Qualitative Study of Self-Narrative Identity Profiles of Elite Athletes

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Elite athletes in emerging adulthood are faced with societal and developmental complexities in addition to the pressure to perform at the highest level. In this time of identity development, researchers are interested in studying the way athletes conceptualize their identities through storytelling or self-narrative identity. Previous research has suggested that athletes whose self-narrative identity is based on one's purpose rather than performance experience more positive mental health wellbeing. Based on these findings, the current study aims to further explore self-narrative identity of elite athletes as it relates to one’s purpose or performance based self-narrative identity. The following study is an exploratory qualitative analysis of individual interviews. Interviews were conducted with elite athletes following participation in a short-term service trip to explore athlete’s view of one’s self after an activity that encourages individuals to think beyond the self. Utilizing a story-telling self-narrative lens, the researcher focuses analysis on athletes’ view of one’s self in the past, present and future as a way of bringing a deeper understanding to previously identified purpose and performance self-narrative profiles, and in hopes of offering new directions for future research.

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy in Clinical Psychology (PhD)

First Advisor

Houltberg, Benjamin J.

Document Type





Athlete, Athletes, Purpose, Self-narrative identity, Charitable experience, Transcendence


Clinical Psychology


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