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Exploring Lifespan Development Third Edition  Laura E. Berk
Chapter 16
Emotional and Social Development
in Middle Adulthood
Copyright © 2014, 2011, 2008 by Pearson Education, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
Exploring Lifespan Development Third Edition  Laura E. Berk
Erikson’s Theory:
Generativity vs. Stagnation
Generativity
Stagnation
 Reaching out to others in
ways that give to and
guide the next generation
 Extending commitment
beyond self and partner
 May be realized through
parenting or other family,
work, and mentoring
relationships
 Self-centered, selfindulgent, self-absorbed
 Lack of interest in young
people
 Focus on what one can get
from others, not what one
can give
 Little interest in being
productive at work or
developing talents
Copyright © 2014, 2011, 2008 by Pearson Education, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
Exploring Lifespan Development Third Edition  Laura E. Berk
Aging, Generativity,
and Self-Perceptions
Figure 16.1
(Adapted from Stewart, Ostrove, & Helson, 2001.)
Copyright © 2014, 2011, 2008 by Pearson Education, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
Exploring Lifespan Development Third Edition  Laura E. Berk
Highly Generative Adults
 Well-adjusted:
 low in anxiety,
depression
 high in autonomy,
self-acceptance,
life satisfaction
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Exploring Lifespan Development Third Edition  Laura E. Berk
Levinson’s Four Tasks
of Middle Adulthood
Young–Old
Destruction–
Creation
Masculinity–
Femininity
Engagement–
Separateness
Seek new ways of being
both young and old
Acknowledge past hurtful
acts, try to leave legacy
for future generations
Balance masculine and
feminine parts of self
Balance engagement
with and separateness
from external world
Copyright © 2014, 2011, 2008 by Pearson Education, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
Exploring Lifespan Development Third Edition  Laura E. Berk
Vaillant’s View of Midlife
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 “Keepers of meaning”:
older people as
guardians of their culture
 “Passing the torch” to
next generation
 Focus on longer-term,
less-personal goals
Copyright © 2014, 2011, 2008 by Pearson Education, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
Exploring Lifespan Development Third Edition  Laura E. Berk
Is There a Midlife Crisis?
 Wide individual differences
in response
 Gender differences in
work-related turning points:
 women: early adulthood
 men: midlife
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 Sharp disruption uncommon
 Differences in handling life regrets:
 making life changes or not
 role of interpretation, acceptance in well-being
Copyright © 2014, 2011, 2008 by Pearson Education, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
Exploring Lifespan Development Third Edition  Laura E. Berk
Possible Selves
 What one hopes to become or fears
becoming
 Become fewer in number, more modest
and concrete with age
 Rely more on temporal than on social
comparisons
 Can be redefined by the individual,
permitting affirmation of the self
 Play protective role in self-esteem
Copyright © 2014, 2011, 2008 by Pearson Education, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
Exploring Lifespan Development Third Edition  Laura E. Berk
Self-Acceptance, Autonomy,
Environmental Mastery
 Gains in expertise, practical problem solving
 More complex, integrated self-descriptions
 Increase in
 self-acceptance
 autonomy
 environmental mastery
 Factors contributing to
well-being differ among
cohorts
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Copyright © 2014, 2011, 2008 by Pearson Education, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
Exploring Lifespan Development Third Edition  Laura E. Berk
Factors in Midlife
Psychological Well-Being
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 Good health and
exercise
 Sense of control and
personal life investment
 Positive social
relationships
 Good marriage
 Mastery of multiple roles
Copyright © 2014, 2011, 2008 by Pearson Education, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
Exploring Lifespan Development Third Edition  Laura E. Berk
Coping Improvements
in Middle Adulthood
 Effective coping strategies:
 identifying positives
 postponing action while evaluating
alternatives
 Personality changes that support coping:
 complex, integrated, coherent
self-descriptions, blending strengths
and weaknesses
 gains in emotional stability and confidence
Copyright © 2014, 2011, 2008 by Pearson Education, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
Exploring Lifespan Development Third Edition  Laura E. Berk
Gender Identity
in Middle Adulthood
 Women increase in “masculine” traits
 Men increase in “feminine” traits
 Theories:
 parental imperative
 cohort effects:
women’s career
experiences
 demands of midlife
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Copyright © 2014, 2011, 2008 by Pearson Education, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
Exploring Lifespan Development Third Edition  Laura E. Berk
Big Five Personality Traits
 Neuroticism
 Extroversion
 Openness to
experience
 Agreeableness
 Conscientiousness
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Copyright © 2014, 2011, 2008 by Pearson Education, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
Exploring Lifespan Development Third Edition  Laura E. Berk
Changes in Big Five
Personality Traits with Age
 Basic, enduring individual dispositions
persist
 Changes occur in overall organization
and integration of personality:
 agreeableness and conscientiousness
increase
 neuroticism declines
 extroversion and openness to experience
remain the same or decrease slightly
Copyright © 2014, 2011, 2008 by Pearson Education, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
Exploring Lifespan Development Third Edition  Laura E. Berk
Relationships at Midlife
 Often, more close relationships than in any
other period:
 ties to both older and younger generations
 well-established friendships
 For many people, a
liberating time:
 sense of completion
 opportunity to
strengthen social ties,
rekindle interests
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Exploring Lifespan Development Third Edition  Laura E. Berk
Marriage in Middle Adulthood
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 Middle-aged households
typically well off compared
with other age groups
 Contemporary view
of midlife marriage:
expansion, new horizons
 Need for review and
adjustment of marital
relationship
 Marital satisfaction predicts
psychological well-being
Copyright © 2014, 2011, 2008 by Pearson Education, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
Exploring Lifespan Development Third Edition  Laura E. Berk
Divorce in Midlife
 Rate for U.S. 50- to 65-year-olds has
doubled over past 20 years
 Midlifers adjust more easily than young
adults:
 practical problem solving
 effective coping strategies
 Contributes to feminization of poverty
Copyright © 2014, 2011, 2008 by Pearson Education, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
Exploring Lifespan Development Third Edition  Laura E. Berk
Parenting in Middle Adulthood
 Launching: culmination of “letting go”
process:




decline in parental authority
continued contact, affection, support to children
adjusting to in-laws
kinkeeper role, especially for mothers
 Affected by
 investment in nonparental roles, especially work
 children’s characteristics: “off-time” children
stress parents
 cultural variations in social clock
Copyright © 2014, 2011, 2008 by Pearson Education, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
Exploring Lifespan Development Third Edition  Laura E. Berk
Grandparenthood
 On average, begins in early fifties; can spend
one-third of life as a grandparent
 Significant milestone for most
 Grandparenting styles influenced by proximity,
age, gender, SES, ethnicity
 Trends in grandparenting:
 extended-family household
 skipped-generation family
 response to divorce of
grandchildren’s parents
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Copyright © 2014, 2011, 2008 by Pearson Education, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
Exploring Lifespan Development Third Edition  Laura E. Berk
Middle-Aged Children
and Their Aging Parents
 Increasingly likely to have living parents
 Reassess relationships with parents
 In collectivist cultures, parents typically live
with married children
 Children provide more help to parents:
 financial and household aid
 caregiving as parental health problems
increase
 helping based on quality of earlier
relationships
Copyright © 2014, 2011, 2008 by Pearson Education, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
Exploring Lifespan Development Third Edition  Laura E. Berk
Caring for Aging Parents
 “Sandwich generation”
 Factors include finances, location,
gender, culture
 Highly stressful:
 time devoted to care averages 10 to 20
hours per week, more for women
 emotional strain of witnessing parent’s
decline
 greatest stress for those sharing a
household with ill parent
Copyright © 2014, 2011, 2008 by Pearson Education, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
Exploring Lifespan Development Third Edition  Laura E. Berk
Baby Boomers Caring
for Aging Parents
Figure 16.2
(Adapted from The MetLife Study of
Caregiving Costs to Working
Caregivers: Double Jeopardy for Baby
Boomers Caring for Their Parents,
June 2011, Figure 3. Reprinted by
permission of the MetLife Mature
Market Institute, New York, NY.)
Copyright © 2014, 2011, 2008 by Pearson Education, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
Exploring Lifespan Development Third Edition  Laura E. Berk
Ingredients of Effective
Retirement Planning





Finances
Fitness
Role adjustment
Where to live
Leisure and
volunteer activities
 Health insurance
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