Posted: December 4th, 2022

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Early-Mid Adulthood: Physical, Cognitive, and Personality Development
Chapter 10
Questions? Ask! 

Role Transitions Marking Adulthood

Role transitions

You assume new responsibilities and duties

E.g., graduation, marriage, becoming a parent

Ages vary; Historical variations are common

Life changes = stress (good or bad?)

What happens when you have multiple role transitions at once? It’s tough– even if they are all good things. We still need to adapt.

Psychological Views: Moving into Adulthood

Adulthood = more self-control, less reckless behavior

Erikson’s psychosocial theory (eight stages of man):

importance of developing independence and the capacity for intimacy

Intimacy vs. isolation- the search for close relationships, usually one close, intimate relationship that culminates in marriage

Issues in young adulthood

Lifestyle Factors:


leading contributor to health problems

1st hand, 2nd, 3rd??

-Occasional drinking = good or bad?
-Binge drinking = good or bad?

indirect vs. direct effects

What happens to binge drinkers as they get into adulthood?

Types and frequency of troublesome behaviors following binge drinking. Note that all binge drinkers report more problems than non-binge drinkers.

Social, Gender, and Ethnic Issues in Health

Social Factors

Poverty = less likely to obtain adequate health care


People with better income as a result of education:

Less likely to be ill or die from chronic illness



Women live longer; fewer risky behaviors (young), use health services, cells may age slower than males

How Should We View Intelligence in Adults?


Which dimensions debate (e.g., Garder)


aspects improve while others decline during adulthood

Individual variability

Plasticity = ability to modify (and thus learn!), ‘heal’

What Happens to Intelligence in Adulthood?

Primary mental abilities include:

Number = basic math

Word fluency = ease of descriptions

Verbal meaning = vocab

Inductive reasoning = facts  concepts (broader understanding)

Spatial orientation

Decline mostly not until 60 years old and more so as aging continues

Secondary Mental Abilities

Fluid intelligence = ability to be a flexible thinker

puzzles, mazes, relations among shapes

Declines through adulthood

Crystallized intelligence = knowledge acquired by life experience

historical facts, definitions, sports trivia.

Improves through adulthood

Going Beyond Formal Operations

Thinking in Adulthood: Piaget

adolescents and adults = formal operations stage

Postformal thought? Recognize that:

solutions must be realistic and that things are often not clear-cut

emotion integrated with logic in decision-making

individuals’ experiences differ and will therefore result in different ways of thinking about things

The Role of Stereotypes in Thinking


— stereotypes affect how we interpret new information (perception, thinking)

Implicit stereotypes

— beliefs that we may not be aware of, but may affect our behavior

Implicit Social Beliefs

What does “implicit” refer to?

How can we measure implicit beliefs?


Check out Harvard’s website and take an “implicit associations test” of your choice to help you understand this concept and for fun! 

Possible Selves

Young adults:

possible selves = what we could become, would like to become, and are afraid of becoming

What are YOUR possible selves?

In later life:

fewer possible selves

health as a feared self as adults age


What is it?

Does not appear to be modified by age beyond young adulthood

Influences how people interpret experiences

which, in turn, further shapes and defines their sense of identity

Personal Control Beliefs

Perceived control = ?

YOUR own idea of how much control you feel that you have in your own life, choices, based on biology and experiences

we often have more control than we think

we can change our thinking to improve this

differs from one area to another

Changes over the course of development not clear

What is the importance of personal (perceived) control?

beliefs seem to have a BIG influence on behavior and thinking

Higher perceived control, better health

Work and Leisure: Occupational and Lifestyle Issues in Young and Middle Adulthood

(Chapter 12)

Reminders: Check and re-check the directions for your lesson and assignments to be sure that you are meeting requirements and completing assignments on time! 


Occupational Selection & Development

How do people view work? How do occupational priorities vary with age?

How do people choose their occupations?

What factors influence occupational development?

What is the relation between job satisfaction and age?


The Meaning of Work

Most people work to make a living but also find meaning in their work

Research has found that people have four common ways in which personal fulfillment is derived from work

Developing and becoming self

Union with others

Expressing self

Serving others


Holland’s Theory of Occupational Choice

People pursue careers that are a good fit between their abilities and interests

Six personality types that combine these factors: investigative, social, realistic, artistic, conventional, and enterprising

Holland’s theory does not tell us much about the differences among ethnic groups or the match with personality type and occupational choices in adulthood


Occupational Development

How we advance within chosen occupations depends on many factors including


Support from coworkers


Job satisfaction


Super’s Theory

People progress along a continuum of vocational maturity through five stages

Implementation stage

Establishment stage

Maintenance stage

Deceleration stage

Retirement stage

Occupational aspirations at age 16 in the U.K. predicted occupational attainments at 33

In the U.S., people change occupations several times during adulthood


Occupational Expectations

Research by Levinson has shown that there are several major life tasks for adults

Developing a dream is one of these tasks

Changing interests and failure can be cause for changing the dream

Leaving school and learning about the real world is often a time of reality shock for young adults


The Role of Mentors and Coaches

More experienced workers often communicate the most critical kinds of information rather than formal training

Mentors help young workers avoid trouble and explain the unwritten rules of the job

Mentors often guide young workers and help to ensure that they are noticed and get credit from supervisors


Job Satisfaction

Job satisfaction tends to increase with age

Probably because with advancing age, workers tend to select and stay with jobs that satisfy them and move on from work that is less satisfying

Middle-aged workers tend to be more satisfied with the intrinsic rewards of work than they are with extrinsic rewards such as pay


Job Satisfaction


As workers get older, work may not be as much of a focus of their lives

People change how they go about their work and jobs, resulting in a cyclical pattern to job satisfaction


Caption: Whether someone actually leaves a job (turnover) is directly influenced by thoughts about withdrawing from one’s company (withdrawal cognitions) and by comparing alternative jobs (compared alternatives) which in turn are influenced by several other variables.

Caption: Super’s Occupational Stages During Adulthood

Alienation and Burnout

Alienation – the feeling that what a worker is doing is meaningless, no relationship between what they do and the end product

The personality trait of cynicism is the factor most related to alienation

To reduce alienation, stay involved in the decision-making, develop flexible work schedules, and provide employee development


Alienation and Burnout


Burnout – a depletion of a person’s energy and motivation

Results from stress, emotional exhaustion, and diminished personal accomplishment

Can be avoided by stress-reduction techniques, lowering people’s expectations of themselves, and enhancing communication with the organization


Gender, Ethnicity, and Discrimination Issues

How do women’s and men’s occupational expectations differ? How are people viewed when they enter occupations that are not traditional for their gender?

What factors are related to women’s occupational development?

What factors affect ethnic minority workers’ occupational experiences and occupational development?

What types of bias and discrimination hinder the occupational development of women and ethnic minority workers?


Gender Differences in Occupational Selection

Traditionally, boys have been trained to think about what work they will do and taught that men are known by the work that they do

Boys are taught that a part of masculinity is occupational achievement, and through games, that it is important to be a good follower and team player


Gender Differences in Occupational Selection


Traditionally, girls have not been taught to value these factors as much as those of being supportive, quiet, and accommodating

The increase in the participation of women’s athletic programs has been helpful in changing this difference


Traditional & Nontraditional Occupations

Women tend to select nontraditional occupations because of personal feelings, experiences, and expectations about the occupation

Women who have both brothers and sisters and attended single-sex high schools are most likely to choose nontraditional occupations


Traditional & Nontraditional Occupations


Women who rate high on tests of traditional measures of femininity choose more traditional occupations but may feel unchallenged

Women in nontraditional occupations are still often viewed negatively by peers of either sex


Traditional & Nontraditional Occupations


People often make assumptions about working conditions based on their perception of an occupation as traditionally masculine or feminine

People are less likely to recognize sexual harassment of a female when she works in a nontraditional occupation


Women & Occupational Development

Most important issues for women tend to be whether the work environment is supportive, lack of development opportunities, and organizational politics


Women & Occupational Development (Cont)

Women tend to leave their jobs for two reasons

Women may prefer to work interdependently with peers. Corporations that do not value this are negatively viewed

Women may feel disconnected from colleagues, clients, and coworkers, leaving them feeling alienated


Ethnicity and Occupational Development

While African American and European American women do not differ in their plans to enter nontraditional occupations, African American women are more likely to seek more formal training, becoming overqualified

African American and European American men are more likely to have higher vocational identity when they graduate from college versus European American women and Hispanic American men


Bias and Discrimination

Gender Bias and the Glass Ceiling

Only 5% of senior managers in the Fortune 500 are women

The glass ceiling is a term referring to the promotional level above which women may not go

Women are paid, on average, ¾ of what men are paid in the same positions. Larger gaps are observed for Hispanic and African American women


Caption: The gap between men’s and women’s average weekly wages have been closing slowly since the 1970s.

Sexual Harassment

Reports suggest that as few as 5% of victims of sexual harassment report it

Studies have shown that as many as 40% of women have experience sexual harassment in the workplace

Research shows that harassment results in negative emotional, mental health, and job-related outcomes


Age Discrimination

Denying a job or promotion to an individual solely based on age is age discrimination

Federal law prohibits this practice for workers over the age of 40

Retirement incentives and stereotyped beliefs affecting job performance ratings are also common


Occupational Transitions

Why do people change occupations?

Is worrying about potential job loss a major source of stress?

How does job loss affect the amount of stress experienced?


Occupational Transitions

The reasons people leave their jobs are varied

Unhappy with the work

Obsolete skills

Economic trends

Pursuing additional training or education

Retraining Workers

Career plateauing occurs when there is a lack of opportunity or when a person decides not to seek advancement

The retraining of mid-career and older workers emphasizes the need for life-long learning


Occupational Insecurity

Economic conditions in the U.S. have resulted in many people losing jobs

Many people experience feelings of insecurity

People who worry about their jobs tend to have poorer mental health and negative attitudes about their employer

Negative attitudes may result even if the anxiety over the job is not based on fact


Coping With Unemployment

Unemployment often results in declines in physical health and self-esteem

Middle-aged men are more susceptible to the negative effects of unemployment

Unemployment rates are higher for ethnic minority groups than for European Americans. The stress involved affects all groups similarly


Coping With Unemployment



Approach job loss with a healthy sense of urgency

Consider next career move and what must be done to achieve it, even if there are no prospects for it at the present

Admit and react to change as soon as you realize it is there

Be cautious of stop-gap employment

Identify a realistic goal and list the steps needed to achieve it


Work and Family

What are the issues faced by people who care for dependents?

How do partners view the division of household chores? What is work-family conflict? How does it affect couples’ lives?


The Dependent Care Dilemma

Employed Caregivers

Many mothers have to return to work after the birth of a baby

Some women struggle with the issue of returning to work, weighing financial need and the need to care for their children

Some women feel the need to return to work as a result of attachment to their work


Employed Caregivers


Giving up work means a redefinition of one’s identity

65% of women caring for a parent or partner work at least 35 hours

The need to care for a parent or partner along with the lack of availability of affordable help forces many out of the workforce


Dependent Care and Effects of Workers

Women experience significant negative effects of being responsible for dependent care

When responsible for the care of a parent, women report more missed meetings and more absences from work. Higher levels of stress results

Stress is decreased by having partners who provide support and having a job that allows for control over one’s work schedule


Dependent Care and Employer Responses

Many governments provide government-supported child-care centers for employees

Providing child-care support is important, but positive impact is more often seen when supervisors are supportive and benefits that employees consider important are provided

Better job security, autonomy, lower productivity demands, supervisor support, and flexible schedules are helpful


Juggling Multiple Roles

Dividing Household Chores

Women still spend up to 50% more hours per week than men in family work

Unequal division of labor is the greatest source of arguments and unhappiness in two-earner households

While men have increased the amount of time spent on household chores, the greatest amount of the increase is on the weekends


Dividing Household Chores


Men are more satisfied with the division of household labor

Women are more satisfied when men take on tasks that are traditionally women’s chores

African American and Hispanic men spend more time on household chores than European American men

Across cultures studied, gender inequality was greatest for women employed full-time


Caption: Women spend much more time on household chores than men, even after the children have left (empty nest).

Work-Family Conflict

Work and family roles do not necessarily affect each other all of the time

Women are not as concerned about the amount of time men spend on household chores as when there are certain “women’s chores” that men will not perform

The division of household labor is often the result of people’s experience with their parents’ assignment of chores


Work-Family Conflict


Studies suggest that women often cope successfully with careers and family and the stress involved

The number of children, not the ages of the children, was found to be a significant factor in their success

Highest level of stress was during the peak parenting years when there were often at least two preschool children in the home


Work-Family Conflict


Dual-earner couples have difficulty finding time for each other

The amount of time is not necessarily the most important issue as long as they enjoy the time together and it is spent in shared activities

Cross-cultural data suggests that work and parenting-related burnout is more likely to affect women


Time to Relax: Leisure Activities

What activities are leisure activities? How do people choose among them?

What changes in leisure activities occur with age?

What do people derive from leisure activities?


Types of Leisure Activities

Leisure activities can be classified as





Other ways to distinguish between leisure activities

The degree of cognitive, emotional, or physical involvement


Developmental Changes in Leisure

Young adults participate in a greater range of activities

Middle-aged adults are more concerned with home- and family-oriented, less physically strenuous activities

There is a great deal of stability over developmental ages in leisure activities preferred


Consequences of Leisure Activities

Research shows that:

Participation is related to well-being

Leisure activities promote mental health

Leisure activities lessen the effects of stress and negative life events

They strengthen feelings of attachment to one’s partner, family, and friends

They may be used to explore interpersonal relationships

Leisure results in more marital satisfaction if spent with others rather than only as a couple


Middle and Late Adulthood

Allow time to have fun and do a great job on your assignments. 

Defining adulthood

Middle adulthood = 35-60/65 years old

Late (older) adulthood = 65 years and older

Other terms given to subgroups in this span
60-80 = young-old
80-90 = older-old/old-old
90+ = oldest-old


What are significant changes that occur in middle adulthood? (your list should be long)


What are significant changes that occur in late adulthood? (your list should be longer!)


The non-traditional student

What is a “nontraditional” college student?

Why go (back) to college?

How is a returning adult student similar and in what ways are they different from traditional students?


Research: Higher stress in middle adulthood than late adulthood

What accounts for the higher level of stress experienced for middle-aged adults as compared to older adults?


What effects does stress have on the individual?

Physical health
Mental health

Research on health

High levels of hostility increase chance of all disease (e.g., *heart disease, cancer)

Type A personality = more hostility


Stress & resistance to disease

Indirect effects?

Direct effects: Psychophysiological illnesses

physiological effects of psychological states
hypertension, headaches
Immune system suppression and illness

Prolonged stress  hippocampus shrinks

What can be done to limit stress or deal with stress?

Erikson’s Eight Stages of Man

Erikson’s stages: Last stages

Generativity Versus Stagnation

Middle adulthood

Active involvement in raising children

About mid 20’s to mid 50’s

Generativity = extension of love into the future (productivity)

Kids, career… teaching, writing, invention, arts, sciences, social activism

Generativity Versus Stagnation

Stagnation = self-absorption, not contributing

Midlife crisis… What am I doing this for? What about me??

Integrity Versus Despair

Late adulthood

About retirement/kids are gone (60+)

Life review and reflection… often and long on the events and experiences of their lifetime

Integrity = judge your life to have been meaningful and productive and feel good about choices made

Integrity Versus Despair

If one or more stages is not conquered…

Despair = sense of meaninglessness and blame others for their problems

Can become preoccupied with past and inability to change it

Well-Being and Social Cognition

Subjective well-being is a positive feeling about one’s life

Subjective well-being may be based on marital status, social network, chronic illness, and stress
Women may experience less subjective well-being

Religiosity and Spiritual Support

Religious faith/spirituality = important means by which older people cope with life

Spiritual support is involvement with organized and unorganized religious activities and pastoral care

Faith in God’s help is described by elders as distinguishing between what can and cannot be changed, doing what one can to change the things they can, and letting go of those things that cannot be changed

What Does Being Retired Mean?

Retirement = not always complete withdrawal from work

Bridge job = a job between ending of primary employment and final retirement

associated with overall life satisfaction

Marriage satisfaction and retirement?


For most people, the death of a spouse is among the most traumatic experiences they will have

More than half of all women over 65 are widows. Only 15% of men the same age are widowers

Friends & family may not visit or socialize as much with elders after the death of a spouse


Men are at a higher risk of dying, themselves, soon after the death of a spouse

Some researchers believe that a man’s wife is often his only close friend and confidant
There is evidence that older men are less likely to be able to carry out routine activities such as shopping and financial responsibilities

Women are usually less financially secure when widowed and are more likely to enter poverty status

Widowers are 5 times more likely to remarry than widows

Prevalence of Frailty

Less than 5% of adults aged 65 to 74 need assistance

Incidence of needing assistance increases dramatically thereafter

Older adults may also have higher rates of anxiety and depression

Living in Nursing Homes

Only about 5% of older adults live in nursing homes

About 50% of those who live beyond 85 will spend at least some time in a nursing home

New (current) issue: STDs!

What Characterizes a Good Nursing Home?

High quality of life for residents

Quality of care


Researchers suggest a “person-centered planning” approach to nursing home policies

This approach promotes residents’ well-being by increasing their feelings of personal control
Nursing home staff should avoid patronizing speech and infantilization (i.e., using first names when inappropriate, terms of endearment, etc.)

Elder Abuse and Neglect

There are several different categories of elder abuse

Sexual abuse
Emotional or psychological abuse
Financial or material exploitation


Estimates are that there were 551,000 people over the age of 60 abused or neglected in the U.S. in 1996

The most common types of abuse were:

Neglect- 60%
Physical abuse- 16%
Financial or material exploitation- 12%

Characteristics of Elder Abuse Victims

People over the age of 80 are 2 to 3 times more likely to be abused than those under age 80

In 90% of the cases where the perpetrator of elder abuse is known, it was a family member, 2/3 of which were a spouse or adult child

Recently, telemarketing fraud has become a larger problem

Causes of Elder Abuse

Research fails to support the theories that stress alone, or that patterns of abuse transmitted across generations, cause abuse

Abuse is more likely to be caused by a combination of:

Intrapersonal problems of the caregiver
Interpersonal problems of the caregiver
Social characteristics of the care recipient

Politics, Social Security, and Medicare

As the number of older adults has increased, so has the quality of their everyday lives, partly as a result of increasing political power

In the ’50s, roughly 35% of older adults were below the poverty line compared to about 11% in the mid-1990s


Researchers predict that in the year 2030 the number of people over 65 will equal the number in other age groups…

What are the societal, economical, interpersonal, and physical and mental health implications?


Living longer: Currently, 50% of people over 65 have high school diplomas and 10% have college degrees. Research indicates that in 2030, 75% will have college degrees

How could this change the impact of the aging population on society (previous slide)?

Society’s view of aging/older adults
Look at pictures of older adults – walk slower down the hallway to leave experiment
Associate aging pictures and words with negative words and feelings

For aging adults—self-fulfilling prophesy?

Research on aging and perceived control…

Control over life by choosing new behaviors to meet their needs/desires = proactivity

When people allow the situation to dictate their options, they show docility

High competence = more proactivity

Health, disease, and life expectancy

The “sandwich generation”

Adult child/spouse and aging parent(s)… now, many adults are taking care of parents AND children

What concerns might you have as a member of the sandwich generation?

Major considerations for the sandwich generation

Change of role (parent-child), grandchild disruptions/generation gaps

Change of routine

Control/loss of control, freedom, and productivity

Financial strains

Medical care/care in general



What is depression?

Major Depressive Disorder (MDD)
Specific criteria (DSM-5, book of symptoms)

Why does depression occur in late adulthood and how can we help older adults?

Normal Memory/Cognitions vs. Dementia (This is great info for your Aging Assignment!)

How does memory normally change in adulthood? Late adulthood? (text info)

Check out this Alzheimer’s Association video that gives a great overview (8 min):

What is dementia and how is it different from Alzheimer’s? (You will use and your understanding here to complete your Dementia Assignment!)

Adult Relationships
Use this (fun) trivia format (run it as a slide show, from the tab up top!) to test yourself on your knowledge in this chapter. This is optional and not graded. Try to fill it in first– and then find the answers in your text.

The theory of assortative mating states that people find partners based on their _____Assortative mating________ to each other.

An ____________ relationship is one in which one partner becomes aggressive toward the other partner.

People tend to have more friends during the _________ adult period than at any other time in life.

Life satisfaction is strongly related to the quantity and quality of contacts with ______________.

Passion, intimacy, and commitment are the three basic components of ______.

Early in relationships, passion tends to be _______ and _________ and ___________ lower. This is called infatuation.

The kind of _______________ relationships an individual has as a child influences the kind of partner relationships formed as an adult.

Living with someone with whom one has a committed, intimate, sexual relationship is called ____________.

____% of women and ____% of men are single between the ages of 20 and 24.

Similarity of _________ and __________ is called homogamy.

According to the ___________ theory, marriage is based on each partner contributing something to the relationship that the other would be hard-pressed to provide.

Part-time or limited cohabitation is usually for _____________ and ______________. No long term _____________; marriage is not a goal.

Premarital cohabitation is usually a ___________________ and if it doesn’t end in marriage, the couple splits-up.

Substitute marriage is a long-term commitment without _______________ and is more common with older couples who may lose financial benefits if they marry.

Single ___________ have higher mortality rates and higher incidence of alcoholism, suicide, and mental health problems.

In the U.S., cohabitation before marriage often results in _________ happy marriages.

Women under the age of 20, at the time of their first marriage, are ____ times more likely to divorce than women who marry in their 20s and ____ times more likely than those in their 30s.

Teen marriages are more likely to end in divorce partly due to the need for the development of a strong sense of ____________ before intimacy.

Homogamy, or _________________________, __________ the chance of successful marriage.

Marriages are ________ successful when one partner contributes more to the relationship than the other.

Studies show that satisfaction with marriage is _________ in the beginning, _______ until children begin leaving home, and __________ again in later life.

Married couples who do not pool their financial resources ten to experience ________ satisfaction with their marriage.

Marital satisfaction ____________ shortly after retirement.

_________ educated couples experience greater dissatisfaction with their marriage.

The most important factor in good marriages is __________________.

Seven Keys to Staying Married:

1. Make ______ for your relationship

2. Express your ______ to your spouse

3. Be there in times of ______

4. _______________ about problems in the relationship

5. Be _____________ in your spouse’s life

6. ___________ in your spouse

7. ________ minor offenses, try to _____________ major ones

More than _____% of all pregnancies in the U.S. are unplanned

Childless couples have ________ standard of living and ________ marital satisfaction, but may be viewed negatively by society.

Older parents are _______ at ease, spend ________ time with their babies, are _______ affectionate.

Men who become fathers in their 30s spend up to ____ times as much time caring for their preschool children.

__________ American husbands are more likely to help with household chores and child care than ___________ American husbands.

Reasons men give for divorce:

Reasons women give for divorce:

People with ______ preoccupation with the divorced spouse adjust better to single life.

Middle-aged individuals may have the ___________ difficult time after divorce.

Even many years after the divorce, men are ______ likely than women to have positive relationships with their adult children.

On average, men and women wait about _____ years before remarrying

Remarriages have _____% higher rate of divorce than original marriages

Remarriages involving stepchildren are ____ times more likely to end in divorce

Women are ______ likely to initiate a divorce, but are _____ likely to remarry

_________ is the most commonly reported cause of divorce.

The divorce rate for remarriages is _________ than the divorce rate for first marriages.

Are there any you couldn’t figure out?! Email me! 

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