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The Life Events Approach

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The Life Events Approach

Middle adulthood is the part in a person's life that typically begins around age 40-45 years of age and goes to about the age of 60-65 years old. There are many contemporary and historical approaches to midlife development. Besides the physical outlook on things changing within the body, there is also a theoretical approach to middle adulthood, as well as mediating factors and its influence.

When referring to theories, I can think of one in specific, Erikson's stage of Generativity versus Stagnation. Erikson proposed that middle aged adults face a significant issue, that being generativity vs stagnation. "Generativity encompasses adult's desire to leave legacies of themselves to the next generation." (Santrock p. 503) By contrast "stagnation is self-absorption, caring for no-one. The stagnant person ceases to be a productive member of society." ("goerik," 2011)

There are some theorist that believe midlife is the basis for a crisis. However "researchers have found that in one third of the cases in which individuals have reported having a midlife crisis, the "crisis" is triggered by life events." (Santrock, 2011) This leads me to the life events approach. " In the contemporary life events approach, how life events influence the individuals development depends not only on the life event but also on mediating factors, the individuals adaptation to the life event, the life stage context and the sociohistorical context." (Santrock, 2011, p. 507) However, I will only focus on mediating factors and adaptations.

There are many major life events when it comes to middle adulthood. Divorces, death of a spouse, or even becoming a grandparent are major life events that people often worry about. The adaptation process of these events depends on the person and their coping strategies. A person going through a divorce in their fifties may have a harder time than someone in their twenties because it's safe to say that the two were probably married for a long time.

There are some critics who claim that people do not focus enough on daily stresses. "Some psychologists say that we can gain greater insight into the source of a life's stresses by focusing less on major events and more on daily hassles." (Santrock, 2011, p. 507) These daily hassles include concerns about weight, too many things to do, health of a family member, and even crime. Basically, we are stressed out more by everyday life then major life events.

Dimensions of well being

In one study, six dimensions of well-being were assessed in three different age groups of individuals: young adults, middle-aged adults and older adults. Those six dimensions were self-acceptance, positive relations, personal growth, purpose in life, environmental mastery and autonomy. It seems



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