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Description: Ok, quick, think of a typical 22-year-old. What are they like? Yes, they are all different but step back for a minute and generalize. Now do the same with a typical 66-year-old. Now, with each of those generalizations in mind don’t compare them to one another but, instead, compare them to what each generalization might have looked like even just 20 years ago, say to your parents or grandparents. Now consider this question: Do we need to reorganize or re-think our understandings of adult development? Think about that for a minute and then read the linked article by a developmental psychologists, Jeffery Arnett, who believes (with the support of many other researchers) that we need to do just that.

Source: Life’s stages are changing – we need new terms and new ideas to describe how adults develop and grow, Jeffery Arnett, The Conversation.

Date: January 25, 2022

Image by maz-Alph from Pixabay     

Article Link:

So, can you see that we likely need to adjust or even renovate our concepts and assumptions about adult the course and pathways of adult development? Individual development is comprised of an ongoing interaction between general developmental changes, individual issues, opportunities and challenges all occurring within a web of social expectations, role assumptions and opportunities. Just as economies and climates change over, sometimes surprising brief periods of historical time, so to do the developmental pathways and lived experiences of the people living, aging and developing within them. Life-span accounts of development must include consideration of individual development, social contents and changes and historical shifts and charges that impact both of these areas of consideration. So, regardless of what your 20’s were or are going to be like, your 40’s, 50’s 60’s and beyond could well be quite different that those people living within those age ranges today.

Questions for Discussion:

  1. What is emerging adulthood and how is it different that adolescence and different that adulthood?
  2. Describe several examples of individual developmental, social and historical considerations that interact to shape peoples’ experiences in their 20’s and in their 60’s?
  3. How might these accounts of the changing nature of developmental ages and stages be useful for and important in life planning?

References (Read Further):

Arnett, J. J., Robinson, O., & Lachman, M. E. (2020). Rethinking adult development: Introduction to the special issue. American Psychologist, 75(4), 425-430. Link

Mehta, C. M., Arnett, J. J., Palmer, C. G., & Nelson, L. J. (2020). Established adulthood: A new conception of ages 30 to 45. American Psychologist, 75(4), 431. Link

Infurna, F. J., Gerstorf, D., & Lachman, M. E. (2020). Midlife in the 2020s: Opportunities and challenges. American Psychologist, 75(4), 470. Link

Gerstorf, D., Hülür, G., Drewelies, J., Willis, S. L., Schaie, K. W., & Ram, N. (2020). Adult development and aging in historical context. American Psychologist, 75(4), 525. Link

Ackerman, P. L., & Kanfer, R. (2020). Work in the 21st century: New directions for aging and adult development. American Psychologist, 75(4), 486. Link

Zacher, H., Rudolph, C. W., & Baltes, B. B. (2019). An invitation to lifespan thinking. In Work across the lifespan (pp. 1-14). Academic Press. Link

Overton, W. F., & Müller, U. (2013). Metatheories, theories, and concepts in the study of development. In R. M. Lerner, M. A. Easterbrooks, J. Mistry, & I. B. Weiner (Eds.), Handbook of psychology: Developmental psychology (pp. 19–58). John Wiley & Sons, Inc. Link

Kornadt, A. E., Kessler, E. M., Wurm, S., Bowen, C. E., Gabrian, M., & Klusmann, V. (2020). Views on ageing: a lifespan perspective. European Journal of Ageing, 17(4), 387-401. Link