Loading...

PSYCH302A: Lifespan Development

Unit 5: Adult Development   In the previous unit, we talked about how we develop as adolescents. This unit will look at the development that takes place during true adulthood. You should note that while various stages of development are aligned with certain ages, these age distinctions are just guidelines; some may suggest that adolescence ends (and adulthood begins) at 18 years, but there is no scientific evidence to substantiate this distinction. This notion becomes important when taking a look at adult development, because different developmental patterns can begin at different times for different adults. While early adulthood, middle adulthood, and late adulthood are roughly considered 18 to 40 years, 40 to 65 years, and 65 years-plus, for the purposes of this unit, we will largely leave age distinctions alone and focus instead on the developmental patterns themselves. While adulthood clearly comprises the largest portion of our lives, it may be the least-studied of the developmental stages.

This unit will help you recognize how individuals are constantly changing and adapting based on earlier development.* As in previous units, you will begin by exploring physical development, continue with cognitive development, and conclude with consideration of key issues in personality and socio-emotional development. As you progress through the unit, ask yourself this: What sorts of connections can I identify between development in childhood, adolescence, and adulthood?*

Unit 5 Time Advisory
This unit will take you approximately 13 hours to complete.

☐    Subunit 5.1: 3.5 hours

☐    Subunit 5.2: .75 hours

☐    Subunit 5.3: 8.75 hours

Unit5 Learning Outcomes
Upon successful completion of this unit, the student will be able to: - explain why it is important to continue studying and learning about development into early, middle, and late adulthood; - describe the effects of aging on physical and cognitive development; - discuss three common problems faced by those in late adulthood: ageism, poverty, elder abuse; - discuss Erickson’s adulthood conflicts of intimacy versus isolation, generativity versus stagnation, and integrity versus despair; - discuss the significance of transition phases in adult development, such as from adolescence to early adulthood and the midlife transition; - summarize the findings of research on the concept of a “midlife crisis;” - discuss the role of attachment in adult personality development; - discuss the role of marriage and divorce in adult development; - discuss the impacts of aging on individuals’ personal and social development and the broader society; and - identify and explain the three main theoretical perspectives on the aging process (functionalism, conflict theory, symbolic interactionism).

5.1 Physical Development: Effects of Aging   5.1.1 Physical Changes in Early Adulthood   - Reading: Introduction to Psychology: “Early and Middle Adulthood: Building Effective Lives” Link: Introduction to Psychology: “Early and Middle Adulthood: Building Effective Lives” (HTML)

 Instructions: After clicking on the link above, read the two
opening paragraphs under the Learning Objective box. Then (skipping
the grey box with material concerning parenting, which was covered
in Unit 3), scroll down and read the sections entitled “Physical and
Cognitive Changes in Early and Middle Adulthood” and “Menopause.”
Note that this reading also covers the material you need to know for
subunit 5.1.2.  

 Reading this excerpt should take approximately 15 minutes.   

 Terms of Use: The textbook above is released under a [Creative
Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0
License](http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/3.0/)
(HTML) <span
style="color: rgb(35, 35, 35); font-family: Arial;">without
attribution as requested by the work’s original creator or
licensee.</span>

5.1.2 Physical Changes in Middle Adulthood   Note: This subunit is covered by the reading assigned beneath subunit 5.1.1. Note that most of the physical changes that occur in this stage are relatively subtle, except perhaps menopause. Focus in particular on the description of the physical process of menopause and the discussion of how it is viewed in different cultures and its evolutionary benefits.

5.1.3 Physical Changes in Late Adulthood   - Reading: Rice University: OpenStax College’s Introduction to Sociology: “The Process of Aging” Link: Rice University’s OpenStax College: Introduction to Sociology: “The Process of Aging” (PDF)
 
Instructions: Read this section to learn about the different phases or stages of life regarding maturation and change on physical, psychological, and social levels. As you read, focus on the biological changes associated with age and how these changes can be influenced by other factors, such as culture and society.
 
Reading this section should take approximately 45 minutes.
 
Terms of Use: This resource is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License. It is attributed to Rice University and OpenStax College, and the original version can be found here.

5.1.4 Dementia   - Reading: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Mental Health: “Dementia/Alzheimer’s Disease” Link: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Mental Health: “Dementia/Alzheimer’s Disease” (HTML)

 Instructions: While dementia is not solely a disease of late
adulthood, it is increasingly of concern then. Click on the link
above and read this webpage in full. After reading this page, you
should be able to define “dementia” and give a few examples of
different forms of it. You should also glean a general understanding
of Alzheimer’s disease, the most common form of dementia.  

 Studying this resource should take approximately 15 minutes.   

 Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use
displayed on the webpage above.

5.1.5 The Personal and Societal Effects of Aging   5.1.5.1 An Aging Population   - Reading: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: “The State of Aging and Health in America Report” Link: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: “The State of Aging and Health in America Report” (PDF)

 Instruction: Click on the link above; then under the section at the
top entitled “The State of Aging and Health in America Report,”
click on “2007” to access the 2007 version of the report. Scroll
through the report to the section, “An Introduction to the Health of
Older Americans” (pages 10-15 of the PDF or 2-7 of the report
itself). Read this section to gain insight into the rapidly aging
U.S. population and the challenges this presents for individuals and
their caregivers.  

 Reading and analyzing this resource should take approximately 45
minutes.  

 Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use
displayed on the webpage above.

5.1.5.2 Ageism   - Reading: Connexions: Ruth Dunn’s Minority Studies: A Brief Sociological Text: “Part IV: Aging” and Connexions: OpenStax College’s “Challenges Facing the Elderly” Link: Connexions: Ruth Dunn’s Minority Studies: A Brief Sociological Text: “Part IV: Aging” and Connexions: OpenStax College’s “Challenges Facing the Elderly” (HTML, PDF, or ePub)

 Instructions: One of the many consequences of physical aging are
the changes in how individuals are perceived by others they know
personally as well as by society at large. After clicking on the
first link above, scroll down to and read the section entitled
“Societal Attitudes Toward Aging.” Then, click on the second link to
read more about ageism and other difficulties frequently faced by
older individuals. Additionally, complete the multiple-choice quiz
and short answer exercises at the end of the page. You may also
download the PDF or ePub version of this text by clicking on the
appropriate link under “Download” at the bottom of the webpage. Note
that these readings also cover the material you need to know for
subunits 5.1.4.6 and 5.1.4.7.  

 Reading and interacting with these resources should take
approximately 1 hour and 30 minutes.  

 Terms of Use: This work is licensed by Rice University under a
Creative Commons Attribution License (CC-BY 3.0).

5.1.5.3 Poverty in Late Adulthood   Note: This subunit is covered by the reading and activities assigned beneath subunit 5.1.5.2. Focus on the first main section of the reading, “Challenges Facing the Elderly.”

5.1.5.4 Elder Abuse   Note: This subunit is covered by the reading and activities assigned beneath subunit 5.1.5.2. Focus on the section entitled, “Mistreatment and Abuse,” in the reading, “Challenges Facing the Elderly.”

5.2 Cognitive Development: Effects of Aging   5.2.1 Aging and Memory   - Reading: Introduction to Psychology: “Late Adulthood: Aging, Retiring, and Bereavement” Link: Introduction to Psychology: “Late Adulthood: Aging, Retiring, and Bereavement” (HTML)

 Instructions: Stereotyped views of aging portray memory loss as one
of the hallmarks of growing older. How unfair are such depictions
and what variables influence the memory capabilities of older
individuals? After clicking on the link above, scroll down to and
read the section, “Cognitive Changes During Aging,” for a review of
key research on cognitive change – and stability – with age. Note
that this reading also covers the material you need to know for
subunit 5.2.2.  

 Reading this chapter should take approximately 30 minutes.  

 Terms of Use: The textbook above is released under a [Creative
Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0
License](http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/3.0/)
(HTML) <span
style="color: rgb(35, 35, 35); font-family: Arial;">without
attribution as requested by the work’s original creator or
licensee.</span>

5.2.2 Aging and Intelligence   Note: This subunit is also covered by the reading assigned beneath subunit 5.2.1.

  • Reading: Dr. Russell A. Dewey’s Psychology: An Introduction: “Age-Related Changes in Intellectual Functioning” Link: Dr. Russell A. Dewey’s Psychology: An Introduction: “Age-Related Changes in Intellectual Functioning” (HTML)
     
    Instructions: Click on the link above, and read this webpage in its entirety for an overview of cognitive changes associated with aging.

    Reading this webpage should take approximately 15 minutes 
     
    Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpage above.

5.3 Personality and Social Development in Adulthood   5.3.1 Erikson’s Stages of Adulthood   - Reading: Wikipedia: “Erikson’s Stages of Psychosocial Development” Link: Wikipedia: “Erikson’s Stages of Psychosocial Development” (PDF)

 Instructions: Review the reading from subunit 3.3.3 for an overview
of all of Erikson’s stages, focusing especially on the last three
stages, which represent the central psychosocial conflicts of
adulthood.  

 Reviewing this resource should take approximately 15 minutes.   

 Terms of Use: The article above is released under a [Creative
Commons Attribution-Share-Alike License
3.0](http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/) (HTML). You can
find the original Wikipedia version of these articles
[here](http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Erikson%27s_stages_of_psychosocial_development)
(HTML).

5.3.1.1 Intimacy versus Isolation   Note: This subunit is covered by the reading assigned beneath subunit 5.3.1. This stage concerns the common drive during early adulthood to forge a lasting partnership with another individual.

5.3.1.2 Generativity vs. Stagnation   Note: This subunit is covered by the reading assigned beneath subunit 5.3.1. This stage is about middle adulthood and involves trying to “leave one’s mark” on the world, often by having children.

5.3.1.3 Integrity versus Despair   Note: This subunit is covered by the reading assigned beneath subunit 5.3.1. During the last decades of life, adults reflect on their accomplishments or lack thereof.

5.3.2 Levinson’s Lifespan Changes: Early versus Middle versus Late Adulthood Stages   - Reading: Dr. Russell A. Dewey’s Psychology: An Introduction: “Stages of Life” Link: Dr. Russell A. Dewey’s Psychology: An Introduction: “Stages of Life” (HTML)

 Instructions: Read this webpage in its entirety for an overview of
Levinson’s stages. Note the comparison to Erikson’s stages near the
end of the page. Also note that this reading covers the material you
need to know for subunits 5.3.2.1-5.3.2.3.  

 Reading this resource should take approximately 15 minutes.  
    
 Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use
displayed on the webpage above.

5.3.2.1 Early Adult Transition and Early Adulthood   Note: This subunit is covered by the reading assigned beneath subunit 5.3.2. Levinson viewed early adulthood as the most productive time of life. Do you agree?

5.3.2.2 Midlife Transition and Middle Adulthood   Note: This subunit is covered by the reading assigned beneath subunit 5.3.2. According to Levinson, this is the phase in which many people experience their “midlife crisis.” 

5.3.2.3 Late Adulthood Transition and Late Adulthood   Note: This subunit is covered by the reading assigned beneath subunit 5.3.2. A major aspect of the transition is retirement, which may be especially challenging for men and women whose lives were strongly built around their careers.

5.3.2.4 Midlife Crises   - Reading: Wikipedia: “Midlife Crisis” Link: Wikipedia: “Midlife Crisis (PDF)

 Instructions: While Daniel Levinson’s research on life stages
suggested that a majority of men experience midlife crises,
follow-up research involving more diverse participants suggested
that this is not the case. Click on the link above and read the page
in its entirety for a detailed exploration of the concept of
“midlife crisis” and relevant research findings.  

 Reading this resource should take approximately 30 minutes.  

 Terms of Use: The article above is released under a [Creative
Commons Attribution-Share-Alike License
3.0](http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/) (HTML). You can
find the original Wikipedia version of this article
[here](http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Midlife_crisis) (HTML).

5.3.3 Adult Attachment   5.3.3.1 Adult Attachment Theory   - Reading: The University of Illinois: R. Chris Fraley’s “A Brief Overview of Adult Attachment Theory and Research” Link: The University of Illinois: R. Chris Fraley’s “A Brief Overview of Adult Attachment Theory and Research” (HTML)
 
Instructions: Click on the link above, and review this webpage in its entirety. First, skim the sections “Background: Bowlby’s Attachment Theory” and “Infant Attachment Patterns” for review of concepts examined earlier in this course. Then closely read the rest of the article for an understanding of attachment theory applied to adult relationships. How does attachment theory differ when it is applied to infants and small children, versus adolescents, versus adults? Note that this reading covers the material you need to know for subunits 5.3.3.1 and 5.3.3.2.

 Studying this resource should take approximately 1 hour and 15
minutes.  
    
 Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use
displayed on the webpage above.

5.3.3.2 Styles of Adult Attachment   Note: This subunit is covered by the reading assigned beneath subunit 7.2.1. Focus especially on the interesting discussion of the differences and similarities in adult and childhood attachment.

5.3.4 Marriage and Divorce   5.3.4.1 Marriage and Conflict   - Reading: Princeton-Brookings Institute: The Future of Children: Children and Divorce: Richard E. Behrman and Linda Sandham Quinn’s “Children and Divorce: Overview and Analysis” and “History and Current Status of Divorce in the United States”; Connexions: OpenStax College’s “Theoretical Perspectives on Family” Links: Princeton-Brookings Institute: The Future of Children: Children and Divorce: Richard E. Behrman and Linda Sandham Quinn’s “Children and Divorce: Overview and Analysis” (HTML or PDF) and “History and Current Status of Divorce in the United States” (HTML or PDF); Connexions: OpenStax College’s “Theoretical Perspectives on Family” (HTML or PDF)
 
Instructions: Click on the first two links above to access the Princeton-Brookings Institute webpages, and then select “Download” to access each PDF. Alternatively, you may also read this text directly on the webpage; use the “Next” link near the bottom right of each page to move to the next page. Read the entire journal articles for an overview of the research on marriage and divorce and their impact on children. As these articles are almost 20 years old, focus on the general trends and impacts discussed in these articles, rather than specific statistics about “current” divorce rates. For much more up-to-date statistics and summary of research, click on the OpenStax College link above and read the section entitled “Divorce and Remarriage” in full. As you read, pay attention to the author’s descriptions of the variations in the effects of divorce depending on other factors such as conflict, custody, and children’s ages. Note that these readings cover the material you need to know for subunits 5.3.4.1-5.3.4.7.

 Reading these journal articles should take approximately 3
hours.   
    
 Terms of Use: The Future of Children resources are licensed under a
[Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported
License](http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nd/3.0/) (CC 3.0
BY-ND). The OpenStax College work is licensed by Rice University
under a Creative Commons Attribution License (CC-BY 3.0).

5.3.4.2 Conflict Following Divorce   Note: This subunit is covered by the reading assigned beneath subunit 5.3.4.1. This reading should give you a good understanding of the factors that are most important with respect to postdivorce conflict.**

5.3.4.3 Effects on Parenting   Note: This subunit is covered by the reading assigned beneath subunit 5.3.4.1. Parenting through and after divorce is extremely challenging.You should achieve a good understanding of what circumstances affect post-divorce parenting.**

5.3.4.4 Effects on Children   Note: This subunit is covered by the reading assigned beneath subunit 5.3.4.1. Although this is just a summary of a huge area of study, this should provide a good overview of how children can be affected by divorce.**

5.3.4.5 Custodial Fathers versus Custodial Mothers   Note: This subunit is covered by the reading assigned beneath subunit 5.3.4.1. What are the important differences between maternal and paternal child custody, if any?**

5.3.4.6 Trends in Divorce – Past versus Recent   Note: This subunit is covered by the reading assigned beneath subunit 5.3.4.1. You should try to achieve a good understanding of how divorce has changed and is changing.**

5.3.4.7 Remarriage   Note: This subunit is covered by the reading assigned beneath subunit 5.3.4.1. How common is remarriage, and what personal factors contribute to whether one tends to remarry after divorce? How does remarriage of their parents tend to impact children, both when they are young and when they grow up and contemplate marriage for themselves?**

5.3.5 Gay and Lesbian Parents   - Reading: Princeton-Brookings Institute: The Future of Children: Marriage and Child Wellbeing: William Meezan and Jonathan Rauch’s “Gay Marriage, Same-Sex Parenting, and America’s Children” Link: Princeton-Brookings Institute: The Future of Children: Marriage and Child Wellbeing: William Meezan and Jonathan Rauch’s “Gay Marriage, Same-Sex Parenting, and America’s Children” (HTML or PDF)
 
Instructions: Click on the link above, and read this article in its entirety for an overview of research on gay and lesbian parents. As you are reading the section on why same-sex parenting is hard to study, think back to what you have learned in your research methods course about sampling and measurement to aid your understanding. Note that you may click on the PDF icon or the “Download” hyperlink at the top of the page to access the PDF version of the article (20 pages). Alternatively, you may read the article on the HTML webpage by clicking on “next” to access subsequent pages of the article.

 Reading this article should take approximately 2 hours.   
    
 Terms of Use: This work is licensed under a [Creative Commons
Attribution-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported
License](http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nd/3.0/) (CC 3.0
BY-ND).

5.3.6 Theoretical Perspectives on Aging   - Reading: Connexions: OpenStax College’s “Theoretical Perspectives on Aging” Link: Connexions: OpenStax College’s “Theoretical Perspectives on Aging” (HTML, PDF, or ePub)

 Instructions: As you conclude your study of adult development, how
do you feel overall about the prospect of aging and how it will
affect your everyday life? Theorists have forwarded a multitude of
perspectives concerning the typical experiences and social role of
individuals in late adulthood. After clicking on the link above,
read the webpage in full and complete the multiple-choice quiz and
short answer exercises at the end of the page to ensure that you can
distinguish among the theoretical perspectives and to help you fully
reflect on the contents of the reading. Note especially, within the
symbolic interactionist perspective, the theory of selective
optimization with compensation – and its origination with Paul
Baltes – the father of the lifespan perspective whom you read about
in detail in the first unit of this course. You may download the PDF
or ePub version of this text by clicking on the appropriate link
under “Download” at the bottom of the webpage.   

 Reading this resource and completing the quiz should take
approximately 1 hour and 30 minutes.   

 Terms of Use: This work is licensed by Rice University under a
Creative Commons Attribution License (CC-BY 3.0).