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Developmental tasks as a framework to study personality development in adulthood and old age


Hutteman, Roos; Hennecke, Marie; Orth, Ulrich; Reitz, Anne K; Specht, Jule (2014). Developmental tasks as a framework to study personality development in adulthood and old age. European Journal of Personality, 28(3):267-278.

Abstract

Research consistently shows that personality development is a lifelong phenomenon, with mean-level and rank-order changes occurring in all life phases. What happens during specific life phases that can explain these developmental patterns? In the present paper, we review literature linking personality development in different phases of adulthood to developmental tasks associated with these phases. Building on previous work, we describe several categories of developmental tasks that are present in all phases of adulthood. However, the specific tasks within these categories change across adulthood from establishing new social roles in early adulthood to maintaining them in middle adulthood and preventing losses in old age. This trajectory is reflected in mean-level changes in personality, which indicates development towards greater maturity (increases in social dominance, conscientiousness, and emotional stability) in early and middle adulthood, but less so at the end of life. Importantly, developmental tasks are not only associated with mean-level changes, but the way in which people deal with these tasks is also related to rank-order changes in personality. We provide an outlook for future research on how the influence of historical time on the normativeness of developmental tasks might be reflected in personality development.

Abstract

Research consistently shows that personality development is a lifelong phenomenon, with mean-level and rank-order changes occurring in all life phases. What happens during specific life phases that can explain these developmental patterns? In the present paper, we review literature linking personality development in different phases of adulthood to developmental tasks associated with these phases. Building on previous work, we describe several categories of developmental tasks that are present in all phases of adulthood. However, the specific tasks within these categories change across adulthood from establishing new social roles in early adulthood to maintaining them in middle adulthood and preventing losses in old age. This trajectory is reflected in mean-level changes in personality, which indicates development towards greater maturity (increases in social dominance, conscientiousness, and emotional stability) in early and middle adulthood, but less so at the end of life. Importantly, developmental tasks are not only associated with mean-level changes, but the way in which people deal with these tasks is also related to rank-order changes in personality. We provide an outlook for future research on how the influence of historical time on the normativeness of developmental tasks might be reflected in personality development.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:06 Faculty of Arts > Institute of Psychology
Dewey Decimal Classification:150 Psychology
Language:English
Date:23 June 2014
Deposited On:15 Jan 2015 10:43
Last Modified:03 Jun 2018 05:25
Publisher:Wiley-Blackwell Publishing, Inc.
ISSN:0890-2070
OA Status:Closed
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1002/per.1959

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