Socioemotional Development in Middle Adulthood
Middle adulthood may be defines as complex transitional period from youth to old age that involves numerous biological, emotional, social, physical, and spiritual changes. Some middle-aged people claim that this stage is unnoticeable as they are very satisfied and pleased with their lives. On the contrary, some frustrated individuals state that midlife crisis is a huge burden. The given research paper aims to determine, describe, and evaluate socioemotional development of humans in the period of middle adulthood.
Taking into account the nature of socioemotional development, it is important to note that it bases on psychological theory that human personality goes through diverse crises and resolutions in the process of life (Srivastana, 2003). In addition, psychologists usually define socioemotional development of adult individuals as an inevitable part of a life course that results in physical, emotional, and psychological changes. Classic theorists that investigated psychological changes in the middle age express controversial opinions concerning peculiarities of social and psychological “symptoms” of middle age. For instance, taking into account the estimations of such humanistic scientists as Maslow and Rogers, middle age provides people with enormous opportunities for positive changes. According to the conclusions of Carl Jung, middle-aged males and females face depression because they begin acknowledging mortality at this period of time. On the basis of observations of psychological development of humans, Erikson claimed that many middle-aged individuals face such occurrences as parenting as well as grandparenting. Mentorship, self-satisfaction, and so-called “maintenance of the world” are typical of this period of time. Erikson believes that the “virtue” of the middle-age period is care. Such well-known theorists as Vaillant and Levinson absolutely agree with Erikson’s point of view that middle age involves numerous “life shifts” (Srivastana, 2003).
The researchers emphasize that middle adulthood impacts many issues concerning the “self”. It puts at risks psychological well-being of people. Since ageing threatens many people, middle adulthood involves numerous types of anxieties and crises. Many experts in the sphere of psychology assure that this stage involves the processes of “masculinization” of females and “feminization” of males (Srivastana, 2003).
Socioemotional development in the period of middle adulthood is strengthened by some physical problems of adults. It is important to note that vision, coordination, disease, sexuality, and, finally, physical appearance of men and women considerably changes after the age of forty five years. However, many middle-aged individuals are not ready to get accustomed to these changes. That is why many males and females start panicking because of numerous physical problems (Middle adulthood development psychology, 2013).
Taking into account the main psychological shifts in the period of middle adulthood, it should be stressed, that many people cannot put up with physical, emotional, and psychological changes that face them. According to the results of statistics provided by the New York Times, many middle-aged people have tried to commit a suicide (Robers, 2014). However, the results of Gallup Telephone Poll provide the data that 72 % of the interviewers confessed that middle adulthood was the happiest time in their lives. In addition, this telephone poll proves that married couples are less prone to negative impacts of physical and psychological changes. Furthermore, approximately 35 % of people between 45 and 50 state that they worry about future life and their “limited time and opportunities.” Besides, many individuals feel sorrow because of abandoned goals that they failed to achieve (Robers, 2014). However, significant percentage of middle-aged people is happy because they successfully managed to cope with life difficulties and “enjoy the fruits.” Numerous internal feelings motivate middle-aged individuals to be of service to their children. According to the data provided in the magazine Psychology Today, socioemotional development in middle adulthood includes importance of cooperation and connectedness. Since relatives, children, and friends usually ignore middle-aged individuals, they opt for social or, in other words, online connections in order not to be isolated (Robers, 2014).
One of the most progressive developmental psychologist and psychoanalyst E. Erikson developed a well-known theory of personality that describes different stages of development of humans. One of subsections that is the part of Erikson’s theory of personality is connected with middle-aged males and females (Robers, 2014). The seventh’s stage of this cycle explains the peculiarities of generativity and stagnation that face middle-aged individuals. The theorist claims that middle-aged people should possess enough skills and qualities in order to balance generativity as well as stagnation as both components are equally significant. Erikson estimates that the former deals with so-called “extension of love.” In simple words, generativity motivates adult individuals to “settle” in their life. At these stages of development adult individuals evaluate the importance of effective development of future generations. Besides, persons at this stage of development reassess the significance of love among lovers and friends. According to scientific findings of this theorist, many people in the period of middle adulthood associate generativity with having, raising, and educating children. Erik Erikson stresses that teachings, writings, and trainings are considerably important. In addition, social activism, interactions, and art contribute to welfare of people in middle adulthood (Robers, 2014).
On the contrary, the process of stagnation primarily bases on self-absorption as well as caring for nobody. According to the main idea of this theory, stagnant middle-aged individual fails to be a productive member of society. Some middle-aged people strive for being so generative that they abandon personal life. Moreover, they consciously ignore the fact that relaxation, leisure time, and rest are integral parts of human life that influence the degree of happiness people experience in their lives (Kanfer & Ackerman, 2004). The theorist emphasizes the idea that stagnation creates the feeling of uselessness to family and community. This theory of psychological development of people states that middle adulthood is a specific period of time and it should be balanced in order to give the chance to humans to have pleasure in their lives and contribute to the welfare of community. Thus, generativity and stagnation are central conflicts that influence behavior and emotions of men and women in the period of middle adulthood (Kanfer & Ackerman, 2004).
The researchers claim that religion is a powerful force that impacts socioemotional development of people in the period of middle adulthood. For instance, taking into consideration the results of the public opinion poll, more than 70 % of people in the USA between 40 and 60 state that they are religious persons who deeply appreciate significance of spirituality (Lachman, 2004). Females, compared to male individuals, try to participate in diverse organized as well as personal “forms of religion.” Besides, scientists believe that religion makes women feel compassion, satisfaction, and reconciliation. It promotes social and emotional health of people in the period of middle adulthood. Thus, it is possible to make a conclusion that religion helps middle-aged people to cope with stress (Lachman, 2004).
According to the estimations of numerous researchers, it is very difficult to negotiate “emotional terrains” of individuals in middle age because all of them go through this period with different inner feelings and emotions. In general, such major events as getting accustomed to ageing, growing children, and, finally, coping with the death of parents influence the life of middle-aged adults (Lachman, 2004). However, many researchers cannot explain why some people are more adaptive to these changes than the others. Kessler, a well-known theorist in the sphere of psychology, believes that education as well as marital status contributes to the decreased amount of stressful and depressive situations. Besides, according to the results of statistics, divorce, disease, and unemployment result in the degrading emotional development of men and women in middle adulthood. Finally, finances, work, and bad family relationships are responsible for depression of people in middle age. In general, experts in the sphere of psychology support the basic idea that regulation of positive and negative emotions serves as an adaptive trait that gives individuals an opportunity to be adapted to different multiple responsibilities and losses (Lachman, 2004).
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Social interactions and positive relationships with many people contribute to social development in middle adulthood. Parents, spouses, as well as off-springs positively contribute to social well-being of individuals in that period of time. Psychologists believe that restructuring and reassessing social roles and responsibilities are not less important than psychological or physical abilities (Arnett, 2007). Very often middle-aged individuals fail to cope with death of their parents. For example, according to the statistical data provided by the National Survey of Families and Households, approximately 41 % of midlife individuals enter this developmental stage with their mothers and fathers alive. However, above 77 % of people leave this stage without their parents. This statistics proves that loss of parents is responsible for emotional anguish and turmoil of people in midlife. In addition, social development of individuals in middle adulthood is usually shaped by numerous positive and negative circumstances that are directly connected with their children (Arnett, 2007).
As a result, having determined and described the peculiarities of socioemotional development in middle adulthood it is possible to infer that a conception of development of middle-aged adults is a controversial phenomenon because of many intertwined factors. Social and emotional development of adults has become one of the most significant fields in the sphere of psychology and many other derivative disciplines. In general, midlife period involves complex interplay of diverse social roles that may have either positive or negative impacts on individuality in middle adulthood. This part of life involves significant amounts of gains and losses that influence such domains as personality, the self, unstable emotions, work successes or failures, and social interactions with other members of community.
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