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Adult Development Theory: An Overview. Rationale. Most adult development theory does not specifically treat the issue of older adulthood However, the course of adult development can greatly impact status in older adulthood, and many of the same developmental processes continue to apply

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  • Most adult development theory does not specifically treat the issue of older adulthood
  • However, the course of adult development can greatly impact status in older adulthood, and many of the same developmental processes continue to apply
  • Working with older adults necessitates working with adult children/family members
frame issues
Frame Issues
  • A frame issue is an issue that has the following characteristics:
    • 1. It affects all human beings in their development and the broad outlines of their lives.
    • 2. Individuals have partial or no control over the issue.
  • Power of frames not only in their reality but our perception of them
frame issues human existential
Frame Issues: Human/Existential
  • HUMAN LEVEL: Existential frame.
  • The existential frame is comprised of factors that form a universal basis for human development and experience. In the Modern period they have been discussed at length by existential philosophers (e.g. Jaspers) and psychologists (e.g. Yalom).
existential frame cont
Existential Frame (cont.)
  • Yalom’s existential frame issues include:
    • 1. The inevitability of death.
    • 2. The presence of evil and suffering in life.
    • 3. The inherent limitations of human activity, such as relationships
    • 4. A need to find one’s place in the world, which has implications for personal responsibility, willing and meaning.
existential frame cont6
Existential Frame (cont.)
  • Jaspers’ list of boundary situations (Grenzsituationen--”ultimate situations”) which promote Existenz (participation in Being in a particular historical context) and awareness of “The Encompassing”
    • Death
    • Suffering
    • Struggle
    • Guilt (related to freedom and responsibility)
frame issues sociocultural
Frame Issues: Sociocultural
  • Culture Definitions
    • Definition 1: “a normative system that prescribes how individuals should behave in a given context" (Moghaddam, 1998)
      • Culture is thus a set of beliefs about ourselves, human activity and the world around us that affects us at all times
      • This set of beliefs is deeply ingrained and largely unconscious
    • Defintion 2: “the uniquely human environment consisting of the residue of the activity of prior generations, existing in the present in the form of artifacts, aspects of the physical world that have been transformed by their inclusion in goal-directed human actions” (Cole, 1996)
sociocultural frame cont
Sociocultural Frame (cont.)
  • Beliefs in the culture about life’s goals and the way they should be achieved lay out and limit developmental paths
  • There is an interaction between culture and the physical environment: culture structures environment (e.g. land use) which also limits development
  • Framework for understanding culture effects
    • Individualism-collectivism framework (Triandis)
    • Competency framework (Gardner, Ogbu)
socioculturalframe i c model
SocioculturalFrame: I-C Model
  • Individualism/idiocentricity
    • Concern with achievement
    • Independent but lonely
    • Emphasis on exchange relationships
sociocultural frame i c model cont
Sociocultural Frame: I-C Model (cont.)
  • Collectivism/allocentricity
    • One is defined by group membership
    • Concern about effect on others
    • Interdependence and involvement with groups
    • Importance of family in collectivist societies makes it an especially important factor in adult development
      • Culture influences both the expectations of the family and how it copes with the tasks posed at each stage of the family life cycle (Thomas, 1998)
    • Compliant with authority, resistant to outgroups; People in tight collectivist cultures who do not conform will receive very negative evaluations of self
sociocultural frame competence models ogbu
Sociocultural Frame: Competence Models (Ogbu)
  • Universal model (Traditional)
    • All cultures have origins of competence in early childhood experience
    • The same competencies are acquired in the same way in every culture
  • Relativistic model (Gardner)
    • Each culture promote different competencies because of the nature of the culture; ability may be culture specific (Searle)
sociocultural frame cont competence models
Sociocultural Frame (cont.): Competence Models
  • Cultural-ecological (Ogbu)
    • Cultural ecology: “the study of institutionalized and socially transmited patterns of behavior interdependent with features of the environment
    • Competencies determined by cultural and ecological determination of adult tasks, which then determine child-rearing practices
biological frame
Biological Frame
  • Issues include
    • Genetic predisposition to longevity
    • Health status
    • Accidents/illness that reduce level of functioning and/or life expectancy
    • Level of self care
content issues
Content Issues
  • These are basic life issues that are confronted by most if not all people. Some theories see development as a process in which we deal with various content issues, and one’s development is a function of how one has confronted and resolved the issues.
content issues cont
Content Issues (cont.)
  • Eriksonian issues:
    • Identity
    • Interpersonal relationships and intimacy
    • Life goals
    • Generativity
    • Meaning and purpose
    • Integrity
content issues cont16
Content issues (cont.)
  • Issues related to spirituality
    • Awareness/view of self, other; development of humility
    • Spiritual awareness
    • Vision
    • Horizon
    • Perspective; superficiality of Eriksonian issues
  • Issues related to aging
    • Time frame: changed by acceptance of death, aging?
    • Life losses and gains
content issues cont17
Content Issues (cont.)
  • Other issues
    • achievement
    • intelligence and abilities
    • ultimate goal of development (e.g. Freud, love and work)
issues of process
Issues of Process
  • Focus is on how change happens and issues are dealt with, not the issues themselves
  • Key issue: does development involve construction or discovery of the person
    • Traditional psychological theories emphasize construction
    • Traditional Christian models of spiritual development/formation emphasize discovery
    • Raises issues of how free will operates
process cont
Process (cont.)
  • Ultimate driving process: attempt to find unity/harmony in our abilities, view of self, others and the world; to understand experience (Gadamer); awareness of interconnections
    • Process goes in cycles of differentiation and integration (or assimilation and accommodation) (Vaillant: stages alternate with differentiation or integration focus)
    • Differentiation = greater complexity, which helps with understanding (de Chardin)
    • New integration can involve subtraction of old values/behaviors as well as additions (Vygotsky)
    • Once integration happens, there is resistance to change
process cont20
Process (cont.)
  • Change limited by “zone of proximal development” (Vygotsky): the difference between level of learning (potential) and level of development (actual)
  • Change in new stages focused on new (Levinson) or old (Kegan) issues
  • Openness to experience may be an inborn personality/temperamental trait that influences this process (cf. Big Five theory, Costa and McCrae)
  • Need/desirability for unity questioned by recent research on biculturalism; this raises interesting theological issues
process cont21
Process (cont.)
  • In Christian critique, a key is to understand what it is the individual should unify themselves around, not just whether there is unity (God? The True Self?)
process cont22
Process (cont.)
  • Key sources of development
    • Social learning and example: source of this broadens over time from family to peers to society
    • Action
    • Self-reflection, although some question introspection as a viable method (e.g. Gadamer)
    • Cognitive vs. emotional change (Damasio)
  • Development provoked by opening/closing events
    • Jaspers: “boundary situations”
    • Searle: “nonfamiliar experiences”
process cont23
Process (cont.)
  • Key problem: development can be positive or negative, depending in part on individual plasticity and resilience
theoretical systems
Theoretical Systems
  • Psychodynamic theories
    • Based on psychodynamic views of personality and development; tend to be descriptive, content focused
    • Stages are based on the following assumptions
      • defined by linear/chronological progression
      • everyone goes through all the stages
      • stages are in the same order for everyone
      • each stage has certain primary tasks or issues
      • no stage better than another
    • Examples: Erikson, Vaillant, Levinson
theoretical systems cont
Theoretical Systems (cont.)
  • Neo-Piagetian
    • Emphasize cognitive development; try to be more explanatory, process focused
    • Stages based on the following assumptions
      • defined by hierarchical progression
      • not everyone goes through all the stages
      • order may vary, people jump back and forth
      • each stage has certain characteristics
      • some stages more advanced (better?) than others
    • Examples: Kohlberg, Kegan, Fowler; Maslow
erikson definitions
Erikson: Definitions
  • Crisis--"a set of stresses and strains that force a person to confront a basic life issue"; both internal and external
    • Crisis can be resolved (+ or -), or ignored
    • How crisis resolved affects later stages
    • Senses that are developed are largely unconscious
erikson definitions cont
Erikson: Definitions (cont)
  • Ego identity--"a conviction that the ego is learning effective steps toward a tangible collective future, that it is developing a defined ego within a social reality"--with
    • Conscious sense of individual identity
    • Continuity of personal character over time with the self and others
    • Ego synthesis
    • Inner solidarity with group ideals and identity
erikson definitions cont29
Erikson: Definitions (cont)
  • Health--outcome of crises promote
    • increased sense of inner unity
    • good judgment
    • increased capacity "to do well" according to the standards of significant others
    • health is culturally relative
erikson s theory
Erikson’s Theory
  • Stage theory of development
  • Each stage has a primary crisis or task
  • The central feature of each task is also worked on at other stages, but is not the central feature of the stage
erikson stages childhood
Erikson Stages: Childhood
  • 1. Infancy--age 0-2: trust vs mistrust
    • formation of a sense of sameness and continuity
  • 2. Toddlerhood--age 2-4: autonomy vs shame and doubt
    • "self-control without a loss of self-esteem"
  • 3. Early School--age 5-7: initiative vs guilt
    • is it all right for the child to have their own goals
    • conscience develops during this period (cf. Kohlberg)
  • 4. Middle School--age 8-12: industry vs inferiority
    • focus is on accomplishment in tasks
erikson stages adulthood
Erikson Stages: Adulthood
  • 5. Adolescence--age 13-22: identity vs role confusion
    • a critical stage determined by preceding stages and affecting subsequent stages
    • main tasks
      • formation of occupation goals, other beliefs and values
      • separation from parents
    • lack of occupational identity most disturbing
    • Identity formation
      • develops out of a series of identifications
      • gains strength from recognition of real accomplishment (people are not fooled)
      • also needs some freedom of expression to develop
      • the whole is greater than the sum of the parts
erikson stages cont
Erikson Stages (cont)
  • 6. Early adulthood--age 23-30: intimacy vs isolation
    • marriage, family
    • formation of mature adult friendships and involvement with others
  • 7. Middle adulthood--age 31-50: generativity vs stagnation
    • goal is development of productivity and creativity
    • key accomplishment is passing on knowledge and skills, training of next generation; becoming a mentor
erikson stages cont34
Erikson Stages (cont)
  • 8. Later adulthood--age 51 on: ego integrity vs despair
    • development of mature ideas about the meaning of life and death
    • key task is life review--has the person had a “good” life, accomplished their goals, lived an authentic life
erikson stages and identity
Erikson Stages and Identity
  • 1. Infancy (trust): Time perspective vs time diffusion
  • 2. Toddlerhood (autonomy): Self-certainty vs identity consciousness
  • 3. Early School (initiative): Role experimentation vs negative identity
  • 4. Middle School (industry): Anticipation of achievement vs work paralysis
stages and identity cont
Stages and Identity (cont)
  • 5. Adolescence (identity): Identity vs identity diffusion
  • 6. Early Adulthood (intimacy): Sexual identity vs bisexual diffusion
  • 7. Middle Adulthood (generativity): Leadership polarization vs authority diffusion
  • 8. Later Adulthood (integrity): Ideological polarization vs diffusion of ideals
levinson stages
Levinson: Stages
  • Early Adulthood (17-40)
    • Early adult transition (17-22)
    • Entering the Adult World (22-28)
    • Age 30 Transition (28-33)
    • Settling Down (33-40)
  • Middle Adulthood (40-60)
    • Midlife Transition (40-45)
    • Entering Middle Adulthood (45-50)
    • Age 50 Transition (50-55)
    • Culmination of Middle Adulthood (55-60)
  • Late Adulthood (60-)
    • Late Adult Transition (60-65)
levinson early adulthood
Levinson: Early Adulthood
  • Early adult transition (17-22)
    • moving out of pre-adult world, reforming relationships
    • explore adult world; consolidate initial adult identity
  • Entering the Adult World (22-28)
    • explore possibilities, create a stable life structure; these are antithetical and difficult to balance
levinson early adulthood cont
Levinson: Early Adulthood (cont)
  • Age 30 Transition (28-33)
    • alterations in the initial life structure established at the beginning of young adulthood
    • beginning of a sense of urgency--changes must be made soon
    • can be easy and gradual or traumatic
  • Settling Down (33-40)
    • tries to establish a niche in society, develop competence and become valued
    • attempts to progress
  • Becoming One’s Own Man (36-40)
    • attempts to speak with more authority, gain influence
levinson middle adulthood
Levinson: Middle Adulthood
  • Midlife Transition (40-45)
    • Modifying the dream; beginning of work on resolution of 4 midlife individuation polarities:
      • Young/Old
      • Destruction/Creation
      • Masculine/Feminine
      • Attachment/Separateness
    • Working out affected by status at age 40
      • Advancing within stable life structure
      • Serious failure of decline within stable structure
      • Breaking out
      • Advancement that produces change in structure
      • Unstable life structure
levinson middle adulthood cont
Levinson: Middle Adulthood (cont.)
  • Entering Middle Adulthood (45-50)
  • Age 50 Transition (50-55)
  • Culmination of Middle Adulthood (55-60)
  • Late Adult Transition (60-65)
kegan basic concepts
Kegan: Basic Concepts
  • Kegan “constructive-developmental”, “neo-Piagetian”
  • ego—“the zone of mediation where meaning is made” or organized, which he equates with self, person
  • organization of meaning requires physical, social and survival (practice) activities
  • Coherence of the organism the underlying goal
kegan basic concepts cont
Kegan: Basic Concepts (cont.)
  • adaptation the “master notion in personality” an “active process of increasingly organizing the relationship of the self to the environment” though differentiations and integrations
  • “the way in which the person is settling the issues of what is ‘self’ and what is ‘other’ essentially defines the underlying logic (or ‘psychologic’) of the person’s meanings”
kegan developmental process
Kegan: Developmental Process
  • Development a series of differentiations and reintegrations that create new subjectivities
    • Piaget-decentration and recentration ( loss and recovery of a center) with new subject-object balance (e.g. concrete operations)
    • Process of balance-imbalance-new balance
    • Finding and losing
  • Different stages involve different ways of doing reciprocities, of what is self and what is other
  • Cognition and affect come from this process
kegan process con t
Kegan: Process (con.t)
  • Process a social process
    • Two greatest yearnings in human experience—yearning to be included, yearning to be independent; “Our experience of this fundamental ambivalence may be our experience of the unitary, restless, creative motion of life itself.”
    • Cf. Kohlberg, who extended Piaget in personal construction of the social world
  • Correspondence with object relations theory
    • Object—that which has been differentiated
    • Relations—that which is integrated
    • Narcissism—the emotion of nondifferentiation between self and non-self
kegan supporting environment
Kegan: Supporting Environment
  • Holding/Bridging environments
    • life has a succession of holding environments (cf. Winnicott) that occur in an expectable sequence (cf. Erikson)
    • functions of “culture of embeddedness” holding on and letting go
    • “every development seems to require its own culture”
    • cultures that support transition beyond the institutional are rare
    • necessary cultures
      • bridging environment doesn’t hold hands
      • culture can affect the kinds of support available for transitions to higher levels
kegan transitions
Kegan: Transitions
  • in transitional differentiation, “I must for a time be not-me before I can reappropriate that old me as the new object of a new self”
    • disequilibrium a crisis of meaning and identity
  • we feel our integration is best, so loss is difficult
    • differentiation involves disappointment and disillusionment, loss
    • pain and ecstasy can coexist during transitions
      • “pain … is about the resistance to the motion of life”
kegan transitions cont
Kegan: Transitions (cont.)
  • when assimilation occurs, contradictory facts are rejected; this is the basis of defense mechanisms
  • men more differentiation oriented, women more inclusion oriented
kegan stages of integration
Kegan: Stages of Integration
  • At stage 1 Impulsive Balance I am my impulses
  • At stage 2 Imperial Balance I am my needs
  • At stage 3 Interpersonal Balance “there is no self independent of ‘other people liking.’”
    • Women tend to remain at stage 3?
  • At stage 4 Institutional Balance, self identified with the organization (p. 101)
  • At stage 5 Interindividual Balance self is separated from all the above
kegan stages cont
Kegan: Stages (cont.)
  • “every developmental balance involves … an illusion, a built-in falsehood or subjectivity which forms the seeds of its own undoing”
    • e.g. strength of stage 4 autonomy weakness embeddedness in autonomy
    • as transition begins, another voice appears
  • Progress is a helix (spiral) with issues being reencountered in an evovled manner
  • Stage 5, postformal thought that looks for tension; “first shift in which there is a self-conscious self to be reflected upon”