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  • Posted By: buffboy
  • Date Posted: 06/22/2011
  • Category: Psychology
  • Words: 1528
  • Pages: 7
  • Views: 2129
  • Rank: 234

Adulthood and Aging: Social Processes and Development

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Adulthood and Aging: Social Processes and Development

One of the most reliable findings in social gerontology is that with age, people report fewer social partners. Assuming that cultural ageism is responsible, researchers had construed this phenomenon as society’s rejection of older adults. Laura Carstensen’s (1999) socioemotional selectivity theory, however, posits that decrease in social network size is a developmental process of social selection that begins in early adulthood. According to the theory, this decrease is the direct result of people’s actively reducing the number of peripheral social partners with whom they interact; in contrast, the number of emotionally close social partners stays relatively constant with age. The age-related preference for close social partners, as opposed to acquaintances, is documented in many studies of men and women using ethnicity diverse groups of Americans and samples from Germany, Hong Kong, and mainland China.

Close social partners provide emotionally meaningful interactions, and satisfaction with family members, including siblings, spouse, and children, increases with age. The sibling relationship represents one of the longest, more enduring relationships in life, and Victor Cicirelli’s (1989) research reveals that people who report positive relationships with siblings, particularly their sisters, also report lower levels of depression. In addition, the marital tie is also important to overall well-being. Across the life span, marital satisfaction follows a curvilinear pattern: high in the early years of marriage, decreasing slightly into middle adulthood, and then rising again toward the end of middle age. People whose marriages survived into old age report high levels of marital happiness and contentment. Although they reported that difficult times did occur, they attribute their marriage’s longevity to strong levels of mutual commitment and friendship.

Children are sources of high satisfaction for parents of all ages. Karen Fingerman’s (2003) research reveals that middle-aged mothers enjoy watching their daughters enter adulthood, and older mothers benefit from the intergenerational ...

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