I am interested in promoting human flourishing through understanding how people make meaning of their lives. My research uses a mixed methods “narrative identity” framework (McAdams & McLean, 2013). The narrative identity approach focuses on investigating how adults use life stories to make sense of their experiences and explain how they have come to be the people that they are.
Much of my research has centered around understanding self-transcendence (feeling connected to something bigger than oneself—like all of humanity, nature, or the divine) and acceptance (feeling a sense of integration of good and bad experiences in one’s own life story). My research has shown that people who narrate their life stories in ways that demonstrate they feel more self-transcendent and accepting tend to also have higher psychological well-being and less depression (Reischer et al., 2021).
I emphasize including underrepresented populations in my research. Ongoing research focuses on Black adults in late-midlife, young Mexican-American couples, and older adults. I am particularly interested in life storytelling in older adulthood and at end of life, both in terms of how people reflect on their own lives and how people think about passing on their many life lessons and dearly held values to their communities.
Finally, I am interested in leveraging the person-centered life story approach to inform questions and practices related to research ethics (especially promoting open, equitable science practices) and bioethics (especially around patient-provider interactions). For example, recent work on the former has focused on drawing on a qualitative methodology lens to interrogate the reproducibility crisis (Reischer & Cowan, 2020) and work on the latter has focused on the role of psychology in palliative care.
Though I am not currently taking graduate students as mentees, I love working with both graduate and undergraduate students as research assistants.