Self-reflecting in developmental context: Variations in level and patterning during the first 2 university years

Nancy J. Bell, Elizabeth Wieling, Wendy Watson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Self-reflection, typically operationalized in scales of egocentrism and intro-spectiveness, is portrayed as problematic in much of the literature on adolescents. Self-reflection has been linked to dysfunctional self-consciousness, symptomatology, and risk behaviors. Yet, self-reflection also is seen as essential for adolescent development, particularly with respect to individuation and identity. In this exploratory study, the authors focused on the process of self-reflecting. From interviews with 10 students conducted over the first 2 university years, the authors longitudinally assessed and then evaluated self-reflecting patterns in relationship to a narrative analysis of developmental change. Students who showed evidence of developmental change or sustained engagement in developmental work over the study period devoted a higher percentage of their interview conversation to self-reflecting content. Differences in self-reflecting patterning over time among the students who showed developmental change further suggest linkages between self-reflecting and development. The authors discuss implications for the conceptualization of self-reflecting in relationship to development and for the reinterpretation of previous studies.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)451-465
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Genetic Psychology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Dec 2004

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This study was partially supported by an award from the College of Human Sciences, Texas Tech University. The authors gratefully acknowledge the interviewing assistance of Yvonne Caldera at Texas Tech University and are especially indebted to the student participants who willingly devoted many hours of their time to the project.


  • Adolescence
  • Developmental patterns
  • Identity
  • Self-reflecting


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