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PS 277 – Lecture 10/11 – Chapter 10  Personality Development in Adulthood and the Life Story.

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Presentation on theme: "PS 277 – Lecture 10/11 – Chapter 10  Personality Development in Adulthood and the Life Story."— Presentation transcript:

1 PS 277 – Lecture 10/11 – Chapter 10  Personality Development in Adulthood and the Life Story

2 Outline  McAdams’ theory of personality  Traits and adult development  Personal concerns and adulthood – Erikson’s stages and generativity  The life story and identity – methods and findings

3 Dan McAdams

4 I. McAdams’ Three-Part Model of Personality  Traits and dispositions – Big Five, common, “outside observer” knowledge (e.g., extroversion)  Characteristic adaptations - Goals, motives, personal projects – somewhat inside/still not unique (e.g., trying to be a good mother)  The life story – unique, personal, the “insider’s” view  Think about it: Which elements of personality are more determined by nature or nurture?

5 McAdams Model of Personality (McAdams & Pals, 2006)

6 II. Dispositional Traits and Adult Development (the Big Five)  Costa & McCrae’s work on the Big Five:  Neuroticism = average stability.50  Extroversion = stability.54  Openness = stability.51  Agreeableness = stability.54  Conscientiousness = stability.51

7 Stability of Traits across the Lifespan (Roberts & del Vecchio, 2000)

8 Sources of Trait Stability vs. Change  Sources of stability in midlife and later:  Heritability of traits is moderate in twin studies  Environmental stability in midlife: job, family, etc.  Identity stability in adulthood

9 III. Personal Concerns and Aging  Focus on goals, plans, projects, etc.  Erikson’s model of adult life stages and changes in broad personal concerns  Generativity and its relations to identity, intimacy and ego integrity

10 Erikson’s Stages in Adulthood – vs. Freud

11 Key Epigenetic Principles in Erikson  “Each (component) comes to its ascendance, meets its crisis, and finds its lasting resolution toward the end of the stages mentioned” (Erikson, Identity: Youth and Crisis, p. 95)  Ascendance = person becomes “ready” for these crises (biological/developmental)  Crisis = environment feels ready to convey its particular way of contributing to his character, efficiency and strength of vitality  Lasting resolution = each stage demands some balance of component, influences from previous stage, forward onto future stage

12 Generativity as a Project and Its Developmental Context in Midlife  Caring for next generation as a legacy of self  Teaching, mentoring, supporting and helping others  Requires ability to invest in the needs of others (intimacy)  Recognize the limitations of self and need to deal with mortality  Parenting and caring for youth as a way of doing this – can be important across the life course

13 Darwin’s Generativity at 50  Wallace’s paper on natural selection, sent to Darwin in 1856  Difficult issue for Darwin, but he ultimately supported its publication  Friends convinced him to publish it with his own work at same time

14 Generative Themes in the Life Story – Teaching as an Example  70-year-old woman’s story to teach honesty: “I was a mediocre student and I used to hate geometry. One time we were given this homework assignment to do and I couldn’t, and so I took one of the books from a girl who had handed hers in and copied it into my book. But the teacher, who was a real battleaxe, found out. So I was really scared, but the teacher sat down and had a good talk with me, and from that moment on, I realized she wasn’t so horrible, and she really helped me a lot. I was scared out of my wits, but as soon as I’d managed to explain what happened I felt as if a heavy burden had been lifted…And so I told this story to my daughter who was having problems in another subject, and she did this exact same thing. And I was able to help her realize it was the wrong thing to do with my own example because I’d done it myself.”

15 Generativity and Its Relations to Other Stages  McAdams’ “generative identity”  Intimacy Generativity  Generativity Ego Integrity  Lifespan Developmental Context

16 IV. The Life Story and Identity (McAdams’ Theory)  Life story is our way of telling others and ourselves who we are = defines our adult sense of identity  Selected autobiographical memories from the past and ideas and plans about the future  Constantly revised and reworked as our perspectives on ourselves change and grow  Draws on cultural types of narratives to construct personal story – so life story can vary by culture, for example

17 McAdams’ Life Story Measurement Techniques  Peak Experience  Low Point  Earliest Memory  Turning Point  Significant Childhood Memory  Significant Adolescent Memory  Significant Adult Memory  Future Scene

18 Try it yourself  Think of a peak experience  Describe what happened, who was involved, what you were thinking and feeling, what this scene says about who you were, are or might be.

19 Underpinnings of the Life Story – Key Elements in Its Development (McAdams)  Basic intentionality and theory of mind in young child  Personal experiences and reminiscing in family as sources of storytelling skill  Learning of culturally specific story structure/scripts by child  Making stories coherent – adolescent cognitive capacities for causal and thematic reasoning help to explain experiences  The life review: considering the life story and its outcomes in later life (ego integrity issues of Erikson)

20 Personality Model: Interactions of the Life Story and Dispositional Traits (McAdams et al., 2004)  Openness to experience was Big Five trait that most clearly predicted story-telling style in this study  How would you think it might relate?

21 The Life Story and Personal Concerns – Feelings of Personal Control (Braun, Schiffman, 1982)

22 Ego Integrity and the Life Review (Wong and Watt, 1991)  Butler argued that rehearsing and reviewing one’s life (and life story) is important to last phase in Erikson theory – older adults often do this – a narrative function  Part of a somewhat more “inner focus” on the self – but just doing a life review isn’t always beneficial  Wong & Watt found that certain types of review are associated with positive sense of “ego integrity”, especially integrative and instrumental stories that put together long-term goals and plans and current issues  In contrast, “obsessive” reviews of past negative events, guilt, ruminations are negatively associated with feelings of ego integrity

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