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Human Growth & Development

  Psychosocial Development
- Theories of Late Adulthood-

Human Growth & Development

Self Theories

Ψ  Self theories emphasize the core self, or the search to maintain one's integrity & identity.
Ψ  Self theories begin with the premise that adults make choices, confront problems, & interpret reality in such a way as to define, become, & express themselves as fully as possible.

  • Integrity versus Despair - Erikson's 8th stage - when older adults seek to integrate & unify their unique personal experiences with their vision of their community.
  • Idenity versus role confusion - Identity Theory - Erikson's 5th stage - People of all ages should have a sense of who they are. In response to this need for identity in a changing world a person could employ:
    Identity assimilation where identity remains what it always was - denies reality!
    Identity accommodation where the self concept is changed - produces self doubt!
    Ideal adjustment where a person maintains a firm but flexible identity, NOT leaning to far to either extreme.
  • Selective Optimization ( with compensation ) Involves choosing to play to your strengths rather than to your weaknesses.
  • Behavioral Genetics Some inherited traits seem even more apparent in late adulthood than earlier.

Stratification Theories

•  Stratification theories emphasize that social forces, particularly those related to a person's social stratum (SOCIAL CLASS) or social category, limit individual choices & affect the ability to function.
•  In late adulthood past stratification continues to limit life in various ways. Many believe that cultural forces become even more important but less supportive in old age.

Stratification by Age - Disengagement versus Activity
Disengagement theory - The view that aging makes a person's social sphere increasingly narrow, resulting in role relinquishment, withdrawal, & passivity.
Activity theory - The view that elderly people need to remain active in a variety of social spheres - with relatives, friends, & community groups - & become withdrawn only unwillingly, as a result of ageism.

Stratification by Gender & Race
Sexual Discrimination - In many ways , social polices & cultural values converge to make later life particularly burdensome for women.
Racial Discrimination - stratification comes from critical race theory which sees race not as "inborn" but rather as a "social construct" which shapes experience & attitudes for minorities as well as majorities.

Dynamic Theories

•  Dynamic theories emphasize change & readjustment rather than either the ongoing self or the legacy of stratification.

•  Dynamic theories emphasize that each person's life is seen as an active, ever-changing, largely self propelled process, occurring within specific social contexts that themselves are ever changing.

•  Continuity Theory - Each person experiences the changes of late adulthood & behaves toward others in much the same way as in earlier periods of life.

Human Growth & Development
Robert C. Gates

It may be that your sole purpose in life is simply to serve as a warning to others.