Chapter 11 OutlinePlease note that much of this information is quoted from the text.I. THE SELF • Self refers to all of the characteristics of a person. • Identity describes who a person is, representing a synthesis and integration of self-understanding. • Personality refers to the enduring personal characteristics of individuals. A. Self-Understanding • Self-understanding is the cognitive representation of self, substance, and self-conceptions. 1. Infancy • Self-understanding is first studied through visual self-recognition tasks. • A rudimentary form of self-recognition appears as early as 3 months of age. • The ability to recognize one’s features emerges around 15 to 18 months. 2. Early Childhood a. Self-Understanding • Recent research studies have revealed that young children are more psychologically aware than used to be thought. • Research can now use interviews to assess self-understanding. • Here are five main characteristics of self-understanding in young children: • Confusion of self-mind, and body • Concrete descriptions • Physical descriptions • Active descriptions • Unrealistic positive overestimations b. Understanding Others • At about 4 to 5 years of age, children begin to perceive others in terms of psychological traits. • Around 4 to 5 years of age, children begin to understand that people do not always give accurate reports of their beliefs. • There are individual differences in young children’s social understanding. • The individual differences may be partly linked to opportunities to discuss other people’s feelings and beliefs, as well as opportunities to observe such conversations. 3. Middle and Late Childhood a. Self-Understanding • Five key changes characterize the increased complexity in children’s self- understanding in middle and late childhood: • Psychological characteristics and traits • Social descriptions • Social comparison • Real self and ideal self • Realistic b. Understanding Others • Perspective taking is the ability to assume another person’s perspective and understand his or her thoughts and feelings. According to Selman, it develops in stages throughout childhood and into adolescence. • Perspective taking is thought to be important in whether children develop prosocial or antisocial attitudes and behavior. • Children become more skeptical of others’ claims. 4. Adolescence • The tendency to compare themselves with others continues to increase in the adolescent years, though most deny it.
• The following are other ways in which the adolescent’s self-understanding differs from the child’s: • Abstract and idealistic • Self-consciousness • Contradictions within the self • The fluctuating self • Real and ideal selves • Possible selves • Self-integration • Contexts of Life-Span Development: Multiple Selves and Sociocultural Contexts • Differentiation of the self increases across the childhood, adolescent, and adult periods of development. • The multiple selves of ethnically diverse youth reflect their experiences in navigating their multiple worlds of family, peers, school, and community. • Youth who effectively navigate their various worlds can develop bicultural or multicultural selves and become “culture brokers” for others. • Multiple selves emerge through participation in cultural practices. 5. Adulthood a. Self-Awareness • Self-awareness becomes evident during young adulthood, including psychological makeup and strengths and weaknesses. • Many individuals do not have very good awareness of their psychological makeup and skills. • Awareness of strengths and weaknesses in these and many other aspects of life is an important dimension of self-understanding throughout the adult years, and early adulthood is a time when individuals can benefit considerably from improving some of their weaknesses. b. Possible Selves • As individuals get older, they often describe fewer possible selves and portray them in more concrete and realistic ways. • Health-related selves achieve greater importance in late adulthood than earlier in adulthood. c. Life Review • As individuals age in adulthood, they are more likely to engage in life review, a process of evaluating and interpreting one’s life experiences. • Life reviews can include sociocultural dimensions, interpersonal dimensions, and personal dimensions. • During the life review, the older adult surveys, observes, and reflects on the past. • Reconsideration of previous experiences and their meaning occurs, often with revision or expanded understanding taking place. A sense of meaning may emerge and prepare the individual for death. • One recent study focused on what individuals regretted the most in their lives. Four major themes emerged: • Mistakes and bad decisions • Hard times • Social relationships • Missed educational opportunities • Reminiscence therapy involves discussing past activities and experiences with another individual or groups and may improve the mood of older adults.B. Self-Esteem and Self-Concept • Self-esteem refers to global evaluations of the self; it also is labeled self-worth and self- image. Self-concept consists of domain-specific evaluations of the self. 1. Issues in Self-Esteem • There may be a moderate correlation between self-esteem and school performance.
• Correlations between self-esteem and job performance vary greatly, and the actual relationship is unclear. • There is a positive correlation between self-esteem and initiative—which can lead to prosocial or antisocial behaviors. • Self-esteem is positively correlated with happiness. • Self-esteem is negatively correlated with depression. • Self-esteem is related to perceived physical appearance, from early childhood through middle age. • Low self-esteem has been implicated in suicide attempts and anorexia nervosa. • A recent longitudinal study found that self-esteem during adolescence was linked to adult adjustment and competence in adulthood. • Narcissism refers to a self-centered and self-concerned approach toward others. • Most of the research on self-esteem is correlational rather than experimental. 2. Developmental Changes • One recent cross-sectional study found that self-esteem decreased in adolescence, increased in the 20s, leveled off in the 30s, rose in the 50s and 60s, and then dropped in the 70s and 80s. • In most age periods, males have higher self-esteem than females. • The accuracy of self-evaluations increases across the elementary school years. • Most adolescents have positive self-esteem, although some researchers have found that the self-esteem of girls drops across the elementary and middle school years. • A current concern is that too many of today’s college students grew up receiving empty praise and as a consequence have inflated self-esteem. Now in college, they may have difficulty handling competition and criticism. • Self-esteem can be increased in five ways: 1. Identification of the causes of low self-esteem and the domains of competence important to the self 2. Emotional support and social approval 3. Taking responsibility for one’s own self-esteem 4. Achievement 5. CopingC. Self-Regulation • Self-regulation involves the ability to control one’s behavior without having to rely on others’ help. • Self-regulation includes the self-generation and cognitive monitoring of thoughts, feelings, and behaviors in order to reach a goal. • Self-regulation can vary across the physical, cognitive, and socioemotional domains. • Emotional regulation in infancy and early childhood is an important aspect of overall development of self-regulation. • Self-control increases in early and middle adulthood, although there are differences in which domain shows the increase. • Although older adults are aware of age-related losses, most still effectively maintain a sense of self-control. • Declines may be buffered by a flexible, accommodating control style. • Researchers have found that accommodating control strategies (changing one’s goals to fit a given circumstance) increase in importance and assimilative control strategies (changing a situation to meet one’s goals) decrease in importance beginning in middle adulthood. • Paul Baltes proposes the selective optimization with compensation theory, which states that successful self-regulation in aging is linked with the strategies of selecting and optimizing the aspects of life they can still control, and compensating when the demands are too great. • The “Applications in Life-Span Development” section discusses specific strategies for effectively engaging in selective optimization with compensation.
• Heckhausen and colleagues distinguish between primary control striving and secondary control striving. • Primary control striving refers to individuals’ efforts to change the external world so that it meets their needs and desires. • Secondary control striving targets individuals’ inner worlds and their own motivation, emotion, and mental representation.II. IDENTITY A. What Is Identity? • Identity is a self-portrait with many pieces, including vocational/career identity, political identity, religious identity, relationship identity, intellectual identity, sexual identity, cultural/ ethnic identity, interests, personality, and physical identity. B. Erikson’s View • Identity is a key aspect of adolescent development. • Erikson’s fifth stage of his psychosocial theory of development is the identity versus identity confusion stage. Identity vs. Identity Confusion occurs during adolescence when various roles are explored and a positive identity is achieved. If an identity is pushed onto the adolescent by parents, if the adolescent does not adequately explore many roles, and if a positive future role is not defined, then identity confusion reigns. • Psychosocial moratorium is Erikson’s term for the gap between childhood security and adult autonomy that adolescents experience as part of their identity exploration. C. Some Contemporary Thoughts on Identity • Identity development is a lengthy process and occurs gradually. • This extraordinarily complex process neither begins nor ends with adolescence. • There is a growing trend toward characterizing identity in terms of multiple identities. • At the bare minimum, identity formation involves a commitment to a vocational direction, an ideological stance, and a sexual orientation. • Damon acknowledges that successful identity development is a long-term process of extended exploration and reflection; and in some instances can involve postponing decisions for a number of years. o Damon believes that too many of today’s youth aren’t moving toward any identity resolution. o Youth need a cultural climate that inspires rather than demoralizes them and supports their chances of reaching their aspirations. D. Developmental Changes • Identity development begins in infancy with the appearance of attachment, the development of the sense of self, and the emergence of independence in infancy. • The process reaches its final phase with a life review and integration in old age. • It becomes integrated with physical, cognitive, and emotional maturity during adolescence. 1. Identity Statuses • Marcia believes that identity development contains four statuses of identity, or ways of resolving the identity crises. Each status is determined by two dimensions: a. Crisis is defined as a period of identity development during which the adolescent is choosing among meaningful alternatives. b. Commitment is defined as the part of identity development in which adolescents show a personal investment in what they are going to do. • The four statuses are actually modes of resolution of the identity crisis. a. Identity Diffusion: No crisis and no commitment b. Identity Foreclosure: A commitment but no crisis c. Identity Moratorium: In crisis, but no commitment d. Identity Achievement: Have experienced a crisis, and have made a commitment
Marcia’s approach has been criticized for overly simplifying Erikson’s concepts of crisis and commitment. One way that researchers are examining identity changes in depth is to use a narrative approach. The term narrative identity refers to the personal stories individuals develop about who they are. 2. Early Adolescence to Adulthood According to Marcia, at least three aspects of the young adolescent’s development are important to identity formation: Parental support An established sense of industry The ability to take a self-reflective stance toward the future A consensus is developing that the key changes in identity are more likely to take place in emerging adulthood or later than in adolescence. The timing of identity development may depend on the particular dimension involved. College may produce some key changes in identity. Cote argues that because there are limited social commitments during emerging adulthood, developing a positive identity during this time requires considerable self- discipline and planning. Identity consolidation continues well into early adulthood and possibly the early part of middle adulthood. Identity certainty increases across early and middle adulthood. • Many researchers believe that a common pattern of individuals who develop positive identities is to follow what are called “MAMA” cycles of moratorium-achievement- moratorium-achievement.E. Family Influences • Individuality consists of two dimensions: self-assertion, the ability to have and communicate a point of view, and separateness, the use of communication patterns to express how one is different from others. • Connectedness also consists of two dimensions: mutuality, sensitivity to, and respect for others’ views; and permeability, openness to others’ views. • Identity formation is enhanced when families foster individuality (encourages adolescents to develop their own point of view) and connectedness (provides a secure base from which to explore).F. Ethnic Identity—an enduring aspect of the self that includes a sense of membership in an ethnic group, along with the attitudes and feelings related to that membership. • For adolescents from ethnic minority groups, the process of identity formation has an added dimension: the choice between two or more sources of identification – their own ethnic group and the mainstream, or dominant, culture. • Many adolescents resolve this choice by developing a bicultural identity. • Many aspects of sociocultural contexts may influence ethnic identity. • Ethnic identity is stronger among members of minority groups than among members of mainstream groups. • Time is another aspect of the context that influences ethnic identity. • The immediate contexts in which ethnic minority youth live also influence their identity development. • Researchers are increasingly finding that a positive ethnic identity is linked to positive outcomes for ethnic minority adolescents. Here are three recent findings: • Ethnic identity was related to higher school engagement and lower aggression. • Positive ethnic heritage was linked to higher self-esteem, school connectedness, and social functioning. • Ethnic identity resolution predicted proactive coping with discrimination over time.
III. PERSONALITY A. Trait Theories and the Big Five Factors of Personality • Personality consists of broad dispositions, called traits, which tend to lead to characteristic responses. • The Big Five Factors theory states that personality is made up of emotional stability (neuroticism), extraversion, openness to experience, agreeableness, and conscientiousness. • Recent research has examined the big give factors and adolescent development. • The big five factor of conscientiousness has emerged as a key predictor of adjustment and competence. Contributions • There is substantial supporting research • The development of personality tests Criticisms • Trait theory ignores the environment • Too much emphasis on stability and lack of change, especially situational behavior • Trait-situation interaction is popular today and not only takes into account traits but also includes situational factors. B. Views on Adult Personality Development 1. The Stage-Crisis View a. Levinson’s Seasons of a Man’s Life • Based on extensive interviews with 40 middle-aged men, biographies of famous men, and the development of memorable characters in literature. • Major interest was in midlife change. • According to Levinson, the change to middle adulthood lasts about five years (ages 40 to 45) and requires the adult male to come to grips with four major conflicts that have existed in his life since adolescence: • Being younger vs. being old • Being destructive vs. being constructive • Being masculine vs. being feminine • Being attached to others vs. being separated from them • The dream is developed at the end of adolescence. • The 20s are the novice phase. • The time between ages 28 to 33 is the transition where he determines goals seriously. • The 30s are focused on career and family. b. Midlife Crises • At age 40, he faces several major conflicts, which can be painful and tumultuous, until he can accept the various aspects of who he is. • Adult development experts are virtually unanimous in their belief that midlife crises have been exaggerated. 2. Individual Variations • In the individual variations view, middle-aged adults interpret, shape, alter, and give meaning to their lives. • The ability to set aside unproductive worries and preoccupations is believed to be an important factor in functioning under stress. • Some individuals may experience a midlife crisis in some contexts of their lives but not others. • Researchers have found that in one-third of the cases in which individuals have reported having a midlife crisis, the crisis is triggered by life events such as a job loss, financial problems, or illness. 3. The Life Events Approach • This view is an alternative to the stage approach. • The contemporary life-events approach emphasizes that how life events influence the individual’s development depends not only on the event but also on mediating factors, the
individual’s adaptation to the life event, the life-stage context, and the sociohistorical context. • Criticisms include that too much emphasis is placed on change. Further, it may be daily experiences and not life’s major events that are the primary sources of stress in our lives.C. Generativity The seventh stage in Erikson’s theory is that of generativity versus stagnation. Generativity encompasses adults’ desire to leave a legacy of themselves to the next generation. The feeling of having done nothing to help the next generation is stagnation. Generativity increases from the 30s through the 50s. Vaillant’s (2002) longitudinal study found that generativity in middle adulthood was a stronger predictor of an enduring and happy marriage in late adulthood than intimacy. Generativity can be developed in a number of ways including biological generativity (i.e., having children), parental generativity (e.g., nurturing and guiding one’s children), work generativity (e.g., skill development that is passed on to others), and cultural generativity (e.g., creating, rejuvenating, conserving some aspect of one’s culture).D. Stability and Change • The closer in time that personality characteristics are measured, the more stability they will show; suggests that changes which do occur do so gradually. 1. Costa and McCrae’s Baltimore Study • Longitudinal study of 1,000 college-educated men and women from ages 20 to 96. • They conclude that a great deal of stability exists in the Big Five personality factors. • A recent meta-analysis of personality stability and change found the following: • Results for extroversion were complex until it was subdivided into social dominance and social vitality. • Social dominance increased from adolescence through middle adulthood. • Social vitality increased in adolescence and then decreased in early and middle adulthood. • Neuroticism decreased in early adulthood. • Openness-to-experience increased in adolescence and early adulthood and then decreased in late adulthood. • Recent studies have found extraversion and openness decreases with age, agreeableness and conscientiousness increase with age, and middle-aged adults are more agreeable than younger adults. • Research in Life-Span Development: The Big Five Factors and Mortality • One recent study found a higher risk of early death for those high in neuroticism and low in conscientiousness. • Another recent study revealed that conscientiousness predicted mortality risk from childhood through late adulthood. Also, a high level of neuroticism and an increasing level of neuroticism were related to lower survival. 2. Berkley Longitudinal Studies Most longitudinal studies indicate that neither extreme stability nor extreme change characterizes most people’s personality as they go through the adult years. The initial study followed more than 500 children and their parents in the late 1920s and early 1930s. Some personality characteristics remained stable from early adolescence to midlife and others changed. Stable characteristics were the degree to which individuals were intellectually oriented, self-confident, and open to new experiences. Characteristics that changed included the extent to which the individuals were nurturant or hostile and their degree of self-control. 3. Helson’s Mills College Studies Initially studied 132 women who were seniors at Mills College in the late 1950s and studied them again in 1981 when the women were 42–45 years of age.
Women were classified into three groups: family-oriented, career-oriented, and those who followed neither path. All of the women experienced similar psychological changes, but the women in the “neither path” group changed less than women in the other two groups. This study suggested that rather than having a midlife crisis, these women were experiencing midlife consciousness.4. George Vaillant’s Studies Vaillant has conducted three different longitudinal studies. Alcohol abuse and smoking at age 50 were the best predictors of which individuals would be dead at 75 to 80 years of age. Factors at age 50 linked with being in the “happy-well” category at 75 to 80 years of age include: getting regular exercise, avoiding being overweight, being well educated, having a stable marriage, being future-oriented, being thankful and forgiving, empathizing with others, being active with other people, and having good coping skills.5. Conclusions • There is increasing evidence that personality traits continue to change during the adult years, even into late adulthood. • The greatest change in personality traits occurred in early adulthood – from about 20 to 40 years of age. • There is some support for what is called a cumulative personality model of personality development, which states that with time and age people become more adept at interacting with their environment in ways that promote the stability of personality. • Ample evidence shows that social contexts, new experiences, and sociohistorical changes can affect personality development. • In general, changes in personality traits across adulthood occur in a positive direction. • Such positive changes equate with becoming more socially mature. • Recent research contradicts the old view that stability in personality traits begins to set in at about 30 years of age.