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Chapter 8: Middle Adulthood:

Chapter 8: Middle Adulthood Module 8.3: Social and Personality Development in Middle Adulthood

Looking Ahead :

Looking Ahead In what ways does personality develop during middle adulthood? Is there continuity in personality development during adulthood? What are typical patterns of marriage and divorce in middle adulthood? What changing family situations do middle-aged adults face? What are the causes and characteristics of family violence in the United States? What are the characteristics of work and career in middle adulthood?

PowerPoint Presentation:

Personality Development

PowerPoint Presentation:

How does personality development occur in middle adulthood? ? ? ?

Two Perspectives on Adult Personality Development:

Two Perspectives on Adult Personality Development Normative-Crisis versus Life Events Normative crisis model Views personality development in terms of fairly universal stages, tied to a sequence of age-related crises

Two Perspectives on Adult Personality Development:

Two Perspectives on Adult Personality Development Normative-Crisis versus Life Events Life events model 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Other Views Erikson Critics argue that normative-crisis models are outdated Model came from time when gender roles were more rigid

Erik Erikson :

Erik Erikson Generativity versus stagnation 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

PowerPoint Presentation:

Building on Erikson’s Views: Gould, Vaillant, and Levinson

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 (See Table 8-2)

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


Levinson 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

Cultural Dimensions:

Cultural Dimensions 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

Same ol’…same ol’?:

Same ol’…same ol’?

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

PowerPoint Presentation:

What makes you happy? ? ? ?

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 have a 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 REVIEW 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 Apply:

Review and Apply REVIEW 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 Apply:

Review and Apply 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?

PowerPoint Presentation:

Relationships: Family in Middle Age

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

Do you know about U?:

Do you know about U?

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 times 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

Struggling Marriages:

Struggling Marriages


Divorce 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 is 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

Boomerang Children: Refilling the Empty Nest:

Boomerang Children: Refilling the Empty Nest Young adults who come back to live in the 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 for 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?

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


Factors 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: a batterer becomes upset and shows dissatisfaction initially through verbal abuse Acute battering incident: the physical abuse actually occurs Loving contrition stage: 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 = 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 Apply:

Review and Apply REVIEW Marital satisfaction rises and falls over the course of marriage, generally following a U-shaped configuration over the years. There are many reasons why marriages end in divorce, including lack of satisfaction, less time spent together, and infidelity. Divorce may increase happiness, and the process of divorce is more socially acceptable.

Review and Apply:

Review and Apply REVIEW 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 Apply:

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

Review and Apply:

Review and Apply 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?

PowerPoint Presentation:

Work and Leisure

Jobs at Midlife :

Jobs at Midlife

Challenges of Work: On-the-Job Dissatisfaction:

Challenges of Work: On-the-Job Dissatisfaction What is the greatest underlying cause of burnout? ? ? ?


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 May feel 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 are 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

Leisure time:

Leisure time Leisure activities Average number of hours Nature of activities Pace of life differs across countries

Immigrants on the Job: Making It in America:

Immigrants on the Job: Making It in America

Review and Apply:

Review and Apply REVIEW 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 Apply:

Review and Apply REVIEW 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 midlife usually have increased leisure time. Often they use it to become more involved outside the home in recreational and community activities.

Review and Apply:

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

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