Whitbourne+et+al.++2009 - Developmental Psychology 2009,...

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Psychosocial Development From College Through Midlife: A 34-Year Sequential Study Susan Krauss Whitbourne University of Massachusetts Amherst Joel R. Sneed Queens College, City University of New York; Columbia University; and New York State Psychiatric Institute Aline Sayer University of Massachusetts Amherst Two cohorts of alumni, leading-edge and trailing-edge baby boomers, first tested in their college years, were followed to ages 43 ( N 5 136) and 54 ( N 5 182) on a measure of Erikson’s theory of psychosocial development. Hierarchical linear modeling was used to model the trajectory of growth for each psychosocial issue across middle adulthood. As predicted, the early psychosocial issues (trust, autonomy, and initiative) showed patterns of slow and steady increases in favorable resolution, as did the midlife issue of generativity. Industry, found in earlier investigations on the samples to change to differing degrees by cohort, continued to show cohort differences through midlife. The quadratic terms indicated that growth was curvilinear for both cohorts on identity and intimacy, and ego integrity showed variations by cohort, with the older cohort showing steeper patterns of increases. Gender differences were observed on intimacy, with women receiving higher initial scores, but the curves showed deceleration through midlife. Tests of variations in growth curves by the life history variables of educational attainment, occupational prestige, commitment to a long-term relationship, and parenthood status showed variations by cohort, but a general pattern of catching up emerged in which those who entered early adulthood at a relative disadvantage in terms of psychosocial development were able to attain favorable outcomes by midlife. Keywords: adulthood, psychosocial, personality, midlife, generativity Erik Erikson (1963) provided the first widely accepted perspec- tive in developmental psychology to hold that personality changes throughout life. However, with its basis in clinical observation and emphasis on diverse processes spanning many decades, it has proven notoriously difficult to put to a rigorous empirical test. As an offshoot of psychodynamic theory, Erikson’s work is subject to challenges that face its larger perspective and, in a time of computerized assessments and manualized therapy, has waned in popularity within the larger fields of personality and clinical psychology. Despite these challenges, Erikson’s theory retains its appeal within areas of personality psychology that focus on specific developmental periods. The area of identity development in ado- lescence, for example, seems to have benefited from the Erikso- nian perspective, which has stimulated widespread research on the emergence and subsequent shaping of the individual’s sense of self from the teenage years to the early 20s (Schwartz, 2006), if not throughout adulthood (Helson & Srivastava, 2001; Marcia, 2002;
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This note was uploaded on 12/02/2010 for the course PSYCH PSY BEH P2 taught by Professor Susanturkcharles during the Fall '10 term at UC Irvine.

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Whitbourne+et+al.++2009 - Developmental Psychology 2009,...

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