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Images of midlife development among young, middle-aged, and older adults

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This study examined patterns of perceived change across adulthood in a sample of 121 young (M age=19.8 years), middle-aged (M age=47.9 years) and older (M age=74.6 years) adults. Subjects rated amount of stress in life domains, salience of life course issues, and nature of personal attributes for young, middle-aged, and older targets. Seven prototypical patterns of perceived change were found. Midlife was seen as a period with many responsibilities, increased stress in several domains, and little time for leisure, but also as a peak in competence, ability to handle stress, sense of control, productivity, and social responsibility. The findings are discussed in terms of losses, which were seen primarily in the physical realm, and gains, which were mainly seen in the psychological and social realms.

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Lachman, M.E., Lewkowicz, C., Marcus, A. et al. Images of midlife development among young, middle-aged, and older adults. J Adult Dev 1, 201–211 (1994).

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