Dunlop studies the ways in which individuals make sense of themselves and their lives. For many, such sense-making efforts manifest via the construction of a coherent and compelling life story wherein the narrator draws ties between his or her past, present, and future. Dunlop received his Ph.D. from the University of British Columbia.
On Couples and relationships
Dunlop’s more recent research has focused on the ways individuals construct narratives about their love lives, and the implications such narratives hold for functioning and happiness in this domain. He has examined how certain types of love life narratives correspond with adult romantic attachment tendencies, life satisfaction, and current relationship status (single/not single).
On Life stories
Dunlop has examined several aspects of life stories. Much of his work has focused on a particular type of story, the redemptive story (wherein a bad beginning leads to a positive ending). He has examined the tendency to construct autobiographical stories in relation to well-being, emotional functioning, and subsequent health trajectories. He has also considered the manner in which redemptive stories change throughout the course of college and at other periods in the adult lifespan.
Dunlop draws from McAdams’ (1995) notion that personality is best represented in terms of three distinct levels: Traits (e.g., extraversion, agreeableness), goals and motivations (e.g., desires for power and intimacy), and integrative life stories. His work examines variables at each of these conceptual levels, as well as relations between them.
On Goals and motivation
Personal goals capture the major concerns and tasks individuals are working toward, during particular life periods and within particular domains (e.g., academics). Dunlop has examined the ways in which personal goals change across the adult lifespan. He has also assessed the validity of perceptions formed on the basis of these goals personal goals.