Chapter 17

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					         Chapter 17

 Socioemotional
 Development in
Middle Adulthood
                               Socioemotional Development
                                  in Middle Adulthood


    Personality Theories and          Stability and             Close
    Development in Middle               Change               Relationships
          Adulthood




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             Personality Theories and
             Development in Middle
                   Adulthood


    Adult Stage    Life-Events      Contexts
     Theories       Approach




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    Adult Stage Theories
     Generativity Versus Stagnation
     Seasons of a Man’s Life

     How Pervasive Are Midlife Crises?

     Individual Variations




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    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.
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        How to Develop
        Generativity
     Biological Generativity
     Parental Generativity

     Work Generativity

     Cultural Generativity




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    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.




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    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.

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    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.
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     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.


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     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 40-45 encompass the change to
         middle adulthood.


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     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


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     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.
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     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.

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 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.
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     Contexts of Midlife
     Development
  HistoricalContexts
  Gender Contexts

  Cultural Contexts




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     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.


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     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.




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     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.
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     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.
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     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.


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     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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             Stability and
               Change


     Longitudinal     Conclusions
       Studies



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     Longitudinal Studies
      Neugarten’s  Kansas City Study
      Costa and McCrae’s Baltimore
       Study
      Berkeley Longitudinal Studies

      Helson’s Mills College Study


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     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.
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     The Baltimore Study
    Costa and McCrae focused on the big five
     factors of personality:
       emotional stability
       openness to experience
       extraversion
       agreeableness
       conscientiousness




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     The Baltimore Study
    The study followed approximately 1000
     college-educated men and women aged 20-96
     over many years
    They concluded that considerable stability
     occurs in the five personality factors




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     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.
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     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.

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     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.


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     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.

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 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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                                     Close
                                  Relationships


      Love and     The Empty       Parenting        Siblings       Intergenerational
     Marriage at   Nest and Its   Conceptions     and Friends        Relationships
      Midlife       Refilling




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 Love and Marriage at Midlife

              Love
  Affectionate

  Marriage and Divorce




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     Affectionate Love
    Affectionate or companionate love
     increases during middle adulthood.




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     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.


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     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.”


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     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.




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     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.


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     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.




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     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.
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     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.




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     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.


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 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.




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 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.

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 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.

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     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.


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     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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