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Chapter 16: Middle Adulthood. Module 7 Social and Personality Development in Middle Adulthood. SOCIAL AND PERSONLITY DEVELOPMENT IN MIDDLE ADULTHOOD. How does personality development occur in middle adulthood?. Two Perspectives on Adult Personality Development.

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Chapter 16 middle adulthood

Chapter 16: Middle Adulthood

Module 7

Social and Personality Development in Middle Adulthood

Two perspectives on adult personality development
Two Perspectives on Adult Personality Development

Normative-Crisis Versus Life Events

  • Views personality development in terms of fairly universal stages, tied to a sequence of age-related crises


Two perspectives on adult personality development1
Two Perspectives on Adult Personality Development

  • Normative-Crisis Versus Life Events

  • Revenna Helson

    • Suggest that timing of particular events in adult's life, rather than age per se, determine course of personality development


Other views
Other Views


  • Critics argue that normative-crisis models are outdated

  • Model came from time when gender roles were more rigid


Erik erikson
Erik Erikson


    • People consider their contributions to family, community, work, and society.

      Generativity = looking beyond oneself to continuation of one's life through others

      Stagnation = focusing on the triviality of their life


Psychiatrist roger gould
Psychiatrist Roger Gould

  • Adults pass through series of seven, age-related stages

  • People in late 30s and early 40s begin to feel sense of urgency in attaining life’s goals

  • Descriptions not research supported


George valliant
George Valliant

  • Keeping meaning versus rigidity

    • Occurs between the ages of 45 and 55

  • Adults seek to extract meaning from their lives by accepting strengths and weaknesses of others

    • Those who are rigid become increasingly isolated from others



Seasons of Life Theory

  • Most people are susceptible to fairly profound midlife crisis

    • Late 30s

    • Early 40s

    • Between 40 and 45


Midlife crisis
Midlife Crisis

  • Stage of uncertainty and indecision brought about by realization that life is finite

    • Gender differences

    • Despite widespread acceptance, evidence for midlife crisis does not exist


Non midlife life crisis
Non-Midlife Life Crisis

  • For majority of people, transition is smooth and rewarding

  • Many middle-aged people find their careers have blossomed

  • They feel younger than they actually are


Developmental diversity
Developmental Diversity

Middle Age: In Some Cultures It Doesn’t Exist

  • Model of aging of Oriyan women

    • High caste Hindu women

    • Life course based on nature of one’s social responsibility, family management issues, and moral sense at given timenot on basis of chronological age

    • Domestic work is highly respected and valued


Personality development

Does personality change or remains stable over course of development?

  • Erikson and Levinson = substantial change

  • Paul Costa and Robert McCrae = stability in traits across development


Stability and change in the big five personality traits
Stability and Change in the Big Five Personality Traits

  • Big Five traits are relatively stable past age 30 with some variations in specific traits

  • Neuroticism, extraversion, and openness to experience decline somewhat from early adulthood through middle adulthood

  • Agreeableness and conscientiousness increase to a degree

  • Findings are consistent across cultures


If you re happy and you know it
If You’re Happy and You Know It…

  • Sense of subjective well-being or general happiness remains stable over life span

  • Most people general “set point” for happiness

  • Regardless of where they stand economically, residents of countries across the world have similar levels of happiness


Review and apply
Review and Apply


  • In normative-crisis models, people pass through age-related stages of development; life events models focus on how people change in response to varying life events.


Review and apply1
Review and Apply


  • Levinson argues that the transition to middle age can lead to a midlife crisis, but there is little evidence for this in the majority of people.

  • Broad, basic personality characteristics are relatively stable. Specific aspects of personality do seem to change in response to life events.


Review and apply2
Review and Apply


  • How do you think the midlife transition is different for a middle-aged person whose child has just entered adolescence versus a middle-aged person who has just become a parent for the first time?


Middle age marriages
Middle Age Marriages

  • Most frequent pattern of marital satisfaction is U-shaped

  • Marital satisfaction begins to decline after marriage and falls to its lowest point following the birth of children

  • Marital satisfaction begins to grow after children leave adolescence and reaches its highest point when kids leave home


What do the newer findings suggest
What do the newer findings suggest?

  • Unhappy marriages tend to terminate so earlier cross-sectional methods not representative

  • Long-married couples were older and were married during when marriage was more highly valued

  • Different couples have different levels of marital satisfaction even at outset


And so
And so…

  • Why might couples who have children tend to experience better marital satisfaction later in life than do childless couples?

  • Given these findings, how might you advise a newlywed couple on what to expect as their years of marriage progress?

Good marriages
Good Marriages

  • Many couples state that their spouse is their "best friend“

  • 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


Struggling marriages
Struggling Marriages

  • About 1 woman in 8 will get divorced after 40

  • People are more individual, spending less time together

  • Many feel concerned with their own personal happiness and leave an unhappy marriage

  • Divorce is more socially acceptable

  • Feelings of romantic, passionate love may subside over time



  • Divorce can be especially hard for traditional women over 40 who stayed home with kids and never worked outside the home

    • 75 percent to 80 percent of divorced people eventually remarry

    • It's harder for a middle-aged woman to remarry.90 percent of women under 25 remarry

    • While 75 percent of white women remarry, less than half of African American women remarry

    • Less than 33 percent over the age of 40 remarry


Marriage gradient
Marriage Gradient

  • The marriage gradient pushes men to marry younger women

  • Older women are victims of the harsh societal standards regarding physical attractiveness

  • A major reason many remarry is that being divorced carries a stigma


Second time around
Second Time Around

  • Older couples are more mature and realistic

  • Roles are more flexible

  • Couple looks at marriage less romantically and is more cautious

  • Divorce rate is higher for second marriages

  • More stress especially with blended families

  • Once divorce experienced it is easier to walk away a second time


Family evolutions from full house to empty nest
Family Evolutions: From Full House to Empty Nest

  • When parents experience feelings of unhappiness, worry, loneliness, and depression resulting from their children's departure from home

  • More myth than reality


When children leave home
When children leave home…

  • Parents can work harder

  • More time alone

  • House stays cleaner

  • Phone doesn't ring as often


Boomerang children refilling the empty nest
Boomerang Children: Refilling the Empty Nest

  • Young adults who come back to live in homes of their middle-aged parents

    • 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


Sandwich generation
Sandwich Generation

  • Fulfill needs of both their children and their aging parents

  • Couples are marrying and having children later

  • Parents are living longer


Caring for aging parents
Caring for Aging Parents

  • Care of aging parents can be psychologically tricky

    • Significant degree of role reversal

  • Range of care varies

    • Financial

    • Managing household

    • Providing direct care

  • Influenced by cultural norms and expectations


Becoming a grandparent who me
Becoming a Grandparent: Who, Me?

  • Involved (actively engaged and have role in raising/teaching)

  • Companionate (supportive roles, occasionally take the grandchildren)

  • Remote (detached and distant)


Are all grannies the same
Are all grannies the same?

  • Marked gender differences in ways people enjoy grandparenthood

  • Grandmothers are more interested and experience greater satisfaction than grandfathers

  • African American grandparents are more apt to be involved


Family violence the hidden epidemic
Family Violence: The Hidden Epidemic

  • Prevalence

  • Characteristics of abuser and abused



  • Low SES

  • Growing up in a violent home

  • Families with more children have more violence

  • Single parent families with lots of stress


Neil jacobson and john gottman
Neil Jacobson and John Gottman

  • Husbands who abuse fall into two categories:

    • “Pit bulls” confine violence to those they love and strike out against their wives when they feel jealous or when they fear being abandoned

    • “Cobras” are likely to be aggressive to everyone, are more likely to use weapons, and are more calculating, showing little emotion or arousal


Lenore walker
Lenore Walker

  • Marital abuse by a husband occurs in three stages:

    • Tension-building stage where a batterer becomes upset and shows dissatisfaction initially through verbal abuse

    • Acute battering incident when the physical abuse actually occurs

    • Loving contrition stage where the husband feels remorse and apologizes for his actions


Why women stay
Why Women Stay

  • Wife feels somewhat at fault

    • This explains why women stay in abusive relationships

  • Some stay out of fear


Cycle of violence hypothesis
Cycle of Violence Hypothesis

  • Abuse and neglect of children leads them to be predisposed to abusiveness as adults

  • About one-third of people who were abused or neglected as children abuse their own children

  • Two-thirds of abusers were not abused as children


Cultural differences
Cultural Differences

  • Cultural correlates

  • Status

    • Low status they = easy targets

    • High status = threat to husbands


Becoming an informed consumer of development
Becoming an Informed Consumer of Development

Dealing with Spousal Abuse

  • Teach both wives and husbands that physical violence is NEVER acceptable

  • Call the police

  • Understand that the remorse shown by a spouse, no matter how heartfelt, may have no bearing on the possibility of future violence

  • If you are the victim of abuse, seek a safe haven

  • If you feel in danger from an abusive partner, seek a restraining order

  • Call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233 for immediate advice.


Spousal abuse and society
Spousal Abuse and Society 

Cultural Roots of Violence

  • Others cultures have traditions in which violence is regarded as acceptable

  • Some experts suggest traditional power structure under which women and men function is root cause of abuse


Review and apply3
Review and Apply


  • Family changes in middle adulthood include the departure of children. In recent years, the phenomenon of “boomerang children” has emerged.

  • Middle-aged adults often have increasing responsibilities for their aging parents.


Review and apply4
Review and Apply


  • Marital violence tends to pass through three stages: tension building, an acute battering incident, and loving contrition.


Review and apply5
Review and Apply


  • Are the phenomena of the empty nest, boomerang children, the sandwich generation, and grandparenting culturally dependent? Why might such phenomena be different in societies where multigenerational families are the norm?


Jobs at midlife
Jobs at Midlife

  • Productivity

  • Job satisfaction

  • Worker characteristics and attitudes


Challenges of work on the job dissatisfaction
Challenges of Work: On-the-Job Dissatisfaction

What is the greatest underlying cause of burnout?



  • When highly trained professionals experience dissatisfaction, disillusionment, frustration, and weariness from their jobs

    • 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.


Unemployment the dashing of the dream
Unemployment: The Dashing of the Dream

  • Causes economic and psychological consequences

    • Feeling anxious, depressed, and irritable

    • Self-confidence and concentration may plummet

    • Sometimes depression and/or suicide


Seeking work after job loss in middle age
Seeking Work After Job Loss in Middle Age

  • Employers may discriminate because of age and not hire older applicants

  • Research shows that older workers have less absenteeism, hold their jobs longer, are more reliable, and more willing to learn new skills


Switching and starting careers at midlife
Switching—and Starting—Careers at Midlife

  • Some people change or seek jobs voluntarily in middle adulthood

    • Old job gave little satisfaction

    • Mastery of the old job's challenges achieved

    • No longer enjoy what they do

    • Need employment after raising children, divorce, or death of spouse


When mom goes to work hey what do you think she has been doing at home all those years
When Mom Goes to Work…Hey, What Do You Think She Has Been Doing At Home All Those Years?

  • 65 percent of women between ages of 50 and 60 (80 percent of those who graduated from college) are now in the workforce

  • Three-quarters are in full-time jobs


Immigrants on the job making it in america
Immigrants on the Job: Making It in America Doing At Home All Those Years?

  • Demographics

  • Contributions

  • Prejudice


Leisure time
Leisure time Doing At Home All Those Years?

  • Leisure activities

    • Average number of hours

    • Nature of activities

  • Pace of life differs across countries


Review and apply6
Review and Apply Doing At Home All Those Years?


  • People in middle age view their jobs differently than before, placing more emphasis on short-term factors and less on career striving and ambition.


Review and apply7
Review and Apply Doing At Home All Those Years?


  • Midlife career changes are becoming more prevalent, motivated usually by dissatisfaction, the need for more challenge or status, or the desire to return to the workforce after childrearing.

  • People in mid-life usually have increased leisure time. Often they use it to become more involved outside the home in recreational and community activities.


Review and apply8
Review and Apply Doing At Home All Those Years?


  • Why might striving for occupational success be less appealing in middle age than before? What cognitive and personality changes might contribute to this phenomenon?