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4.3F: Levinson

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    7976
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    Daniel J. Levinson was one of the founders of the field of positive adult development.

     

    LEARNING OBJECTIVES

     

    Summarize Daniel Levinson’s theory of positive adult development and how it influenced changes in the perception of development during adulthood

     

    KEY TAKEAWAYS

    Key Points

     

    • As a theory, positive adult development asserts that development continues after adolescence, long into adulthood.
    • In positive adult development research, scientists question not only whether development ceases after adolescence, but also a notion, popularized by many gerontologists, that a decline occurs after late adolescence.
    • Positive adult developmental processes are divided into at least six areas of study: hierarchical complexity, knowledge, experience, expertise, wisdom, and spirituality.

     

    Key Terms

     

    • stasis: inactivity; a freezing, or state of motionlessness
    • positive adult development: Positive adult development is one of the four major forms of adult developmental study that can be identified.
    • decline: downward movement, fall

    Daniel Levinson

    Daniel J. Levinson, an American psychologist, was one of the founders of the field of positive adult development. He was born in New York City on May 28, 1920, and completed his dissertation at the University of California, Berkeley, in 1947. In this dissertation, he attempted to develop a way of measuring ethnocentrism. In 1950, he moved to Harvard University. From 1966 to 1990, he was a professor of psychology at the Yale University School of Medicine.

    Levinson’s two most important books were Seasons of a Man’s Life and Seasons of a Woman’s Life, which continue to be highly influential works. His multidisciplinary approach is reflected in his work on the life structure theory of adult development.

    Positive Adult Development

    Positive adult development is one of the four major forms of adult developmental study. The other three are directionless change, stasis, and decline. Positive adult developmental processes are divided into the following six areas of study:

    • hierarchical complexity
    • knowledge
    • experience
    • expertise
    • wisdom
    • spirituality

    Research in this field questions not only whether development ceases after adolescence, but also the notion, popularized by many gerontologists, that a decline occurs after late adolescence. Research shows that positive development does still occur during adulthood. Recent studies indicate that such development is useful in predicting things such as an individual’s health, life satisfaction, and ability to contribute to society.

    Now that there is scientific proof that individuals continue to develop as adults, researchers have begun investigating how to foster such development. Rather than just describing, as phenomenon, the fact that adults continue to develop, researchers are interested in aiding and guiding that development. For educators of adults in formal settings, this has been a priority in many ways already. More recently, researchers have begun to experiment with hypotheses about fostering positive adult development. These methods are used in organizational and educational setting. Some use developmentally-designed, structured public discourse to address complex public issues.

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    Positive Adult Development: Research in Positive Adult Development questions not only whether development ceases after adolescence, but also the notion, popularized by many gerontologists, that a decline occurs after late adolescence.

     

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