthood). LIM events were classified into 40 subcategories divided over 9 categories: Relations, School, Work, Health, Growth, Home, Birth, Death and Other. Compression of the full data set by age group, gender, affect, decade, and time perspective, disclosed various patterns of events underlying the human life-course, e.g., the 'bump,' 'rosy view' and 'gender phase contrast' patterns. The compressed data set provided detailed material for the composition of three written group portraits of life, reflecting the modal life story of young, middle-aged and older men and women. Patterns and portraits show a content shift of past memories and future expectations over the lifespan, supporting a more dynamic view on the human life-course.

Key Words

autobiographical memory life-events content-analysis life story human life-course 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science + Business Media, Inc. 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  • Johannes J. F. Schroots
    • 1
    • 2
  • Marian H. J. Assink
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of PsychologyFree University AmsterdamThe Netherlands
  2. 2.Department of PsychologyFree University AmsterdamAmsterdamThe Netherlands

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