The theories and research evidence we have con­sidered show that substantive change in adults’ personal concerns definitely occurs as people age. This conclusion is in sharp contrast to the stability observed in dispositional traits but does support McAdams’s (1999) contention that this middle level of personality should show some change. What is also clear, however, is that a tight connection between such change and specific ages is not sup­ported by the bulk of the data. Rather, change appears to occur in wide windows of time depend­ing on many factors, including one’s sociocultural context. For example, parents report that their children helped them integrate previous stages of development, enhanced cognitive functioning, and afforded them a fresh perspective on life (Dillon,

2002) . Thus interactions with one’s children can also be considered an important sociocultural influence on adult development. Finally, more research is needed in this area, especially investigations that provide longitudinal evidence of change within individuals.

Concept Checks

1. What do we mean by the term personal concerns?

2. What happens in midlife, according to Jung?

3. What are Erikson’s eight stages?

4. What are the main points in Loevinger’s theory?

5. What is the principal problem with theories based on life transitions?

6. Do personal concerns change across adulthood?