Chapter 7

The Adult in Society

Adult Male Development

  • Levinson and his colleagues concluded that there are three basic eras of adulthood, early adulthood, middle adulthood, and late adulthood.

  • Early adulthood begins with the early adult transition period - ages 17 through 22. This period represents the bridge between adolescence and adulthood. The most important task of this period is leaving home, both physically and psychologically.
  • The age 20 transition happens between the ages of 28 and 32. It is a time to look back on the choices that have been made up to this point.
  • The first stage in the middle adulthood era is the midlife transition - ages 40 through 44. This period serves as a bridge between early and middle adulthood. The midlife transition i characterized by self-examination.

Adult Women Development

  • Levinson suggested that his finding were equally valid for women. He repeated his life-structure study using women to test his thesis. Comparing his findings, he concluded that men and women go through the same stages of adult development. His ideas on the similarity have been a subject of debate for years.
  • Women’s entry to the adult world begins much the same way as men. It involves leaving home, making a psychological break from parents, and developing a life plan.
  • Although many women find motherhood and a career to be a workable combination, dual roles tend to put an added strain on women. Job advancement possibilities become limited when they remain out of the labor force while their children are young.
  • Once their children reach school age, many mothers who left the labor force seek employment.

Retirement/Old Age

  1. Young-old (1) is considered the ages between 65 and 74. Adjustment to retirement is one of the most important developmental issues.

  2. Middle-old (1) is considered the ages between 75 and 84.

  3. Old-old (1) is considered the ages from 85 and older, Issues surrounding physical and mental decline and death take on added importance.


  • Research indicates that work-role related loss affects a much smaller number of retired people than generally assumed. People who were happy and well adjusted to their working lives will generally enjoy retirement. People who were unhappy or unfulfilled in their work rarely find retirement satisfying.