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Chapter 3. Social and Psychological Theories in Later Life Development. Theories. Different lenses from which to view an event They help us understand and organize. They help us analyze data (information gathered by observation).
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Chapter 3 Social and Psychological Theories in Later Life Development
Theories Different lenses from which to view an event They help us understand and organize. They help us analyze data (information gathered by observation). Quantitative development emphasizes changes in the number or amount of something. Qualitativedevelopment emphasizes narratives, as well as transformations of thoughts or behaviors
Metaphors A metaphor is a figure of speech that implies a comparison. Mechanistic metaphor — views the person as a machine, with development dictated by determining forces, such as biology Organic metaphor — sees the individual unfolding like a flower, with internal potential being realized
More Metaphors Information processing metaphor — individual competency in cognition with internal and external sources of potential Narrative metaphor — views development as the story of a person’s life Emergent self metaphor— emphasizes our choices and motivations determining our development Transcendent self metaphor — the self is shaped by experiences beyond individual ego, and includes spirituality
Developmental Models Distinct stages or phases from the life cycle proceeding from infancy through old age Emphasize the ways in which we are similar across the life course Look at physical, psychological and social aspects of development
Sigmund Freud, 1856-1939 • Father of the psychoanalytic perspective • Freud theorized that: • Unconscious psychological processes affect our thoughts and behaviors. • Influences from early childhood shape the rest of our lives. • Human behavior and motivation are driven by instincts emphasizing sex and aggression.
Carl Gustav Jung, 1875-1961 Shifted focus from sexuality to the potential of the unconscious to contribute positively to growth Described the adult psyche in the language of mythology Individuals develop internal self-potential after 40 through balancing competing opposites: feminine and masculine, love and power, introversion and extroversion.
Erik Erikson, 1902-1994 • Emphasized interactions between genetics and environment throughout the lifespan • Epigenetic principle — an innate structure of development where new skills build upon previous development • Each stage of life is identified with a developmental task. • There may be a positive or a negative resolution to each stage. • We can revisit stages later on.
Jane Loevinger, 1918-2008 Addressed stages of ego development in adulthood One becomes aware of discrepancies between conventions and one’s own behavior. We can develop cognitive complexity, impulse control, individualism, a balance between autonomy and mutuality, and personality integration.
Daniel Levinson, 1923-1994 Focused on men’s adult lives Life cycle is a sequence of eras, each with its own bio-psycho-social character. Cross-era transitionsrelate to the overlap from one era to the next. The life structure is the underlying pattern or design of a person’s life with a primary component of relationships.
Gender Splitting Levinson’s concept referring to a sharp division between feminine and masculine aspects of life. These divisions can be seen in household chores, traditional occupations, and even leisure activities between men and women
Adult Development Transitions: points at which the person’s development moves between one phase and the next The developmental perspective focuses on the unfolding process of the individual. There are many different paths that adult development can take.
The Identification of Eras, Phases, or Stages The distinctions between life periods are blurring, with more flexibility now than in the past. Our social identities might change over time. Globalization has lessened cultural dictates as well.
Young Adulthood Years 18-35 Establishing identities and occupational goals, with increasing independence from parents Young adults are increasingly postponing marriage. Minority-culture young adults are pressed to acculturate (embrace the dominant culture)
Middle Age Midlife crisis has been a popular concept, but has little empirical support as a universal stage. Increasingly seen as a midlife transition or turning point Ego-resiliency is the general capacity for flexible and resourceful adaptation to external and internal stressors.
Midlife Characteristics Role changes (e.g. children leaving home) Caring for aging parents Letting go of roles and activities that are no longer possible Coping with biological changes (ie. Menopause) Experiencing peak work competence, professional respect, and earnings Juggling all of one’s responsibilities simultaneously
Late Life Today people spend about one-third of their lifespan in their old age. Losses do occur, but are often counterbalanced with gains. Changes must be viewed contextually as normative, pathological or optimal aging.
Havinghurst’s Tasks of Late Life Adjusting to decreasing physical strength and health Adjusting to retirement and reduced income Adjusting to the death of a spouse Establishing an explicit association with one’s age group Adopting and adapting societal roles in a flexible way Establishing satisfactory physical arrangements
Activity Theory Implies that meaningful social activity is the essence of life for all people of all ages Predicts that those who remain physically, mentally and socially active will be more likely to achieve a positive self-image, social integration, and satisfaction with life Defines successful aging in relationship to life satisfaction
Successful Aging • Involves a complex variety of factors • Is influenced by gender, health status, socioeconomic status, and attitude toward levels of activity • Activities that are highly valued by an individual help to confirm identities, bolster self-esteem and increase life satisfaction
Disengagement Theory Contends that it is normal to reduce activity and seek more passive roles as one ages Sees disengagement as a mutual withdrawal of the elderly from society and society from the elderly. Has generated a great deal of criticism, and has little empirical support
Gerotranscendence Refers to older adults as selectively investing in some relationships over others Many older adults seek a balance between being social and being alone Comfort in voluntary alone time has been related to lower depression, fewer physical symptoms, and greater life satisfaction. Older adults who are ill, frail or preparing for death may choose solitude
Continuity Theory Personality is stable once established. A person’s adaptations to young adulthood and middle age predict that person’s general pattern of adaptation to old age. Personality traits are central to adaptation, with individual coping strategies developed over time. We become “more ourselves” as we age.
Exchange Theory • Individuals and groups act to maximize rewards and minimize costs. • Interaction will be maintained if it is more rewarding than costly. • Dependence on another person decreases one’s power in that relationship
Exchange Theory Norms Norm of reciprocity— refers to a social rule requiring us to return favors Norm of beneficence — requires us to act out of loyalty, gratitude, and faithfulness toward those who cannot reciprocate Norm of equity — requires balanced benefit in a relationship in order for it to be comfortable
Application — Which norm is it? Freda visits her sister-in-law in the nursing because she is ill, even though Freda never liked her. Richard is uncomfortable when his daughter pays for lunch and he cannot afford to take her to lunch. Maria trades plant clippings with her neighbor.
Roles, Gender, and Ethnicity Role — a status or position which carries known attributes Roles change as people age. Gender roles — the cultural aspects of being male or female, which carry different levels of status in society Ethnicity — one’s identification with a subgroup having a unique set of values, traditions, or language
Gender Development Intrinsic characteristics are biologically mandated while extrinsic characteristics are formed by changes in the social structure. The post-parental transition involves a blurring of the gender distinctions, with men becoming more nurturing, and women becoming more assertive. Cross-cultural evidence suggest this blurring is intrinsic.
Age Grading Age gradingmeans that age is a prime criterion in determining the opportunities people may enjoy. Age normsare role expectations at various age levels, such as when to go to school, marry, or retire. Age grading and age norms are lessening in the United States.
Age Cohorts A group of individuals who experience life experiences and historical events at the same stage of biological and physical development Baby Boomers are characterized as hippies, draft dodgers, and protestors. Generation Xers are characterized as whiners and slackers who have experienced technological advances, good economic times, and little competition.
Generations and Events A generation has common beliefs and behaviors, a common location in history, and perceived common membership. Historical events such as the Great Depression or 9/11 shape development differently, depending on one’s age when they occur.
Longitudinal Studies A research model that studies people over several years • These studies allow researchers to observe development over time, and within contexts. • There are very few longitudinal research studies focusing on older adults, so we value highly those that are available
The Maas-Kuypers Study Tracked personality over a 40 year period Found personality to be stable throughout adulthood Negativity in youth was linked to fear, withdrawal and dissatisfaction in old age. Positive outlook in youth predicted high self-esteem and satisfaction in old age.
The Elder-Liker Study Assessed coping mechanisms and consequences for women who lived through Great Depression Middle-class women learned to be self-reliant, resourceful, and more confident through coping with hardship. Working-class women without educational or financial resources suffered higher rates of depression and lower self-esteem. Wealthy women who had not suffered deprivation during the Depression did not develop adequate coping mechanisms to deal with aging.
Baltimore Study An ongoing study of physical, psychological and behavioral change Personality traits are more stable than gender roles. Older adults cope with stress by either trying to eliminate the stressor (problem-focused coping) or reframing the meaning of the stressor (emotion-based coping).
Cross-Sectional Studies Compare cohorts at different ages at the same time Are quick and easy to run, but may be confounding age and cohort effects. Find significant differences in coping strategies of the young-old and oldest-old Focusing on the past may be a successful coping strategy for the very old.
Locus of Control Internal: person sees his or her own actions bringing on rewards or changes External: person sees rewards due to fate, luck, change, or powerful others Supportive relationships with family and friends are linked to internal locus of control in later life Those with an internal locus of control tend to employ problem-based coping strategies to change their situations for the better.