Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Adult Development and Aging



Chapter 1

Adult Development and Aging in a changing world
- What is Adult Development?
- Basic Concepts

Orientation:  It is important that we acquire scientific knowledge (knowledge based on the findings of empirical research) of the changes and development that take place during adulthood in order to master the art of living to the full.  Human development takes a lifetime to complete. The key features underlying development includes: development involves both growth and decline; potential skills could be developed/improved throughout life; the circumstances within which individuals develop are determined by their historical time, physical, social and cultural context; development is shaped by biological, psychological, socio-cultural and life-cycle forces. But, the individual is to a certain extent free to determine his own development.  Appreciate the complexity of human development.

What is Adult Development?
Outcomes: Human development requires a lifespan approach. Human growth and development takes place systematically & it helps adults to adjust to historical, socio cultural, biological, psychological and environmental changes.  Human development is brought about by learning and by biological maturation.

-  Change is a difference in something from one time to another; whereas
-  Development is a systematic process of adaptive change in behavior in one or more directions. Development is systematic in that it is coherent and organized. It is adaptive in that it is aimed at dealing with the ever-changing internal and external conditions of existence.  Development tends to progress from simple to complex, may take more than one route and might or may not have a definite goal.
Development may involve learning: long-lasting changes in behaviour as a result of experience.  Or it may be the result of maturation of the brain and other physical systems and structures of the body.

A lifespan developmental approach:  Lifespan development is the concept of development as a lifelong process of adaptation.
Paul Baltes’ key principles of a lifespan developmental approach:
-  Development is a lifelong process
-  Development takes place within a historical and social context.
            - People develop within a physical and social context, which differs at different point in history.
            - Individuals not only respond to their context, but also interacts with and actively influences it.
-  Development is
- multi directionality:  development can result in both increases and decreases, at varying rates, within the same
  person, age, period, or category of behaviour.
- multidimensionality: development can affect multiple capacities or aspects of a person. Personality,
  intelligence, and perception can be changing at the same time.
-  Development is pliable / plastic.  plasticity: means modifiability of performance. It is possible to improve
    functioning throughout the lifespan, though there are limits on how much a person can improve at any age.
-  Multiple Causality:
-        Development has multiple causes
-        Because no single perspective can adequately describe or explain the complexities of development – the study of lifespan development requires cooperative, mulidisciplinary efforts of scholars from many fields.

Basic Concepts

-aspects of development
-periods of adulthood
-influences on the course of adult development and aging
            normative and non-normative influences
            contexts of influences: a bio-ecological approach
            the role of culture
Outcomes: the meaning of physical-, intelligence/cognitive-, personality- and social development; with regard to which adults show great differences.  Distinguish between young, middle-aged and older adults. Why adult development is determined by numerous interactive influences and contexts

Basic Concepts  - Adult development is a product of multiple concurrent forces acting on a complex system.
- Aspects of development: adult development is complex because changes occur in several aspects of the self: Physical, intellectual, personality and social development. Physical is the structures of the body, which include sensory capacities, organ and nervous systems, health and fitness and motor skills.  Intellectual or cognitive development: changes in mental functioning – such as memory, intelligence, practical problem solving, moral reasoning, and wisdom. Personality development involves the unique way each person deals with the world and expresses thoughts and emotions.  Social development refers to changes in an individual’s social world – relationships, living arrangements, work, and leisure.

- Periods of adulthood:                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         

Age Period

Young Adulthood
(20 to 40 yrs)

Physical Development

Physical condition peaks, and then declines slightly. Lifestyle choices influences health.

Cognitive Development

Cognitive abilities and moral judgments assume more complexity.
Educational and career choices are made

Psychosocial Development

Personality traits and styles become relatively stable, but changes in personality may be influenced by life stages and events.
Decisions are made about intimate relationships and personal lifestyles.
Most people marry, and most become parents.
Middle Adulthood
(40 to 65 yrs)
Some deterioration of sensory abilities, health stamina, and prowess may take place. Women exp menopause.
Most basic mental abilities peak, expertise and practical problem-solving skills are high.
Creative output may decline, but improve in quality.
Career success and earning powers peak (for some; others) burnout or career change may occur.
Sense of id continues to develop; stressful midlife transition may occur.
Double responsibilities of caring for children and elderly parents may cause stress.
Launching of children leaves empty nest.
Late Adulthood
(65 yrs and older)
Most people are healthy and active, although health and physical abilities decline somewhat.
Slowing of reaction time affects some aspects of functioning.
Most people are mentally alert.
Although intelligence and memory may deteriorate in some areas, most people find ways to compensate.
Retirement may offer new options for use of time, including new full- or part time work.
People need to cope with personal losses and impending death.
Relationships with family can close friends can provide imp support
Search for meaning in life assumes central imp.
- Influences on the course of adult development and aging
Normative and non-normative influences:      an event is normative when it occurs in a similar way for most people in a given group.
-  Normative age-graded influences are very similar for people in a particular age group. Includes influences of
   biological events (menopause), social and cultural events (retirement) on the adult age group.
- Normative history-graded influences are common to a particular generation (cohort): a group of people who
   share a similar exp: ex growing up at the same time in the same place (the economic depression of the
- Non-normative life events are unusual events that have a big impact on id lives. They are either typical events
   that occurs at an atypical time of life or atypical events (being in an airplane crash).

Contexts of influences: a bio-ecological approach:
- another way of classifying influences is by immediacy of impact
- Urie Bronfenbrenner’s bio-ecological approach to development identifies five levels of environmental influence, ranging from very intimate to very broad: microsystem; mesosystem; exosystem; macrosystem, and chronosystem
- to understand the complexity of influences on development, we must see a person within the context of these multiple environments.

Here is a rhyme to remember it by..........
Mick messes with his ex at Macro’s counter (chronosystem) (chronological has to do with counting...)
-        a microsystem is the everyday environment of home, school, work, including face-to-face relationships with spouse, children, friends or colleagues (anybody from home, school, work or church). 
How does a new baby affect the parent’s lives?
-        the mesosystem is the interlocking of various microsystems – linkages between home and school, work and neighborhood.
How does a bitterly contested divorce affect a person’s performance at work? (an interaction between two people)
-        the exosystem consists of linkages between a microsystem and outside systems or institutions that affect a person indirectly. (come from work with public transport to Macro)
how does a community’s transit system affect job opportunities?
-        the macrosystem consists of overarching cultural patterns, such as dominant beliefs, ideologies, and economic and political systems. (different cultures meet at social level to discuss their beliefs).
How is an individual affected by living in a capitalist or socialist society?
-        the chronosystem adds the dimension of time: change or constancy in the person and the environment. 
      This can include changes in family structure, place of residence, or employment, as well as larger cultural
      changes such as war and economic cycles. (chromosomes – time of life, divorce, moving house).
Emphasis is on the patterning of environmental events and transitions in the course of a lifespan.

- by looking at influences that affect individuals in and beyond the family, this ecological approach helps us to see the variety and complexity of influences on adult development.
- the relative importance of each system may vary from one society to another and from one cultural group to another within the same society.
- This is one reason for doing cross-cultural research.
- These levels can be used to focus on important influences on changing individuals in a changing world.

- Bronfenbrenner is a contextual metatheory

the role of culture:
- by conducting research among various cultural groups, developmental scientists can recognize biases that often go unquestioned – “as with the fish who reputedly is unaware of water until removed from it.”
- cross-cultural research can tell us which aspects of development are universal (and thus seem to be intrinsic to the human condition) and which are cultural.
- western theories about gender roles, abstract thinking, moral reasoning, do not hold up when tested in other cultures.

Gerontologists – people who study aged people and the aging process

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