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Middle Adulthood

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Brittany Neely

on 22 April 2013

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Transcript of Middle Adulthood

Dimensions of Human Behavior:
The changing life course Chapter 8- Middle Adulthood Trend toward "mass longevity"
Declining birth rate
Large Baby Boom Generation Changing Demographics The Boundaries of Mid Adulthood Mid-life moved from an unstudied
terrain to an interesting, important,
uncharted landscape Most frequently used definition = those between the ages of 40 and 60
Achievement of certain developmental tasks
establishment of a family
settling into and peaking in a career
taking responsibility for children, parents and community
Noticeable biological aging processes Central Propositions of Life-Span Theory as They Relate to Middle Adulthood Midlife cannot be studied in isolation; it must be studied in terms of both its antecedents and its consequences.
Development involves both gains and losses. In midlife, there is a tie in the relationship between gains and losses.
Biological influences on development become more negative, and cultural support becomes more important, with increasing age in adulthood. A distinction can be made between early and late midlife.
With increasing age in adulthood, there is an overall reduction in resources. At midlife, adults must put a major effort into managing resources.
Even though challenges increase and biological resources decrease in midlife, there is still possibility for change. Middle Age: The Prime of Life?? The experience of midlife may depend on cultural and historical contexts.

In Japan, aging is associated with power and creativity
Aging is a natural process
Middle adulthood is the “prime of life”
A time of fullness, activity, and spiritual growth
Asian Indian Hindus consider middle age to be “maturity”
Maturity is the best time in the life course
Women become senior wives
Men replace their fathers as head of the family Theories of Middle Adulthood:According to Erikson Generativity

The ability to transcend personal interests to provide care and concern for generations to come
Characterized by productivity, creativity, guidance, inspiration, instruction, and leadership
Generativity increases with educational level
Black adults score higher than white adults Theories of Middle Adulthood:According to Jung and Levinson Finding a Balance
Reclaiming parts of the self that were repressed in the search for conformity in first half of life.

From stereotyped gender-role behavior to an androgynous behavior repertoire

From extroversion to introversion

…........ young versus old, creation versus destruction, feminine versus masculine, and attachment versus separating Biological Changes and Physical Health Most biological systems reach peak in mid-20s.
Age-related changes over next 20-30 years are usually gradual, accumulating at different rates in different body systems.
However, by age 50, accumulation of biological change becomes physically noticeable in most people. Biological Changes: The Downside Changes in physical appearance

Loosening of skin and muscles tone

Changes in mobility

Decrease in bone density; stiffness in joints

Changes in reproductive system

Diminished reproductive capacity, sexual interest; menopause

Changes in health status

Beginning of chronic diseases Around the World Disability Adjusted Life Year (DALY) measures the sum of the years lost due to premature death plus the number of years spent in states of poor health or disability. Socioeconomic position is a powerful predictor of both mortality and poor health (morbidity) Intellectual Changes/Challenges:The Upside Peak Performance in 4 out of 6 intellectual capacities:

Inductive reasoning

Spatial orientation


Verbal memory Biological Changes: Brain Changes Research has found individual differences in intellectual performance increase through middle adulthood – variations are related to both biological and environmental factors

Middle adulthood is the period of peak performance for most mental abilities

Emerging research suggests that at midlife, brains begin to reorganize and behave in a different way Intellectual Changes/Challenges:Variations Increasing variations in intellectual performance in mid-life related to biological and environmental factors Men peak in intellectual abilities in their 50s and women in their early 60s.

Cohort effect: Baby boom cohort shows improvement over their parents' cohort (at the same chronological age) Personality: Stable or Dynamic During Middle Adulthood Argument for Stability based on:

Psychoanalytic theory: personality determined sometime in middle childhood, change almost impossible

Trait theory: personality traits rooted in early temperament and influenced by genetic and organic factors: remain relatively consistent across the life course

The Big Five:

Neuroticism, Extroversion, Conscientiousness, Agreeableness, Openness to experience Argument for Change based on:

Humanistic models that view middle adulthood as an opportunity for continued personality growth; people adapt to social and environmental influences Personality: Evidence for Stability or Change Research on the Big Five personality traits suggests that there is long-term stability in terms of the ranking of traits BUT….

Extroversion, neuroticism, and openness to experience decline with age starting in middle adulthood

Agreeableness increases with age

Conscientiousness and emotional stability have been found to peak in middle adulthood

Patterns of age-related changes in personality have been found in cross-cultural research that included samples from Germany, Italy, Portugal, Croatia, and South Korea Personality:Toward Androgyny in Mid-Life Gender-role shift during middle adulthood:

Women increase in decisiveness, action orientation, and assertiveness

Men increase in nurturance and affiliation

…. attributed to changes in levels of sex hormones Personality: The Role of Identity Assimilative identity style

individuals see themselves as unchanging

either deny the physical and other changes they are experiencing or rationalize them as something else Accommodative identity style

individuals overreact to physical and other changes

undermines their identity

leaves identity weak and incoherent Balanced identity style

individuals combine goals and inner purpose with flexibility to adapt to new experiences

recognize the physical and other changes of aging

engage in good health maintenance to minimize risk and enhance protection

accept what cannot be changed Spiritual Development Theories of middle adulthood overlap with Fowler’s description of conjunctive faith

Balance in polarities of independence and connection

Recognition of many truths

Open out beyond the self in service to others Possibility of a cohort effect as the baby boom generation is “changing America’s spiritual landscape” Spiritual Development, cont. TWO DIFFERENT MODELS:

FOWLER: a growth model – sees spiritual development as a positive outcome of a maturation process

OTHER: sees increased spirituality across the lifespan as an outcome of adversity

**Regardless of religious affiliation, research has found that adults in
middle adulthood are on an intense search for personal meaning Relationships in Middle Adulthood: Focus on the Convoy Convoy: a network of social relationships that protects, defends, aids, and socializes us.
midlife adults reported, on average, the largest convoys of all age groups
The size and structure of a person's convoy varies with age and other demographic characteristics Relationships in Middle Adulthood:
The Multi-generational Family Intergenerational families at midlife
more solidarity, increasing complexity, and much diversity
midlife adults make up the generation in the middle, serve as kinkeepers Marital status for mid-life adults:
increased diversity of marital statuses
peak marital happiness coupled with high divorce rate for baby boomers Children of Adults at mid-life:
boomerang generation- increased age when first leaving home and increases incidence of returning home
parent/child relationship may be the "single most important kinship tie in Western societies Aging parents of mid-lifers
a source of comfort and support to the need for caregiving ans assistance Grandparents at mid-life
two extreme possibilities: loss of all contact with grandchildren if adult children divorce OR gain custody of grandchildren if adult children become incapacitated Diversity in Relationships at Midlife Early relationships in adolescence were a predictor for positive relationships with a partner in midlife
Gay and lesbian partnerships are more egalitarian than heterosexual relationships; 3 major differences
Gay/lesbian couples had more autonomy and equality
Gay/lesbian couples were better at conflict resolution
Gay/lesbian couples had more support from their families
Limited research on these types of families
Research on bisexual individuals has found these individuals continue to report a bisexual identity into middle adulthood but also a growing commitment to work and partnerships Caregiving Relationships Most middle-aged adults are deeply involved with their parents- caregivers are usually daughters or daughters=in-law
Caregiver burden vs. caregiver gain or caregiver reward
culture is a factor in whether caregiving is perceived as a burden or gain Work in Middle Adulthood:
Trends in the work Patterns Greater job mobility- global economy shifts from an industrial base to a service base creates job disruption across class and gender lines Greater variability in the timing of retirement- the decision to retire is driven by both health and financial status, and availability of pension benefits
Blurring of the lines between working and retirement-- some middle aged retirees return to work in different occupational fields than those from which they retired Increasing educational reentry of midlife workers= to remain marketable, many middle-aged adults will have to combine work and school Risk and Protective Factors:Journeys from Childhood to Midlife The self-righting tendencies in human nature: Majority at age 40 reported “significant improvements” in work accomplishments, interpersonal relationships, contributions to community, and life satisfaction.
The capacity of most individuals who grew up in adverse circumstances to make a successful adaptation in adulthood (at age 40) through:
“opening of opportunities” in 20s and 30s that led to major turning points.
community college, military service, marriage to a stable partner, religious conversion, and survival of life-threatening illness/accident Risk and Protective Factors:
Journeys from Childhood to Midlife, cont. ON THE OTHER HAND........ One of six was doing poorly at work and in relationships:For men, the most powerful risk factor was parental alcoholism from birth to age 18
Women were especially negatively affected by paternal alcoholism during their adolescenceThe long-term negative effects of serious health problems in early childhood and adolescence were just beginning to show up at age 40

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