[10.4] Adulthood and Aging Flashcards Preview

🚫 PSY100H1: Introduction to Psychology (Winter 2016) with J. Vervaeke > [10.4] Adulthood and Aging > Flashcards

Flashcards in [10.4] Adulthood and Aging Deck (9)
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Emerging Adults: Moving from Adolescence to Adulthood

  • there is no clear line between adolscence and adulthood, as there is with puberty
  • young adulthood spans 18 to 40 years, middle adulthood from 40 to 65 years, and older adulthood from 65 years onward
  • researchers at the University of Guelph have identified main area of personal growth: relationships, new possibilities, and personal strengths


Physical Changes in Adulthood

  • the most obvious signs of age-related physical changes in adulthood typically appear at middle adulthood; e.g. weight gain, thinning and greying of the hair, and a gradual decline in sensory abilities such as hearing and sight
  • menopause: the termination of the menstrual cycle and reproductive ability
  • the brain can see reduced volume of white and grey matter of the cerebral cortex, and the memory-processing hippocampus 
  • dementia: a neurodegnerative disorder where there is mild to severe disruption of mental functioning, memory loss, disorientation, poor judgment, and decision making
  • Alzheimer’s disease: a type of dementia; a degenerative and terminal condition resulting in severe damage of the entire brain 
    • caused by a buildup of proteins that clump together in the spaces between neurons, interrupting their normal activity 


Aging and Cognitive Change

  • fluid intelligence: cognitive tasks that involve processes such as problem solving, reasoning, processing speed, and mental flexibility
  • crystallized intelligence: based on accumulated knowledge and skills 
  • fluid intelligence reaches a peak during young adulthood and then slowly declines; crystallized intelligence remains largely intact into old age 
  • one explanation for cognitive decline is that older adults under-utilize neural resources, leading to lower levels of activation of relevant brain areas 
  • a second possible explanation is that older brains show more general, non-specific brain activation for a given task 
  • in everyday life (vs. laboratory tests), the decline in cognitive abilities does not translate into decline in practical skill 
  • while the episodic memory and working memory systems work more poorly, the procedural and semantic memory systems show a much reduced rate of decline with age 
  • the elderly learn to compensate for their poorer raw cognitive power by using their abilities more skillfully 


Psychosocial Development across the Lifespan

Erik Erikson’s (1963): Theory of Psychosocial Development (Table 10.5)

  • James Marcia (2002): notes that there is sparse research support for some aspects of his theory, such as:
  • whether there are clearly defined stages that individuals proceed through in sequence
  • exactly how issues at one stage affect the person later on in life
  • and whether individuals may be able to compensate fully for not meeting the challenges of a stage 


Intimacy and Generativity: Love and Marriage

  • on average, being in a relationship is associated with greater health, longer life, and increased happiness 
  • this could be because couples encourage each other to stay active and eat healthier diets, are more satisfied with their sex lives, and enjoy greater financial security 
  • Dr. John Gottman (1992, 2002): Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse; Criticism, Defensiveness, Contempt, and Stonewalling
  • by changing communication patterns, people can dramatically improve their relationships 


Intimacy and Generativity: Parenting

  • marital satisfaction is usually highest before the birth of the first child, then is reduced until the children enter school, and remains low until the children actually leave home as young adults
  • having children (finally) leave home leads to an increase in both marital and life satisfaction 
  • women who tended to define themselves largely through their role as “mom” often feel more dissatisfaction


Intimacy and Generativity: Career

  • generativity: being engaged in meaningful and productive work, as well as making contributions to future generations 
  • although career changes are very common, most choices that adults make about their career reflect their own self-concept, i.e. what people believe about what they can do well and what they are happy doing influence the jobs they choose  


Intimacy and Generativity: Emotional Changes

  • older people may experience the death of their spouse, the loss of close friends and acquaintances, the fading of their physical capabilities which then brings the loss of personal freedoms, and the almost inevitable health challenges 
  • they must also realize that their own time on this earth is drawing to a close
  • however, healthy older adults are no more likely to become depressed than are younger people; as long as basic emotional and social needs are met, old age is often a very joyous time 
  • but it is often through loss, trauma, and difficulty that people experience personal growth, a shift in their priorities, a deepened awareness of their values, a heightened appreciation for other people, and a fresh sense of gratitude for the simple joys and pleasures of being alive 
  • socioemotional selectivity theory: describes how older people have learned to pay more attention to positive experiences, and set goals that emphasize positive emotions and meaningful connection 


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