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Chapter 16: Social & Personality Development in Middle Adulthood Development Across the Lifespan.

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Presentation on theme: "Chapter 16: Social & Personality Development in Middle Adulthood Development Across the Lifespan."— Presentation transcript:

1 Chapter 16: Social & Personality Development in Middle Adulthood Development Across the Lifespan

2 Two Perspectives on Adult Personality Development… 1. Normative-crisis models Traditional view Argues that people move through fixed stages, each tied to age Specific crises lead to growth Erickson, Gould, Levinson Critics suggest outdated (based on traditional models of family & roles)

3 (Two Perspectives on Adult Personality Development, continued) 2. Life events models Newer model Suggest that things that occur in life determine personality development (not age) 2 women at different ages could be the same developmentally at the birth of their first child Ravenna Helson

4 Not clear which model better represents personality development! Both models agree that adulthood is not a time of passivity and stagnation but of continued psychological growth. Whichever model is chosen, it is clear that middle adulthood is a time of continuing psychological growth!

5 Personality Development Erik Erikson suggests that middle adulthood encompasses the period of GENERATIVITY VERSUS STAGNATION, where people consider their contributions to family, community, work, and society.

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7 (Erikson, continued) Generativity is guiding and encouraging future generations. Generativity may be leaving a lasting contribution to the world through creative or artistic output. Generativity means looking beyond oneself to the continuation of one's life through others Stagnation means people focus on the triviality of their life, and feel they have made only a limited contribution to the world, that their presence has counted for little

8 Psychologist Roger Gould offers another alternative to Erikson’s view… Agrees that people move through a series of stages and potential crises His specific developmental transitions differ from Erikson’s Adults pass through a series of seven stages associated with specific ages— table in text NOT supported by research!

9 A theory that has received more attention: Levinson’s ideas about development: Season’s of Life Daniel Levinson suggests that the early 40’s are marked by transition and crisis Central to his theory is the concept of a midlife crisis—a period of intense psychological turmoil. He studied 40 men (applicability to women has NOT been established!), and suggested that adult men pass through a series of stages beginning with early adulthood at age 20 and continuing into middle adulthood.

10 According to Levinson… Early adulthood is leaving the family and having "the dream" where men have goals and aspirations and make long-term decisions about career and family. In early adulthood, people make and sometime discard career choices as they come to grips with their capabilities and come to terms with long-term decisions (“settling down”). Midlife transition occurs at 40/45, a time of questioning which leads to midlife crisis— NOT SUPPORTED BY RESEARCH!

11 Despite the fact that Levinson overstated the consistency & generalizability of developmental patterns, some information in his theory has been supported by subsequent research, at least in some populations.

12 Men’s Stages of Adulthood (Levinson)

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14 During midlife transition, people have similar events occurring… They focus on the finite nature of life. They realize they will not live forever. They concentrate on the present. They begin to question some of their fundamental assumptions. They experience their first signs of aging. They begin to doubt the value of their accomplishments. They confront the fact that they will not be able to accomplish all their aims before they die.

15 Those who were less successful in dealing with the midlife crisis entered a period of stagnation or decline for the rest of their 40s. Most people got through the crisis and by their 50s felt secure and looking toward a fulfilling future. This research had a limited sample and was inconsistent. Levinson claims women go through similar stages but have a more difficult time with "the dream“ stage because of inner conflicts over career versus family.

16 Midlife Crisis: Reality or Myth  Despite widespread acceptance (and centrality in Levinson’s model), the evidence for a midlife crisis do not exist. For the majority of people, the transition is smooth and rewarding. Many middle-aged people find their careers have blossomed. We may just pay more attention to the few who exhibit a midlife crisis. The significance of middle age significantly depends on the culture in which one lives Indian women: social responsibility valued over age

17 Those experiencing regrets about their lives do better psychologically if change is implemented By the time adults enter middle adulthood, most feel younger than they are (see next slide) ~ In short, the evidence for a midlife crisis does not exist!  We attend to and recall marital difficulties more readily than the lack of them. Midlife crisis used to explain.

18 What age do you feel most of the time?

19 Developmental Psychologist Carol Ryff has identified several components of well-being in midlife. Self-acceptance: holding a positive attitude toward oneself and one's past life. Positive relations with people: having warm, satisfying, trusting relationships with others and concern and empathy for others. Autonomy: being self-determined, independent, and resistant to social pressures.

20 Carol Ryff, continued Environmental mastery: having a sense of mastery and competence in managing the complexities of everyday life. Purpose in life: having goals, aims, and objectives that provide meaning in life. Personal growth: feeling a sense of continuing development and being open to new experiences

21 More research: A massive survey of people across the U.S was conducted. Designed to identify patterns of midlife development in psychological well-being, physical health, and social responsibility Known as MIDUS (Midlife in the U.S.) Findings to date suggest that there are significant cross cultural differences in the components of well-being Finds also show that psychological well being does differ across adulthood

22 Normative-crisis models of personality development Views of personality development during adulthood have traditionally suggested that people move through a series of fixed stages Closely connected to age Related to specific crisis in which individuals go through periods of intense self questioning and psychological turmoil This traditional perspective is evidenced by the theories of Erikson and Levinson

23 (Normative-crisis models continued) Theorists such as Erikson and Levinson take as their approach the NORMATIVE- CRISIS MODEL, which views personality development in terms of fairly universal stages, tied to a sequence of age-related crises. Critics argue that normative-crisis models are outdated. They came from a time when gender roles were more rigid

24 The Social Clocks of Women: Marking Time Each of us has a SOCIAL CLOCK, the psychological timepiece that records the major milestones in people's lives (allows us to measure and compare our progress against our peers) Promotions, divorce, job changes, etc.

25 Understanding Adult Personality Development: Life Events Models Theorists such as Ravenna Helson focus more on LIFE EVENTS MODELS, which suggest that the timing of particular events in an adult's life, rather than age per se, determine the course of personality development. According to this model, a woman having her first baby at 21 would experience the same psychological forces as a woman having her first baby at 39.

26 Women began to feel greater independence, confidence, and were able to cope with stress and adversity more effectively with time. Measures of femininity increased from ages 21 to 27, but decreased between ages 27 and 43. The increase may be due to effects of motherhood. The decrease may be due to effects of decreases in child-care responsibilities. Helson found that it didn't matter which social clock the woman focused on (e.g., family or career), involvement with a socially accepted and justifiable social clock was the key to personality development.

27 Stability versus change in personality… Psychologists argue whether personality changes or remains stable over the course of development. Erikson and Levinson suggest that personality changes substantially over the life span. Paul Costa and Robert McCrae find remarkable stability in particular traits across the life span.

28 The “Big Five” Well researched personality traits representing the five major clusters of stable personality characteristics: Neuroticism (degree of moodiness, anxiousness, self-criticism) Extraversion (how outgoing or shy a person is) Openness (curiosity and interest in new experiences) Agreeableness (how easygoing & helpful a person is) Conscientiousness (degree of being organized & responsible)

29 The Stability of Personality According to Costa & McCrae (1986), basic personality traits such as openness, extroversion, & neuroticism are stable & consistent throughout adulthood.

30 Overall, personality is marked by both stability AND change! Developmentalists feel that personality is both stable (on some traits) and changeable on others. The challenge for developmental psychologists is to determine which conditions lead to stability and which lead to change.

31 SO… There are 3 major controversies involving personality development in middle age Midlife crisis Normative-crisis versus life events Stability versus change in personality

32 Relationships: Marriage & Divorce in Middle Age Marriage and divorce significantly impact social and personality development in middle adulthood! The institution of marriage is not stable, and societal norms change over time 50 years ago, couples that married during early adulthood were still married at middle adulthood—to each other! 100 years ago, people in their 40’s often had experienced the death of a spouse Now, marriages are mixed; some divorced by middle adulthood, blended families common, and many people experience the peak of marital satisfaction during this period.

33 The ups & downs of marriage Even for happily married couples, marriage has its ups and downs, and satisfaction rises and falls over the course of the marriage The most frequent pattern of marital satisfaction is U-shaped. Satisfaction begins to decline just after a marriage begins, and falls till it reaches its low point at the birth of the child; then it slowly returns to high levels

34 Marital satisfaction begins to decline after marriage and falls to its lowest point following the birth of children. Marital satisfaction begins to grow after the children leave adolescence and reaches its highest point when the kids have left home.

35 The Phases of Marital Satisfaction

36 Middle-aged couples cite several sources of particular satisfaction… Many couples state that their spouse is their "best friend“ and that they like their partner as a person They also view marriage as a long- term commitment. They believe their spouse has grown more interesting over the years. Most feel their sex lives (although frequency goes down) are satisfying.

37 These marriages may end in divorce and many experiencing this become a "blended family". About 1 woman in 8 will get divorced after 40. Divorce can be especially hard for traditional women over 40 who stayed home with the kids and never worked. 75 % to 80 % of divorced people eventually remarry (usually within 2-5 years). For some the “U pattern” does not apply, and satisfaction keeps falling

38 Although the overall remarriage rate is high, it’s far higher in some groups than others 75% of white women remarry, whereas less than ½ of African American women marry again. It's harder for a middle-aged woman to remarry. 90 % of women under 25 remarry. Less than 33 % over the age of 40 remarry.  WHY????

39 The marriage gradient pushes men to marry younger women. Older women are victims of the harsh societal standards regarding physical attractiveness Older men seen as “distinguished” but not so for older women (media affects)

40 Remarriage is common though!  Second marriages are different than first marriages. Roles are more flexible. The couple looks at marriage less romantically and is more cautious. The divorce rate is higher for second marriages. More stress especially with blended families. Once you have experienced divorce it is easier to walk away a second time. BUT, many remarried people report satisfaction rates as high as those is successful first marriages

41 Family Evolutions For many couples, a major transition that typically occurs during middle adulthood is the departure of children. This is labeled the EMPTY NEST SYNDROME when parents experience feelings of unhappiness, worry, loneliness, and depression resulting from their children's departure from home. Although this challenge is harder for many stay- at-home moms to face than for working moms, the empty nest syndrome is more myth than reality.

42 Although temporary feelings of sadness & distress may occur… there are many benefits when children leave home. Parents can work harder. More time alone. House stays cleaner. Phone doesn't ring so much

43 Boomerang Children: Refilling the Empty Nest There has been a significant increase in the U.S. in the number of young adults who come back to live in the homes of their middle-aged parents, a phenomenon called BOOMERANG CHILDREN.

44 (Boomerang Children, continued) ~ Men are more likely to do it than women. Parents tend to give sons more freedom than daughters. Unable to find a job. Difficulty making ends meet. People are marrying at later ages. Parents' reactions are both positive and negative.

45 The Sandwich Generation: Between Parents & Children Another new trend is that middle-aged couples become the SANDWICH GENERATION, because they must fulfill the needs of both their children and their aging parents. Couples are marrying and having children later. Parents are living longer. This is difficult because of role reversal.

46 (Sandwich generation, continued) The care of parents ranges from financial aid to having parents live in their home. Most of the burden falls on the wife. Even though being sandwiched in the middle of two generations can stretch a couple’s resources, this can be a rewarding situation for both children and parents.

47 Becoming a Grandparent Middle adulthood often brings one of the unmistakable symbols of aging: becoming a grandparent. Grandparents tend to fall into style categories Involved grandparents are actively engaged in grand parenting and have influence over their grandchildren's lives. Companionate grandparents are more relaxed, and act as supporters and buddies to their grandchildren.

48 (Grand parenting, continued) Remote grandparents are detached and distant, and show little interest in their grandchildren. Grandmothers tend to be more involved than grandfathers. African-American grandparents are more involved with their grandchildren than White grandparents.

49 Family Violence: The Hidden Epidemic ~Domestic violence is one of the ugly truths about marriage and is occurring at epidemic levels. Some form of violence happens in one-fourth of all marriages. More than half of all women murdered are murdered by a partner.

50 (Spousal abuse, continued) Close to 15 % of marriages in the U. S. are characterized by continuing, severe violence. Violence occurs across social strata, ethnic groups, and religions. Mostly it is men abusing women, but 8 % of the cases involve the wife physically abusing the husband.

51 (Spousal abuse, continued) Certain factors increase the likelihood of abuse. Families with 4 or more children Increased stress, fewer resources Low SES $15, 000 or less annual income = 7x higher rate Growing up in a violent home According to the CYCLE-OF-VIOLENCE HYPOTHESIS, abuse and neglect of children leads them to be predisposed to abusiveness as adults.

52 The Styles of Abusers… Psychologists Neil Jacobson & John Gottman suggest that abusers fall into 2 categories… Pit bulls: confine violence to those they love, strike out in rage or when jealousy or fear of abandonment is aroused Cobras: generally aggressive to everyone, violence more likely to involve weapons, more calculating (little emotional or overt physiological arousal when acting aggressively)

53 According to Lenore Walker, marital abuse by a husband occurs in three stages. 1) The tension-building stage is where a batterer becomes upset and shows dissatisfaction initially through verbal abuse. 2) The acute battering incident is when the physical abuse actually occurs. 3. The l oving contrition Stage occurs in some, but not all cases, and involves the husband feeling remorse and apologizing. This stage helps explain why women main remain in the relationship.

54 Some women women stay in abusive relationships because they mistakenly feel that they are somewhat at fault. Some stay out of fear (that husband may come after them, or that there are no alternatives). Many women stay because they have grown up in a violent home and think that violence is a way of life ~Despite these pleas for forgiveness, research shows that without therapy, abusers will repeat the stages of relationship violence.

55 The Stages of Violence

56 The Cultural Roots of Violence  Although the tendency is often to see marital violence as a particularly North American event, other cultures have traditions that establish violence as acceptable Wife battering is particularly prevalent in cultures in which women are viewed as inferior to men.  Western society also historically considered wife abuse as acceptable Original English law allowed husbands to beat their wives.

57 This law was amended to permit beating only with a stick that was no thicker than his thumb (where the phrase "rule of thumb" comes from). ~~ Wife beating was not removed from law until the late 1900s. Some experts on abuse suggest that the traditional power structure in society is a root cause of abuse When women have low status they become easy targets; when they have high status they are threatening to their husbands.

58 Work and Leisure in Middle Adulthood For many, middle age is the time of greatest productivity, success, and earning power. The factors that make work satisfying undergo a transformation during middle age. Middle-aged workers care more about the here-and-now qualities of work. The older workers are, the more overall job satisfaction they experience

59 Job Satisfaction in Middle Adulthood? Job satisfaction is not universal in middle adulthood. Some people experience BURNOUT, which occurs when highly trained professionals experience dissatisfaction, disillusionment, frustration, and weariness from their jobs.

60 Unemployment: The Dashing of the Dream For many workers, unemployment is a hard reality of life and the implications are more psychological than economic. Middle-aged adults tend to stay unemployed longer than do young workers. Employers may discriminate because of age. Research shows that older workers have less absenteeism, hold their jobs longer, are more reliable, and more willing to learn new skills

61 Switching & Starting Careers at Midlife Some people change their jobs voluntarily in middle adulthood. Their old job gave little satisfaction. They achieved mastery of the old job's challenges. They no longer enjoy what they do.

62 For those who switch or start new careers, the outcome can be positive or negative Some middle aged job switchers are disappointed due to overly high expectations Entry level jobs peers that are much younger Others have extremely positive experiences! Feel invigorated by their work Especially valued because of their prior work experience and commitment ~ Some suggest that career changing may become the rule in our society rather than the exception!

63 Many women return to the job market after raising children. 65 % of women between ages of 50 and 60 (80 % of those who graduated from college) are now in the workforce. ¾ are in full-time jobs. Although returning to the job market after taking a break to raise children can be challenging, support groups and training exist Many women report high levels of personal satisfaction after returning to work

64 Women at Work The number of women in the work force has steadily increased over the last 50 years.

65 Leisure Time: Life Beyond Work Most middle-aged adults have 70 hours a week for leisure time. The average middle-aged person watches 30 hours of TV per week. Some turn to charity, or community organizations. Many are learning to use computers and "surf the net". Increasing numbers are choosing early retirement.

66 Leisure time? Although leisure time is increasing in the U.S., our pace of life is still faster than many countries Latin America, Asian, Middle Eastern, African countries ~ Several countries outpace the United States Japan, Western Europe  Table in text

67 Don’t forget to keep up with your reading!


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