Lifespan Interview

1. Summary of Life History. Write a 2- to 4-page summary of the individual’s life history. This is a summary of the notes you took. Summarize the main points, as the individual has presented them.

2. Interpretation. Write 2 to 5 pages or so. What seem to be the major themes in his or her life?

What thoughts of Freud, Erikson, or Jung are pertinent to this life history?

3. Appendix

The Appendix includes all your notes—what you wrote down while you conducted the interview. Number the questions and responses. For example,

1. Mrs. L was born in Queens, New York, in 1940. She lived most of her childhood in Queens.

2. Mrs. L said she love her parents very much, but her father, in particular, was hard on her. He demanded that she was always punctual and spanked her frequently . .

Type everything. When interviewing, don’t use a tape recorder; take notes.

——Interview with an older person: Questions——–

I am taking a college course in which we learn about people’s lives and histories. Can I ask you about your life? Your answers will be kept strictly confidential. You also can stop this interview whenever you might feel like it. May we begin?


1.Where were you born? What year?

2. Can you tell me about your parents and their occupations?

3. .Did you have siblings? How many? Were they younger or older? How did you like them?

4. Were you brought up in a religious tradition? Can you tell me about this?

5. Did you move when you were a child

6. In general, what was your childhood like?

7. How did you get along with your mother? With your father?

8. Did you have a best friend? Any enemies?

9. Did you like school as a child?

10. Can you describe an early childhood memory?

11. The teenage years have been called a time of “storm and stress.” Was this true for you?

12.When did you begin dating?

13. Did you work on a job or jobs when you were young? If so, what was that like?

14. How did you like school during your teenage years?

15. What occupation did you want to enter when you were a teenager?

16. Sometimes young people have difficulty settling on an occupational choice. Was this true for you?

17. Did you choose a person who you thought would be a lifelong partner? When did this happen? How did it work out?

18. Did you marry anyone?

19. What has marriage been like?

20. Do you have advice for young people when it comes to marriage?

21. Do you have children? What are their ages?

22. Can you describe your children a bit?

23. Has your view of children changed as a result?

24. Do you feel you have changed as a result of raising children? In what ways.

25. What advice would you have to others on the basis of having raised children?

26. As children grow up, sometimes their relationships with their parents change. Has your relationship with your children changed? How about with your own parents—did this change?

27. Have your relationships with your friends changed as you have gotten older?

28. Can you tell me about the jobs you have had? What have they been? How satisfying have they been for you?

29. There has been a lot of talk about adults going through a mid-life crisis. Adults sometimes become unsure about what they want to do with their lives. Have your, or anyone you know, experienced anything like this?

30. Are you retired? What are your plans? [If retired] How has retirement gone?

[If still working] Do you see your vocation changing in the future?

31. Have your attitudes toward religion changed as you have gotten older?

32. Do you think there are particular times in life when people begin thinking about death and their mortality? How about in your case?

33. Have you suffered the loss or losses of loved ones? How have you coped with these losses? Do you have advice about coping with losses?

34. Do you ever think back over your life? How far back to your thoughts take you?

35. What do you think about?

36. How satisfied are you with your life?

37. Do you ever think about things you wish you could do over?

38. Do you believe in an after-life? Could you tell me about your beliefs?

39. What has been the best thing about your life?


40. If you were to rank the importance of the following for you, what ranks would you give each?

___the world of art and ideas

___occupational success

___family and friends

___personal health



___sports and games


41. How would you have ranked anything differently when you were 20 years old?


42. Have you developed a philosophy of life?


43. Is there anything else you would like to tell me about? What you like to go into anything we have talked about a little more deeply?

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