Developmental tasks as a framework to study personality development in adulthood and old age

Roos Hutteman*, Marie Hennecke, Ulrich Orth, Anne K. Reitz, Jule Specht

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

94 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Research consistently shows that personality development is a lifelong phenomenon, with mean-level and rank-order changes occurring in all life phases. What happens during specific life phases that can explain these developmental patterns? In the present paper, we review literature linking personality development in different phases of adulthood to developmental tasks associated with these phases. Building on previous work, we describe several categories of developmental tasks that are present in all phases of adulthood. However, the specific tasks within these categories change across adulthood from establishing new social roles in early adulthood to maintaining them in middle adulthood and preventing losses in old age. This trajectory is reflected in mean-level changes in personality, which indicates development towards greater maturity (increases in social dominance, conscientiousness, and emotional stability) in early and middle adulthood, but less so at the end of life. Importantly, developmental tasks are not only associated with mean-level changes, but the way in which people deal with these tasks is also related to rank-order changes in personality. We provide an outlook for future research on how the influence of historical time on the normativeness of developmental tasks might be reflected in personality development. Copyright (C) 2014 European Association of Personality Psychology

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)267-278
Number of pages12
JournalEuropean Journal of Personality
Volume28
Issue number3
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2014
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • personality development
  • developmental tasks
  • adulthood
  • old age
  • RANK-ORDER STABILITY
  • MEAN-LEVEL CHANGE
  • YOUNG ADULTHOOD
  • LIFE-COURSE
  • SOCIAL-INVESTMENT
  • SOCIOEMOTIONAL SELECTIVITY
  • CHILDHOOD PERSONALITY
  • EMERGING ADULTHOOD
  • COPING RESOURCES
  • MIDDLE ADULTHOOD

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