Journal of Adult Development

, Volume 8, Issue 3, pp 161–171 | Cite as

Continuity in Problems of Social Functioning in Adulthood: A Cumulative Perspective

  • Anna Rönkä
  • Ulla Kinnunen
  • Lea Pulkkinen


Based on an ongoing longitudinal study involving 145 women and 152 men, this study analyzed the continuity in and accumulation of problems of social functioning from age 27 (year 1986) to age 36 (year 1995), and studied sex differences in these processes. The accumulation of problems of social functioning (e.g., poor financial standing, poor intimate relationships, and drinking problems) was more common in men than in women at both ages. Sex differences, however, narrowed because problems increased only among women during the follow-up period. Continuity, both in accumulated problems and in good social functioning, was stronger than continuity in single problems, as assumed on the basis of the theory of problem gravitation. The proportion of individuals with either accumulated problems or with good social functioning did not, however, increase relative to individuals with single problems, as the theory of problem gravitation has suggested. Continuity in problems of social functioning was partly mediated by career instability among both sexes. There was also a tendency for the quality of partner to moderate the relation between problems of social functioning between the two ages; in particular, a problematic partner was likely to add to women's problems.

social development continuity and change longitudinal studies sex differences problem gravitation 


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Copyright information

© Plenum Publishing Corporation 2001

Authors and Affiliations

  • Anna Rönkä
    • 1
  • Ulla Kinnunen
    • 1
  • Lea Pulkkinen
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of PsychologyUniversity of JyväskyläJyväskyläFinland

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