Personality and Relationships November 21, 2007
Reminder • As announced last class, you have until December 5th to complete the paper instead of November 28th.
Tonight’s Lecture • How does identity change with age? • Is there such a thing as a midlife crisis? • How does middle-aged and older couples differ? • What are the benefits of being a grandparent? • What are the benefits and drawbacks of caregiving?
Erik Erikson (1902-1994) • Erikson was the first theorist to develop a true lifespan theory of personality development. • His eight stages represent the eight great struggles that he believed people must undergo. • Each struggle has a certain time of ascendancy • The epigenetic principle • Each struggle must be resolved to continue development
Clarifications and Extensions of Erikson’s Theory • Logan argues that the eight stages are really a cycle that repeats • trust achievement wholeness • Van Geert proposes that the rules by which people move from one stage to the next may be related to cognitive development. • Kotre has extended generativity versus stagnation stage to include five types of generativity • Biological and parental • Technical • Cultural • Agentic • Communal
The McAdams Model • McAdams’s model shows how generativity results from: • Complex interconnections between societal and inner forces • Thus, creating a concern for the next generation and a belief in the goodness of the human enterprise
Loevinger’s Theory • Loevinger has proposed the most comprehensive attempt at integrating cognitive and ego development and extension of Erikson’s theory • Ego development results from dynamic interactions between the person and the environment • Eight stages – six in adulthood • Four areas of importance in ego development • Character development • Interpersonal style • Conscious preoccupations • Cognitive style
Theories Based on Life Transitions • Amongst the most popular theories of adult personality development. • Based on the idea that adults go through a series of life transitions, or passages • However, few of these theories have substantial databases, and none are based on representative samples. • Life transitions tend to overestimate the commonality of age-linked transitions.
In Search of the Midlife Crisis • A key idea in life transition theories is the midlife crisis. • The idea that at middle age we take a good look at ourselves in the hopes of achieving a better understanding of who we are. • Many adults face difficult issues and make behavioural changes
In Search of the Midlife Crisis • However, very little data supports the claim that all people inevitably experience a crisis in middle age. • Most middle-aged people do point to both gains and losses, positives and negatives in their lives • This transition may be better characterized as a midlife correction. • Reevaluating ones’ roles and dreams and making the necessary corrections
Conclusions about Personal Concerns • Evidence supports a sharp change in personal concerns as adults age. • This is in contrast to stability in dispositional traits supporting McAdams’s contention that this middle level of personality should show some change. • Change is not specific to an age, but is dependent on many factors. • All agree that there is a need for more research in this area.
McAdams’s Life-Story Model • Argues that people create a life story • That is, an internalized narrative with a beginning, middle, and an anticipated ending • There are seven essential features of a life story • Narrative tone • Image • Theme • Ideological setting • Nuclear episodes • Character • An ending
McAdams’s Life-Story Model • Adults are said to reformulate their life stories throughout adulthood both at the conscious and unconscious levels • The goal is to have a life story that is • Coherent • Credible • Open to new possibilities • Richly differentiated • Reconciling of opposite aspects of oneself • Integrated within one’s sociocultural context
Whitbourne's Identity Theory • Argues that people build conceptions of how their lives should proceed • They create a unified sense of their past, present, and future • The life-span construct, which has 2 parts • A scenario • This includes future expectations or a game plan for one’s life; it is strongly related to age norms. • A life story • A personal narrative history that organizes past events into a coherent sequence.
Self-Concept • The organized, coherent, integrated pattern of self-perceptions that includes self-esteem and self-image. • Mortimer and colleagues • A 14-year longitudinal study showed that self-concept influences the interpretation of life events • Kegen • Self-concepts across adulthood are related to the cognitive-developmental level. • Proposes six stages of development which correspond to levels of cognitive development. • Emphasizes that self-concept and personality does not occur in a vacuum.
Possible Selves • Created by projecting yourself into the future and thinking about what you would like to become, and what you are afraid of becoming. • Age differences have been observed in both hoped-for and feared selves. • Young adults and middle-aged adults report family issues as most important. • Middle-aged and older adults report personal issues to be most important. • However, all groups included physical aspects as part of their most feared selves. • Interestingly, young and middle-aged adults see themselves as improving in the future, while older adults do not.
Possible Selves • Ryff identified six aspects of psychological well-being: • Self-acceptance • Positive relationships with others • Autonomy • Environmental mastery • Purpose in life • Personal growth
Religiosity and Spiritual Support • Older adults use religion more often than any other strategy to help them cope with problems in life • Spiritual support includes • Pastoral care • Participating in organized and non-organized religious activities • Expressing faith in a God who cares for people • Spiritual support provides a strong influence on identity • This is especially true for African Americans, who are more active in their church groups and attend services more frequently • Research with Muslims, Sikhs, and Hindus showed they also gain important aspects of their identity (e.g., self-worth) from religion.
Gender-Role Identity • People’s beliefs about the appropriate characteristics for men and women • They reflect shared cultural beliefs and stereotypes about masculinity and femininity • There is some evidence that gender role identity converges in middle age • Men and women more likely to endorse similar self-descriptions • However, these similar descriptions do not necessarily translate into similar behavior • Also, older men and women tend to endorse similar statements about masculinity and femininity
What Role Do Friends Play? • Three broad themes underlie adult friendships • Affective or emotional basis • This includes self-disclosure, expressions of intimacy, appreciation, affection, and support • Based on trust, loyalty, and commitment • Shared or communal nature • Friends participate in or support activities of mutual interest • Sociability and compatibility • Friends keep us entertained and are sources of amusement, fun, and recreation
How Do Friendships Change Over Time? • Young adults tend to have more friends and acquaintances than any other age group. • Friendships in old age are especially important for maintaining life satisfaction. • This is possibly due to socio-emotional selectivity.
Are Friendships Different For Men and Women? • Men tend to have fewer friendships than women. • Men’s friendships tend to be based on shared activities. • Women's friendships are based on intimate emotional sharing. • Cross-gender friendships tend to be very difficult to maintain.
How Do Siblings Relate To One Another? • Five types of sibling relationships have been identified: • Congenial • Loyal • Intimate • Apathetic • Hostile • Loyal and congenial relationships describe nearly two-thirds of all older sibling pairs. • Sibling ties among sisters tend to be the strongest.
How About Love? • Sternberg has identified three components of love • Passion • Intimacy • Commitment • Ideally, good love relationships have all three components • Assortative mating does the best job explaining the process of forming love relationships. • Selecting a mate works best when there are shared values, goals, and interests. • Cross-cultural research demonstrates that mate preferences are subject to powerful cultural norms.
Love & Marriage • The median age at first marriage is increasing and has done so over the last few decades • Factors influencing marital success • Maturity of the two partners at time of marriage • Homogamy • Marriage based on similarity • Feelings of equality • Exchange theory - each partner contributing something to the relationship that the other would be hard pressed to provide
How Does Marital Satisfaction Change Over Time? • Childless couples tend to remain satisfied throughout their marriage. • Couples with children show declines in marital satisfaction while the children are still living at home. • Additionally, marriages in which both partners are mutually dependent on the other tend to remain happy.
What Are Long-Term Marriages Like? • Most long-term marriages tend to be happy. • Couples in long-term happy marriages show an ability to adapt to changes in their relationships (Weishaus & Fields, 1988). • Couples realize that expectations about one's marriage change over time. • The partners express few negative emotions.
What Differentiates Middle-Aged & Older Couples? (Levenson et al., 1993, 1994) • Older couples: Less potential for conflict and more for pleasure. • Equivalent levels of physical and mental health. • Older couples: Less gender differences & more positive emotions. • When discussing a problem, older couples are less emotionally negative and more positive, and more affectionate.
Sexuality in Older Adults • As Time Goes By: Video discussing changes in sexuality as people grow older. • Call number: AV 00571 • What are the changes older adults report in their sex life? • How do couple relationships changes? Is it congruent with what we have discussed so far? • Is there a stigma attached to sexuality as we age? Is it a cohort effect?
Divorce: When Marriage Takes a Wrong Turn • Although most couples intend their marriages to last, roughly half will end in divorce. • Currently 1 in every 3 households is affected by divorce. • The peak time for divorce is 3 or 4 years after the wedding or when a couple is in their late 20s. • One reason given for the increase in divorces is that attitudes toward divorce have mellowed, while expectations about marriage have increased.
Are There Factors Predicting Divorce? • Gottman and Levenson (2000) developed 2 models to predict divorce early (<7 years) and late (when the first child reaches age 14) in a marriage. • Importance of showing emotions: Negative emotions vs. lack of positive emotions. • Right after divorce: Preoccupation with thoughts of spouse and high feelings of hostility: Poorer emotional well-being.
Impact of Divorce • Divorce may impair well-being even several years later. • Men have more short-term problems. • Women have more long-term problems. • In general, the older the individual is at the time of the divorce, the more difficult the adjustment process will be.
Divorce and Remarriage • Despite adjustment problems, the vast majority of divorced people remarry. • Usually remarriage occurs within three years. • Second marriage rates are lower for older divorced women. • Very little research has been conducted on the nature of second (or higher) marriages. • What little is known suggests that the biggest problem will likely be step-parenting. • Remarriage in late life appears to be very happy, especially if the partners were widowed. • In this case, the biggest problem is usually resistance by adult children.
Widowhood • Experiencing the death of one's spouse is a traumatic event, but one which is highly likely. • More than half of women over 65 are widows, but only 16% of same-aged men are widowers. • Reactions to widowhood depend on the quality of the marriage. • Widowed people are vulnerable to being abandoned by their couples-based friendship network. • As a result, they may become socially isolated.
Gender Differences in Widowhood • Widowhood is more common among women because they tend to marry older men. • Widowed men are typically older than widowed women. • Men are more likely to die soon after their spouse. • Either by suicide or natural causes.
Effect of Widowhood on Disability (van den Brink et al., 2004) • Impact of widowhood on mobility, IADLs & basic ADLs in men from Finland, Netherlands & Italy. • Looked at the impact of widowhood on disability onset, duration of widowhood (less than 5 years vs. more than 5 years) and living situation (living alone vs. with others). • Do men get used to widowhood?
Results • Living alone: Netherlands (76%) & Finland (65%) vs. Italy (33%) • Widowhood: Higher prevalence of disability of IADLs & mobility. • Men who had been widowed less than 5 years showed more disabilities on IADLs than those widowed longer. No difference in mobility or basic ADLs. • Men living alone: Fewer disabilities for mobility & basic ADLs. • Lived in institution: more disabled.
More Results • Interactions between countries and different variables: Not significant. • Problem of dropped/missing data: People who are more impaired discontinue. • Nevertheless, depression and health problems following widowhood could explain some increase in disability just following bereavement. • Functional vs. situational disability.
Family & Intergenerational Relationships • Riley and Riley present three ways of conceptualizing kinship ties • Simple - involving two generations • Expanded - involving three generations • Latent - involving in-laws and other relatives
Middle-Aged Adults Caring for Their Parents • Sandwich generation • Used to describe how middle-aged adults are squeezed by competing demands of children who want to gain independence and their parents who want to maintain independence. • Middle-aged adults do not abandon their parents. • Most middle-aged adults typically maintain close and frequent contact with their parents. • Often due to feelings of filial obligation.
Abuse and Neglect of Older Adults • Elder abuse is difficult to define and has several categories: • Physical • Psychological and emotional • Sexual • Material or financial • Violation of rights • Most perpetrators are adult children. • Abuse and neglect of older adults is an increasing problem.
Abuse and Neglect of Older Adults • Characteristics of elder abuse victims • Some data show women more likely to be abused than men while other data show no differences. • People over the age of 80 are abused two to three times more often than those under 80. • Main factors in abuse: • Age • Poverty • Race • Functional and cognitive impairment • Living with someone • In 90% of the cases the family member is the abuser, and in two thirds of those, it is the spouse or adult child.
Changing Relationships • Parents and their children are living longer, so they now achieve status equals • Property transfer no longer constitutes the primary reason for formal intergenerational ties. • Most older adults are reasonably healthy and self-sufficient. • Contemporary families are increasingly diverse. • Many forms of relationships provide alternatives to traditional parent-child interactions.
Being a Family • Nuclear family • Consisting only of parents and children • The most common form of family in Western societies. • Extended family • Consisting of grandparents and other relatives living with parents and children. • The most common form around the world is the extended family. • Social pressure is put on people to have children. • However, children seriously disrupt most marriages and put many strains on the family.
Being a Family • In general, child-free couples report happier marriages, more freedom, and higher standard of living. • The timing of parenthood is important in how involved parents are in their families • Men who become fathers in their 30s spend much more time with their children than men who become fathers in their 20s.
The Empty Nest • Most parents do not report severe negative emotions when their children leave home. • Only 25% report negative emotions when their children leave home. • Difficulties emerge when children were a major source of a parent’s identity. • However, most parents typically report distress if adult children move back home.
Becoming a Grandparent • Neugarten and Weinstein identified five major styles of grandparenting. • Formal • Fun seeker • Distant • Surrogate parents • Dispenser of family wisdom • One third of grandparents are classified as formal with traditional roles. • Such as occasional babysitting and occasionally indulging grandchild.