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1 Adulthood Overheads Carolyn R. Fallahi, Ph. D..

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1 1 Adulthood Overheads Carolyn R. Fallahi, Ph. D.

2 2 T cells and B cells What happens as we age?  Thymus becomes smaller and less able to turn the immature T cells produced by the bone marrow into fully adult cells.  Result: our protective mechanisms work less efficiently.  Adults produce fewer antibodies than do children or teenagers.

3 3 Primary or Secondary aging? Not sure if this is primary / secondary aging.  Changes in the immune system found in healthy adults make it look like primary aging.  But…growing evidence…. Functioning of the immune system is highly responsive to psychological stress and depression  College students – show lower levels of one variety of T cells (natural killer T cells) during exams.

4 4 T cells and B cells Adults recently widowed – sharp drop in immune system functioning The role of chronic stress Many stressors over a period of years makes our immune system become less and less efficient. Therefore, normal aging may just be a response to cumulative stress.

5 5 Argument Therefore, if this is the case – that the immune system functioning is directly related to cumulative stress…. We would expect:  Those with high levels of stress to have high rates of disease  Those who have higher levels of stress, should “age” faster and have higher death rates.

6 6 What does the research show? There are age differences in health and death rates.  Less than 2% of young adults / thousand die each year.  rate is 15x higher  Health varies from one social class to another  Those in the lowest social class ages reported 4x the number of chronic health conditions.

7 7 Why the differences? Health habits  Smoking  Drinking  Life stresses, e.g. chronic stresses like financial trouble and life changes such as losing a job, divorce, moving, etc.  James et. Al. (1992) working class adults – White and Black Americans – had poorer health habits, higher levels of stress.  Upper class adults – clear health advantage.

8 8 Mental Health Problems Optimal health found in young adulthood except for mental health problems Developed countries – highest rate of emotional disturbance Why?  Young adulthood greatest expectations  Greatest role conflict and role strain

9 9 Cognitive Functioning Peak early adulthood  IQ peaks at about 30 and steadily declines thereafter  Werner Schaie – Seattle longitudinal study Retested every 7 years Looked at IQ changes over the life span Overall intelligence test scores rise in early adulthood, remain constant until 60, decline IQ remains fairly stable throughout adulthood.

10 10 Cognitive Functioning Cattel and Horn’s Intelligences  Crystallized intelligence – education and experience  Fluid intelligence – “basic” abilities  Schaie: adults maintain crystallized intelligence throughout early/ middle adulthood.  Fluid abilities decline fairly steadily over adulthood, beginning between 35 and 40

11 11 Memory Maintenance of memory  Some decline during middle adulthood  Greater decline in late adulthood  Trend  STM measures – drops with age  Age differences in LTM greater  Both encoding and retrieval more impaired in older adults vs. early adults

12 12 Social Support The role of social support  Lower risk of disease  Death  Depression  Adequacy of social support matters  Judith Rodin (1990) perceived control Bandura Rotter Studies coming out of Finland Seligman – learned helplessness; learned optimism

13 13 Grant Study 35 year Grant Study  Group of Harvard men  First interviewed during their freshman year ( )  Used interview data to determine degree of pessimism  Later physical health from 30 to 60 was rated by physicians.  Pessimism was not related to health at 30, 35, 40; but at every assessment between

14 14 Grant Study Those who were pessimistic at 25 had significantly poorer health after 45

15 15 What if we improve control? Rodin and Langer  Mortality rates of nursing home residents

16 16 Love – American Style Finding a partner  Erik Erikson – intimacy vs. isolation  Intimacy – the ability to fuse your identity with someone else’s without fear that you’re going to lose something yourself  The role of attraction Murstein – at first – external characteristics Then match for atitudes and beliefs Same expectations Sexual compatibility?

17 17 Love The role of similarity The role of assortive mating South  National sample 2000 unmarried adults  Women marry up  Men marry down  What do they care about?

18 18 Love and attachment The role of attachment  Cindy Hazan and Philip Shaver  600 adults  56% - secure  25% - avoidant  19% - anxious or ambivalent  Very similar to research stats on children’s attachment percentages

19 19 Sternberg Intimacy Passion commitment

20 20 Ted Huston How marriages change  168 couples  First marriage  Each partner interviewed at length  Early months versus later months

21 21 Good vs. bad marriages Skills, resources, traits Couples with better resources Gottman (1994)  Validating  Volatile  Avoidant  Hostile/engaged  Hostile/detached

22 22 Cohabitation? Does it help? Bumpass and Sweet  Cohabitation rates  Why cohabitate? Assumption (Sternberg)  Results  DeMaris and Leslie  Homosexual partners  The role of parenthood on marriage


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