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Life Course Theories

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Eustina Boctor

on 23 October 2013

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Transcript of Life Course Theories

Life Course Theories
Why are life-course theories important?
Describe changes in behavior as individuals mature
Often called developmental theories which implies improvement & growth
Began in 1950s to explain psychological development of individuals within social context
They are created by analyzing behavior of large groups of individuals over a long period of time
Quantitative- questions to determine overall patterns of behavior
Qualitative- interviews that determine how individuals describe their motivation and feelings about their behavior
Researchers can then identify a pattern of behavior and suggest an explanation as a theory
By examining research of the past, new theories can develop
Klaus Riegel's Dimensions of Development
Development is not in predictable stages, it is as individuals adjust in response to interaction of change
Four dimensions of development (internal&external)
1. Internal psychological-describes emotional maturity, independence and maturity of mental process
2. Internal biological- describes physical and sexual maturity
3. External cultural/sociological-describes the expectations and opportunities defined by each society
4. External environmental-describes the physical, economic and political environment you live in
Development occurs when change in one dimension requires adjustment in one or more other dimensions
Adult development varies to reflect influence of a changing social clock
Jane Loevinger's Theory of Ego Development
Identifies 10 stages in the formation of the ego, meaning identity
Understanding the ego/identity is the center of human development
Ego is essential for autonomy
Few adults achieve full ego development but strive their whole life for it

Family Life-Cycle Framework
Describes early adulthood in the context of family life in which individuals are launched from their families of origin
Parents and children must separate so that young adults can accept emotional responsibility before starting their own family
Three tasks enable young adults to become self-sufficient in preparation for having their own family
1. Identity separate from family- sorting out emotionally what they will take from family of origin, what they will leave behind and what they will create for themselves
2. First commitment to career or workplace
3. Developing intimate relationships outside the family
When parents let go,children can become independent adults
Erik Erikson's Eight Stages of Life
Eight stages in which identity emerges and matures from childhood through adulthood
Identity is awareness to who we are and what we believe
Each stage presents a dilemma where the person is challenged to develop by new situations and circumstances in life
No age subscribed to the various stages
Development of identity reflects progress of psychological clock
People progress through stages, pushed or constrained by the social clock of society they live in
Identity vs. role confusion- dilemma from adolescence to adulthood. Until adolescents define who they are they will be confused about what role they will play in adulthood
Intimacy vs. isolation- dilemma of early adulthood. Being able to merge your identity with someone else's without losing yourself. Resolving this dilemma is an overall sense of caring and generosity towards others
Grouped Life-Course Theories
1. Maturation occurs as individuals progress from one stage to another
Erik Erikson
Jane Loevinger
Jeffrey Arnett
2. There are stages in which people change to become different but not necessarily better
Family life-cycle framework
Daniel Levinson's Seasons of Life
3. There are no stages but that development reflects constant change as individuals respond to environmental influences
Klaus Riegel
Leonard Pearlin
Life-course theorists all agree that the behavior of individuals results from inner psychological changes in response to life circumstances
Three stages deal with the adolescent and emerging adult
1. Conformist stage- adolescents tend to view life in simple stereotypical ways to classify human experience to see where they belong in society
2. Self aware stage- young adults begin to understand and accept individual differences and to distinguish variations in feelings/opinions that make people different
3. Conscientious stage- individuals are able to appreciate others as individuals in reciprocal relationships
Leonard Pearlin's Theory of Psychological Distress
Continuous change required by distress- the stimulus that requires a psychological response
You will experience stability if at that time there was no distress
The path individual life will take has 4 elements:
1. Individual characteristics- ex. gender, personality
2. Skills that individuals have for coping with distress
3. Availability of social support networks
4. Nature and timing of stress that requires response
Early adulthood may present distress as the individual tries to achieve the dreams formed in adolescence
Daniel Levinson's Theory of the Seasons of Life
Jeffrey Arnett's Theory of Emerging Adulthood
Life course evolves through seasons lasting about 25 years each
From ages 17 to 33, individual defines and begins adult life
During early adult transition ages 17-22, individual leaves behind adolescent life
Changes in emotional attachment with parents
Young adults must modify, end relationships from adolescent life to make room for new ones
By completing education and starting work, individuals make plans for adult life
From age 22-28 you enter the adult world, a time for building your life structure
From ages 28 to 33 individuals re-evaluate the structures they formed in their early 20's to determine if they are living their dreams
Young adults have 4 major tasks in entering the adult world (ages 22 to 28):

1. Forming a dream and giving it a place in life structure
2. Forming an occupation
3. Forming mentor relationships
4. Forming love relationships, marriage and family

The dream is the individuals sense of self in the adult world and is the core of the life structure
There is a distinct stage in the life course following adolescence and before adulthood
Life course has slowed down
Individuals from 18-25 are not yet entering adult roles according to Arnett
Gives several reasons for identifying emerging adulthood as a distinct stage:
1. Instability
2. Young adults do not feel like adults
3. Identity exploration separate from making decisions for adulthood
Individuals in emerging adulthood focus their identity in three areas: love, work and worldviews
Full transcript