Social and Emotional Changes in Middle Adulthood

    Middle adults also go through a series of social and emotional changes.

Theories of Psychosocial Development:

    Erikson- that adults go through a period of generavity versus stagnation. This has to do with performing work to contribute to society or becoming stagnant, inactive, and do nothing. Adults must find ways that are meaningful to them to contribute to society in order to resolve this conflict.

Levinson- Divides development into distinct eras. middle-aged adults reassess their relation to themselves and the world and make adjustments in areas that are not satisfactory. The four tasks of middle adulthood are young-old, destruction-creation, masculinity-feminity, and engagement-separateness.

Vailaint- Says that middle-aged adults become guardians of their traditions and culture and carry the most responsibility for the well-being of society.

    Women have more trouble than men accepting being older. However, only a minority of people experience midlife crisis. It can be described as a time when a person has self-doubt and inner problems which makes them go through some sort of drastic change. In a study done at Cornell University, only ¼ of the adults surveyed thought they had undergone some sort of midlife crisis. The average age of the onset of midlife crisis is 46.

    In middle adulthood, adults become more in touch with themselves than ever before. They also become introspective. Women and men become more androgynous, which means they take on both gender role characteristics.

    Of the “Big Five” personality traits-neuroticism, extroversion, openness to experience, agreeableness, and conscientiousness-extroversion,, neuroticism, and openness to new experiences decline in middle adulthood, and agreeableness and conscientiousness increases.


    Middle-aged adults often become more appreciative of their own parents, and their relationships improve.  Adults that have to take care of their ill or frail parents are referred to as the "sandwich generation."

    Sibling bonds strengthen, while friendships are fewer and more deeply valued.

    Burnout is sometimes faced in careers. A person gets tired of their job, especially in jobs involving work with people. Most middle-aged people keep their same job, and a radical career change often signals personal crisis.

Middle Adulthood


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