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A 34-year sequential study of psychosocial development in adulthood

Joel Reeves Sneed, University of Massachusetts - Amherst

Abstract

The stability and change of adult personality is one of the most enduring questions in psychology. This study utilized longitudinal data on three cohorts of men and women spanning 34 years to examine Erikson's (1963) eight-stage theory of personality using the Inventory of Psychosocial Development (IPD), an 80-item Likert-type self-report measure. Cohort 1 (N = 106) was first tested in 1966 at age 20 and has been re-tested in 1977, 1988, and 2000 at the ages of 31, 42, and 54, respectively. Cohort 2 (N = 73) was first tested in 1977 at age 20 and has been re-tested in 1988 and 2000 at the ages of 31 and 42, respectively. Cohort 3 ( N = 55) was first tested in 1988 at age 20 and has been re-tested in 2000 at age 31. Joining a substantial body of trait personality research, mean-level and rank-order stability estimates suggest personality goes through significant age-related changes in the decade of the 20s, fewer changes in the decade of 30s, and virtually no change in the decade of the 40s, providing convincing evidence that personality stabilizes in middle adulthood. It is concluded that researchers should transcend the historically polarized stability versus change debate to examine the stability and change of adult personality. ^

Subject Area

Psychology, Clinical|Psychology, Personality

Recommended Citation

Joel Reeves Sneed, "A 34-year sequential study of psychosocial development in adulthood" (January 1, 2002). Doctoral Dissertations Available from Proquest. Paper AAI3056279.
http://scholarworks.umass.edu/dissertations/AAI3056279

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