Atkinson Life Story Interview Questions

Inner Life and Spiritual Awareness

  • How would you describe yourself as a child?

  • Did you have any deep thoughts, visions, or inner dreams, as a child or teenager?

  • Did you ever have any doubts about achieving your goal in life?

  • What was it like to turn 30?

    • to turn 40?

    • to turn 60?

  • What are the stresses of being an adult?

  • What transitions or turning points did you experience as a teenager? as an adult?

  • What changes have you undergone since 40?

    • since 50?

    • beyond 50?

  • What role does spirituality play in your life now?

  • Have you ever had a “spiritual experience”?

  • What is most important to you about your spiritual life?

  • How do your spiritual values and beliefs affect how you live your life?

  • Have you ever felt the presence of a spiritual guide within you?

    • How has this guide helped you?

  • Has imagination or fantasy been a part of your life?

  • Do you feel you have inner strength?

    • Where does that come from?

  • How would you renew your strength, if you felt really drained?

  • What values would you not want to compromise?

  • Do you feel you are in control of your life?

  • What single experience has given you the greatest joy?

  • Do you feel at peace with yourself?

    • How did you achieve this?

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    SAGE 2455 Teller Road Thousand Oaks, CA 91320 PART ONE: CONTEXTS AND USES OF LIFE STORIES Stories in Context The Life Story in Disciplinary Context What a Life Story Is The Classic Functions of Stories The Research Uses of Life Stories Generating Data from a Life Story The Art and Science of Life Story Interviewing PART TWO: PLANNING THE INTERVIEW The Potential Benefits of Sharing a Life Story Basic Interview Guidelines The Morals of the Story PART THREE: DOING THE INTERVIEW Getting the Information You Want Questions To Ask PART FOUR: INTERPRETING THE INTERVIEW Transcription Interpretation PART FIVE: CONCLUSION

    First-person narratives are a fundamental tool of the qualitative researcher. One of the latest volumes in the Qualitative Research Methods series, The Life Story Interview provides specific suggestions and guidelines for preparing and executing a life story interview. Author Robert Atkinson, Director of the Center for the Study of Lives at the University of Southern Maine, places the life story interview into a wider research context before moving on to planning and conducting the interview. Atkinson carefully covers the classic functions of stories, the research uses of life stories, generating data from a life story, and the art and science of life story interviewing. He also thoroughly examines the potential benefits of sharing a life story, getting the information desired and questions to ask, and transcribing and interpreting the interview. To provide further support for the reader, the book concludes with a sample life story interview.


  • What was retiring from work like for you?

  • Is there anything you miss about your work, or were you glad to have it over?

  • How do you feel about your life now that you are retired?

  • What do you do with your time now?

  • What is the best part about being retired?

    • the worst part?

  • Do you have grandchildren?

    • Do you like spending time with them?

    • What do you hope to pass on to your grandchildren?

  • Telling Stories to Improve Interview Success | Dino Martinez | TEDxUAB

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