Michelle H. Mamberg, Ph.D.

Assistant Professor

Department of Psychology

Bridgewater State University


508. 531.2515


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Levels of coherence in 5-year-olds’ stories: The dialogical development of self.

    Taryn Bellgard, B.A., Spalding University

    Michelle Mamberg, Ph.D., Hanover College

Key Words:  Dialogical Self, narrative coherence, identity development, story-telling, agency

Narrative theorists such as McAdams (1993) have recognized personal stories as essential tools for understanding ourselves throughout the lifespan.  A Dialogical Self perspective adds the emphasis that such stories are co-created with and for an audience: we narrate ourselves to others.  Indeed, children display this dialogical process explicitly as they develop story-telling abilities, yet little research has examined self-narration at an early age.  The current study explored 5-year-old children’s emerging narrations of a coherent “self.”  Participants (N = 7), responding to five discussion prompts, created storybooks about their lives with an adult interviewer.  The dialogues between child and interviewer during storybook creation were transcribed and examined for story components (i.e., agent, action, setting, purpose, and description).   Responses to each interviewer prompt were deemed to be a “story” if they contained at least an agent and an action.  Each story was then further coded as incoherent, partially coherent, or fully coherent. The majority of stories (65%) were either partially or fully coherent, affirming that children at this young age are effective narrators.  Further, dialogical analyses show that even these youngest of storytellers portray themselves as active, unique agents, effectively deepening our understanding of self-narrativizing processes in young children.


The integration of traditional and western ideals of womanhood in Nepal:  
A dialogical analysis.

Pragati Shah and Michelle H. Mamberg, Ph.D.

Hanover College,
Department of Psychology,
Hanover, IN, 47243

Key words: dialogical self, cultural psychology, feminism, identity, popular culture

From a dialogical perspective, discourse about cultural products display shifting views of the self.  Currently, Nepalese women live in a context where traditional values often conflict with Western values regarding gender-appropriate behavior.  A study was conducted in which women from Kathmandu (N = 22), were asked about their favorite Bollywood soap opera characters.  Their self-narratives were obtained through open-ended, in-depth interviews about this widely-viewed cultural phenomenon.  It was expected that interviewees would draw upon values from both cultures (whether portrayed by heroines or villains) to constitute their own selves.  A dialogical analysis explored how speakers constitute the ideal female, given the multiplicity of cultural voices they attempt integrate.  Conflicting senses of self experienced by women, engendered by globalization and its concomitant re-orientation of values, present a challenge to constituting an integrated identity during societal transition.  Soap opera characters provide tools for constituting a meaningful self in the face of shifting social identities.  Participants display an emerging dialogical self which straddles both traditional cultural views of women’s roles and a modern, individualized self.  Traditional values are called into question, but also maintained in a globalizing, westernizing, urban Nepal.