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Jack Bauer, Professor, University of Dayton

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The Transformative Self Lab studies:

Humane self development

Narrative identity and the life story

Value, meaning-making, and flourishing

Cultural narratives of a good life

Happiness, love, wisdom

Growth motivation


The quiet ego


Life changes. Life is complex.

I'm fascinated by how we use our life stories

to make sense of life and to grow.

As our lives unfold,

each of us is continually

reconstructing and co-constructing

our narrative identities 

as we go about our activities,

interacting with each other

within the affordances and restrictions

of our social ecologies.

Individuals' life stories may be unique, but they are not random.

Thus we can study life stories both scientifically and humanistically

to better understand and cultivate this long, strange trip of life.


My overarching hypothesis is that

how we interpret and plan our lives

predicts how our lives turn out

(although not necessarily intentionally).

My research team and I have developed several measures

to test how growth-oriented narratives and motives

predict qualities of a good life,

such as happiness, meaningfulness,

helping others, and wisdom.

I study these topics within a broader context

of exploring life's big questions (like "how shall we live?")

by integrating various subfields of psychology 

(developmental, personality, social, cognitive, clinical)

as well as philosophy (Eastern and Western),

cultural studies, history, and literature.


J&G Grand Canyon 2005
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J&G Cedar Point 2007
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J&G Paris 2009
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J&G Edinburgh 2014
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J&G Port Townsend 2016
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J&G Folly Beach 2019
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