Chapter 16 SOCIAL AND PERSONALITY DEVELOPMENT IN MIDDLE ADULTHOOD
Two Perspectives on Adult Personality Development Normative-Crisis • Views personality development in terms of fairly universal stages, tied to a sequence of age-related crises • Erikson, Gould, and Levinson's models are stage models. • Critics argue that normative-crisis models are outdated. • They came from a time when gender roles were more rigid. Life-Events • Suggests particular life even determine course of personality development • Changes in society call into question normative-crisis models that are closely tied to age Both models agree that adulthood is not a time of passivity and stagnation but of continued psychological growth.
Two Perspectives on Adult Personality Development Life Events: RevennaHelson • Suggest that timing of particular events in adult's life, rather than age per se, determine course of personality development • According to this model, a woman having her first baby at 21 would experience the same psychological forces as a woman having her first baby at 39. (ROTFL)
Erik Erikson Generativity versus stagnation • Generativity= looking beyond oneself to continuation of one's life through others • Stagnation = focusing on the triviality of their life • Critics argue that normative-crisis models are outdated; model came from time when gender roles were more rigid
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 • this reality propels them to adulthood. • Like much of Psychiatry, descriptions not research supported
X George VallantAmerican psychiatrist and Professor at Harvard Medical School and Director of Research for the Department of Psychiatry In 1966, when he was 32, George Vaillant took over Harvard’s famous Grant Study. The task: track hundreds of Harvard men, from youth to death, and determine what predicts wellbeing. • Vaillant establishes a “Decathlon of Flourishing,” a sort of Happiness Olympics in which each Grant member’s life competes. The “events” include: good subjective and objective physical and mental health at age 80; close to kids between ages 60 and 75; availability of social supports other than wife and kids between ages 60 and 75; in a good marriage between ages 60 and 85; and earned income in study’s top quartile.
Levinson: Seasons of Life Theory Most people are susceptible to fairly profound midlife crisis • Late 30s • Early 40s • Between 40 and 45
Midlife Crisis Stage of uncertainty and indecision brought about by period of assessment which may lead realization that life is finite • Gender differences • Despite widespread acceptance, evidence for midlife crisis does not exist • Facing signs of physical aging, men may also discover that even accomplishments they are proudest of brought them less satisfaction than expected. • Looking toward the past, they may seek to define what went wrong & look for ways to correct past mistakes. • Levinson claims women go through similar stages but have a more difficult time with "the dream" because of inner conflicts over career versus family.
Non-Midlife Life Crisis Non-midlife 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 • We may just pay more attention to the few who exhibit a midlife crisis.
What Age Do You Feel Most of the Time? Throughout adulthood, most people say they feel younger than they actually are. (Source: Based on The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation Research Network on Successful Midlife Development,1999.)
PERSONALITY DEVELOPMENT Does personality change or remains stable over course of development? • Lots of disagreement • Erikson and Levinson = substantial change • Paul Costa and Robert McCrae = stability in particular traits across development • Developmentalists feel that personality is both stable (on some traits) and changeable on others.
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
Same ol’…same ol’? • Personality is quite stable and continuous over the life span. • Self-concept at age 30 is a good indication of SC at age 80. • People's traits actually become more ingrained as they age. Based on the five factor model of personality. For a nice summary see here
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: the degree to which a person is moody, anxious, and self-critical. • Extraversion: how outgoing or shy a person is. • Openness: a person's level of curiosity and interest in new experiences. • Agreeableness: how easygoing and helpful a person tends to be. • Conscientiousness: a person's tendencies to be organized and responsible. • 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… • Sense of subjective well-being or general happiness remains stable over life span • Most people create a “set point” for happiness • Regardless of where they stand economically, residents of countries across the world have similar levels of happiness • Of course, changes from moment to moment but average is fairly stable • Average is fairly high
Middle Age MarriagesFeelings ‘on average’ • 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 • 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.
The Phases of Martial Satisfaction (Source: Based on Rollins & Cannon, 1974.)
After the Vows: Changes in Marital Satisfaction Over Time • Older research establishing U-shaped pattern used cross-sectional research, surveying different people at different points in their marriages • Current research employed longitudinal methods confirmed marital satisfaction decline but failed to find evidence of a subsequent upswing after the childbearing years • Over time, marriage quality continues to decline over course of marriage • Your Environment ask your parents
Furthermore, parenting plays a role in the developmental path of marriage quality—but not a straightforward one. 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 time when marriage was more highly valued • Older couples tend to have happier marriages both at the outset and in the later years. • people tend to become less emotionally reactive to marital discord as they age • or that their standards for evaluating their partners become more mellow. • Different couples have different levels of marital satisfaction even at outset • Parenting plays a role in the developmental path of marriage quality—but not a straightforward one.
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 • Unrealistic expectations
Divorce Although the overall divorce rate has declined in the last two decades, divorce among couples during midlife is actually rising • One woman in eight who is in her first marriage will get divorced after the age of 40, and one in four of all divorces were by people 50 and older • Divorce rate for people 50 and over has doubled in the last 20 years and is expected to increase • Health care expenses may force divorces
Divorce cont • Divorce can be especially hard for traditional women over 40 who stayed home with the kids and never worked. • 75 % to 80 % of divorced people eventually remarry. • It's harder for a middle-aged woman to remarry. • 90 % of women under 25 remarry • While 75 % of white women remarry, less than half of African American women remarry. • Less than 33 % over the age of 40 remarry.
More divorce in middle-age • Government policies now punish marriage • Especially true of retired persons • Especially true of independent professionals • Income tax & health care policy negative to marriage • Children somewhat offset this discrimination
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 • 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 Empty Nest Syndrome • When parents experience feelings of unhappiness, worry, loneliness, and depression resulting from their children's departure from home • More myth than reality • Many ordinary people define empty nest syndrome in a positive way
When children leave home… • Parents can work harder • More time alone • House stays cleaner • Phone does not ring as often
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 • Awful economy
More Boomerang Children: Enjoying It Less (Source: Pew Research Center, 2012.) An untrusted, biased pseudoresearch organization
Sandwich Generation Middle-aged couples must Fulfill needs of both their children and their aging parents • Couples are marrying and having children later • Parents are living longer • The care of parents ranges from financial aid to having parents live in their home. • Most of the burden falls on the wife - especially if not working. • Result of awful economy, healthcare expenses, etc.
Caring for Aging Parents • Care of aging parents can be psychologically tricky • Significant degree of role reversal • Bourn by women iven in in-law care • Range of care varies • Financial • Managing household • Providing direct care • Influenced by cultural norms and expectations
Becoming a Grandparent: • Involved: grandparents are actively engaged in grandparenting and have influence over their grandchildren's lives. • Companionate: grandparents are more relaxed, and act as supporters and buddies to their grandchildren. • Remote: grandparents are detached and distant, and show little interest in their grandchildren. • Grandmothers tend to be more involved than grandfathers. • African-American grandparents are more involved with their grandchildren than white grandparents.
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 • Large cultural differences • Large familiar differences
Family Violence: The Hidden Epidemic Prevalence • Between 21 and 34 percent of women will be slapped, kicked, beaten, choked, or threatened or attacked with a weapon at least once by an intimate partner • Close to 15 percent of all marriages in the United States are characterized by continuing, severe violence • Estimates suggest that one in three women throughout the globe experience some form of violent victimization during their lives
Factors That Put a Family at Risk for Abuse • Low SES • Growing up in a violent home • Families with more children have more violence • Single parent families with lots of stress • Ethnicity Estimates range from 960,000 incidents of violence against a current or former spouse, boyfriend, or girlfriend to 3 million women who are physically abused by their husband or boyfriend per year.
Stages of Violence 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
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 • Other sources strongly dispute these numbers • Data is about as poor as it gets
Why Women Stay • Wife feels somewhat at fault • This explains why women stay in abusive relationships • Some stay out of fear • Financial fear • Something to love in abuser
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 • If you are interested in more information on culturalcauses (and have a strong stomach see this link.)
Cultural Differences Cultural correlates • Status • Low status they = easy targets • High status = threat to husbands
Work and Careers: Jobs at Midlife • Productivity • Job satisfaction • Worker characteristics and attitudes