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Journal of Adult Development

, Volume 8, Issue 1, pp 23–37 | Cite as

Middle Aging in Women: Patterns of Personality Change from the 30s to the 50s

  • Abigail J. Stewart
  • Joan M. Ostrove
  • Ravenna Helson
Article

Abstract

This three-sample study focused on changes in four key features of women's personalities (identity, generativity, confident power, and concern about aging) over the course of middle age. Based on women's retrospective and concurrent feelings about their lives in their 30s, 40s, and 50s, scales were developed and validated for the four themes. We found that identity certainty, generativity, confident power, and concern about aging all were experienced as more prominent in middle age (the 40s) than in early adulthood (the 30s). We also found that these elements of personality were rated even higher in the 50s than the 40s. Scores seemed to be a function of age more than historical period or particular experiences in social roles. Scores on identity certainty, generativity, and confident power were positively related to well-being, while concern about aging was negatively related to well-being.

middle age women personality development identity generativity 

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Copyright information

© Plenum Publishing Corporation 2001

Authors and Affiliations

  • Abigail J. Stewart
    • 1
  • Joan M. Ostrove
    • 2
  • Ravenna Helson
    • 3
  1. 1.Institute for Research on Women and GenderUniversity of MichiganAnn Arbor
  2. 2.Department of PsychologyMacalester CollegeSt. Paul
  3. 3.Institute of Personality and Social ResearchUniversity of CaliforniaBerkeley

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