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MIDDLE

ADULTHOOD
Cognitive & Socio-emotional
Development

INTELLIGENCE

John Horn argues that some abilities begin to


decline in middle age while others increase.
Horn maintains Crystallized Intelligence
continues to increase.
According to him Fluid Intelligence begins to
decline in middle adulthood.
This data was collected in a cross-sectional
manner.

INTELLIGENCE
Crystallized Intelligence

Accumulated information and verbal skills.

Fluid Intelligence

The ability to reason abstractly.

CROSS SECTIONAL
STUDY

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Individuals
of different
ages are
assessed at
the same
point in
time.

LONGITUDINAL STUDY

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The same
individuals
are assessed
over a period
of time

THE SEATTLE LONGITUDINAL


STUDY

Extensive evaluation of intellectual abilities was


evaluated by K. Warner Schaie.
Participants have been assessed in seven-year
intervals since 1956: 1963, 1970, 1977, 1984,
1991, 1998, & 2005.
Five hundred individuals were initially tested in
1956.
Study focused on individual changes & stability
intelligence.

MENTAL ABILITIES TESTED

Vocabulary

Verbal Memory

Number

Spatial Orientation

Inductive Reasoning

Perceptual Speed

FINDINGS OF THE STUDY

Highest level of functioning for four of the six


intellectual abilities occurred in middle
adulthood years.
Peak performance on verbal ability, verbal
memory, inductive reasoning & spatial
orientation was attained in middle adulthood by
both men & women.
There was decline in middle adulthood for
Number & Perceptual Speed.

SCHAIE & SHERRY

The results of Schaies study focus on average


cognitive stability or change for all participants
across middle adulthood years.
Schaie & Sherry examined participants of Seattle
study and found substantial individual
variations.
They classified participants as Decliners,
Stable, and Gainers for three categoriesNumber ability, delayed recall (verbal memory
task) & word fluency- from 46 to 60 years.

CONTD.

Largest percentage of decline (31%) or gain (16%)


occurred for delayed recall.
The largest percentage of stable scores (79%)
occurred for numerical ability.
Word fluency declined for 20% of the individuals
from age 46 to 60 years.

INFORMATION
PROCESSING

SPEED OF INFORMATION
PROCESSING

a.
b.
c.

Perceptual speed starts declining in early


adulthood and continues to decline in middle
adulthood years.
Perceptual speed is commonly assessed by using
reaction time task.
Causes for decline
Cognitive
Neuroanatomical
Neurochemical

MEMORY

In Schaies study verbal memory peaked in


fifties. However in some other studies verbal
memory has shown a decline.
In several studies when asked to remember lists
of words, numbers, or meaningful prose, younger
adults outperformed middle aged adults.
Cognitive aging expert Densie Park (2001) argues
that starting in late middle age, more time is
needed to learn new information.

MEMORY

Slowdown in learning new information is linked


to changes in working memory.
Working memory also called the mental work
bench, where information is manipulated and
assembled while making decisions, solving
problems, comprehending written & spoken
language.
The amount of information immediately retrieved
& used becomes limited.

EXPERTISE

Expertise often show up more in the middle


adulthood years.
Expertise involve having extensive, highly
organized knowledge and understanding of a
particular domain.
Developing expertise in a filed is usually a result
of many years of experience, learning and effort.

PRACTICAL PROBLEM SOLVING

Everyday problem solving is an important aspect


of cognition.
Nancy Denney (1986) observed circumstances
such as how young and middle-age adults
handled a landlord who would not fix their stove
and what they did if a bank failed to deposit a
check.
She found out that ability to solve such practical
problems improved through the forties and fifties.

SOCIO-EMOTIONAL
DEVELOPMENT

STAGES OF ADULTHOOD

Adult stage theories contribute to the view that


midlife brings a crisis in development.
Two prominent theories that define stages of
adult development are:

1)

Erik Eriksons life-span view

2)

Daniel Levinsons Seasons of a mans life

GENERATIVITY VERSUS
STAGNATION

Erikson proposed that middle-aged adults face a


significant issue- generativity versus stagnation.
Generativity encompasses adults desire to leave
legacies of themselves to the next generation.
Stagnation (sometimes called self-absorption)
develops when individuals sense that they have
done nothing for the next generation.

LEVINSONS SEASONS OF A MANS


LIFE
The Seasons of a Mans Life (1978) is a book
authored by Daniel Levinson.
He interviewed 40 middle-aged men.
These interviews were conducted with hourly
workers, business executives, academic biologists
and novelists.
Levinson has described a number of stages and
transitions during the period from 17 to 65 years
of age.
He emphasizes that developmental tasks must be
mastered at every stage.

STAGES OF ADULT DEVELOPMENT


Early Adult Transition

CONTEMPORARY LIFE-EVENTS
APPROACH

Is an approach emphasizing that how a life event


influences the individuals development depends
not only on the life event, but also on mediating
factors, the individuals adaptation to life event,
the life stage context, and the socio-historical
context.

Family
Close relationships

Love

Kids

LOVE AT MIDLIFE
Types of love:
1) Romantic Love
2) Affectionate Love

o)
o)

o)

o)

Romantic love are strong in early adulthood.


Affectionate or companionate love increases
during middle adulthood.
Physical attraction, romance and passion are
more important in new relationships in early
adulthood.
Security, loyalty and mutual emotional interest
become more important as relationships mature.

MARRIAGE AT MIDLIFE
A recent study revealed that marital satisfaction
increased in middle age.
In middle adulthood the partners may have
fewer financial worries, less house-work and
chores.
Middle-aged partners are more likely to view
their marriage as positive if they engage in
mutual activities.
In large scale study of individuals in the middle
adulthood, 72 percent of those who were married
said their marriage was either excellent or
very good

DIVORCE AT MIDLIFE

A survey by AARP (2004) of 1,148 40 to 79-yearolds who were divorced at least once in their
forties, fifties or sixties quoted children as the
reason for them staying married for so long.
Women who initiated divorce in midlife were
characterized more by self-focused growth and
optimism than women whose husband initiated
divorce.

REASONS FOR DIVORCE


Following are the main reasons for divorce cited
by women:
1) Verbal, physical or emotional abuse (23%)
2) Alcohol or drug abuse (18%)
3) Cheating (17%)

o)

1)
2)
3)

Following are the main reasons for divorce cited


by men:
No obvious problems, just fell out of love (17%)
Cheating (14%)
Different values, lifestyles (14%)

EMPTY NEST

Empty Nest Syndrome, includes a decrease in


marital satisfaction after children leave home,
because parents derive considerable satisfaction
from their children.
A recent study revealed that transition to empty
nest increased marital satisfaction & increase
was linked to quality of time spent with partners.
Refilling of the nest is becoming a common
occurrence.