Make your own free website on

Social and Personality Development in Early Adulthood
Chapter 14
Robert S. Feldman

Happiness stems in part from relationships
Many worry about being “on time”
Even if not interested in a long-term relationship, some focus on connecting with others

What makes young adults happy?

Happiest memories = psychological needs rather than material needs satisfied
Unhappiest memories = basic psychological needs left unfulfilled

Happiness from: feelings of independence, competence, self-esteem, relating well to others

What makes us tick?
Social Clocks of Adulthood
Definition: psychological timepiece that records the major milestones in our lives
Cultural influence
Helson’s research on women at 21, 27, 43
Traditional feminine behavior 21-27
As children grew, less traditional roles
Age brought more confidence, independence

Seeking Intimacy: Erikson’s View of Young Adulthood
Intimacy = Close, intimate relationship with others
Isolation = Feelings of loneliness and fearful of relationships

Erickson focus on marriage & family, experts now view intimacy more widely

Important part of adult life need for belonging
Proximity & similarity
Personal qualities
Sense of humor

How Does Love Develop?
People meet, interact for long periods of time
Seek out each other’s company
Open up more
Share physical intimacies
Share positive and negative feelings
Agree on roles in relationship
Feel psychological well-being tied to success of relationship
Definition of themselves and their behavior changes
See selves and act as a couple, rather than separate individuals.
Passionate and Companionate Love: Two Faces of Love

PASSIONATE (ROMANTIC LOVE) - state of powerful absorption in someone
Can involve strong negative as well as positive emotions

COMPANIONATE LOVE - strong affection we have for those with whom our lives are deeply involved

Sternberg’s Triangular Theory: Three Faces of Love
Robert Sternberg
Intimacy: feelings of closeness, affection, connection
Passion: Motivational drives relating to sex, physical closeness, and romance
Decision/Commitment: determination to maintain the relationship

Choosing a Partner: Recognizing Mr. or Ms. Right
Seeking a Spouse: Is Love All That Matters?
U.S. – love as a major factor

In other cultures, love may be a secondary
Emotional maturity, health, similar education, chastity
Choosing a Mate
Gender differences
Men prefer physical attractiveness
Women prefer ambition, industriousness

Evolutionary psychology perspective

Choosing a Mate
HOMOGAMY: tendency to marry someone who is similar in age, race, education, religion, etc.
Dominant standard in U.S. but declining

MARRIAGE GRADIENT: the tendency for men to marry women who are slightly younger, smaller, and lower in status and for women to marry men who are slightly older, larger, and higher in status.

Attachment Styles and Romantic Relationships
Infant attachment style is reflected in adult romantic relationships (Shaver)
Secure: happy & confident about the relationship (50%)
Avoidant: less invested, higher break-up rates, often feel lonely (25%)
Anxious-ambivalent: overly invested, repeated break-ups with same partner, low self-esteem (20%)
Developmental Diversity
Gay and Lesbian Relationships: Men with Men and Women with Women
Research findings suggest that gay and lesbian relationships are quite similar to relationships between heterosexuals

Most gays and lesbians seek loving, long-term, and meaningful relationships that differ little qualitatively from those desired by heterosexuals

Past 30 years number of married couples has declined, number cohabiting increased
Young – many under 25
Most white, but African-Americans more likely to cohabit
Other countries higher rates (i.e., Sweden)
Long history & widespread in Latin America
To Marry or Not to Marry: That is the Question
Why do people choice cohabitation rather than marriage?
Not ready for lifelong commitment
“Practice” for marriage
Reject institution of marriage
Why marry?
Preferred alternative during early adulthood
Desirability of spouse roles
Legitimatization of children
Legal benefits and protections

What makes marriage work?
Successful married partners:
Show affection
Communicate relatively little negativity
Perceive themselves as interdependent
Experience social homogamy, similarity in leisure activity and role preferences
Hold similar interests
Agree on distribution of roles

When the Honeymoon Wanes
Parenthood: Choosing to Have Children
2.1 per woman
Having kids later
Middle-class family with 2 kids: $233,000 each
What produced the decline in the US fertility rate?
Availability of more reliable birth control methods
Increasing numbers of mothers working outside the home (75%, >50% with kids under 6))
Choosing to have children later
Cost of raising and educating children
Fear of not being good or accessible parent
Dual-Earner Couples
Working Parent Statistics and Distribution of Chores

Two’s a Couple, Three’s a Crowd?
Dramatic shift in spouse's roles
Lowest level of marital satisfaction for many
Successful coping difficult in Western society, little community support
Build fondness & affection toward each other
Remain aware of events in spouse's life and respond to those events
Consider challenges controllable & solvable

Gay and Lesbian Parents
About 20% of gay men and lesbian women are parents
For children, no differences in terms of eventual adjustment from those raised in heterosexual households
Statistics: 20% women, 30% men
Marriage viewed as negative
Don’t find anyone
Value independence & freedom
Societal stigma, especially for women
From Research to Practice
Majority of American Women Are Living Without Spouse (2005 census)
Includes single & 5 million married women living apart from their husbands
Marriage rate for American women varies by ethnicity, ranging from a low of about 30% for African American women to a high of more than 60% for Asian Women. Hispanic women (49%) and white women (55%) fall in the middle.

Identity During Young Adulthood: Role of Work
Vaillant : Career consolidation
General pattern of psychological development as young adults center on careers
Career concerns supplant focus on intimacy
Only studied men
Dated findings questioned in view of shifts in attitudes toward importance of work

Picking an Occupation
Ginzberg’s Career Choice Theory
Fantasy period until age 11
Tentative period in adolescence
Realistic period in young adulthood
Oversimplifies process
Overstates choices and options to lower SES people
Age demarcations may be too rigid

Picking an Occupation
Holland’s Personality Type Theory
Criticism: lack of fit for many, exceptions

Gender and Career Choices: Women’s Work
Traditionally women in COMMUNAL professions & men in AGENTIC professions
Women less likely found in male-dominated professions (engineering)
Wage gap still exists
Glass ceiling

Why Do People Work?
Extrinsic (tangible rewards like money)
Intrinsic (satisfaction)
Personal identity
Status: work important in determining status
Satisfaction related to job status
Worker satisfaction also associated with:
Nature of job
Amount of input one has into one’s duties
Influence employees have over others