Journal of Adult Development

, Volume 13, Issue 1, pp 52-60

First online:

Havighurst’s Social Roles Revisited

  • Waynne B. JamesAffiliated withAdult Education, University of South Florida
  • , James E. WitteAffiliated withAdult Education, Auburn University Email author 
  • , Michael W. GalbraithAffiliated withLeadership Studies, Marshall University Graduate School

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The purpose of this exploratory research was to review, update, and revise Havighurst’s classic social role studies for their relevance in contemporary society. Based on the input of expert panels, 13 roles, Association/Club Member, Citizen, Daughter/Son, Friend, Grandparent, Home/Services Manager, Kin/Relative, Learner, Leisure Time Consumer, Parent, Religious Affiliate, Spouse/Partner, and Worker, were incorporated into an instrument to assess social role importance. The instrument was administered to a stratified, quota sample of 300 respondents. Univariate repeated-measures analysis and Dunn’s test for multiple comparisons were conducted. Perceived social role importance ratings were established for age, gender, and socio-economic status (SES) groupings. The Friend role and a cluster of family-associated roles received the highest overall ratings. Many roles appeared to have a distinct age-related factor. SES differences, particularly among the lowest level, were also significant in many roles.


social roles adult development havighurst adult learner