Alex Sanderson, PhD
My research interests have focused on using narrative perspectives for understanding the development of behavioural and emotional difficulties in street youth. To date, we have found that youth's life histories have provided us a better understanding of how specific life events can contribute to negative biases in the story lines used to understand the self and others.
Specifically, the findings from earlier studies suggested that these maladaptive interpretive frameworks often arise from earlier negative experiences within the familial domain (e.g., maltreatment, loss). These frameworks appear to contribute to the development of deviant behavioural patterns and guide the types of non-adaptive behaviours these street youth chose to engage in (e.g., drug use, prostitution).
Furthermore, the adolescents in our samples have often responded poorly to standard intervention methods (e.g., anger management). Thus, identification of these frameworks is believed to be of importance in: a) helping the adolescent process earlier negative events in a way that promotes a redemptive world view (McAdams, 1993), and b) helping the adolescent to modify existing understandings of the self so that they will pursue activities that reinforce the development of more prosocial story-lines.
Developmental psychopathology; child maltreatment; delinquency; narrative psychology and personality development; developmental changes in narrative knowledge.