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Emotional and Social Development in Early Adulthood

Emotional and Social Development in Early Adulthood

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Emotional and Social Development in Early Adulthood

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  1. Emotional and Social Development in Early Adulthood Chapter 14 To page 481

  2. A Gradual Transition: Emerging Adulthood • Research shows that in many industrialized nations, most young adults only feel that they are truly adult after reaching their late 20s and early 30s • Emerging adulthood – the lives of many young people today indicate that the transition to adult roles has become so delayed that it has spawned a new transitional period • extends from the late teens to the mid-20s

  3. Emerging Adulthood: Unprecedented Exploration and Advances in Identity • Emerging adulthood greatly prolongs identity development • Released from the oversight of parents but not yet immersed in adult roles, 18-25 year olds can engage in activities of the widest possible scope • Routes to adult responsibilities are highly diverse in timing and order across individuals, with little that is normative or socially expected • Ex. Many more college students than in past generations pursue their education in a drawn-out, nonlinear way – changing majors as they explore career options, taking courses while working part-time, or interrupting school to work or travel • During the college years, young people refine their approach to constructing an identity • Besides exploring in breadth (weighing multiple possibilities), they also explore in depth (evaluating existing commitments) • Ex. Before students choose a major they usually take classes in multiple areas, and once a decision on a major has been made, students usually evaluate in depth the field they have selected, reflecting on their interests, motivation, and performance

  4. Cultural Change, Cultural Variation, and Emerging Adulthood • Emerging adulthood is limited to cultures that postpone entry into adult roles until the 20s • In developing nations, only a few individuals experience emerging adulthood, usually the individuals from wealthy families who are admitted to universities • In industrialized countries, where many benefit from these transitional years, young people vary in their beliefs about what it means to become an adult • Young adults from diverse cultures, ethnicities, and religions emphasize psychological qualities, especially self-sufficiency, as well as deciding on personal beliefs and values, establishing an equal relationship with parents, and becoming financially independent • Young adults from collectivist minority groups also attach a great importance to becoming more considerate of others, to attaining certain roles, and to self-control • Emerging adulthood is limited for low SES young people in Western nations • Low SES is limited by early parenthood, dropping out of high school, and no access to vocational training

  5. Risk and Resilience in Emerging Adulthood • Emerging adults play a more active role in their own development than at any earlier time • They choose and coordinate demanding life roles and acquire the skills necessary to succeed in those roles • As they experiment, they often encounter disappointments in love and work that require them to adjust, and sometimes radically change, their life path • Emerging adults’ explorations also extend to earlier risks, including unprotected sexual activity, substance use, and hazardous driving behavior • Certain types of risks also increase • Ex. Drug taking peaks between ages 19-22 • Research shows that personal attributes, such as planning and decision making, and social supports, including a secure parent-emerging adult bond, fosterresilience(the capacity to overcome challenge and adversity) and a successful passage through these years • See chart on page 468 of text for a list of cognitive, emotional and social attributes and social supports that foster resilience in emerging adulthood

  6. Erikson’s Theory: Intimacy versus Isolation • Intimacy versus Isolation reflects the young person’s thoughts and feelings about making a permanent commitment to an intimate partner • Maturity involves balancing the desire for self-determination with the desire for intimacy • A secure identity fosters attainment of intimacy • For both men and women, identity achievement is positively correlated with fidelity and love, while identity moratorium is negatively associated with fidelity and love • For women, coordination of identity and intimacy is more complex than for men, because women are more likely to consider the impact of their personal goals on important relationships • Young people who have achieved intimacy are more cooperative, tolerant, and accepting of differences in background and values in their friendships and work ties • In contrast, people with a sense of isolation hesitate to form close ties because they fear loss of their own identity, tend to compete rather than cooperate, are not accepting of differences, and are easily threatened when others get too close • Erikson believed that successful resolution of intimacy versus isolation prepares the individual for the middle adulthood stage • Generativity – caring for the next generation and helping to improve society

  7. Other Theories of Adult Psychosocial Development • In the 1970s, growing interest in adult development led to several widely read books on the topic • Daniel Levinson’s The Seasons of a Man’s Life • George Vaillant’sAdaptation to Life • Aging Well present psychosocial theories in the tradition of Erikson

  8. Levinson’s Seasons of Life • Conducted in-depth biographical interviews with men and women age 35-45 • Identified a common path of change within which men and women approach developmental tasks in somewhat different ways • Like Erikson, Levinson saw development as a sequence of qualitatively distinct stages • Each stage begins with a transition • Followed by a stable phase during which individuals build a life structure aimed at balancing inner personal demands and outside social demands • Eventually people question the current structure, and a new transition occurs • A key concept in Levinson’s theory is the life structure – the underlying design of a person’s life, consisting of relationships with significant individuals, groups, and institutions • Men’s and women’s accounts of their lives confirm Levinson’s description of development • They also reveal that early adulthood is the era of “greatest energy and abundance, contradiction and stress”

  9. Levinson’s Seasons of Life • Levinson found that during the early adult transition, most people construct a dream – an image of themselves in the adult world that guides their decision making • For men, the dream usually emphasizes an independent achiever in an occupational role • Most career-oriented women display “split dreams” involving both marriage and career • Young adults also form a relationship with a mentor who facilitates realization of their dream – often a senior colleague at work • Finding a supportive mentor is easier for men than for women • Men oriented toward high-status careers spend their 20s acquiring professional skills, values, and credentials • For many women, by contrast, career development often extends into middle age

  10. Levinson’s Seasons of Life • During the age-30 transition, young people who were preoccupied with career and are still single usually focus on finding a life partner • While women who had emphasized marriage and motherhood often develop more individualistic goals • To create the culminating life structure of early adulthood, men usually “settle down” by focusing on certain relationships and aspirations • Many women remain unsettled in their 30s, often because they have added an occupational or relationship commitment • Not until middle age do many women attain the stability typical of men in their 30s • Reaching career maturity and taking on more authority in the community

  11. Vaillant’s Adaptation to Life • Vaillant examined the development of nearly 250 men born in the 1920s • They were selected for the study while they were students at a highly competitive liberal arts college • As many as possible were followed over the lifespan • In college, the participants underwent extensive interviews • During each succeeding decade, they answered lengthy questionnaires • Then Vaillant interviewed the men at ages 47, 60, and 70 about work, family, and physical and mental health

  12. Vaillant’s Adaptation to Life • Vaillant’s research confirmed Erikson’s stages but filled gaps between them, and is also compatible with Levinson’s theory • After focusing on intimacy concerns in their 20s, the men shifted their focus to career consolidation in their 30s • In their 40s, they pulled back from the individual achievement and became more generative • In their 50s and 60s, they became guardians of their culture, expressing concern about the values of the new generation and the state of their society • In their 70s, the men became more spiritual and reflective • Later, in another lifelong study, Vaillant studied women and found that they went through a similar series of changes

  13. Limitations of Levinson’s and Villant’s Theories • Their conclusions are based largely on interviews with people born in the first few decades of the 20th century and might not apply as broadly to young adults today • Levinson’s sample included only a few non-college-educated , low-income adults, and almost no low SES women • The effects of SES on life course remain largely uninvestigated

  14. The Social Clock • An important cultural and generational influence on adult development in all societies is the social clock • Social clock – age-graded expectations for major life events, such as starting a first job, getting married, birth of the first child, buying a home, and retiring • A major source of personality change in adulthood can be conformity to or departure from the social clock • In one study, women born in the 1930s were followed up at ages 27 and 43 • Those who followed a “feminine” social clock (marriage and parenthood in the early or mid-20s) became more responsible self-controlled, tolerant, and caring but declined in self-esteem and felt more vulnerable as their lives progressed • Those who followed a “masculine” social clock (entry into a high-status career and advancement by the late 20s) became more dominant, sociable, independent, and intellectually effective • Those who had neither married or begun a career by age 30 suffered from feelings of incompetence, self-doubt, and loneliness • Age-graded expectations for appropriate behavior have become increasingly flexible • But, many adults experience psychological distress when they are substantially behind in timing of life events • Following a social clock of some kind seems to foster confidence during early adulthood • It guarantees that young people will engage in the work of society, develop skills, and gain in understanding of the self and others • Thus, the stability of society depends on having people committed to social-clock patterns

  15. Close Relationships • To establish an intimate tie to another person, people must find a partner and build an emotional bond that they sustain over time • Although young adults are especially concerned with romantic love, the need for intimacy can also be satisfied through other relationships involving mutual commitment • With friends, siblings, and co-workers

  16. Romantic Love: Selecting a Mate • Both biological and social forces contribute to mate selection • Intimate partners generally meet in places where they find people of their own age, ethnicity, SES, and religion • People usually select partners who resemble themselves in attitudes, personality, education plans, and intelligence, physical attractiveness, and even height • Many studies confirm that the more similar partners are, the more satisfied they tend to be with their relationship and the more likely they are to stay together • Men and women differ in the importance they place on certain characteristics which reflect evolutionary theory • Women assign greater weight to intelligence, ambition, financial status, and moral character as well as preference for same-age or slightly older partners • Men place more emphasis on physical attractiveness and domestic skills and also prefer a younger partner

  17. Romantic Love: Selecting a Mate • Evolutionary theory helps explain these findings • Because their capacity to reproduce is limited, women seek a mate with traits, such as earning power and emotional commitment, that help ensure children’s survival and well-being • Women also typically prefer to take time to achieve psychological intimacy before physical intimacy • Men look for a mate with traits that signal youth, health, sexual pleasure, and ability to give birth to and care for offspring • Additionally men often want a relationship to move quickly toward physical intimacy • From a social learning perspective, mate selection is influenced by gender roles • Men learn to be assertive and independent • Behaviors needed for success in the work world • Women acquire nurturant behaviors that facilitate caregiving • Each sex then learns to value traits in the other that fit with a traditional division of labor • In cultures and in younger generations experiencing greater gender equity, men and women are more alike in their mate preferences • Ex. Compared with men in China and Japan, American men place more emphasis on their mate’s financial prospects and less on her domestic skills

  18. Romantic Love: Selecting a Mate • But neither men nor women put good looks, earning power, and mate’s age relative to their own at the top their wish list • They place a higher value on relationship satisfaction: mutual attraction, caring, dependability, emotional maturity, and a pleasing disposition • Nevertheless, men continue to value physical attractiveness more than women do • And women continue to value earning capacity more than men do • Choice of an intimate partner and quality of the intimate relationship are also influenced by timing and by memories of the early parent-child bond

  19. Romantic Love: The Components of Love • Sternberg’s triangular theory of love – identifies 3 components – intimacy, passion, and commitment – that shift in emphasis as romantic relationships develop • Intimacy is the emotional component, involves warm, tender communication, expressions of concern about the other’s well-being, and a desire for the partner to reciprocate • Passion, the desire for sexual activity and romance, is the physical and psychological arousal component • Commitment is the cognitive component, leading partners to decide that they are in love and to maintain that love • Passionate love – intense sexual attraction • Is strong at the beginning of a relationship, gradually declines in favor of intimacy and commitment • Intimacy and commitment form the basis of companionate love – warm, trusting affection and caregiving

  20. Romantic Love: The Components of Love • Important features of higher-quality, long-lasting relationships include consistent expressions of commitment and constructive conflict resolution • Constructive conflict resolution involves directly expressing wishes and needs, listening patiently, asking for clarification, compromising, accepting responsibility, forgiving their partner, and avoiding the escalation of negative interaction sparked by criticism, contempt, defensiveness, and stonewalling • In contrast, negative behavior and a rise in stress hormone levels during conflict have been shown to predict marital dissatisfaction and eventual divorce

  21. Culture and the Experience of Love • Passion and intimacy became the dominant bases for marriage in the 20th century Western nations as the value of individualism strengthened • From this vantage point, mature love is based on autonomy, appreciation of the partner’s unique qualities, and intense emotion • Trying to satisfy dependency needs through an intimate bond is considered immature • In collectivist Eastern cultures, lifelong dependency is viewed positively • Because the self is defined through role relationships, and affection is distributed across a broad social network, rather than focused intensely on a single person • Even in countries where arranged marriages are still fairly common, parents and prospective brides and grooms consult one another before moving forward

  22. Friendships • Adult friends are usually similar in age, sex, and SES • Factors that contribute to common interests, experiences, and needs and therefore to the pleasure derived from the relationship • Friends enhance self-esteem through affirmation and acceptance and provide support in times of stress • Friends also make life more interesting by expanding social opportunities and access to knowledge and points of view • Trust, intimacy, and loyalty continue to be important in adult friendships • Sharing thoughts and feelings is sometimes greater in friendship than in marriage • Although commitment is less strong as friends come and go over the life course

  23. Same-Sex Friendships • Women have more intimate same-sex friendships than men, and often prefer to “just talk” with friends • While male friends generally prefer to “do something,” such as play sports • Barriers to intimacy between male friends include competitiveness, which may make men unwilling to disclose weaknesses, and concern that if they tell about themselves friends won’t reciprocate • For single adults, friends are the preferred companions and confidants • Gay and lesbian romantic relationships often develop out of close same-sex friendships • With lesbians especially forging compatible friendships based on gratifying communication before becoming involved romantically

  24. Other-Sex Friendships • In the college years, other-sex friendships are as common as romantic relationships and may include sex without a dating relationship • After marriage, other-sex friendships decline with age for men but increase for women, who tend to form them in the workplace • Many people try to keep other-sex friendships platonic to safeguard their integrity • But when sexual attraction does develop, the relationship often changes into a romantic bond • Men are more likely than women to feel sexually attracted to an other-sex friend

  25. The Family Life Cycle • The family life cycle – a sequence of phases characterizing the development of most families around the world • In early adulthood, people typically live on their own, marry, and bear and rear children • In middle-age, their children leave home, and their parenting responsibilities diminish • Late adulthood brings retirement, growing old, and death of one’s spouse • We have to be careful not to view the family life cycle as a fixed progression • Today, wide variations exist in the sequence and timing of its phases • High rates of out-of-wedlock births, delayed marriage and childbearing, divorce, and remarriage all contribute, just to name a few • And some people, voluntarily or involuntarily, do not experience all the family life-cycle phases

  26. Joining of Families in Marriage • The average age of first marriage in the U.S. has risen • About age 20 for women and 23 for men in 1950 • Today, about age 25 ½ for women and 27 ½ for men • 90% of Americans marry at least once • Same sex marriages are recognized nationwide in Argentina, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, Iceland, Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Spain, South Africa, Sweden • In the U.S., Connecticut, Iowa, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, Washington D.C and Vermont have legalized same-sex marriage • Hopefully, since DOMA was defeated by the supreme court, nationwide • Evidence on cohabitating same-sex couples suggests that the factors that contribute to happiness in other-sex marriages also do so in same-sex unions • But, marriage is more than just the union of two individuals, it also requires that the spouses’ two family systems adapt and overlap to create a new subsystem • Among same-sex couples, acceptance of the relationship by parents, inclusion of the partner in family events, and living in a supportive community where they can be open about their bond benefit relationship satisfaction and durability

  27. Marital Roles • Contemporary alterations in the context of marriage, including changing gender roles and living farther away from family members, mean that couples must work harder than in the past to define their relationships • Although partners are usually similar in religious and ethnic background, “mixed” marriages are increasingly common • Ex. Nearly half of American Jews who marry today select a non-Jewish spouse • Ex. Other-race unions now account for nearly 10% of the married population in the U.S. • Age of marriage is the most consistent predictor of marital stability • Young people who marry in their teens and early 20s are far more likely to divorce than those who marry later

  28. Marital Roles • Despite progress in the area of women’s rights traditional marriages – involving clear division of husband’s and wife’s roles, still exist in Western nations • The man is the head of household and his primary responsibility is the economic well-being of his family • The woman devotes herself to caring for her husband and children and to creating a nurturant, comfortable home • In recent decades these marriages have changed, with many women who focused on motherhood while their children were young returning to the work force later • In egalitarian marriages – partners relate as equals, sharing power and authority • Both try to balance the time and energy they devote to their occupations, their children, and their relationship • Most well-educated, career-oriented women expect this form of marriage

  29. Marital Satisfaction • Factors related to marital satisfaction include family backgrounds, age at marriage, relationship to extended family, and personality characteristics • Quality of the marital relationship predicts mental health similarly for men and women • However men tend to report feeling slightly happier with their marriages than do women • Women tend to feel particularly dissatisfied with marriage when the demands of husband, children, housework, and career are overwhelming • Research in both Western and non-Western industrialized nations reveals that equal power in the relationship and sharing of family responsibilities usually enhances both men’s and women’s satisfaction

  30. Marital Satisfaction

  31. Marital Expectations and Myths • In one study 50 happily married couples were interviewed about their marriages • Each participant reported both good times and bad, and many admitted to having moments when they wanted out • Clearly, marital happiness was no “rose garden” • Rather, it was grounded in mutual respect, pleasure and comfort in each other’s company, and joint problem solving • All couples emphasized the need to reshape their relationship in response to new circumstances and to each partner’s changing needs and desires • Yet many young people have a mythical image of marital bliss, based more on TV romantic comedies and dramas than on reality • Ex. A substantial number of young adults endorse these beliefs, all unsupported by facts • The best single predictor of marital satisfaction is the quality of a couple’s sex life • If my spouse loves me, he/she should instinctively know what I want and need to be happy • No matter how I behave, my spouse should love me simply because he/she is my spouse

  32. Parenthood • For many adults, the decision to have children used to be “a biological given” or “an unavoidable cultural demand” • Today, in Western industrialized nations, parenthood is a matter of true individual choice • Effective birth control techniques enable adults to avoid having children in most instances • Changing cultural values allow people to remain childless with less fear of social criticism and rejection than a generation or two ago • In 1950, 78% of American married couples were parents • Today, 70% bear children, and they tend to be older when they have their first child • Family size in industrialized nations has declined since 1950 • In 1950, the average number of children per couple was 3.1 • Today it is 1.8 in the U.S. (not really sure how you can have .1 or .8 kids…)

  33. The Decision to Have Children • The choice of parenthood is affected by a combination of factors • Including financial circumstances, personal and religious values, and health conditions • Women with traditional gender identities usually decide to have children • Whether a woman is employed or not has less impact on childbearing than the nature of her occupation • Women with high-status, demanding careers less often choose parenthood and, when they do, more often delay it than women with less consuming jobs • The most important reasons given for having children include the warm, affectionate relationship and the stimulation and fun that children provide • The most commonly mentioned disadvantages of parenthood include “loss of freedom” and “financial strain” • According to a conservative estimate raising a child in the U.S. from birth to age 18 costs about $200,000… and that’s before college tuition

  34. Transition to Parenthood • The early weeks after a baby enters the family are full of profound change • Constant caregiving, added financial responsibilities, and less time for the couple’s relationship • These demands usually cause the gender roles of husband and wife to become more traditional • Even for couples who are strongly committed to gender equality

  35. First and Second Births • For most new parents the arrival of a baby does not cause significant marital strain • But troubled marriages usually become more unhappy and distressed • When expectant couples anticipate lack of partner support in parenting, their prediction generally becomes reality • Causing an especially difficult post-birth adjustment • In dual-earner marriages, the larger the difference in men’s and women’s caregiving responsibilities, the greater the decline in marital satisfaction after childbirth • Especially for women, with negative consequences for parent-infant interaction • Sharing caregiving predicts greater parental happiness and sensitivity to the baby • But there is an exception, for employed lower-SES women who endorse traditional gender roles • When their husbands take on considerable child-care responsibilities, these mothers tend to report more distress, perhaps because of disappointment at being unable to fulfill their desire to do most of the caregiving

  36. First and Second Births • A second birth typically requires that fathers take an even more active role in parenting • By caring for the firstborn while the mother is recuperating and by sharing the high demands of tending to both a baby and a young child • Consequently, well-functioning families with a newborn second child typically pull back form the traditional division of responsibilities that occurred after the first birth