Summary Chapter 13

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University of Guelph
Family Relations and Human Development
FRHD 1010
Susan Chuang

Chapter 13 – “Adulthood: Psychosocial Development” Personality Development in Adulthood o A mixture of genes, experiences, and contexts results in personality, which includes a person’s unique actions and attitudes o Few people develop characteristics that are the opposite of their childhood temperament o Personality can change, usually for the better  People overcome earlier adversity and confusion Theories of Adult Personality  Erikson and Malsow o Erikson- Eight steps of development – three after adolescence  “the only thinker who changed our minds about what it means to live as a person who has arrived at a chronologically mature position and yet continues to grow, to change, and to develop” o Erikson stressed that adult stages do not occur in lockstep.  Adults can be in 5 stage- identity versus role confusion  Or can be in any of the three adult stages – intimacy versus isolation, generativity vs stagnation, and integrity vs despair. o Erikson saw adulthood as the continuation of identity seeking via exploration of intimacy and generativity Identity vs Role Confusion Identity combines values and traditions from childhood with the current social context. Since contexts keep evolving , many adults reassess all four types of identity (sexual/gender, vocational/work, religious/spiritual, and political/ethical) Intimacy vs Isolation Adults seek intimacy – a close, reciprocal connection with another human being. Intimacy is mutual, not self-absorbed, which means that adults need to devote time and energy to one another. This process beings in emerging adulthood and continues lifelong, Isolation is especially likely when divorce or death disrupts establish intimate relationships. Generatitivity vs Adults need to care for the next generation, either Stagnation by raising their own children or by mentoring, teaching and helping others. Erikson’s first description of this stage focuses on parenthood, but later he included other ways to achieve generativity. Adults extend the legacy of their culture and their generation with ongoing care, creativity, and sacrifice. Integrity Vs Despair Erikson thought that each person’s entire life could be directed toward connecting a personal journey with the historical and cultural purpose of human society, the ultimate achievement of integrity. o Malsow refused to link chronological age and adult development when he described a hierarchy of needs with five stages achieve in sequence  Completion of each stage allows a person to move ahead  Ex: people who are in Maslow’s third level (love and belonging, similar to Erikson’s intimacy vs isolation) seek to be loved and accepted by partners, family members, and friends.  Without affection, people might stay stuck, needing love but never feeling satisfied that they have enough of it.  Those who experience abundant love are able to move to the next level, success and esteem.  The Midlife Crisis o A supposed period of unusual anxiety, radical self re-examination, and sudden transformation that was once widely associated with middle age but that actually had more to do with developmental history than with chronological age. o No current theorist sets chronological boundaries for specific stages of adult development o Middle age, if exists, can being at age 35-50 o Contradicts theory of the midlife crisis, thought to be at time of anxiety and radical o Popularized by Gail Sheehy (1976), who called it “the age 40 crucible,” and by Daniel Levionson (1978) who said men experienced struggles within the self and with the external world, and that every aspect of their lives comes into question. o No large study over the past three decades has found any normative midlife crisis o How could earlier observes have been so wrong?  Levinson studied just 40 men, all from one cohort. The data was then analyzed by men who were also middle-aged (not good science).  Sheehy is not a scientist; she summarized Levinson’s research then supplemented it by interviewing people she chose.  Neither Sheehy nor Levinson used replicating, multimethod, longitudinal research, now the bedrock of developmental science o Middle-class men in the United States who reached afe 40 in about 1970 were affected by historic, upheavals in their own families.  Many began marriages and careers in the 1950s, expecting grateful children, wives, employers and coworkers.  When they reachd middle age, their wives where in the first wave of feminism (some called husbands “sexist pigs”) and their teenages thought their fathers were rigid and irrelevant (“Don’t trust anyone over 30”).  Their crsis was not caused by chronological age  Most men who reach age 40 do not have a midlife crisis Personality Traits  The Big Five o Researchers find substantial, even astonishing choherence in personality throughout life  Example: recent study found that temperament at age 3 predicted gambling problems at age 32 o Longitudinal, cross-sectional, and multicultural research has identified five clusters of personality traits that appear in every culture and era, called the Big Five  Openness: imaginative, curious, artistic, creative, open to new experiences  Conscientiousness: organized, deliberate, conforming, self- disciplined  Extroversion: outgoing, assertive, active  Agreeableness: kind, helpful, easygoing, generous  Neuroticism: anxious, moody, self-punishing, critical o Each person’s personality is somewhere between extremely high and extremely low on each of these five  The low end might be described, in the same order as above, with these five adjectives: closed, careless, introverted, hard to please, and placid. o These fiver clusters affect an adult’s:  Career choices  Health habits  Ecological niche 1  Selecting vocations  Hobbies  Mates  Neighbourhood  Decision to retire  The reaction to retirement. o Factors linked to the Big Five are:  Education – conscientious people have higher rates of college graduation  Marriage – extroverts are more likely to marry  Divorce (more often for neurotics) 1 Ecological Niche: the particular lifestyle and social context that adults settle into because it is compatible with their individual personality needs and interests  Fertility (lower for women in recent cohorts who are more conscientious)  IQ (higher in people who are more open)  Verbal Fluency (again, openness and extroversion)  Political Views (conservatives are less open) o Anyone might acid in uncharacteristic ways if circumstances are dramatically altered- perhaps by unexpected divorce, recovery from addiction, forced emigration, treated depression, a sudden disabling disease o Events influence traits, although the specific impact is always affected by personality. Nature and nurture interact, each affecting the other.  New events sometimes bring out old personality patterns  People might divorce and then remarry someone like the old partner, or find a new job that reflects their personality rather than change their personality to fit the job. o Happiness seems a matter of personality more than circumstances. Adults who experience things that temporarily make them overjoyed or depressed often revert to the level of happiness they had before that event  Personality trumps experience.  Culture, Age, and Context o People adapt to their culture, expressing personality traits differently. o Traits that are considered pathological in one place tend to be modified as people mature within the community. Intimacy  Every adult experiences crisis Erikson called intimacy versus isolation, seeking to connect with other people.  Everyone is part of a social convoy, a group of people who “provide a protective layer of social relation to guide, encourage, and socialize individuals as they go through life”.  Friends and Acquaintances o Crucial members of social convoy because they are chosen o Usually about same age with similar experiences and values o Friendship & Human Development  Friendships improve with age  Young adults consider a significant minority of their friendships ambivalent or problematic  By adulthood, most friendships are rated close, few are ambivalent, and almost none problematic  Friendships help with mental and physical health  Ex: depression, healthy eating, quitting smoking o Acquaintances  Provide information, support, social integration, and new ideas.  Consequential strangers: people who are not in a person’s closest friendship circle but nonetheless have an impact  Neighbors, coworkers, store clerks etc.  May literally be a stranger: someone who gives you directions or sits next to you etc.  Differ from close friends and family in that they include people of diverse religions, ethnic groups, ages, and political opinions  that diversity is one of the reason they are consequential  regular acquaintances part of peripheral social network  decreases with age  composition of social network varies by culture  Family Bonds o Family relationships crucial for many adults, especially as they age o Adult Children and Their Parents  Physical separation does not necessarily weaken family ties  Intergenerational relationships becoming stronger as more
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