Complexity and Generativity at Mid-Life. Relations Among Social Motives, Ego Development, and Adults' Plans for the Future

Dan P. McAdams*, Karin Ruetzel, Jeanne M. Foley

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

62 Scopus citations

Abstract

Fifty mid-life adults were interviewed concerning their overall plan for the future and were administered a sentence completion test for ego development and the Thematic Apperception Test (TAT). The interviews were coded for the degree of complexity and generativity expressed-two personality issues seen as especially salient at mid-life. As predicted, subjects high in ego development revealed greater complexity as differentiation in plans for the future as evidenced by a greater variety of goal commitments for the future than subjects low in ego development. Contrary to prediction, ego development was not positively associated with a second rating of complexity as change, that is, the emphasis on doing new things and experiencing significant transition in the future. Generativity, on the other hand, was positively associated with the sum of TAT scores on power and intimacy motivation, supporting the argument that generativity implies a blending of agency and communion in human experience. The results were discussed in terms of recent research in adult personality and the theoretical writings of Erikson (1969, 1980)and Becker (1973).

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)800-807
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Personality and Social Psychology
Volume50
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - Apr 1 1986

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Sociology and Political Science

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