Self-Aspect Reconstruction through Guided Autobiography: Exploring Underlying Processes


  • Gary T. Reker
  • James E. Birren
  • Cheryl Svensson


This research explores possible reconstruction processes involving the self-system (actual, ideal, and social image selves) of participants taking part in Guided Autobiography (GAB). Ten young and eleven older adults met each week for 12 weeks. Data were collected at pretest, midtest, and posttest. Three indicators of structural change were measured and analyzed: self-aspect congruence, self-aspect integration, and self-aspect consistency. For all participants, results revealed a significant increase over time in self-aspect congruence (actual/ideal and actual/social image) and self-aspect integration (actual self only), while self-aspect consistency remained stable and moderate. Compared to younger adults, older adults showed significantly greater congruence in actual/ideal and actual/social image self aspects following the GAB experience. Moreover, greater self-aspect congruence was associated with positive evaluations of others and life at present. Our findings provide us with a greater understanding of the underlying mechanisms that operate when individuals, particularly older participants, report having grown personally through GAB.