"Theories [serve] as a lens through which we view
the life course; that lens illuminates certain
elements and tells a particular story about adult
life" . The four lenses through which adult
development will be seen are: behavioral /
mechanistic, cognitive / psychological, contextual
/ sociocultural, and integrative.
Young adult: 18 to 35
• Intimacy and Solidarity vs. Isolation – Love
At the young adult stage, people tend to seek
companions hip and love. Some also begin to ―settle
down‖ and start families, although seems to have
been pushed back farther in recent years.
• Young adults seek deep intimacy and satisfying
relationships, but if unsuccessful, isolation may
occur. Significant relationships at this stage are with
marital partners and friends.
Middle-aged Adult: 35 to 55 or 65
Generativity vs. Self absorption or Stagnation – Care
Career and work are the most important things at this
stage, along with family. Middle adulthood is also the
time when people can take on greater responsibilities
• For this stage, working to establish stability and
Erikson’s idea of generativity – attempting to produce
something that makes a difference to
society. Inactivity and meaninglessness are common
fears during this stage.
Late Adult: 55 or 65 to Death
• Integrity vs. Despair – Wisdom
As older adults, some can look back with a feeling
of integrity — that is, contentment and fulfillment,
having led a meaningful life and valuable
contribution to society.
• Others may have a sense of despair during this
stage, reflecting upon their experiences and
failures. They may fear death as they struggle to
find a purpose to their lives, wondering ―What was
the point of life? Was it worth it?‖
Who is he?
• graduated from Yale as a psychologist.
• developed a comprehensive theory of
• one of the only ones which suggests that
development and growth happens well into
the adult years.
In his theory there are two key concepts:
1) the Stable Period - This is the time when a person
makes crucial choices in life.
2) the Transitional Period - This is the end of a person's
stage and the beginning of a new one. Life during these
transitions can be either rocky or smooth, but the quality
and significance of one’s life commitments often change
between the beginning and end of a period.
6 stages of adulthood :"Seasons of a Man's Life"
1) Early adult transition (17-22)
- leave adolescence
- make preliminary choices for adult life
2) Entering the adult world (22-28)
- make initial choices in love,
3) Age 30 transition (28-33)
- changes occur in life structure, either
a moderate change or, more often, a severe
and stressful crisis
4) Settling down (33-40)
- establish a niche in society,
- progress on a timetable, in both
family and career accomplishments;
- are expected to think and behave
like a parent so they are facing more
demanding roles and expectations .
5) Mid-life transition (40-45)
- life structure comes into question, usually a time of
crisis in the meaning, direction, and value of each person's
- neglected parts of the self (talents, desires,
aspirations) seek expression.
- Men are seen more as parents than as ―brothers‖ to
other men who are somewhat younger than them and this
message comes as an irritation at first.
- Also at this time, men becoming increasingly aware of
death and they are reminded of how short life really
is. They become involved in trying to leave a legacy and
this usually forms the core of the second half of his life.
• 6) Entering middle adulthood (45-50) - choices
must be made, a new life structure formed. person
must commit to new tasks.
* Some sources also stated that there was a late
adulthood stage during which time a man spent
time reflecting on past achievements and regrets,
and making peace with one's self and others
“the dreams we have are so
compelling that nothing short of
total success satisfies.”
• Once men reach the age of thirty, or so, they are
taking more senior positions in their jobs as their
focus is to provide care for their children and their
aging parents. Once a man reaches his forties, he
begins questioning, ―Is this all I am going to do for
the rest of my life?‖. This often causes one to
drastically change their field of work, an act that has
come to be known as a ―midlife crisis‖. By this age,
men have often made the amount of money that
they desire and so they begin looking into jobs that
Jeffrey Jensen Arnett, Ph.D
- suggests that the majority of twenty-somethings in
Westernized cultures go through a specific sort of
ambiguous waiting period between the transition from
adolescence to adult.
- The typical ―adult‖ markers of leaving home, getting
married, and having children, are no longer the indicators
that you have boarded the Adult Train.
Facts of Emerging Adulthood
Lost and Found Identity
Leave Me Alone
To Faith or Not to Faith
Psychiatrict Roger Gould
• Adults pass through series of seven, agerelated stages.
• People in late 30s and early 40s begin to
feel sense of urgency in attaining life’s
• Descriptions not research supported.
Gould's stage / phase model
theory of transformation: four major false
• identity formation occurs between the ages of 16
and 22, when people are challenging the false
assumption "I will always belong to my parents and
believe in their world".
• The false assumption to be overcome between 22
and 28 is: "Doing things my parents' way with
willpower and perseverance will bring results. But
if I become too frustrated, confused or tired or am
simply unable to cope, they will step in and show
me the right way―.
• From the ages of 28 to 34, people confront the
false assumption: "Life is simple and
controllable. There are no significant co-existing
contradictory forces within me," and,
• from 35 to 45, people grapple with: "There is no
evil or death in the world. The sinister has been
Gould’s transformations in Adult
16 TO 18
Desire to escape parental control
18 TO 22
Leaving the family; peer group orientation
22 TO 28
Developing independence; commitment to a
career to children
29 TO 34
Questioning self; role confusion; marriage and
career vulnerable to dissatisfaction
35 TO 43
Period of urgency to attain life’s goals;
awareness of time limitation; realignment of
43 TO 53
Settling down; acceptance of one’s life
53 TO 60
More tolerance; acceptance of past; less
negativism; general mellowing
• Keeping meaning versus rigidity
occurs between the ages 45 to 55
Adults seek to extract meaning from their lives by accepting
strengths and weaknesses of others.
Those who are rigid become increasingly isolated from
DOES PERSONALITY CHANGE OR REMAIN CONSTANT
OVER THE COURSE OF DEVELOPMENT?
Erikson and Levinson = substantial change
Paul Costa and Robert McCrae = stability in traits across
Personality in Late Adulthood
• Robert Peck
Personality development in elderly people is occupied by
three major developmental tasks or challenges.
1. Redefinition of self-versus-preoccupation-with-work-role
Four different personality types in
people in their 70s
Disintegrated and disorganized
Things to Consider
• Wisdom reflects accumulation of
knowledge, experience, and
• Wisdom is not the same as intelligence
Staudinger and Baltes Study
• Older participants benefited more from experimental
condition designed to promote wise thinking
• Older adults appear to be able to draw on a more
sophisticated theory of mind
Successful Aging Secrets
Three major approaches
• Disengagement theory
• Activity theory
• Continuity theory
•Late adulthood involves gradual withdrawal from
world on physical, psychological, and social levels
•Withdrawal is a mutual process and not
Activity Theory: Continued Involvement
• Happiness and satisfaction from high level
• Adaptation to inevitable changes
• Continuing/replacing previous activities
Neither disengagement theory nor activity theory provides
a complete picture of successful aging
Continuity Theory: A Compromise Position
• People need to maintain their desired level of
involvement in society to maximize their sense
of well-being and self-esteem
• Regardless of activity level, most older adults
experience positive emotions as frequently as
• Good physical and mental health is important in
determining overall sense of well-being
General Model of Successful Aging
Selective Optimization with Compensation
1. The more active older adults are, the more likely they are
to be satisfied with their lives.
2. Menec study (2003)
Greater activity, especially social and productive
activity, was related to happiness, better functioning and a
lower mortality rate
Socioemotional Selectivity Theory
1. Older adults become more selective in their social
2. They spend more time with people with whom they have
3. Studies have found that older adults have smaller social
networks than do young adults (Lee & Markides, 1990;
4. Late adults are more likely to pursue emotion-related
goals, perhaps because they realize that they have less
time left to live.
a. They therefore, pursue, emotional satisfaction through
5. Compared with young adults, older adults have a more
even emotional life with fewer highs and lows