Last updated: September 5, 2004

Narrative Psychology Search


[Narrative Psychology]

 Theorists & Key Figures

  Hubert J. M. Hermans

              Biography & Theory | Internet Resources | Author's Works | Secondary Literature

 Biographical and Theoretical Notes

[Hubert Hermans, 2004, Warsaw, Poland]Prof. Dr. Hubert J. M. Hermans was born in Maastricht, The Netherlands on October 9, 1937, the son of Mathias (a baker) and Jeannette M. Spronck. He completed his initial schooling at the Gymnasium and, then, entered the Catholic University of Nijmegen where he studied psychology as both an undergraduate and graduate student (M.A. in 1965 and D.Psych.). He completed his doctoral thesis, Motivatie en Prestatie [Motivation and Achievement], in 1967 while working as a staff member of the Psychological Laboratory at the university. He served as a lecturer from 1972 and, in 1980, Professor of Psychology as a member of the Faculty of the Social Sciences. He taught in the Department of Clinical and Personality Psychology at Nijmegen until 2003 when he became professor emeritus.

His early work in psychology centered on his doctoral research concern--achievement motivation--and the fear of failure. Indeed, two of the tests he developed, the PMT (Prestatie-Motivatie-Test) for adults and the PMT-k (Prestatie-Motivatie-Test voor kinderen) for children, are among the instruments of clinical assessment most widely employed in Holland. However, in 1968, he was awarded a scholarly travel fellowship which allowed him to visit important academic institutions in the United States (Stanford, Harvard, and the Oregon Research Institute). This experience fundamentally altered the focus of his work to the area of personal valuation which he has pursued since the early 1970s. With his colleagues at Nijmegen, Hermans has been working extensively on understanding the self in contemporary psychological science and has developed what he terms the "Valuation and Motivation" research program to clarify how the self functions. Through these he has worked through three important notions: valuation theory, the dialogical self, and the self-confrontation method (SCM). His first two books, The Dialogical Self: Meaning as Movement (with Harry J.G. Kampen in 1993) and Self-Narratives: The Construction of Meaning in Psychotherapy (with Els Hermans-Jansens in 1995), illustrate two major thrusts of his work: establishing a basic theoretical and scientific understanding for the self and finding the clinical utility of such an understanding. His homepage provides browsers with a good sense of the notions he has been developing. Central to his understanding of the self as dialogical have been the work and thought of two figures: (1) William James who described the self as dimensional ("I-Me" including the "social self") and (2) Mikhail Bakhtin and the notion of dialogicality and multivoicedness. Beginning in the second half of the 1990s, Hermans began more explicitly to examine the nature of culture and cultural development as they pertain to an understanding of the self's functioning. He has stressed the complexity of culture and the development of hybridized cultural forms as divergent traditions meet in a world of increasing social contact. His most recent book (2004), edited with Dr. Giancarlo Dimaggio (Terzo Centro di Psicotherapia Cognitiva, Roma, Italy) is The Dialogical Self in Psychotherapy. In this work focused upon therapeutic theory and practice, Hermans and Dimaggio illustrate the ability of dialogical self theory to serve as a broad metatheoretical framework for practitioners who embrace multiple theoretical viewpoints (cognitive, constructivist, narrative, psychodynamic, psychodramatic, etc.).

In advancing the notion of the dialogical self, Hermans has been the guiding force in three international conferences (2000 in Nijmegen, 2002 in Ghent, and 2004 in Warsaw) which have permitted scholars from around the world to share data, reflections, commentaries, and critiques of the self as multivoiced (See links below). He has also served as organizer and first president of the International Society for Dialogical Science, established at the University of Nijmegen in 2002. His wife, Els C. Jansen, a psychotherapist, has collaborated actively with Hermans on his professional and clinical interests. He has two children: Matthieu and Desiree.

Sources: Edgar, K. J. (1995). Contemporary authors. Vo. 146 (pp. 200-201 ). Detroit, MI: Gale Research; Hubert Hermans (personal communication).

Photo: Taken at 3rd International Conference on the Dialogical Self, Warsaw, Poland, August, 2004. © 2004 Vincent Hevern

 Internet Resources

Hubert J. M. Hermans [University of Nijmegen, Netherlands Homepage]

International Society for Dialogical Science (ISDS)

1st International Conference on the Dialogical Self: Recent Trends in the Study of Meaning Construction. University of Nijmegen, The Netherlands. June 23-26, 2000.

2nd International Conference on the Dialogical Self: Meaning in Movement. University of Ghent, Belgium. October 18-20, 2002.

3rd International Conference on the Dialogical Self: Meaning in Movement. Warsaw School of Social Psychology, Warsaw, Poland. August 26-29, 2004.

 Bibliographical: Author's Works

     Books & Monographs

Hermans, H. J. M., & Kempen, H. J. G. (1993). The dialogical self: Meaning as movement. San Diego, CA: Academic Press.

Hermans, H. J. M., & Dimaggio, G. (Eds.). (2004). The dialogical self in psychotherapy: An introduction. New York: Brunner-Routledge.

Hermans, H. J. M., & Hermans-Jansen, E. (1995). Self-narratives: The construction of meaning in psychotherapy. New York: Guilford.

Examines person as "motivated storyteller" (the basic metaphor for therapy); sees self as the "organized process of meaning construction" and looks at ways in which self confrontration in collaboration with the therapist can reconstruct the self-narrative and change person's problems & issues. First author works at University of Nijmegen, The Netherlands and second author works in private practice.

     Book Chapters (Selected)

Hermans, H. J. M. (1990). Who shares whose values: Identity and motivation in organizations. In U. Kleinbeck, H.-H. Quast et al. (Eds.), Work motivation (pp. 247-255). Hillsdale, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.

Hermans, H. J. M. (1995). From assessment to change: The personal meaning of clinical problems in the context of the self-narrative. In R. A. Neimeyer & M. J. Mahoney (Eds.), Constructivism in psychotherapy (pp. 247-272). Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.

Hermans, H. J. M. (1997). Self-narrative in the life course: A contextual approach. In M. G. W. Bamberg (Ed.), Narrative development: Six approaches (pp. 223-264). Mahway, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.

Hermans, H. J. M. (1999). The polyphony of the mind: A multi-voiced and dialogical self. In J. Rowan & M. Cooper (Eds.), The plural self: Multiplicity in everyday life (pp. 107-131). London, UK: Sage Publications Ltd.

Hermans, H. J. M. (2001). Affective processes in a multivoiced self. In H. A. Bosma, & E. S. Kunnen (Eds.), Identity and emotion: Development through self-organization. Studies in emotion and social interaction (pp. 120-150). New York: Cambridge University Press.

Hermans, H. J. M. (2002). The dialogical self: One person, different stories. In Y. Kashima, M. Foddy, & M. Platow (Eds.), Self and identity: Personal, social, and symbolic (pp. 71-99). Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.

Hermans, H. J. M. (2002). The person as motivated storyteller: Valuation theory and the self-confrontation method. In R. A. Neimeyer, & G. J. Neimeyer (Eds.), Advances in personal construct psychology: New directions and pespectives (pp. 3-28). Wesport, CT: Praeger Publishers.

Hermans, H. J. M. (2004). The dialogical self: Between exchange and power. In H. J. M. Hermans, & G. Dimaggio (Eds.), The dialogical self in psychotherapy: An introduction (pp. 13-28). New York: Brunner-Routledge.

Hermans, H. J. M., & Hermans-Jansen, E. (2004). The dialogical construction of coalitions in a personal position repertoire. In H. J. M. Hermans, & C. Dimaggio (Eds.), The dialogical self in psychotherapy (pp. 124-137). New York: Brunner-Routledge.

     Journal Articles (selected [principally in English; Hermans as first author])   


Hermans, H. J. (1969). The validity of different strategies of scale construction in predicting academic achievement. Educational & Psychological Measurement, 29, 877-883.

Hermans, H. J. (1970). A questionnaire measure of achievement motivation. Journal of Applied Psychology, 54, 353-373.

Hermans, H. J., ter Laak, J. J., & Maes, P. C. (1972). Achievement motivation and fear of failure in family and school. Developmental Psychology, 6, 520-528.

Ramzy-Saleh Guirguis, N., & Hermans, H. J. (1973). Correlates of psychological well-being and emotionality. Gedrag Tijdschrift voor Psychologie, 1, 64-91.


Hermans, H. J. (1987). Self as an organized system of valuations: Toward a dialogue with the person. Journal of Counseling Psychology, 34, 10-19.

Hermans, H. J. M. (1987). The dream in the process of valuation: A method of interpretation. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 53, 163-175.

Hermans, H. (1988) On the integration of nomothetic and idiographic research methods in the study of personal meaning. Journal of Personality, 56, 785-812. 

Hermans, H. J. (1989). The meaning of life as an organized process. Psychotherapy: Theory, Research, Practice, 26, 11-22.

Hermans, H. J. (1989, June). El papel del Co-Investigator en el estudio del self: Hacia un Dialogo con la persona (The role of the co-investigator in the study of the self: Toward a dialogue with the person). Boletín de Psicologia (España), No. 23, 7-15.

Hermans, H. J., Hermans-Jansen, E., & Van Gilst, W. (1987). The fugit amor experience in the process of valuation: A self-confrontation with an unreachable other. British Journal of Psychology, 78, 465-481.


Hermans, H. J. (1991). The person as co-investigator in self-research: Valuation theory. European Journal of Personality, 5, 217-234.

Hermans, H. J. (1992). Unhappy self-esteem: A meaningful exception to the rule. Journal of Psychology, 126, 555-570.

Hermans, H. J. (1992). Telling and retelling one's self-narrative: A contextual approach to life-span development. Human Development, 35, 361-375.

Hermans, H. J. (1992). The personal as an active participant in psychological research. American Behavioral Scientist, 36, 102-113.

Hermans, H. J. (1993). Moving opposites in the self: A Heraclitean approach. Journal of Analytical Psychology, 38, 437-462.

Hermans, H. J. M. (1995). The limitations of logic in defining the self. Theory & Psychology, 5, 375-382.

Hermans, H. J. M. (1996). Bridging traits, story, and self: Prospects and problems. Psychological Inquiry, 7, 330-334.

Hermans, H. J. M. (1996). Opposites in a dialogical self: Constructs as characters. Journal of Constructivist Psychology, 9, 1-26.

Hermans, H. J. M. (1996). Voicing the self: From information processing to dialogical interchange. Psychological Bulletin, 119, 31-50.

The author details the development of a narratively-attuned theory of the self as multivocal.

Hermans, H. J. M. (1997). Commonalities in Boesch and Murray: Bridging between a European and an American thinker. Culture & Psychology, 3, 395-404.

Hermans, H. J. M. (1997). Dialogue shakes narrative: From temporal storyline to spatial juxtaposition. Journal of Narrative and Life History, 7, 387-384.

Hermans, H. J. M. (1997). Dissociation as disorganized self-narrative: Tension between splitting and integration. Journal of Psychotherapy Integration, 7, 213-223.

Hermans, H. J. M. (1997). Science between cooperation and competition: Commentary on Hurme. Culture & Psychology, 3, 137-141.

Hermans, H. J. M. (1999). Dialogical thinking and self-motivation. Culture & Psychology, 5, 67-87.

Hermans, H. J. M. (1999). Self-narratives as meaning construction: The dynamics of self-investigation. Journal of Clinical Psychology, 55, 1193-1211.

Hermans, H. J., & Bonarius, H. (1991). Static laws in a dynamic psychology? European Journal of Personality, 5, 245-247.

Hermans, H. J., Fiddelaers, R., de Groot, R., & Nauta, J. F. (1990). Self-confrontation as a method for assessment and intervention in counseling. Journal of Counseling & Development, 69, 156-162.

Hermans, H. J., & Hermans-Jansen, E. (1992). The personal valuation of promiscuity: A method of investigation. Psychotherapy Patient, 8, 121-140.

Hermans, H. J. M., & Kempen, H. J. G. (1998). Moving cultures: The perilous problems of cultureal dichotomies in a globalizing society. American Psychologist, 53, 1111-1120.

Hermans, H. J. M., & Kempen, H. J. G. (1999). Categorical thinking in the target. American Psychologist, 54, 840-841. [Response to comments on Hermans & Kempen, 1998]

Hermans, H. J. M., Kempen, H. J. G., & van Loon, R. J. P. (1992). The dialogical self: Beyond individualism and rationalism. American Psychologist, 47, 23-33.

Hermans, H. J. M., & Oles, P. K. (1994). The personal meaning of values in a rapidly changing society. Journal of Social Psychology, 134, 569-579.

Hermans, H. J. M., & Oles, P. (1996). The personal meaning of values: Continuity-discontinuity of value experience. Polish Psychological Bulletin, 27, 301-317.

Hermans, H. J. M., & Oles, P. K. (1996). Value crisis: Affective organization of personal meanings. Journal of Research in Personality, 30, 457-482.

Hermans, H. J. M., & Oles, P. K. (1999). Midlife crisis in men: Affective organization of personal meanings. Human Relations, 52, 1403-1426.

Hermans, H.J.M., Rijks, T.I., & Kempen, H.J.G. (1993). Imaginal dialogues in the self: Theory and method. Journal of Personality, 61, 206-236.

Hermans, H. J., & Van Gilst, W. (1991). Self-narrative and collective myth: An analysis of the Narcissus story. Canadian Journal of Behavioural Science, 23, 423-440.


Hermans, H. J. M. (2000). The coherence of incoherent narratives. Narrative Inquiry, 10, 223-227.

Hermans, H. J. M. (2000). The position repertory of interviewer and narrator. Narrative Inquiry, 10, 191-194.

Hermans, H. J. M. (2000). Valuation, innovation, and critical personalism. Theory & Psychology, 10, 801-814.

Hermans, H. J. M. (2001). Mixing and moving cultures require a dialogical self. Human Development, 44(1), 24-28.

Hermans, H. J. M. (2001). The construction of a personal position repertoire: Method and practice. Culture & Psychology, 7, 323-365.

Hermans, H. J. M. (2001). The dialogical self: Toward a theory of personal and cultural positioning. Culture & Psychology, 7(3), 243-281.

Hermans traces the conceptual development of "the dialogical self" from the joint traditions of William James' I-Me distinction and Mikhail Bakhtin's dialogism. Here, the author proposes an elaborated understanding of the interaction of person and culture as crucial to the elaboration of the dialogical self across time. A synthetic advance upon Hermans' earlier (1996) work.

Hermans, H. J. M. (2002). The dialogical self as a society of mind. Theory of Psychology, 12, 147-160.

Hermans, H. J. M. (Ed.). (2003). Special issue on the dialogical self [Special Issue]. Journal of Constructivist Psychology, 16(2).

Hermans, H. J. M. (2003). The construction and reconstruction of a dialogical self. Journal of Constructivist Psychology, 16, 89-127.

Hermans, H. J. M. (2004). Introduction: The dialogical self in a global and digital age. Identity: An International Journal of Theory and Research, 4(4), 297-320.

    Other Works

Hermans, H. J. M. (1976), Handleiding bij de Prestatie-Motivatie-Test. Lisse: Swets & Zeitlinger. (Manual for Hermans' Achievement Motivation Test for adults).

Hermans, H. J. M. (1983), Prestatie-Motivatie-Test voor kinderen (PMT-k 83). Lisse: Swets & Zeitlinger. (Manual for Herman's Achievement Motivation test for children.)

 Bibliographical: Secondary Literature

Barresi, J. (2002). From 'the thought is the thinker' to 'the voice is the speaker': William James and the dialogical self. Theory & Psychology, 12, 237-250.

An examination of the differences in the concept of the self between William James and Hubert Hermans and his colleagues. Discusses the ways in which Bakhtin's dialogicality is employed by Hermans in formulating his notion of the dialogical self.

Barresi, J., & Juckes, T. J. (1997). Personology and the narrative interpretation of lives. Journal of Personality, 65, 693-719.

Beebe, J. (2002). An archetypal model of the self in dialogue. Theory & Psychology, 12, 267-280.

Stiles, W. B. (1997). Multiple voices in psychotherapy clients. Journal of Psychotherapy Integration, 7, 177-180.

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When citing this document, you may wish to consider this form for the reference (derived from APA Style [5th ed.])

Hevern, V. W. (2004, November). Key theorists: Hubert J. M. Hermans. Narrative psychology: Internet and resource guide. Retrieved [enter date] from the Le Moyne College Web site:

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