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Chapter 17 Socioemotional Development in Middle Adulthood.

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Presentation on theme: "Chapter 17 Socioemotional Development in Middle Adulthood."— Presentation transcript:

1 Chapter 17 Socioemotional Development in Middle Adulthood

2 Black Hawk College Chapter 17 2

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4 4 Adult Stage Theories Generativity Versus Stagnation Seasons of a Man’s Life How Pervasive Are Midlife Crises? Individual Variations

5 Black Hawk College Chapter 17 5 Generativity vs. Stagnation Erikson believes generativity encompasses adults’ desire to leave a legacy to the next generation. Through generativity, adults achieve a kind of immortality by leaving their legacy. Stagnation or self-absorption develops when individuals sense that they have done nothing for the next generation. Through generativity, adults promote and guide those who follow by parenting, teaching, leading, doing things to benefit the community.

6 Black Hawk College Chapter 17 6 How to Develop Generativity Biological Generativity Parental Generativity Work Generativity Cultural Generativity

7 Black Hawk College Chapter 17 7 Generativity and Identity One study showed that middle-aged adults especially were concerned about generativity and guiding younger adults. Another showed that having a positive identity was linked with generativity in middle age.

8 Black Hawk College Chapter 17 8 Generativity and Identity A modification of Erikson’s theory proposed that his three adult stages— intimacy, generativity, and integrity—are best viewed as developmental phases within identity. Thus identity remains the central core of the self’s development across all of the adult years.

9 Black Hawk College Chapter 17 9 Season’s of a Man’s Life Daniel Levinson extensively interviewed 40 middle-aged men and compiled information from the biographies of famous men. His major interest and focus centered around midlife change, however, he described a number of stages and transitions in the life span. Levinson emphasizes that development tasks must be mastered at each of these stages. Although his original data included no females, Levinson claimed his theory also held for women.

10 Black Hawk College Chapter Levinson’s Stages of Change The 20s are a novice phase of adult development. Around age 28 to 33 the man goes through a transition in which he must determine his goals. During the 30s he usually focuses on family and career development.

11 Black Hawk College Chapter Levinson’s Stages of Change In the later years of this period, he enters a phase of Becoming One’s Own Man (BOOM). By age 40 he has reached a stable location in his career and must look forward to middle adulthood. Ages encompass the change to middle adulthood.

12 Black Hawk College Chapter The Four Major Conflicts Levinson claimed that middle adulthood is the time for men to come to grips with four conflicts that have existed since adolescence: Being young versus being old Being destructive versus being constructive Being masculine versus being feminine Being attached to others versus being separated from them

13 Black Hawk College Chapter How Pervasive Are Midlife Crises? Levinson views midlife as a crisis—a time when the adult is suspended between the past and the future, trying to cope with this gap that threatens life’s continuity. A recent study has indicated that the idea of midlife crises have been exaggerated. Many studies have shown that middle-aged adults have a greater sense of control in their work, greater sense of environmental mastery, more autonomy, more power, and greater financial security.

14 Black Hawk College Chapter Individual Variations The stage theories focus on the universals of adult personality development and do not address individual variations. An extensive study of 500 men at midlife showed that a tremendous amount of individual variation characterized the men. George Vaillant’s Grant Study also yielded findings that showed variations in individual functioning.

15 Black Hawk College Chapter Life-Events Approach The contemporary life-events approach emphasizes that how life events influence the individual’s development depends not only on the life event, but also on mediating factors, the life-stage context, and the sociohistorical context. Drawbacks of the approach include its overemphasis on change and its failure to recognize that the primary sources of stress may not be major life events but rather our daily experiences.

16 Black Hawk College Chapter Contexts of Midlife Development Historical Contexts Gender Contexts Cultural Contexts

17 Black Hawk College Chapter Historical Contexts Some believe that changing historical times and different social expectations influence how different cohorts move through the life span. Our values, attitudes, expectations, and behaviors are influenced by the period in which we live.

18 Black Hawk College Chapter Historical Contexts Trying to tease out universal truths and patterns about adult development from one cohort to another is complicated. Neugarten believes that the social environment of a particular age group can alter its social clock.

19 Black Hawk College Chapter The Social Clock The timetable according to which individuals are expected to accomplish life’s tasks— marrying, having children, establishing themselves in a career. Social clocks provide guides for our lives. Individuals whose lives are not synchronized with these social clocks find life to be more stressful than those who are on schedule. There is much less agreement today on the right age or sequence for the occurrence of major life events.

20 Black Hawk College Chapter Gender Contexts As the roles of women have become more complex and varied, defining a normative sequence of development for them has become difficult, if not impossible. Basic changes in social attitudes regarding labor force participation, families, and gender roles have begun to broaden the opportunities available for women in middle adulthood. Midlife is a diversified, heterogeneous period for women, just as it is for men.

21 Black Hawk College Chapter Cultural Contexts In many cultures, particularly nonindustrialized cultures, the concept of middle age is not very clear, or in some cases is absent. Nonindustrialized cultures tend to describe individuals as young or old, but not middle-aged.

22 Black Hawk College Chapter Cultural Contexts Movement from one status to the next in these cultures is due primarily to life events, not age. Middle age tends to be more advantageous to women in many nonindustrialized societies.

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24 Black Hawk College Chapter Longitudinal Studies Neugarten’s Kansas City Study Costa and McCrae’s Baltimore Study Berkeley Longitudinal Studies Helson’s Mills College Study

25 Black Hawk College Chapter Neugarten’s Kansas City Study This study looked at individuals 40 to 80 years of age over a 10-year period. Subjects were given personality tests, questionnaires, and were interviewed. Neugarten concluded that both stability and change characterized adults as they aged. The most stable were: styles of coping, being satisfied with life, and being goal-directed. As individuals aged, they were found to become more passive and were more likely to be threatened by the environment.

26 Black Hawk College Chapter The Baltimore Study Costa and McCrae focused on the big five factors of personality: emotional stability openness to experience extraversion agreeableness conscientiousness

27 Black Hawk College Chapter The Baltimore Study The study followed approximately 1000 college-educated men and women aged over many years They concluded that considerable stability occurs in the five personality factors

28 Black Hawk College Chapter Berkeley Longitudinal Studies This series of studies is by far the longest- running longitudinal inquiry, and initially included more than 500 children and their parents. The most stable characteristics were found to be the degree to which individuals were intellectually oriented, self-confident, or open to new experiences. The characteristics that changed the most included the extent the individuals were nurturant or hostile and whether they had good self-control or not.

29 Black Hawk College Chapter Helson’s Mills College Study This study distinguished three main groups among the women studied: family oriented career-oriented those who followed neither path Despite these differences, women in all three groups experienced some similar psychological changes over their adult years. Those in the third group changed less than the others.

30 Black Hawk College Chapter Other Findings of the Mills Study Between age 27 and the early forties, there was a shift toward less traditionally feminine attitudes. Researchers in the Mills study concluded that rather than being in a midlife crisis, women were experiencing a midlife consciousness.

31 Black Hawk College Chapter Other Findings of the Mills Study They found that commitment to a career or family helped women learn to control their impulses, develop interpersonal skills, become independent, and work hard to achieve goals. Women who didn’t commit to either of these did not develop as fully as the other women.

32 Black Hawk College Chapter Conclusions Humans are adaptive beings. We are resilient throughout our adult lives. We do not develop entirely new personalities. Amid change is some underlying coherence and stability. Some people change more than others.

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34 Black Hawk College Chapter Love and Marriage at Midlife Affectionate Love Marriage and Divorce

35 Black Hawk College Chapter Affectionate Love Affectionate or companionate love increases during middle adulthood.

36 Black Hawk College Chapter Affectionate Love Security, loyalty, and mutual emotional interest become more important as relationships mature. A relationship is believed to mature when partners: share knowledge with one another. assume responsibility for each other’s satisfaction. share private information that governs their relationship.

37 Black Hawk College Chapter Marriage and Divorce For married individuals in midlife, most voiced considerable satisfaction with being married. A recent large scale study found that 72% of married midlife individuals reported that their marriage was either “excellent” or “very good.”

38 Black Hawk College Chapter Marriage and Divorce Getting married in midlife lowered men’s anxiety, depression, and feelings of vulnerability. Women who married in midlife felt more positive emotions than they had previously. Couples who divorce in midlife tend to be cool, distant, and have suppressed emotions.

39 Black Hawk College Chapter Consequences of Divorce in Midlife Many individuals perceive divorce in midlife as failing in the best years of their lives. Men who divorced in their 40s became more depressed and had lower achievement goals. Women who divorced in middle age showed a surge in positive emotions.

40 Black Hawk College Chapter Consequences of Divorce in Midlife The perils of divorce in midlife may be fewer and less intense than for younger individuals. They have more resources and can simplify their lives.

41 Black Hawk College Chapter The Empty Nest and Its Refilling Characterized by a decrease in marital satisfaction due to the children’s departure which leaves parents with an empty feeling. Parents who live vicariously through their children are more likely to experience the empty nest syndrome. Most parents do not experience less marital satisfaction, in fact for many it increases after their children have left home.

42 Black Hawk College Chapter Coming Home More adult children are returning to live at home after an unsuccessful career or divorce. One study showed that 42% of middle- aged parents had serious conflicts with their resident adult children.

43 Black Hawk College Chapter Coming Home One of the most common complaints voiced by both parents and adult children is a loss of privacy. When adult children return home to live, a disequilibrium in family life is created, requiring considerable adaptation on both parties’ parts.

44 Black Hawk College Chapter Parenting Conceptions Middle-aged parents felt as their children became adults they gained a new sense of appreciation for their commitment and influence as parents.

45 Black Hawk College Chapter Parenting Conceptions Many parents of adult children regret not having had more involvement and better relationships with their children. Research findings suggest that during middle adulthood we restructure our perceptions of our own parents, viewing them more as unique individuals.

46 Black Hawk College Chapter Siblings and Friends The majority of sibling relationships in adulthood have been found to be close. Siblings who are close to each other in adulthood tended to be that way as children. It is rare for sibling closeness to develop for the first time in adulthood. Friendships continue to be as important in midlife as they were in early adulthood.

47 Black Hawk College Chapter Intergenerational Relationships For the most part, family members maintain considerable contact across generations. A consistent finding is that parents and their young adult children differ in the way they describe their relationship.

48 Black Hawk College Chapter Intergenerational Relationships Gender differences exist, as mothers and daughters tend to have closer relationships. Middle-aged adults are often described as the “sandwich” generation, caught between aging parents and their young adult children.


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