Identity Development Among Adults with Acquired Disabilities

Faculty Lead: Jonathan M. Adler

Student Researchers

  • Ava Lakmazaheri
  • Eamon O'Brien
  • Alison Palmer
  • Micah Reid
  • Elizabeth Tawes

Research Objectives

When adults experience major changes in their bodies, they are sometimes faced with a challenge to their identity. People may ask themselves questions such as, “Am I the same person that I was before my body changed?” This program of research seeks to understand the ways in which the acquisition of physical disabilities spurs identity development. The project is grounded in rich life story interviews and seeks to inductively understand the ways in which individual people have made sense of this experience. We are also interested in how different ways of making sense of this experience are associated with mental health outcomes.


An ethical approach to understanding identity development ought to be grounded in the lived experiences of real people. This project lays the groundwork for an inductive, person-centered approach to understanding identity development.


The Science of Stories

Jonathan Adler’s work is united by its focus on the importance of personal stories for well-being.

Learn more