Odessa College Adulthood Theories Perspective Paper

Odessa College Adulthood Theories Perspective Paper

Odessa College Adulthood Theories Perspective Paper


Question Description

I’m studying for my Psychology class and need an explanation.

  • Template: Adulthood Perspective Paper

    – Alternative Formats

  • Assignment

    Perspective Paper 2: Adulthood

    As you’ve learned, we divide the study of lifespan development into three broad categories: conception through childhood, adolescence, and adulthood to death. In this assignment, you will be looking at the first broad category, which is


    , and applying your research to compare and contrast two of the lifespan theorists. Later in this course, you will have this assignment again but applied to the other broad categories.


    If you have taken this course previously or completed this capstone assignment in another course you can NOT resubmit your original paper. I do not allow recycled papers for this assignment.

    I will evaluate your sources if the plagiarism report is over 20% for the written content not including references). Be sure to write in your own words and provide in-text citations and references in APA format.

    Step One:

    Please choose two theorists from the list below. You may select different theorists or keep these for the subsequent assignments.

    • Freud’s psychosexual stage theory
    • Erikson’s psychosocial stage theory
    • Kohlberg’s moral understanding stage theory
    • Piaget’s cognitive development stage theory
    • Bronfenbrenner’s ecological systems theory

    Step Two:

    Research your selected theorists. The embedded text in this course will help, and you may also use resources from the approved list of websites given to you in your syllabus:


    Here is an approved list of websites that you are allowed to use for research:




    may also be used but be aware of student papers

  • Odessa College Adulthood Theories Perspective Paper

    Banned Websites:

    Please do NOT use the following websites for any research paper or to fulfill the scholarly reference requirement. Points will be deducted if these sources are used. .net or .com should also never be used! These are NOT scholarly resources:Odessa College Adulthood Theories Perspective Paper

    • Simply psychology
    • About psychology
    • Wikipedia
    • Psychology Today
    • Psychologynotes
    • Spark Notes
    • Cliff Notes
    • Verywellmind
    • Paper Generators
    • Britannica
    • Webster

    Step Three:

    Use the template to write your paper. Be sure to include the exact headings provided as they clearly distinguish between the sections you discuss! You will need a title page as shown.

    Other important things to note:Odessa College Adulthood Theories Perspective Paper

    • This assignment is a WORD document that is attached and submitted through safe assign (check the plagiarism tool box before hitting submit). pdf or other document types will NOT be accepted.
    • I expect a title page, reference page (at least two more sources in addition to Siegler as this is research oriented), citations within the paragraphs, etc. according to APA format.
    • I also expect the headings as given in your template for the paper.
    • Except for the initial introduction that asks you to talk briefly about your lifespan related to the stage, the rest of the paper should follow formal language without “I, we, you,” etc. Avoid contractions – instead of “can’t,” use “cannot,” etc.
    • Use your own words rather than rely on quotations or copying and pasting or just changing a few words – that is considered plagiarism.
    • Show me your understanding of the content in simple words.
    • You final product should be a 2-3 page paper, not including your title page or reference page.

    If you don’t know APA, please rely heavily on this



  • Item

    Required Reading and Video Links – Early Adulthood

    Required Reading and Video Links – Early Adulthood

    Introduction to Early Adulthood

    Developmental Tasks of Early Adulthood

    Photo Courtesy of Joshua Gray

    Odessa College Adulthood Theories Perspective Paper

    Early adulthood can be a very busy time of life. Havighurst (1972) describes some of the developmental tasks of young adults. These include:

    • Achieving autonomy: trying to establish oneself as an independent person with a life of one’s own
    • Establishing identity: more firmly establishing likes, dislikes, preferences, and philosophies
    • Developing emotional stability: becoming more stable emotionally which is considered a sign of maturing
    • Establishing a career: deciding on and pursuing a career or at least an initial career direction and pursuing an education
    • Finding intimacy: forming first close, long-term relationships
    • Becoming part of a group or community: young adults may, for the first time, become involved with various groups in the community. They may begin voting or volunteering to be part of civic organizations (scouts, church groups, etc.). This is especially true for those who participate in organizations as parents.
    • Establishing a residence and learning how to manage a household: learning how to budget and keep a home maintained.
    • Becoming a parent and rearing children: learning how to manage a household with children. Making marital adjustments and learning to parent.

    Physical Development

    The Physiological Peak

    : People in their twenties and thirties are considered young adults. If you are in your early twenties, good news-you are probably at the peak of your physiological development. Your reproductive system, motor ability, strength, and lung capacity are operating at their best. Now here is the bad news. These systems will now start a slow, gradual decline so that by the time you reach your mid to late 30s, you will begin to notice signs of aging. This includes a decline in your immune system, your response time, and in your ability to recover quickly from physical exertion. For example, you may have noticed that it takes you quite some time to stop panting after running to class or taking the stairs. But, here is more good news. Getting out of shape is not an inevitable part of aging; it is probably due to the fact that you have become less physically active and have experienced greater stress. How is that good news, you ask? It’s good news because it means that there are thing you can do to combat many of these changes. So keep in mind, as we continue to discuss the life span that many of the changes we associate with aging can be turned around if we adopt healthier lifestyles.Odessa College Adulthood Theories Perspective Paper

    A Healthy, but Risky Time

    : Doctor’s visits are less frequent in early adulthood than for those in midlife and late adulthood and are necessitated primarily by injury and pregnancy (Berger, 2005). However, among the top five causes of death in young adulthood are non-intentional injury (including motor vehicle accidents), homicide, and suicide (Heron, M. P. & B. L. Smith, 2007). Cancer and heart disease complete the list. Rates of violent death (homicide, suicide, and accidents) are highest among young adult males, and vary among by race and ethnicity. Rates of violent death are higher in the United States than in Canada, Mexico, Japan, and other selected countries. Males are 3 times more likely to die in auto accidents than are females (Frieden, 2011).

    Substance Abuse

    : Rates of violent death are influenced by substance abuse which peaks during early adulthood. Illicit drug use peaks between the ages of 19 and 22 and then begins to decline (Berk, 2007). And twenty-five percent of those who smoke cigarettes, a third of those who smoke marijuana, and 70 percent of those who abuse cocaine began using after age 17 (Volkow, 2004). Some young adults use as a way of coping with stressors from family, personal relationships, or concerns over being on one’s own. Others use because they have friends who use and in the early 20s, there is still a good deal of pressure to conform. Half of all alcohol consumed in the United States is in the form of binge drinking (Frieden, 2011).Odessa College Adulthood Theories Perspective Paper

    Drugs impair judgment, reduce inhibitions, and alter mood, all of which can lead to dangerous behavior. Reckless driving, violent altercations, and forced sexual encounters are some examples. Binge drinking on college campuses has received considerable media and public attention. The role alcohol plays in predicting acquaintance rape on college campuses is of particular concern. In the majority of cases of rape, the victim knows the rapist. Being intoxicated increases a female’s risk of being the victim of date or acquaintance rape (Fisher et als. in Carroll, 2007). And, she is more likely to blame herself and to be blamed by others if she was intoxicated when raped. Males increase their risk of being accused of rape if they are drunk when an incidence occurred (Carroll, 2007).Odessa College Adulthood Theories Perspective Paper

    Drug and alcohol use increase the risk of sexually transmitted infections because people are more likely to engage in risky sexual behavior when under the influence. This includes having sex with someone who has had multiple partners, having anal sex without the use of a condom, having multiple partners, or having sex with someone whose history is unknown. And, as we previously discussed in our lesson on Beginnings, drugs and alcohol ingested during pregnancy have a teratogenic effect.

    Sexual Responsiveness and Reproduction in Early Adulthood

    Sexual Responsiveness

    : Men and women tend to reach their peak of sexual responsiveness at different ages. For men, sexual responsiveness tends to peak in the late teens and early twenties. Sexual arousal can easily occur in response to physical stimulation or fantasizing. Sexual responsiveness begins a slow decline in the late twenties and into the thirties although a man may continue to be sexually active. Through time, a man may require more intense stimulation in order to become aroused. Women often find that they become more sexually responsive throughout their 20s and 30s and may peak in the late 30s or early 40s. This is likely due to greater self-confidence and reduced inhibitions about sexuality.


    : For many couples, early adulthood is the time for having children. However, delaying childbearing until the late 20s or early 30s has become more common in the United States.

    Couples delay childbearing for a number of reasons. Women are more likely to attend college and begin careers before starting families. And both men and women are delaying marriage until they are in their late 20s and early 30s.


    : Infertility affects about 6.1 million women or 10 percent of the reproductive age population (American Society of Reproductive Medicine [ASRM], 2000-2007). Male factors create infertility in about a third of the cases. For men, the most common cause is a lack of sperm production or low sperm production. Female factors cause infertility in another third of cases. For women, one of the most common causes of infertility is the failure to ovulate. Another cause of infertility is pelvic inflammatory disease, an infection of the female genital tract (Carroll, 2007). Pelvic inflammatory disease is experienced by 1 out of 7 women in the United States and leads to infertility about 20 percent of the time. One of the major causes of pelvic inflammatory disease is Chlamydia trachomatis, the most commonly diagnosed sexually transmitted infection in young women. Another cause of pelvic inflammatory disease is gonorrhea. Both male and female factors contribute to the remainder of cases of infertility.

    Fertility treatment

    : The majority of infertility cases (85-90 percent) are treated using fertility drugs to increase ovulation or with surgical procedures to repair the reproductive organs or remove scar tissue from the reproductive tract. In vitro fertilization is used to treat infertility in less than 5 percent of cases. IVF is used when a woman has blocked or deformed fallopian tubes or sometimes when a man has a very low sperm count. This procedure involves removing eggs from the female and fertilizing the eggs outside the woman’s body. The fertilized egg is then reinserted in the woman’s uterus. The average cost of IVF is over $12,000 and the success rate is between 5 to 30 percent. IVF makes up about 99 percent of artificial reproductive procedures.

    Less common procedures include gamete intra-fallopian tube transfer (GIFT) which involves implanting both sperm and ova into the fallopian tube and fertilization is allowed to occur naturally. The success rate of implantation is higher for GIFT than for IVF (Carroll, 2007). Zygote intra-fallopian tube transfer (ZIFT) is another procedure in which sperm and ova are fertilized outside of the woman’s body and the fertilized egg or zygote is then implanted in the fallopian tube. This allows the zygote to travel down the fallopian tube and embed in the lining of the uterus naturally. This procedure also has a higher success rate than IVF.

    Insurance coverage for infertility is required in fourteen states, but the amount and type of coverage available varies greatly (ASRM, 2000-2007). The majority of couples seeking treatment for infertility pay much of the cost. Consequently, infertility treatment is much more accessible to couples with higher incomes. However, grants and funding sources are available for lower income couples seeking infertility treatment as well.

    Cognitive Development

    Beyond Formal Operational Thought: Post-formal Thought

    In our last lesson, we discussed formal operational thought. The hallmark of this type of thinking is the ability to think abstractly or to consider possibilities and ideas about circumstances never directly experienced. Thinking abstractly is only one characteristic of adult thought, however. If you compare a 15 year old with someone in their late 30s, you would probably find that the later considers not only what is possible, but also what is likely. Why the change? The adult has gained experience and understands why possibilities do not always become realities. This difference in adult and adolescent thought can spark arguments between the generations. Here is an example. A student in her late 30s relayed such an argument she was having with her 14 year old son. The son had saved a considerable amount of money and wanted to buy an old car and store it in the garage until he was old enough to drive. He could sit in it; pretend he was driving, clean it up, and show it to his friends. It sounded like a perfect opportunity. The mother, however, had practical objections. The car could just sit for several years without deteriorating. The son would certainly change his mind about the type of car he wanted before he was old enough to drive and they would be stuck with a car that would not run. Having a car nearby would be too much temptation and the son might decide to sneak it out for a quick run around the block, etc.

    Postformal thought is practical, realistic and more individualistic. As a person approaches the late 30s, chances are they make decisions out of necessity or because of prior experience and are less influenced by what others think. Of course, this is particularly true in individualistic cultures such as the United States.

    Dialectical Thought

    In addition to moving toward more practical considerations, thinking in early adulthood may also become more flexible and balanced. Abstract ideas that the adolescent believes in firmly may become standards by which the adult evaluates reality. Adolescents tend to think in dichotomies; ideas are true or false; good or bad; right or wrong and there is no middle ground. However, with experience, the adult comes to recognize that there is some right and some wrong in each position, some good or some bad in a policy or approach, some truth and some falsity in a particular idea. This ability to bring together salient aspects of two opposing viewpoints or positions is referred to as dialectical thought and is considered one of the most advanced aspects of postformal thinking (Basseches, 1984). Such thinking is more realistic because very few positions, ideas, situations, or people are completely right or wrong. So, for example, parents who were considered angels or devils by the adolescent eventually become just people with strengths and weaknesses, endearing qualities and faults to the adult.

    Educational Concerns

    In 2005, 37 percent of people in the United States between 18 and 24 had some college or an associate degree; about 30 percent of people between 25 and 34 had completed an education at the bachelor’s level or higher (U. S. Bureau of the Census, 2005). Of current concern is the relationship between higher education and the workplace. Bok (2005), American educator and Harvard University President, calls for a closer alignment between the goals of educators and the demands of the economy. Companies outsource much of their work, not only to save costs, but to find workers with the skills they need. What is required to do well in today’s economy? Colleges and universities, he argues, need to promote global awareness, critical thinking skills, the ability to communicate, moral reasoning, and responsibility in their students (Bok, 2006). Regional accrediting agencies and state organizations provide similar guidelines for educators. Workers need skills in listening, reading, writing, speaking, global awareness, critical thinking, civility, and computer literacy-all skills that enhance success in the workplace. The U. S. Secretary of Education, Margaret Spellings challenges colleges and universities to demonstrate their effectiveness in providing these skills to students and to work toward increasing America’s competitiveness in the global economy (U. S. Department of Education, 2006).

    A quality education is more than a credential. Being able to communicate and work well with others is crucial for success. There is some evidence to suggest that most workers who lose their jobs do so because of an inability to work with others, not because they do not know how to do their jobs (Cascio, in Berger 2005). Writing, reading, being able to work with a diverse work team, and having the social skills required to be successful in a career and in society are qualities that go beyond merely earning a credential to compete for a job. Employers must select employees who are not only degreed, but who will be successful in the work environment. Hopefully, students gain these skills as they pursue their degrees. Listen to this story about the lack of rigor in higher education and the problems students face as a result:

    A Lack Of Rigor Leaves Students ‘Adrift’ In College


    Psychosocial Development

    Gaining Adult Status

    Many of the developmental tasks of early adulthood involve becoming part of the adult world and gaining independence. Young adults sometimes complain that they are not treated with respect-especially if they are put in positions of authority over older workers. Consequently, young adults may emphasize their age to gain credibility from those who are even slightly younger. “You’re only 23? I’m 27!” a young adult might exclaim. (Note: This kind of statement is much less likely to come from someone in their 40s!).The focus of early adulthood is often on the future. Many aspects of life are on hold while people go to school, go to work, and prepare for a brighter future. There may be a belief that the hurried life now lived will improve ‘as soon as I finish school’ or ‘as soon as I get promoted’ or ‘as soon as the children get a little older.’ As a result, time may seem to pass rather quickly. The day consists of meeting many demands that these tasks bring. The incentive for working so hard is that it will all result in better future.

    Levinson’s Theory

    In 1978, Daniel Levinson published a book entitled

    The Seasons of a Man’s Life

    in which he presented a theory of development in adulthood. Levinson’s work was based on in-depth interviews with 40 men between the ages of 35-45. He later conducted interviews with women as well (1996). According to Levinson, these adults have an image of the future that motivates them. This image is called “the dream” and for the men interviewed, it was a dream of how their career paths would progress and where they would be at midlife. Women held a “split dream”; an image of the future in both work and family life and a concern with the timing and coordination of the two. Dreams are very motivating. Dreams of a home bring excitement to couples as they look, save, and fantasize about how life will be. Dreams of careers motivate students to continue in school as they fantasize about how much their hard work will pay off. Dreams of playgrounds on a summer day inspire would be parents. A dream is perfect and retains that perfection as long as it remains in the future. But as the realization of it moves closer, it may or may not measure up to its image. If it does, all is well. But if it does not, the image must be replaced or modified. And so, in adulthood, plans are made, efforts follow, and plans are reevaluated. This creating and recreating characterizes Levinson’s theory.Levinson’s stages are presented below (Levinson, 1978). He suggests that period of transition last about 5 years and periods of “settling down” last about 7 years. The ages presented below are based on life in the middle class about 30 years ago. Think about how these ages and transitions might be different today.

    • Early adult transition (17-22): Leaving home, leaving family; making first choices about career and education

    • Entering the adult world (22-28): Committing to an occupation, defining goals, finding intimate relationships

    • Age 30 transition (28-33): Reevaluating those choices and perhaps making modifications or changing one’s attitude toward love and work

    • Settling down (33 to 40): Reinvesting in work and family commitments; becoming involved in the community

    • Midlife transition (40-45): Reevaluating previous commitments; making dramatic changes if necessary; giving expression to previously ignored talents or aspirations; feeling more of a sense of urgency about life and its meaning

    • Entering middle adulthood (45-50): Committing to new choices made and placing one’s energies into these commitments

    Adulthood, then, is a period of building and rebuilding one’s life. Many of the decisions that are made in early adulthood are made before a person has had enough experience to really understand the consequences of such decisions. And, perhaps, many of these initial decisions are made with one goal in mind-to be seen as an adult. As a result, early decisions may be driven more by the expectations of others. For example, imagine someone who chose a career path based on other’s advice but now find that the job is not what was expected. The age 30 transition may involve recommitting to the same job, not because it’s stimulating, but because it pays well. Settling down may involve settling down with a new set of expectations for that job. As the adult gains status, he or she may be freer to make more independent choices. And sometimes these are very different from those previously made. The midlife transition differs from the age 30 transition in that the person is more aware of how much time has gone by and how much time is left. This brings a sense of urgency and impatience about making changes. The future focus of early adulthood gives way to an emphasis on the present in midlife. (We will explore this in our next lesson.) Overall, Levinson calls our attention to the dynamic nature of adulthood.

    Erikson’s Theory

    Intimacy vs. Isolation

    Erikson believed that the main task of early adulthood was to establish intimate relationships. Intimate relationships are more difficult if one is still struggling with identity. Achieving a sense of identity is a life-long process, but there are periods of identity crisis and stability. And having some sense of identify is essential for intimate relationships. In early adulthood, intimacy (or emotional or psychological closeness) comes from friendships and mates.

    Friendships as a source of intimacy

    In our twenties, intimacy needs may be met in friendships rather than with partners. This is especially true in the United States today as many young adults postpone making long-term commitments to partners either in marriage or in cohabitation. The kinds of friendships shared by women tend to differ from those shared by men (Tannen, 1990). Friendships between men are more likely to involve sharing information, providing solutions, or focusing on activities rather than discussion problems or emotions. Men tend to discuss opinions or factual information or spend time together in an activity of mutual interest. Friendships between women are more likely to focus on sharing weaknesses, emotions, or problems. Women talk about difficulties they are having in other relationships and express their sadness, frustrations, and joys. These differences in approaches lead to problems when men and women come together. She may want to vent about a problem she is having; he may want to provide a solution and move on to some activity. But when he offers a solution, she thinks he does not care!Friendships between men and women become more difficult because of the unspoken question about whether the friendships will lead to a romantic involvement. It may be acceptable to have opposite-sex friends as an adolescent, but once a person begins dating or marries; such friendships can be considered threatening. Consequently, friendships may diminish once a person has a partner or single friends may be replaced with couple friends.

    Partners as a source of intimacy: Dating, Cohabitation, and Mate Selection


    In general, traditional dating among teens and those in their early twenties has been replaced with more varied and flexible ways of getting together. The Friday night date with dinner and a movie that may still be enjoyed by those in their 30s gives way to less formal, more spontaneous meetings that may include several couples or a group of friends. Two people may get to know each other and go somewhere alone. How would you describe a “typical” date? Who calls? Who pays? Who decides where to go? What is the purpose of the date? In general, greater planning is required for people who have additional family and work responsibilities. Teens may simply have to negotiate getting out of the house and carving out time to be with friends.

    Cohabitation or Living Together

    How prevalent is cohabitation? There are over 5 million heterosexual cohabiting couples in the United States and, an additional 594,000 same-sex couples share households (U. S. Census Bureau, 2006). In 2000, 9 percent of women and 12 percent of men were in cohabiting relationships (Bumpass in Casper & Bianchi, 2002). This number reflects only those couples who were together when census data were collected, however. The number of cohabiting couples in the United States today is over 10 times higher than it was in 1960.Similar increases have also occurred in other industrialized countries. For example, rates are high in Great Britain, Australia, Sweden, Denmark, and Finland. In fact, more children in Sweden are born to cohabiting couples than to married couples. The lowest rates of cohabitation are in Ireland, Italy, and Japan (Benokraitis, 2005).Odessa College Adulthood Theories Perspective Paper

    How long do cohabiting relationships last?

    Cohabitation tends to last longer in European countries than in the United States. Half of cohabiting relationships in the U. S. end within a year; only 10 percent last more than 5 years. These short-term cohabiting relationships are more characteristics of people in their early 20s. Many of these couples eventually marry. Those who cohabit more than five years tend to be older and more committed to the relationship. Cohabitation may be preferable to marriage for a number of reasons. For partners over 65, cohabitation is preferable to marriage for practical reasons. For many of them, marriage would result in a loss of Social Security benefits and consequently is not an option. Others may believe that their relationship is more satisfying because they are not bound by marriage. Consider this explanation from a 62-year old woman who was previously in a long-term, dissatisfying marriage. She and her partner live in New York but spend winters in South Texas at a travel park near the beach. “There are about 20 other couples in this park and we are the only ones who aren’t married. They look at us and say, ‘I wish we were so in love’. I don’t want to be like them.” (Author’s files.) Or another couple who have been happily cohabiting for over 12 years. Both had previously been in bad marriages that began as long-term, friendly, and satisfying relationships. But after marriage, these relationships became troubled marriages. These happily cohabiting partners stated that they believe that there is something about marriage that “ruins a friendship”.The majority of people who cohabit are between the ages of 25-44. Only about 20 percent of those who cohabit are under age 24. Cohabitation among younger adults tends to be short-lived. Relationships between older adults tend to last longer.Odessa College Adulthood Theories Perspective Paper

    Why do people cohabit?

    People cohabit for a variety of reasons. The largest number of couples in the United States engages in premarital cohabitation. These couples are testing the relationship before deciding to marry. About half of these couples eventually get married. The second most common type of cohabitation is dating cohabitation. These partnerships are entered into for fun or convenience and involve less commitment than premarital cohabitation. About half of these partners break up and about one-third eventually marry. Trial marriage is a type of cohabitation in which partners are trying to see what it might be like to be married. They are not testing the other person as a potential mate, necessarily; rather, they are trying to find out how being married might feel and what kinds of adjustments they might have to make. Over half of these couples split up. In the substitute marriage, partners are committed to one another and are not necessarily seeking marriage. Forty percent of these couples continue to cohabit after 5 to 7 years (Bianchi & Casper, 2000). Certainly, there are other reasons people cohabit. Some cohabit out of a feeling of insecurity or to gain freedom from someone else (Ridley, C. Peterman, D. & Avery, A., 1978). And many cohabit because they cannot legally marry.Odessa College Adulthood Theories Perspective Paper

    Same-Sex Couples

    Same sex marriage is legal in 21 countries, including the United States. Many other countries recognize same-sex couples for the purpose of immigration, grant rights for domestic partnerships, or grant common law marriage status to same-sex couples.

    Photo Courtesy Salvor GissurardottirSame sex couples struggle with concerns such as the division of household tasks, finances, sex, and friendships as do heterosexual couples. One difference between same sex and heterosexual couples, however, is that same sex couples have to live with the added stress that comes from social disapproval and discrimination. And continued contact with an ex-partner may be more likely among homosexuals and bisexuals because of closeness of the circle of friends and acquaintances.Odessa College Adulthood Theories Perspective Paper


    Contemporary young adults in the United States are waiting longer than before to marry. The median age of first marriage is 25 for women and 27 for men. This reflects a dramatic increase in age of first marriage for women, but the age for men is similar to that found in the late 1800s. Marriage is being postponed for college and starting a family often takes place after a woman has completed her education and begun a career. However, the majority of women will eventually marry (Bianchi & Casper, 2000).

    Social exchange theory

    suggests that people try to maximize rewards and minimize costs in social relationships. Each person entering the marriage market comes equipped with assets and liabilities or a certain amount of social currency with which to attract a prospective mate. For men, assets might include earning potential and status while for women, assets might include physical attractiveness and youth.

    A fair exchange

    Customers in the market do not look for a ‘good deal’, however. Rather, most look for a relationship that is mutually beneficial or equitable. One of the reasons for this is because most a relationship in which one partner has far more assets than the other will result if power disparities and a difference in the level of commitment from each partner. According to Waller’s principle of least interest, the partner who has the most to lose without the relationship (or is the most dependent on the relationship) will have the least amount of power and is in danger of being exploited. A greater balance of power, then, may add stability to the relationship.Homogamy and the filter theory of mate selection: Societies specify through both formal and informal rules who is an appropriate mate. Consequently, mate selection is not completely left to the individual. Rules of endogamy indicate within which groups we should marry. For example, many cultures specify that people marry within their own race, social class, age group, or religion. These rules encourage homogamy or marriage between people who share social characteristics. The majority of marriages in the U. S. are homogamous with respect to race, social class, age and to a lesser extent, religion. Rules of exogamy specify the groups into which one is prohibited from marrying. For example, in most of the United States, people are not allowed to marry someone of the same sex.According to the filter theory of mate selection (Kerckhoff & Davis, 1962), the pool of eligible partners becomes narrower as it passes through filters used to eliminate members of the pool. One such filter is propinquity or geographic proximity. Mate selection in the United States typically involves meeting eligible partners face to face. Those with whom one does not come into contact are simply not contenders. Race and ethnicity is another filter used to eliminate partners. Although interracial dating has increased in recent years and interracial marriage rates are higher than before, interracial marriage still represents only 5.4 percent of all marriages in the United States. Physical appearance is another feature considered when selecting a mate. Age, social class, and religion are also criteria used to narrow the field of eligibles. Thus, the field of eligibles becomes significantly smaller before those things we are most conscious of such as preferences, values, goals, and interests, are even considered.Odessa College Adulthood Theories Perspective Paper

    Online Relationships

    What impact does the internet have on the pool of eligibles? There are hundreds of websites designed to help people meet. Some of these are geared toward helping people find suitable marriage partners and others focus on less committed involvements. Websites focus on specific populations-big beautiful women, Christian motorcyclists, parents without partners, and people over 50, etc. Theoretically, the pool of eligibles is much larger as a result. However, many who visit sites are not interested in marriage; many are already married. And so if a person is looking for a partner online, the pool must be filtered again to eliminate those who are not seeking long-term relationships. While this is true in the traditional marriage market as well, knowing a person’s intentions and determining the sincerity of their responses becomes problematic online.

    Photo Courtesy Vikram KharviThis young man offers his picture and a description of his professional status and stability. While he’s looking for employment, his ad might also help him find an eligible partner online.Online communication differs from face-to-face interaction in a number of ways. In face-to-face meetings, people have many cues upon which to base their first impressions. A person’s looks, voice, mannerisms, dress, scent, and surroundings all provide information in face-to-face meetings. But in computer- mediated meetings, written messages are the only cues provided. Fantasy is used to conjure up images of voice, physical appearance, mannerisms, and so forth. The anonymity of online involvement makes it easier to become intimate without fear of interdependence. It is easier to tell one’s secrets because there is little fear of loss. One can find a virtual partner who is warm, accepting, and undemanding (Gwinnell, 1998). And exchanges can be focused more on emotional attraction than physical appearance.When online, people tend to disclose more intimate details about themselves more quickly. A shy person can open up without worrying about whether or not the partner is frowning or looking away. And someone who has been abused may feel safer in virtual relationships. None of the worries of home or work get in the way of the exchange. The partner can be given one’s undivided attention, unlike trying to have a conversation on the phone with a houseful of others or at work between duties. Online exchanges take the place of the corner café as a place to relax, have fun, and be you (Brooks, 1997). However, breaking up or disappearing is also easier. A person can simply not respond, or block e-mail.But what happens if the partners meet face to face? People often complain that pictures they have been provided of the partner are misleading. And once couples begin to think more seriously about the relationship, the reality of family situations, work demands, goals, timing, values, and money all add new dimensions to the mix. Next we will turn our attention to theories of love.Odessa College Adulthood Theories Perspective Paper

    Types of Love

    Sternberg’s Triangle of Love: Three Components

    Sternberg (1988) suggests that there are three main components of love: passion, intimacy, and commitment. Love relationships vary depending on the presence or absence of each of these components. Passion refers to the intense, physical attraction partners feel toward one another. Intimacy involves the ability the share feelings, personal thoughts and psychological closeness with the other. Commitment is the conscious decision to stay together. Passion can be found in the early stages of a relationship, but intimacy takes time to develop because it is based on knowledge of the partner. Once intimacy has been established, partners may resolve to stay in the relationship. Although many would agree that all three components are important to a relationship, many love relationships do not consist of all three. Let’s look at other possibilities.Odessa College Adulthood Theories Perspective Paper

    • Liking

      : In this relationship, intimacy or knowledge of the other and a sense of closeness is present. Passion and commitment, however, are not. Partners feel free to be themselves and disclose personal information. They may feel that the other person knows them well and can be honest with them and let them know if they think the person is wrong. These partners are friends. However, being told that your partner ‘thinks of you as a friend’ can be a devastating blow if you are attracted to them and seek a romantic involvement.

    • Infatuation

      : Perhaps, this is Sternberg’s version of “love at first sight”. Infatuation consists of an immediate, intense physical attraction to someone. A person who is infatuated finds it hard to think of anything but the other person. Brief encounters are played over and over in one’s head; it may be difficult to eat and there may be a rather constant state of arousal. Infatuation is rather short-lived, however, lasting perhaps only a matter of months or as long as a year or so. It tends to be based on chemical attraction and an image of what one thinks the other is all about.

    • Fatuous Love

      : However, some people who have a strong physical attraction push for commitment early in the relationship. Passion and commitment are aspects of fatuous love. There is no intimacy and the commitment is premature. Partners rarely talk seriously or share their ideas. They focus on their intense physical attraction and yet one, or both, is also talking of making a lasting commitment. Sometimes this is out of a sense of insecurity and a desire to make sure the partner is locked into the relationship.

    • Empty Love

      : This type of love may be found later in a relationship or in a relationship that was formed to meet needs other than intimacy or passion (money, childrearing, status). Here the partners are committed to staying in the relationship (for the children, because of a religious conviction, or because there are no alternatives perhaps), but do not share ideas or feelings with each other and have no physical attraction for one another.

    • Romantic Love

      : Intimacy and passion are components of romantic love, but there is no commitment. The partners spend much time with one another and enjoy their closeness but have not made plans to continue ‘no matter what’. This may be true because they are not in a position to make such commitments or because they are looking for passion and closeness and are afraid it will die out if they commit to one another and start to focus on other kinds of obligations.

    • Companionate Love

      : Intimacy and commitment are the hallmarks of companionate love. Partners love and respect one another and they are committed to staying together. But their physical attraction may have never been strong or may have just died out. This may be interpreted as ‘just the way things are’ after so much time together or there may be a sense of regret and loss. Nevertheless, partners are good friends committed to one another.

    • Consummate Love

      : Intimacy, passion, and commitment are present in consummate love. This is often the ideal type of love. The couple shares passion; the spark has not died, and the closeness is there. They feel like best friends as well as lovers and they are committed to staying together.

    Types of Lovers

    Lee (1973) offers a theory of love styles or types of lovers derived from an analysis of writings about love through the centuries. As you read these, think about how these styles might become part of the types of love described above.Odessa College Adulthood Theories Perspective Paper

    • Pragma

      is a style of love that emphasizes the practical aspects of love. The pragmatic lover considers compatibility and the sensibility of their choice of partners. This lover will be concerned with goals in life, status, family reputation, attitudes about parenting, career issues and other practical concerns.

    • Mania

      is a style of love characterized by volatility, insecurity, and possessiveness. This lover gets highly upset during arguments or breakups, may have trouble sleeping when in love, and feels emotions very intensely.

    • Agape

      is an altruistic, selfless love. These partners give of themselves without expecting anything in return. Such a lover places the partner’s happiness above their own and is self-sacrificing to benefit the partner.

    • Eros

      is an erotic style of loving in which the person feels consumed. Physical chemistry and emotional involvement are important to this type of lover.

    • Ludus

      refers to a style of loving that emphasizes the game of seduction and fun. Such a lover stays away from commitment and often has several love interests at the same time. This lover does not self-disclose and in fact may prefer to keep the other guessing. This lover can end a relationship easily.

    • Storge

      is a style of love that develops slowly over time. It often begins as a friendship and becomes sexual much later. These partners are likely to remain friends even after the breakup.

    Frames of Relationships

    A H M

    Another useful way to consider relationships is to consider the amount of dependency in the relationship. Davidson (1991) suggests three models. The


    relationship is one in which the partners lean on one another and are highly dependent on the other for survival. If one partner changes, the other is at risk of ‘falling over’. This type of relationship cannot easily accommodate change and the partners are vulnerable should change occur. A breakup could be devastating.The


    relationship is one in which the partners live parallel lives. They rarely spend time with one another and tend to have separate lives. What time they do share is usually spent meeting obligations rather than sharing intimacies. This independent type of relationship can end without suffering emotionally.The


    relationship is interdependent. Partners have a strong sense of connection but also are able to stand alone without suffering devastation. If this relationship ends, partners will be hurt and saddened, but will still be able to stand alone. This ability comes from a strong sense of self-love. Partners can love each other without losing a sense of self. And each individual has self-respect and confidence that enriches the relationship as well as strengthens the self.We have been looking at love in the context of many kinds of relationships. In our next lesson, we will focus more specifically on marital relationships. But before we do, we examine the dynamics of falling in and out of love.Odessa College Adulthood Theories Perspective Paper

    The Process of Love and Breaking Up

    Reiss (1960) provides a theory of love as process. Based on the wheel theory of love, love relationships begin with the establishment of rapport.Rapport involves sharing likes, preferences, establishing some common interests. The next step is to begin to disclose more personal information through self-revelation. When one person begins to open up, the social expectation is that the other will follow and also share more personal information so that each has made some risk and trust is built. Sexual intimacy may also become part of the relationship. Gradually, partners begin to disclose even more about themselves and are met with support and acceptance as they build mutual dependency. With time, partners come to rely on each other for need fulfillment. The wheel must continue in order for love to last. It becomes important for partners to continue to establish rapport by discussing the day’s events, communicating about their goals and desires, and showing signs of trust. Partners must continue to rely on one another to have certain needs fulfilled. If the wheel turns backward, partners talk less and less, rely less on one another and are less likely to disclose.

    Process of Disaffection: Breaking Up

    When relationships are new, partners tend to give one another the benefit of the doubt and focus on what they like about one another. Flaws and imperfections do not go unnoticed; rather, they are described as endearing qualities. So, for example, the partner who has a very large nose is described as ‘distinguished’ or as having a ‘striking feature.’ This is very exhilarating because features that someone may have previously felt self-conscious about are now accepted or even appreciated. However, once partners begin the process of breaking up, these views are abandoned and questionable qualities are once again flaws and imperfections.Kersten (1990) provides a look at the dynamics of breaking up. Although this work is primarily about divorce, the dynamics of dissolving any long-term relationship are similar. The beginning phase of breaking up involves seeing imperfections in the relationship but remaining hopeful that things will improve. This improvement will require the partner’s cooperation because they are primarily at fault. So, as long as the offending partner makes the necessary changes, and of course the offended partner will provide the advice, support, and guidance required, the relationship will continue. (If you are thinking that this is not going to work-you are right. Attempts to change one’s partner are usually doomed to failure. Would you want your partner to try to change you?)Once it becomes clear that efforts to change are futile, the middle phase is entered. This phase is marked by disappointment. Partners talk less and less, make little eye contact, and grow further apart. One may still try to make contact, but the other is clearly disengaged and is considering the benefits and costs of leaving the relationship.In the end phase, the decision to leave has been made. The specific details are being worked out. Turning a relationship around is very difficult at this point. Trust has diminished, and thoughts have turned elsewhere. This stage is one of hopelessness.We will explore marriage, divorce, and cohabitation more fully in our next lesson.Odessa College Adulthood Theories Perspective Paper

    Lecture: Early Adulthood


    American Society of Reproductive Medicine (1996-2011): quick facs about infertility. (n.d.). American Society for Reproductive Medicine: News and Publications. Retrieved May 07, 2011, from http://www.reproductivefacts.orgBasseches, M. (1984). Dialectical thinking and adult development. Norwood, NJ: Ablex Pub.Benokraitis, N. V. (2005). Marriages and families: Changes, choices, and constraints (5th ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson.Berger, K. S. (n.d.). The developing person through the life span (6th ed.). New York: Worth.Bianchi, S., & Casper, L. (2000). American families. (Dec. ed., Vol. 55) (United States, Population Reference Bureau). Washington, DC: Population Bulletin.Bok, D. (2005, December 18). Are colleges failing? – The Boston Globe. Boston.com – Boston, MA News, Breaking News, Sports, Video. Retrieved May 07, 2011, from http://www.boston.com/news/education/higher/articles/2005/12/18/are_colleges_failing?Bok, D. C. (2006). Our underachieving colleges: A candid look at how much students learn and why they should be learning more. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.Brooks, J. M. (1997). Beyond teaching and learning paradigms: Trekking into the Virtual University. Teaching Sociology, 27, 1-14.Carroll, J. L. (2007). Sexuality now: Embracing diversity (2nd ed.). Belmont, CA: Thomson Learning.Casper, L. M., & Bianchi, S. M. (2002). Continuity and change in the American family. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.Collins, L. (1999). Emotional adultery: Cybersex anc commitment. Social Theory and Practice, 25(2), 243-270.Davidson, J. K. (1991). Marriage and family. Dubuque, IA: William C. Brown.Frieden, T. (2011, January 14). Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report for the Centers for Disease Control (United States, Center for Disease Control). Retrieved February 12, 2011, from http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/su6001al.htm?s_su6001al_wGwinnell, E. (1998). Online seductions: Falling in love with strangers on the Internet. New York: Johnson Publishing.Havighurst, R. J. (1972). Developmental tasks and education, (3rd ed.). New York: D. McKay.Heron, M. P., & Smith, B. L. (2007). Products – Health E Stats – Homepage. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Retrieved May 07, 2011, from


    | Marriage & relationship recognition. (n.d.). HRC | Human Rights Campaign | Home. Retrieved May 07, 2011, from http://www.hrc.org/issues/marriage.aspKerckhoff, A., & Davis, K. (1962). Value consensus and need complementarity in mate selection. American Sociological Review, 27(June), 295-303.Lee, J. A. (1973). The colors of love: An exploration of the ways of loving. Don Mills, Ont.: New Press.Of, T. (2006, September 21). Families and living arrangements, formerly households and families. Census Bureau Home Page. Retrieved May 07, 2011, from http://www.census.gov/population/www/socdemo/hh-fam.htmlReiss, I. (1960). Toward a sociology of the heterosexual love relationship. Marriage and Family Living, 22(May), 139-145.Ridley, C. A., Peterman, D. J., & Avery, A. W. (1978). Cohabitation: Does it make for a better marriage? The Family Coordinator, April, 126-136.Seccombe, K., & Warner, R. L. (2004). Marriages and families: Relationships in social context. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth/Thomson Learning.Sternberg, R. (1988). A triangular theory of love. New York: Basic.Tannen, D. (1990). You just don’t understand: Women and men in conversation. New York: Morrow.United States, U. S. Department of Education. (2006). A test of leadership: Charting the future of U. S. higher education. Washington, D. C.Volko, N. D. (2004, September 19). Exploring the Whys of Adolescent Drug Use. (United States, National Institute on Drug Abuse). Retrieved January 23, 2007, from






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    Required Reading and Video Links – Middle Adulthood

    Required Reading and Video Links – Middle Adulthood

    Introduction to Middle Adulthood


    Middle adulthood (or midlife) refers to the period of the lifespan between young adulthood and old age. This period lasts from 20 to 40 years depending on how these stages, ages, and tasks are culturally defined. The most common age definition is from 40 to 65, but there can be a range of up to 10 years (ages 30-75) on either side of these numbers. The mid-thiries or the forties through the late 60s can be our guide. Research on this period of life is relatively new and many aspects of midlife are still being explored. This may be the least studied period of the lifespan. And this is a varied group. We can see considerable differences in individuals within this developmental stage. There is much to learn about this group. In the United States, the large Baby Boom cohort (those born between 1946 and 1964) are now midlife adults and this has led to increased interest in this developmental stage.This is a relatively new period of life. One hundred years ago, life expectancy in the United States was about 47 years. Life-expectancy has increased globally by about 6 years since 1990 and now stands at 68 years and ranges from 57 years in low-income countries to 80 in high-income countries (World Health Organization, 2011). This number reflects an increase in life expectancy in Africa due to availability of antiretroviral medications to reduce HIV/AIDS, and a decrease in Europe and in countries in the former Soviet Union. Life expectancy in the United States for those born in 2007 is now at 75.9 for white males, 80.8 for white females, 70.0 for black males, and 76.8 for black females (U.S. National Center for Health Statistics, 2010). The U. S. ranks 42nd in the world and has been declining in rank. Children born in the U. S. today may be the first generation to have a shorter life span than their parents. Much of this decline has been attributed to the increase in sedentary lifestyle and obesity. See the Washington Post article,

    U.S. Deaths Rise by 50,000 in 2005

    , for more details.Of course, longevity is not the only consideration. How long can we expect to lead health lives? Healthy life expectancy, or the years one can expect to live in good health, is 67 for males and 71 for females in the United States. It is higher in Japan with a healthy life expectancy of 72 for males and 78 for females. Certainly, living healthier lives is the goal. In the United States, Canada, and other countries where people live well in midlife, there are new concerns are about the aging process, the impact of lifestyle on health, productivity at work, and how to best spend the second half of life.Odessa College Adulthood Theories Perspective Paper

    Developmental Tasks

    Lachman (2004) provides a comprehensive overview of the challenges facing midlife adults.Odessa College Adulthood Theories Perspective Paper These include:

    1. Losing parents and experiencing associated grief.
    2. Launching children into their own lives.
    3. Adjusting to home life without children (often referred to as the empty nest).
    4. Dealing with adult children who return to live at home (known as boomerang children in the United States).
    5. Becoming grandparents.
    6. Preparing for late adulthood.
    7. Acting as caregivers for aging parents or spouses.

    Let’s explore these tasks and this stage of life.

    Physical Development

    There are few biologically based physical changes in midlife other than changes in vision, more joint pain, and weight gain (Lachman, 2004). Vision is affected by age. As we age, the lens of the eye gets larger but the eye loses some of the flexibility required to adjust to visual stimuli. Middle aged adults often have trouble seeing up close as a result. Night vision is also affected as the pupil loses some of its ability to open and close to accommodate drastic changes in light. Autoimmune disease such as rheumatoid arthritis often. Odessa College Adulthood Theories Perspective Paper