Predicting Generative Concern in Young Adulthood from Narrative Intimacy: A 5-Year Follow-Up
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According to Erikson’s developmental model, achieving intimacy in young adulthood should predict higher levels of generativity later in life. This mixed quantitative and qualitative, longitudinal study examined the relationship between generative concern and intimacy in young adulthood (from ages 26–32). Participants (N = 147; 69 % female; 74.1 % college educated) told a narrative about a “relationship defining moment” with a same-sex friend, and completed self-report questionnaires of optimism and generative concern at ages 26 and 32. Optimism and generative concern had strong stability over time, while friendship intimacy did not exhibit test–retest stability. Most participants (88.6 %) disclosed a different story at each time point, which contributed to the lack of rank-order stability for friendship intimacy in the present study. Friendship intimacy was positively correlated with age 26 and age 32 generative concern. Both sex and optimism predicted longitudinal increases in generative concern over 5 years, with women and people higher in optimism seeing larger increases. Friendship intimacy coded from narratives at 26 predicted (p = .052) increases in generative concern at 32. The present study extended prior research by examining the relationship between intimacy and generative concern as people develop from emerging to young adulthood. Following Erikson, developing close relationships with others, exhibiting an optimistic outlook on life, and being female appear to facilitate greater generative concern in young adults.
KeywordsGenerativity Intimacy Friendship Optimism Mixed methods
This study was funded by Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada Grant # 410-2011-2372 to the last author and colleagues. The authors thank Susan Alisat, Eric Theriault, Florence Mak, Melissa Sleightholm, Elise Bisson, and Glenn Gorman for their help with interviewing, coding and analysis.
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