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Middle Adulthood

Middle Adulthood
A Lifespan Perspective

Edited by:

July 2012 | 440 pages | SAGE Publications, Inc
`This book is unique because of the focus on longitudinal studies and international perspectives.... There is no other book like it' - Rosemary Blieszner, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University

`A very strong volume... This book will clearly be a "must-have" for scholars interested in midlife' - Michael Marsiske, University of Florida

`Midlife is no longer an "uncharted territory" in human development. A group of outstanding researchers from different countries focuses on this peak period in the life span... Various views, including historical, cultural, and socio-structural perspectives, are adopted... Comprehensive reviews of studies on almost all relevant domains of human development... are given and provide a colorful picture of what midlife in these days may be all about' - Sigrun-Heide Filipp, University of Trier, Germany

Middle adulthood, generally defined as the period from age 40 to age 65, is a critical period of the life course. Experiences in adolescence and young adulthood can impact how we function in midlife, as can sociocultural factors. Furthermore, how we develop in middle age – the central period of our lives - can influence how well we cope in our later years.

Middle Adulthood explores these issues by bringing together, under the guidance of editors Sherry L Willis and Mike Martin, a distinguished group of international contributors associated with a range of prestigious longitudinal studies.

Key features:

- Presents a much-needed longitudinal, lifespan perspective on middle age;

- Provides a multicultural perspective to determine universal normative patterns of midlife development;

- Addresses a broad scope of topics, including historical perspectives on the emergence of middle age as a normative developmental period in the life course, change and stability in personality, and cognitive development and decline.

Middle Adulthood is designed for scholars, researchers, and practitioners in the field of adult development and ageing in the departments of Developmental Psychology, Human Development and Family Studies, Gerontology, Family Diversity and Health.

Part I: The Study of Middle Age: Historical and Demographic Perspectives
Hans-Werner Wahl & Andreas Kruse
1. Historical Perspectives of Middle Age Within the Life Span
Martin Kohli & Harald Kunemund
2. The Midlife Generation in the Family: Patterns of Exchange and Support
Part II: Early Life Influences on Middle Age
Nancy L. Pedersen, Erica L. Spotts, & Kenji Kato
3. Genetic Influences on Midlife Functioning
Lea Pulkkinen, Taru Feldt, Katja Kokko
4. Personality in Young Adulthood & Functioning in Middle Age
Pasqualina Perrig-Chiello, Sonja Perren
5. Impact of Past Transitions on Well-being in Middle Age
Mike Martin & Daniel Zimprich
6. Cognitive Development in Midlife
Part III: Impact of Middle Age on Functioning in Late Life
Dorly J. H. Deeg
7. The Development of Physical and Mental Health from Late Midlife to Early Old Age
Sherry L. Willis & K. Warner Schaie
8. Cognitive Trajectories in Midlife and Cognitive Functioning in Old Age
Jessica Dörner, Charlotte Mickler, & Ursula M. Staudinger
9. Self-Development at Midlife: Lifespan Perspectives on Adjustment and Growth
Freya Dittmann-Kohli
10. Middle Age and Identity in a Cultural and Lifespan Perspective
Christopher Hertzog & Roger A. Dixon
11. Metacognition in Midlife
Part IV: Summary and Future Directions
Mike Martin and Sherry L. Willis
12. Midlife Development: Past, Present, and Future Directions
Author Index
Subject Index
About the Editors
About the Contributors

"This edited book is a very interesting and welcome addition to the series of publications recently devoted to the long neglected issue of development during middle adulthood. It adopts a truly lifespan approach, by considering not only development between 40 and 65 years of age, but also the impact that adolescence and young adulthood can exert on midlife, and the continuity from middle age into old age. Through its 10 chapters, it covers a broad range of topics, from the development of the self to cognitive changes to genetic influences.  All chapters provide empirical data, based on major longitudinal studies on adult development, with an international coverage. The book also provides a unified perspective, in that midlife is not to be considered a period of mere stability as has often been proposed, but evinces large variability both across individuals and across psychological functions; all chapters demonstrate nicely the necessity of adopting a multidimensional view on development. It represents a well informed synthesis of the current work on midlife development from leading researchers in the field and will prove useful both for advanced students and for other developmental scholars."

Anik de Ribaupierre
University of Geneva

In the early 21st century, with increased longevity and quality of life a real prospect for many in the Western world, Sherry Willis and Mike Martin have succeeded in bringing together contributions from some of foremost researchers in the field of mid-life developmental research.   

Adults currently reaching the middle of their lives are in a unique position, experiencing the rewards and the challenges of the dramatic social, political and technological changes of the 20th century.  The strength of this book lies in its’ ability to consider aspects of ageing from both American and European perspectives against a unique temporal context.  The challenges for researchers are clearly identified, raising questions regarding the cultural validity of contemporary life-span research in an increasingly shrinking world as individuals both acknowledge common experiences and strive to maintain their uniqueness and diversity.   

This volume underpins the need for a biopsychosocial research perspective into the challenges of mid-life and makes a valuable contribution to the on-going debate considering the affect of the pluralisation of life styles on life-span development.

Dr. Kathryn Bullen
Department of Psychology, University of Wales, Swansea UK

A very strong volume.  The combination of a longitudinal studies research base and an international collection of studies makes this a unique and unprecedented entry in this field....This book will clearly be a 'must-have' for scholars interested in midlife.

Michael Marsiske
University of Florida

Midlife is no longer an 'uncharted territory' in human development. A group of outstanding researchers from different countries focuses on this peak period in the life span, when people are at the height of social power and have access to a rich supply of resources. Various views, including historical, cultural, and socio-structural perspectives, are adopted; reflections on the peculiarities of midlife and how it is intertwined with earlier and later periods of the life span are presented; finally, comprehensive reviews of studies on almost all relevant domains of human development (cognition and metacognition, personality, self and identity, physical and mental health and psychological well-being) are given and provide a colorful picture of what midlife in these days may be all about.

Sigrun-Heide Filipp
University of Trier, Germany

The book is unique because of the focus on longitudinal studies and international perspectives.  There is no other book like it; existing volumes on mid-life development are either outdated or more narrowly focused.  The author list is an impressive set of scholars….The chapters in this volume bring into clear focus the promise of the life span developmental perspective…. this book will be useful both as an advanced undergraduate or graduate course text and as a resource for scholars.

Rosemary Blieszner
Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University

Sherry L. Willis

Sherry L. Willis is Professor of Human Development at The Pennsylvania State University. She received her Ph.D. in Educadtional Psychology from the University of Texas at Austin.  Her research interests include:  adult cognitive development with a focus on middle age, cognitive training in later adulthood, and everyday problem solving in adulthood.  She is a co-director of the Seattle Longitudinal Study with K. Warner Schaie, and has co-authored the textbook Adult Development and Aging, Fifth Edition.  She is co-editor of two other books on midlife:  Life in the Middle (with J. Reid) and The Baby... More About Author

Mike Martin

Mike Martin is Professor for Gerontopsychology and Director of the Center of Gerontology at The University of Zurich, Switzerland.  He received a Master's Degree at the University of Georgia, his Ph.D. in Developmental Psychology at The University of Mainz, Germany, and his habilitation at The German Center for Research on Ageing at The University of Heidelberg.  His research focuses on longitudinal and experimental studies of cognitive and social development across the lifespan, including studies examining predictors of development in childhood, middle adulthood, old, and extreme old age.  Recent publications include... More About Author

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ISBN: 9780761988533

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