Saint Marys University Work Patterns of Older Adults Discussion


Read the attachment and write a discussion for each lecture

For each discussion post, either your may write your own comment about something you foundinteresting about the lecture or you may respond to a comment written by one of your peers. Either way, Iexpect each of your posts to be at least 150 words (i.e., at least about the size of this paragraph).

Specifically, after reading your posts, readers should be able to understand your position and why you feelthe way you do.  

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Personality Defined
No one definition of personality, but usually defined in terms of traits.
• Refers to a person’s usual way of behaving.
• Although a person can show different personality states in specific situations.
• Often measured in terms of mean-level change or rank-order consistency, and
both involve group-level comparisons.
MEAN-LEVEL CHANGE – comparing mean levels of a personality trait between two or more
points in time.
RANK-ORDER CONSISTENCY – stability of a person’s rank order in a certain group over time.
Personality development involves both stability and change over time.
Costa & McCrae – Five-factor Model of Personality
Costa & McCrae’s (1999) research posited the notion that personality is “set like plaster”,
with very little change after age 30. Costa and McCrae were part of the tradition of
psychologists who have attempted to define personality in terms of traits. This tradition began
with Allport, followed by Cattell’s work using factor analysis. Costa and McCrae built further
on Cattell’s work to classify personality into three dimensions of neuroticism, extraversion,
and openness, but later expanded this to include agreeableness and conscientiousness.
Although debate continues, the Five Factor Model continues to be the most widely accepted
trait theory in personality psychology. Costa & McCrae (1999) posited that personality was
set like plaster by age 30, with very little change thereafter.
Why would personality be set like plaster at age 30? For example, that is the time when
young people would have been expected to have met major developmental milestones that
impact their personality and values, such as long-term partnership, career choice, and
Do you expect that this finding would hold for current cohorts of 30 year olds? For
example, young people are achieving these developmental milestones later, as many seek
higher education and delay or reject marriage/long-term partnership altogether. In other
words, there could be significant cohort differences in the development of personality that
might be uncovered by research.
Change and Stability of Personality Traits across the Lifespan
Mean-level Changes:
• Although personality change is not as dramatic as before age 30, it continues to occur
even into older adulthood.
• Maturity principle – those individuals following the developmental trend of
increased agreeableness, emotional stability, conscientiousness, and decreased
Rank-order Stability:
• A meta-analysis of 152 studies indicated that rank-order stability tends to linearly
increase from childhood to older adulthood (Roberts & Delvecchio, 2000).
In considering personality across the lifespan, must consider not only group-level change,
but also individual differences in scope and magnitude of change.
The results of this meta-analysis indicate that, contrary to the work of Costa &
McCrae, personality is not “set like plaster” by age 30, but rather dynamic over time.
What Accounts for Personality Change Across the Lifespan?
Costa and McCrae’s original argument was that personality was set like plaster, with
personality being relatively stable from age 30 onward.
The meta-analysis, and other studies, seems to suggest that personality remains dynamic in
adulthood, with more or less change – and different types of change – in some personality
traits as compared to others.
Moreover, in contrast to Erikson’s theory that adolescence is the most important time for
personality development, these empirical findings suggest that young adulthood might be
the most formative time for personality development.
Why might young adulthood be the most formative time?
1. Young adulthood is a time of exploration, investigation, and forming one’s values and life
2. The change from adolescence to young adulthood may be the later achievement of certain
developmental milestones compared to earlier cohorts (e.g., people may get married, start
families, etc. in 30s instead of 20s).
Many studies have examined gender differences in personality across the lifespan. However,
some of the findings are mixed, e.g., some studies show an increase in neuroticism in women
versus men in later life, whereas other studies show the opposite.
Do you think gender differences in personality, such as those shown above, apply to all
cultures and cohorts?
Can we look at gender in isolation of culture and cohort?
How might differing gender norms impact personality changes in different cohorts of
How might culture come into play in terms of gender effects on personality?
Cultural Differences in Personality Traits
McCrae et al. (2005) found that, across 50 different ethnic groups, all of the Big Five factors
were found in most ethnic groups examined, but not all. There could be differences in the
traits themselves, as well as issues using self-report measures in different languages.
Other researchers have attempted to study personality in different cultures from the groundup. For example, Cheung et al. (1996) – Chinese Personality Inventory (CPAI) contains the
four factors of dependability, accommodation, interpersonal relatedness, and social potency.
The CPAI’s interpersonal relatedness is related to collectivist cultural values and not related
to any NEO factors. NEO factor of openness to experience not represented by any of the CPAI
factors, suggesting it may be a feature of Western culture vs. Eastern culture.
Health and Personality Traits
“Type A” Personality:
• Initial studies showed strong relationships between Type A personality and
cardiovascular risk, although more recent, rigorous studies have found less
compelling evidence.
Big Five Personality Traits:
• Conscientiousness consistently found to be the best predictor of mortality, with
lower levels conferring higher risk.
• Neuroticism research less straightforward; mixed findings, although many studies
suggest higher levels of neuroticism are associated with greater incidence of certain
diseases and poor health behaviors (e.g., smoking, substance use).
Dementia and Personality Traits
Researchers are increasingly interested in the role of personality traits as risk and protective
factors for dementias such as Alzheimer’s disease dementia.
The text discusses research by Terracciano and colleagues in 2013, who examined longitudinal
data from the Baltimore Longitudinal Study on Aging. They wanted to determine the
association between the Big Five personality traits and the development of Alzheimer’s
dementia (AD). They found that individuals with scores in the top quartile of neuroticism or
in the lowest quartile of conscientiousness had a threefold increased risk of incident
Alzheimer’s disease.
They also conducted a subsequent meta-analysis confirming the findings shown in this slide,
indicating that high levels of neuroticism and low levels of conscientiousness are
independently related to elevated risk for AD. Many other studies have been conducted
examining the role of personality, particularly neuroticism and conscientiousness, in the
development of dementia.
Why might these traits in particular elevate risk for dementia?
For example, neuroticism associated with many negative health behaviors (e.g., smoking), as
well as depression. Conscientiousness is associated with greater likelihood to seek medical
care and also take care of one’s health.
Can Personality Traits Be Changed Through Direct Intervention?
Evidence suggests that personality is malleable through intervention.
Jackson et al. (2012) – 16 weeks of cognitive training increased openness to
experience in older adults.
Krasner et al. (2009) – mindfulness training increased agreeableness, empathy,
conscientiousness, and emotional stability in medical students.
Could there be other interpretations to the study findings mentioned?
The samples are self-selected – e.g., people who are willing to participate in cognitive training
might be more open to begin with; medical students are (hopefully) already somewhat
empathetic, agreeable, etc. and the intervention might simply have accentuated what was
already there.
Could be interesting to examine personality interventions younger in life when personality is
most malleable (i.e., as it is developing).
There may be limits to the malleability of personality, as seen in treatment for personality
disorders, which can often be quite challenging and take significant periods of time to
produce changes in maladaptive traits.
Sigmund Freud
• Theory of the id, ego, and superego.
• Our personality and behavior arise from conflicts between these three aspects of the
unconscious mind.
• Defense mechanisms help us manage the anxiety from underlying sexual and/or
aggressive impulses.
Carl Jung
• Broke from Freud in 1912 with his publication of The Psychology of the Unconscious.
• Developed
of extroversion and introversion and
the feminine and masculine aspects of personality.
• The first theorist to posit that personality can change into adulthood.
For each developmental stage, Erikson theorized that the individual has a “crisis” they must
navigate to successfully master that stage.
Three stages that focus on adult development:
INTIMACY vs. ISOLATION – The focus is on developing close and intimate relationships with
friends and partners; if this does not happen, isolation will occur
GENERATIVITY vs. STAGNATION – There is more of an outward focus as opposed to the
previous stage, with a need to give back to one’s community, mentor future generations, and
pass along the knowledge and experience one has acquired
INTEGRITY vs. DESPAIR – Reviewing one’s life and trying to make meaning of the good and
the bad. Those older adults who can reflect upon their life in a positive way and who can
identify accomplishments, accept that there have been mistakes made, and not only
recognize but accept that life is drawing to a close will achieve ego integrity. The outcome of
this stage is wisdom.
Although Erikson’s theory makes sense descriptively, it has been criticized for being difficult
to empirically test. Of the research that has been done, it suggests that a given stage is never
really fully “mastered”, but that certain issues (e.g., trust) may re-occur through the life when
precipitated by different life events.
Generativity vs. Stagnation: Can We Become More Selfless with Age?
Research suggests that higher levels of generativity are associated with more
meaningful and satisfactory social relationships andgreater psychological wellbeing.
Generativity is positively associated with all Big Five traits except neuroticism.
Programs such as Elder Service Corps provide structured opportunities to foster
An older adult’s willingness to remember and review the past most influences his/her
success or failure in achieving ego integrity.
More than just generic reminiscing – needs to be an active process of remembering, known
as life review, developed by Butler (1974).
Butler – “a critical cognitive process that occurs during late adulthood, which not only involves
remembering and reviewing past events (as would occur with reminiscing), but also involves
dealing with the emotional side effects of these events”.
Torges et al. (2008) – Resolving regret in mid-life predicted higher levels of ego integrity in
later life – emphasizes the point that we do not want to wait until later life to resolve our
issues, but do it now. Also interesting because ego integrity vs. despair is a late-life
developmental period, but to master it, we actually have to start earlier.
Table 9.2 – elements of the Self-Examination Interview (SEI), a measure of integrity vs. despair
developed by Hearn et al. (2012).
Mid-Life Crisis: Research and Findings
What is mid-life crisis?
Elliott Jacques (1965) initially coined the term, with a developmental framework
proposed by Levinson (1978) suggesting that it occurs at 40–45 years, primarily to
State of the Science on the Mid-life Crisis
The available research has been criticized on methodological grounds, such as
sample type, sample size, and data collection methods.
Longitudinal data suggests it may only happen for 10–20% of individuals, those who
tend to be higher in neuroticism.
Some research suggests that older adults report mid-life as their most preferred
phase of life.
Definition of a Personality Disorder (DSM-5)
A personality disorder is “an enduring pattern of inner experience and behavior that deviates
markedly from the expectations of a person’s culture”.
Prevalence of Personality Disorders in Older Adulthood
Based on the little research available, the prevalence and severity of PDs tends to decrease in
older adulthood.
Measurement/Classification of Personality Disorders
Systems such as the DSM-5 may lack validity for older adults. DSM-5 criteria were not
developed with older adults in their samples; items that may be indicative of PD in younger
samples may lack validity in older adult samples, as they may engage (or not engage) in
certain behaviors that are actually developmentally appropriate for older persons.
The Relationship between Personality Disorders and Health
PD is associated with negative health outcomes such as obesity, sleep disturbance, pain, and
substance use.
Diversity in Romantic Partnerships
The marriage rate in Canada is declining, which is significantly changing the landscape
of close partnerships.
From 1961 to 2011, the rate of married couples declined significantly, while the rate
of common-law couples increased significantly.
Cohabitation has grown most rapidly amongst older adults, rising 66.5% between just
2006 and 2011.
So-called “serial cohabitators” are more likely to risk a marital break-up if they get
married after cohabitating.
In the 1961 Canadian Census, married couples accounted for almost 92 percent of the families
surveyed. However, in 2011, this number fell to 67 percent (Statistics Canada, 2012ª).
Cohabitation is particularly high in Quebec, and also in the US, Sweden, and Finland.
Interestingly, older cohabitators tend to perceive their relationships as an alternative to
marriage while younger people see cohabitation as a prelude to marriage (Sassler, 2010).
The age at which people first marry is increasing over time, although men still tend to marry
women who are younger.
According to the 2011 Census, more than three-quarters of men 65 years of age and over
and close to one-half of women 65 years of age and older lived as married spouses or were
cohabitating (Milan, Wong, & Vezina, 2014). The number of older adults living as a couple
has increased significantly since 1981. One of the reasons is the increased life expectancy of
men, which allows relationships to endure further into old age. Another possible reason is
that in 2011, older-adult couples were increasingly close in age (Milan et al., 2014).
Interestingly, in 2011, the majority of older adults 65 years of age and older had been married
only once. The baby boom generation will surely change this statistic (Milan et al., 2014).
Marital (or cohabiting) satisfaction tends to follow a U-shaped curve – it is high
in the beginning, declines during the child-rearing years, and then increases again after
children leave home. Evidence suggests that into older adulthood, marital satisfaction
continues to grow, unless there are undue stresses such as caregiver burden when one
partner becomes ill.
The Divorce Act was passed in 1986, at which point divorce became much easier to obtain
Divorce rates are quite difficult to determine, in part because of the frequency of marriage,
as well as frequency of second and third divorces.
• Since the ’90s, the crude divorce rate has been relatively stable – could be because
more people are living common-law or are reluctant to legally marry, not necessarily
that people are “staying married”.
• Interestingly, grey divorces (in those over 50 years after approximately 20 years or
more of marriage) is on the rise.
What accounts for the increasing “grey divorce”? Are grey divorce rates
It is possible that because people are living longer, don’t want to wait out their lives in
unhappy marriages, unwillingness to put up with abuse, infidelity, or financial troubles, less
stigma about divorce, women less economically dependent on men
In 2015, there were over 1 million widowed women and less than 300 000 widowed men.
• Women tend to have older partners.
• The pool of available men means women are less likely to re-partner after widowhood.
• However, men seem to suffer more negative emotional consequences of spousal loss
than women, which may motivate them to re-partner.
Spousal loss can have profound consequences on physical and mental health and social
connections. Losing a spouse at a younger age seems particularly related to longstanding
emotional difficulties.
The phenomenon of re-partnering after widowhood in late life has become more common
and accepted in developed and modern individualistic cultures in comparison to more
traditional collectivist cultures or developing countries.
According to Vespa (2013), the choice to re-partner depends on the perception that the
benefits of re-partnering outweigh the benefits of being single. Studies that have been done
previously have found that some older individuals choose not to remarry because they prefer
the benefits of being single. Because men have a tendency to depend on their wives for social
support, the desire to re-partner is higher for widowers than for widows (Brown et al., 2006;
Vespa, 2012). However, when widowers have adequate social support, such as friends in the
community, their desire to re-partner is similar to widows (Schimmele & Wu, 2016).
Although the literature might paint a bleak picture for older adults, in general, older adults
do seem to cope with widowhood.
Re-Partnering after Union Dissolution
Dissolution is a more encompassing term than divorce, as it includes breakups after
cohabitation as well.
Schimmele & Wu (2016) – Among people >45 years, the mean age of union dissolution
was 59 for women and 56 for men. For more than 2/3 of the population, this represented the
breakup of a first union. Those aged 45 to 64 preferred cohabitation over marriage, whereas
those aged 65 and over preferred marriage.
Why would there be a cohort difference in re-partnering type?
For example, those aged 45 to 64 are in the baby boom generation, the generation of “free
love” and sexual/romantic experimentation and greater acceptance of divorce may see less
of a need to re-marry.
Being Single Throughout Life
Despite research debunking myths about those who have been single throughout life,
negative stereotypes and stigma persist.
What stereotypes do you attribute to single older adults?
In Canada, around 5% of those >65 years are single and never married. Having choice over
singlehood seems to make a big difference – those who chose to be single seem more
content and satisfied than those who ended up being single due to circumstances beyond
their control.
Greitemeyer (2008) found that both female and male single individuals were rated as more
neurotic, less satisfied with their lives, less sociable, lonelier, and having lower self-esteem
than those individuals in partnerships
The Role of Choice – Timonen and Doyle (2016) interviewed men and women aged 64 to
85 who lived in Ireland. These researchers found that the women and men who had chosen
singlehood associated this status with self-fulfillment, independence, and autonomy
throughout their life course. In other words, they were happy with their choice to be single.
In contrast, older adults who perceived that they had no choice in their singlehood because
of caregiving, poverty, family roles, or cultural norms expressed regret and dissatisfaction with
their single status.
Developmental Pattern of Friendships
The number of friendships over the lifespan tends to decrease, but their importance remains
for men and women alike.
• Having friends means better physical and mental health.
• Friends seem to be more important than family as a protective factor against poor
mental health .
Emotion regulation is a primary goal for older adults (as opposed to
information seeking), hence they favour better quality relationships over greater
(2006) socioemotional selectivity theory.
In fact, research shows that older versus younger adults seem to have more
meaningful and satisfying relationships.
Carstensen (2006) – SES theory – time is running out, and so we do not want to waste it
on people or activities that lack meaning, so we are more choosy about who we spend our
time with, favouring quality over quantity.
LGBTQ Older Adults
Although progress has been made, much of the advocacy for LGBTQ older adults comes from
within the community itself.
LGBTQ older adults are “double-minorities”, and may be marginalized both on
age as well as sexual orientation.
There is particular worry of being institutionalized in LTC facilities, due to fear of
discrimination and violence.
Older gay and lesbian individuals often are in poorer health and have higher
rates of depression and loneliness than their heterosexual counterparts
(Fredriksen-Goldsen et al., 2011).
Because of fear of discrimination, they are less likely to seek help and/or disclose
their orientation to providers.
Homosexuality is currently illegal in 75 countries, and only in 2004 did the Supreme Court of
Canada declare that discrimination due to sexual orientation is against the law.
Justin Trudeau was the first Prime Minister in Canadian history to recently march in Gay Pride
events in Vancouver and Toronto.
Many of the current older adult generations lived through times where disclosing one’s sexual
orientation could result in imprisonment and even death. This lingering stigma has significant
consequences for their well-being. As many do not have children and are less likely to be in
regular contact with their families than younger counterparts, they are more likely to rely on
partners and friends for support (“family of choice”).
The Sandwich Generation
Miller (1981) – Sandwich generation refers to middle-aged caregivers who are sandwiched
between caring for their own children and their aging parents. As people live longer, and
younger generations continue to experience difficulty in being financially independent,
greater numbers of people may find themselves being part of the sandwich generation.
Could be children 65 years. Studies
have shown that volunteering in older adulthood contributes to mental health, overall health,
fewer functional limitations, and greater longevity.

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