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Length:  2- 3 Pages (excluding reference page) The Journey
of Adulthood

Eighth Edition

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Barbara R. Bjorklund
Wilkes Honors College of Florida Atlantic University

10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1
ISBN 10: 0-205-97075-3
ISBN 13: 978-0-205-97075-9

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Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data

Bjorklund, Barbara R.
The Journey of Adulthood / Barbara R. Bjorklund, Florida Atlantic University.—Eighth edition.
pages cm
ISBN-13: 978-0-205-97075-9
ISBN-10: 0-205-97075-3
1. Adulthood—Psychological aspects. 2. Aging—Psychological aspects. 3.
Adulthood. 4. Aging. I. Title.
BF724.5.B44 2015


For Lily Pearl Zeman, my ninth grandchild, whose
arrival was every bit as glorious as my first!

This page intentionally left blank



Preface ix

1 Introduction to Adult
Development 3

Basic Concepts in Adult
Development 4

Sources of Change 7
Normative Age-Graded
Influences 7 Normative History-Graded
Influences 8 Nonnormative Life
Events 10

Sources of Stability 10
Genetics 12 Environment 12
Interactionist View 13

A Word About “Age” 14

Setting the Course: Some Guiding
Perspectives 15
Life-Span Developmental Psychology
Approach 15 Bioecological Model
of Development 15

Developmental Research 17
Methods 18 Measures 23
Analyses 24 Designs 27

A Final Word 30

Summary 30

Key Terms 32

Suggested Reading 32

2 Physical Changes 35
Theories of Primary Aging 36
Oxidative Damage 36 Genetic
Limits 37 Caloric Restriction 38
A Word on Theories of Primary Aging 39

Physical Changes During
Adulthood 39

Outward Appearance 39
The Senses 44 Bones and
Muscles 48 Cardiovascular and
Respiratory Systems 51 Brain
and Nervous System 52 Immune
System 53 Hormonal System 54

Changes in Physical Behavior 56
Athletic Abilities 56 Stamina, Dexterity,
and Balance 57 Sleep 58
Sexual Activity 60

Individual Differences in Primary
Aging 63
Genetics 64 Lifestyle 64 Race,
Ethnicity, and Socioeconomic Group 65

Can We “Turn Back the Clock” of
Primary Aging? 66

An Overview of the Physical Changes in
Adulthood 66

Summary 68

Key Terms 69

Suggested Reading 70

3 Health and Health
Disorders 73

Mortality Rates and Causes of
Death 74

Morbidity Rates, Disease, and
Disability 74
Common Health Conditions 74
Disability 75 Self-Ratings of
Health 76

Specifi c Diseases 77
Cardiovascular Disease 77
Cancer 78 Diabetes 79 Alzheimer’s
Disease 80 People Living with Age-
Related Diseases and Disabilities 82


Mental Disorders 83
Anxiety Disorders 85 Mood
Disorders 85 Impulse Control
Disorders 87 Substance Abuse
Disorders 87 Treatment of Mental
Health Disorders 87

Nonmedical Solutions 88
Assistive Technology 88 Assistance
Animals 89

Individual Differences in Health 89
Lifestyle 89 Gender 90
Socioeconomics, Race, and
Ethnicity 91 Personality and
Behavior Patterns 94 Genetics 95
Developmental Origins 96 The Road to
Good Health 97

Summary 98

Key Terms 100

Suggested Reading 101

4 Cognitive Abilities 103
Intelligence 104
Age Changes in Overall
Intelligence 104 Components of
Intelligence 106 Reversing Declines in
Intellectual Abilities 107

Memory 109
Short-Term and Working
Memory 109 Declarative and
Nondeclarative (Procedural)
Memory 111 Prospective Memory 114
Slowing Declines in Memory Abilities 114
Memory in Context 115

Decision Making and Problem
Solving 117

Individual Differences in Cognitive
Change 120
Health 121 Genetics 122 Demographics
and Sociobiographical History 123
Schooling 123 Intellectual Activity 124
Physical Exercise 125 Subjective
Evaluation of Decline 126

Cognitive Assistance 126
Medication Adherence 126

Social Networking 127 E-Readers and
Electronic Games 128 Safe Driving 129

Review of Cognitive Changes over the
Adult Years and a Search
for Balance 130

Summary 132

Key Terms 133

Suggested Reading 134

5 Social Roles 137
Social Roles and Transitions 138

Gender Roles and Gender
Stereotypes 139

Social Roles in Young Adulthood 140
Leaving (and Returning) Home 142
Becoming a Spouse or Partner 144
Becoming a Parent 148

Social Roles in Middle Adulthood 152
The Departure of the Children: The
Empty Nest 152 Gender Roles at
Midlife 153 Becoming a Grandparent 153
Caring for an Aging Parent 155

Social Roles in Late Adulthood 157
Living Alone 158 Becoming a Care
Receiver 159

Social Roles in Atypical Families 160
Lifelong Singles 160 The Childless 161
Divorced (and Remarried) Adults 162

The Effect of Variations in Timing 163

Summary 165

Key Terms 166

Suggested Reading 167

6 Social Relationships 169
Theories of Social Relationships 170
Attachment Theory 170 The Convoy
Model 172 Socioemotional
Selectivity Theory 172 Evolutionary
Psychology 173

Intimate Partnerships 174

Contents vii

Establishing an Intimate
Relationship 175 Successful
Marriages 179 Cohabitation
and Marriage 182 Same-Sex
Partnerships 183

Relationships With Other Family
Members 186
General Patterns of Family Interaction 186
Parent–Child Relationships in
Adulthood 187 Grandparent–
Grandchild Relationships 191
Relationships with Brothers and Sisters 195

Friendships in Adulthood 196
Friendship Networks 196 Pets as
Friends 197 Facebook Friends 197

Summary 200

Key Terms 201

Suggested Reading 202

7 Work and Retirement 205
The Importance of Work in
Adulthood 206
Super’s Theory of Career
Development 206 Gender Differences
in Career Patterns 207

Selecting a Career 209
Theories of Career Selection 209 The
Effects of Gender 210 Family
Influences 213 The Role of
Genetics 214

Age Trends in Work Experience 215
Job Performance 215 Job Training and
Retraining 216 Job Satisfaction 217

Work and Personal Life 218
Work and the Individual 218 Work and
Marriage 220 Work
and Parenthood 221 Work
and Caregiving for Adult Family
Members 223 Household Labor 224

Retirement 225
Preparation for Retirement 226 Timing
of Retirement 226 Reasons
for Retirement 227 Effects of
Retirement 229 Alternatives to Full

Retirement 233

A Concluding Note 235

Summary 236

Key Terms 238

Suggested Reading 238

8 Personality 241
Personality Structures 242
Personality Traits and Factors 242
Differential Continuity 244 Mean-Level
Change 244 Intra-Individual
Variability 245 Continuity, Change,
and Variability Coexist 247 What Do
Personality Traits Do? 247

Explanations of Continuity and
Change 250
Genetics 250 Environmental
Influences 251 Evolutionary
Psychology Explanations 252 Cultural
Differences 253 Summing Up
Personality Structure 253

Theories of Personality Development 254
Psychosocial Development 254 Ego
Development 259 Mature
Adaptation 261 Gender Crossover 263
Positive Well-Being 264

Summary 267

Key Terms 269

Suggested Reading 270

9 The Quest for Meaning 273
Why a Chapter on the Quest for
Meaning? 274

The Study of Age-Related Changes in
Meaning Systems 276
Changes in the Quest for Meaning 277
Religion, Spirituality,
and Health 279

Theories of Spiritual Development 281
Development of Moral
Reasoning 281 Development of
Faith 287


Integrating Meaning and Personality: A
Preliminary Theoretical
Synthesis 290
A Synthesizing Model 291 Stages of
Mystical Experience 292

The Process of Transition 293

Commentary and Conclusions 295

Summary 297

Key Terms 299

Suggested Reading 299

10 Stress, Coping, and
Resilience 301

Stress, Stressors, and Stress Reactions 302

Types of Stress 304

Effects of Stress 306
Physical Disease 306 Mental Health
Disorders 307 Individual Differences
in Stress-Related Disorders 309 Stress-
Related Growth 313

Coping with Stress 315
Types of Coping Behaviors 315 Social
Support 318 Personality Traits and
Coping 320

Resilience 321
Reactions to Trauma 321 Individual
Differences in Resilience 322
Resilience in Military Combat and
Deployment 323 A Final Word on Stress
and Resilience 324

Summary 324

Key Terms 326

Suggested Reading 326

11 Death and Bereavement 329
Achieving an Understanding of
Death 330
Meanings of Death 330 Death
Anxiety 331 Accepting the Reality of
One’s Eventual Death 333

The Process of Death 333
Stages of Reactions to Death 334 The
Importance of Farewells 335
Individual Adaptations to
Dying 335 Choosing Where to
Die 337 Choosing When to Die 340

After Death Occurs: Rituals and
Grieving 342
Ritual Mourning: Funerals and
Ceremonies 342 The Process of
Grieving 345

Living and Dying: A Final Word 348

Summary 348

Key Terms 350

Suggested Reading 351

12 The Successful Journey 353
Themes of Adult Development 354
Emerging Adulthood (Ages 18 to 24) 357
Young Adulthood (Ages 25 to 39) 358
Middle Adulthood (Ages 40 to 64) 360
Older Adulthood (Ages 65 to 74) 364
Late Adulthood (Age 75 and Older) 365

Variations in Successful Development 367
Individual Differences in Quality of
Life 368 Other Measures of Life
Success 370 A Model of Adult Growth
and Development: Trajectories and
Pathways 373

Summary 379

Key Terms 380

Suggested Reading 381

References 383

Glossary 411

Credits 419

Author Index 422

Subject Index 431


The Journey of Adulthood is now in its eighth edition, and it continues to capture the dynamic
process of adult development from early adulthood to the end of life. Its core is made up of
research findings from large-scale projects and major theories of adult development, but it also
reflects smaller studies of diverse groups, showing the influences of gender, culture, ethnicity,
race, and socioeconomic background on this journey. I have balanced new research with clas-
sic studies from pioneers in the field of adult development. And I have sweetened this some-
times medicinal taste with a spoonful of honey—a little personal warmth and humor. After
all, I am now officially an older adult who is on this journey along with my husband, looking
ahead at the examples our parents’ journeys gave us, and back toward our children, who are
blazing their own trails. As of this edition, we have nine grandchildren—six of whom are
beginning their own journeys of adulthood either as college students or starting their careers.

New in This Edition
• New information on electronics use: the proportion of people of different ages using

the Internet, cell phones, e-readers, and e-games; the sleep-related problems related
to using electronic “blue screen” devices before bedtime or during the night; the
popularity of online dating services and some words of caution about their claims;
and the relationship between early hearing loss and the use of MP3 players at top
volume with earbuds.

• Increased importance of animals in our lives: the use of dogs and monkeys as assistance
animals for people with disabilities; the use of comfort animals for people in stressful
situations or with mental health problems; and the social support people of all ages
report receiving from their pets.

• New research on veterans: the association between head injuries and PTSD; the asso-
ciation between head injuries and dementia; the collaboration between researchers
in positive psychology and the U.S. Army to boost resilience in combat troops.

• More studies of the effects of discrimination and inequality: older people reminded of
the “poor memory” stereotype score lower on memory tests; young girls of mothers
who believe the “girls are not good at math” stereotype score lower on math tests;
people in minority groups who perceive they are discriminated against have lower
levels of health; African-American adults experience middle age differently than
other groups; same-sex couples experience more violence and aggression, less fam-
ily support, less openness about their relationships; the increase in neighborhoods
designated “food deserts” because of scarcity of grocery stores and abundance of
fast-food restaurants.

• More research on a wider range of younger and older adults. More older people are
in the workforce in the United States and some European countries; longitudinal
studies of attachment between infancy and age 18; long-time married couples report
being “very intensely in love”; social convoys of people from emerging adulthood to
age 90; increase in sex without commitment, or “hookups” for young adults; survey
results of sexuality from age 70 to 94.


x Preface

• New information on top age-related diseases, including heart disease, cancer, diabe-
tes, and Alzheimer’s disease. Updated risk factors for common age-related conditions,
including cataracts, glaucoma, macular degeneration, osteoporosis, and osteoarthritis.
All the tables of risk factors contain information about what younger adults can do
for prevention. New findings on genetic contributions to age-related diseases.

The first chapter of the book contains the basics for the course—definitions, methods,
and guiding perspectives for the study of adult development. The next seven chapters
cover traditional developmental topics, featuring recent research, classic studies, current
theories, new directions, and practical applications. The next three chapters cover top-
ics not traditionally found in adult development texts, but which I feel are important to
round out a student’s experience in this course—the quest for meaning; the inevitability
of stress, coping, and resilience in adult life; and the way we face our own deaths and that
of our loved ones. The final chapter takes a chronological look at adult development, in
contrast to the topical themes in the earlier chapters, and also suggests a model of adult
development that will pull the threads together and tie up loose ends.

Changes in the Field of Adult Development
The study of adult development is a fairly new field, and it expands exponentially from
year to year. It began as a field of psychology, but more and more disciplines have shown
interest in the changes that take place over the adult years. This book includes information
from researchers who identify themselves as psychologists, sociologists, anthropologists,
neuroscientists, epidemiologists, behavior geneticists, cellular biologists, biogerontolo-
gists, and many other types of scientists. The terminology and methods in these fields have
become more and more similar, and many researchers publish in the journals of a variety
of fields. This edition of The Journey of Adulthood reflects the wonderful collaboration
going on and the richness of a number of multidisciplinary projects. It is an exciting time
in developmental science, and this book reflects that energy.

Some of the projects that have been tapped for this textbook are the Midlife in the
United States Study (MIDUS), the Berlin Study of Aging, the Grant Study of Harvard
Men, the National Comorbidity Study, the Nun Study of the School Sisters of Notre
Dame, the Victoria Longitudinal Study, the Swedish Twin Study, the National Survey of
Sexual and Health Behavior, The Women’s Health Study, and the National Longitudinal
Mortality Study.

To emphasize these collaborations, I have identified each major researcher or theorist
with his or her field of study. Two editions ago I was struck with the diversity of scien-
tific fields contributing to the adult development literature. I want this book to reflect
that diversity. When I discuss some particular work in detail, I give the full names of the
researchers and how they identify their field of study. I hope that the students who are
interested in adult development will take note and consider these areas when they declare
their majors or make plans for graduate school. As professors, we need to remember that we
not only teach the content of the courses, but also guide our students in career decisions.

Another change in the field of adult development is that increasingly more research
projects reported in major journals are done by international groups of researchers in set-
tings all over the developed world. We no longer are limited to information on adults in
the United States; we also have research being done by Swedish, Japanese, and Egyptian
scientists using Swedish, Japanese, and Egyptian participants. When the findings are
similar to studies done in the United States, we can be more confident that the develop-
mental phenomenon being studied is an integral part of the human experience and not
something particular to people in the United States. When the findings are different from
studies done in the United States, we can investigate these differences and find their roots.


I have identified these international research teams and the nationalities of their partici-
pants. I hope this accentuates the global aspects of our academic community, and as a
seasoned traveler myself, I hope it inspires students to consider “study abroad” programs.

I include full names of major researchers and theorists when I discuss their work in
detail. Seeing the first and last names makes the researchers more real to the students than
conventional citations of “last names, comma, date.” Full names also reflect the diversity
of scientists–often their gender and their national or ethnic backgrounds. Our students
represent a wide range of races and ethnicities, and the time of science being the sole
domain of an elite group most of us cannot identify with is gone.

One of the most exciting changes in the field of adult development has been its expan-
sion to emphasize a wider and wider range of age groups. When I first began writing in this
area, the focus of interest was older adults. The last two editions of this book have featured
more and more studies of young adults, middle-aged adults, and emerging adults. This
edition has added more research on the opposite end of the age spectrum—those who are
75, 80, 90 years of age and older. Although having people in this age group is nothing new,
the growing numbers of them have made it important (and relatively easy) to include them
in studies of adult development. Clearly the study of adult development is no longer the
study of certain specific age groups; it is now truly a study of every aspect of adulthood. I
have tried to capture this inclusion by choosing topics, examples, opening stories, photos,
suggested reading, and critical thinking questions that represent the entire adult life span.

Changes in the World Around Us
Since the last edition of this book, there have been many changes in the world around us.
As I write this preface, we seem to be recovering from the financial setbacks that began in
2008. Unemployment and underemployment are a still a problem for many, and almost
every family has been touched by financial setbacks of one sort or another. Troops are
coming back from Iraq, but many have war-related disabilities that include posttraumatic
stress disorder (PTSD) and traumatic brain injury (TBI). Single-parent families and dual-
earner families in the United States (and in many other developed countries) are having
a rough time; they receive little cooperation from the government, the workplace, or
the community to assist them in caring for both job and family. Many older women,
especially those who live alone, are living below the poverty line. The United States has
the highest rates of mental disorders of any developed country, and most of the people
experiencing these symptoms do not get adequate treatment. Unhealthy lifestyles are
resulting in increased health problems for many adults in the developing world, and the
ages of those affected are extending to both the younger and older end of the spectrum.
Although I try to maintain a positive tone in this book, these aspects of adult life are
realities, and I have included them in the topics discussed in The Journey of Adulthood .

Other changes in the world around us are more positive. Health awareness is increasing
at all ages, advances are being made in many areas of disease prevention, detection, and
treatment, and a greater percentage of people in developed countries are living into old age.
The rate of cancer deaths continues to decline as advances are made in early detection and
treatment. Although there is still no treatment for aging and no sign of a way to increase
the existing maximum life span, people are increasing the number of healthy years in their
lives. Programs such as hospice are making it possible for an growing number of people
to choose to have “a good death” when that time comes. Women are making great strides
in professional careers and in their positive adjustment to children leaving home and wid-
owhood. Communication technology has made it easier for families to stay in touch and
for older adults to live independently. The average age of people using social media, cell
phones, and e-games is increasing. These are also among the topics selected for this book.

xii Preface

Changes in the Classroom
Courses in adult development are offered in all major colleges and universities in the
United States and are becoming popular around the world. It is safe to say that gradu-
ates in almost all majors will be working in fields that deal with the changes that occur
during adulthood. It is also safe to say that students in all majors will be dealing with the
topic on a personal level, both their own progress through adulthood and that of their
parents. My students at Florida Atlantic University this semester are majoring in psy-
chology, counseling, nursing, criminal justice, premedical sciences, prelaw, social work,
occupational therapy, sociology, and education. About one half are bilingual, and about
one third speak English as a second language. The majority will be the first in their
families to graduate from college. I no longer assume that they have the same academic
backgrounds as students a decade ago. For these reasons, I include basic definitions of
key terms in the text of each chapter, clear explanations of relevant statistical methods,
and basic details of major theories. I meet the readers knowing that the “typical student”
is an outdated stereotype, but I meet them with respect for their intelligence and moti-
vation. I firmly believe that it is possible to explain complex ideas clearly and connect
with students from a variety of backgrounds and experiences. I do it every week in my
lectures, and I do it in this book.

Highlights of Chapters in This Edition
Chapter 1 serves as an introduction to the study of adult development, beginning with
the concept of development being both stable and changing. I use my own journey of
adulthood as an example of these concepts and invite students to think of their own lives
in these terms. Two guiding perspectives are introduced, Baltes’s life-span developmental
approach and Bronfenbrenner’s bioecological model. Hopefully students will feel com-
fortable with those straightforward theories and move smoothly into the next section on
developmental research. I don’t assume that all students have taken a research methods
class, so I limit the methods, measures, analyses, and designs to those that are used in later
chapters. In fact, I use some of these later studies as examples, hoping that students will
feel comfortable with them when they encounter them later in the book.

New in this chapter:

• Current events added to table of normative history-graded influences.
• The role of methylation in epigenetic inheritance.

The theme of Chapter 2 is primary aging , the physical changes that take place pre-
dictably in most of us when we reach certain milestones in our journeys of adulthood.
Again, I begin with some basic theories, including Harmon’s theory of oxidative damage,
Hayflick’s theory of genetic limits, and the theory of caloric restriction. Then I cover
age-related physical changes, including outward appearance, the senses, the bones and
muscles, the cardiovascular and respiratory systems, the brain and nervous system, the
immune system, and the hormonal system. Most of the age-related changes in these sys-
tems are gradual, but much can be done to avoid premature aging (and much of that can
be done in early adulthood, such as avoiding excessive exposure to sunlight and tobacco
use). Next I cover four areas of more complex functioning—(a) athletic abilities; (b) stam-
ina, dexterity, and balance; (c) sleep; and (d) sexual activity, all of which decline gradually
with age. I cover some of the ways these declines can be slowed, but end the chapter with
the caution that so far, we have no proven way to “turn back the clock” of time.


New in this chapter:

• Research on noise exposure levels for MP3 players.
• Evidence that high levels of sports participation in adolescents is a risk factor for

osteoarthritis in young and middle adulthood.
• Studies of master athletes (up to age 90) and their oxygen uptake abilities.
• The connection between blue screens (smart phones, tablets, e-games) and insomnia.
• The prevalence of hookups —casual sex without commitment—among emerging adults.
• The concept of food deserts— neighborhoods with a high number of fast-food restau-

rants and a low number of stores selling …

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