Psychology, Department of


Date of this Version



Journal of Counseling Psychology 39:3 (1992), pp. 398–405.


© 1992 American Psychological Association, Inc. Used by permission.


There is a dearth of research addressing the validity of life stories, or autobiographies. In part, this is because it is unclear how such data sources might be validated. This article recommends two differ-ent perspectives for obtaining evidence relevant to the validity of autobiographical data. A study is conducted from each of these perspectives, and multiple validity estimates are obtained in each in-vestigation. The construct validity of standard psychological constructs (e.g., assertiveness, trustwor-thiness) obtained in Study 1 from autobiographies was equal to that of standard instruments designed to assess these constructs. Evidence for the validity of life themes, extracted from autobi-ographies in Study 2, was also apparent. Because life histories, autobiographies, and case studies are relied on heavily in the practice of counseling psychology and are rapidly regaining popularity in scientific studies, these positive findings suggest the wisdom in this increasing use of life history data.

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