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Longevity and Aging
PSYC3347.1WW
Assignment 3 – SS2 2019
(3 lectures @ 2% each = 6%)
Instructions: Points awarded for your responses will depend on your effort. Please fill the space
provided while staying within a single page for each question. Please do not change the font
type/size or formatting.
Lecture 8: Chapter 9
Review Section 9.1 (Trait Approaches to Understanding Personality Development) and Table 9.1
of your textbook. For each of the five factors outlined in Table 9.1, describe yourself in terms of
low, medium, or high on each factor. For each factor, use at least two examples to demonstrate
the reliability of your self-assessment.
1. Openness
2. Conscientiousness
3. Extraversion
4. Agreeableness
5. Neuroticism
Longevity and Aging
PSYC3347.1WW
Assignment 3 – SS2 2019
(3 lectures @ 2% each = 6%)
Instructions: Points awarded for your responses will depend on your effort. Please fill the space
provided while staying within a single page for each question. Please do not change the font
type/size or formatting.
Lecture 9: Chapter 13 Question
Select a topic of interest from Chapter 13 of your textbook. Then find an interesting educational
video on YouTube about the topic. The video should be at least 5 minutes long. After watching
the video, answer the following questions.
State your topic:
Provide a link:
1. Using your textbook and/or lecture notes, briefly summarize the topic you chose and a
rationale for selecting the topic.
2. Give a detailed explanation of the video and its relevance to your topic.
3. What is the most important information that you learned from the video, and how can it
help you to age more optimally?
Longevity and Aging
PSYC3347.1WW
Assignment 3 – SS2 2019
(3 lectures @ 2% each = 6%)
Instructions: Points awarded for your responses will depend on your effort. Please fill the space
provided while staying within a single page for each question. Please do not change the font
type/size or formatting.
Lecture 10: Chapter 11 Question
Choose a topic from Lecture 9/Chapter 11. Find a peer-reviewed academic journal article on
your topic that reports a research study. To do so, go to the SMU library or SMU library
website to find out about online academic search engines. These search engines allow you to
research a topic for academic, peer-reviewed journal articles. After reading the article, answer
the following questions.
State your topic:
Your article citation:
1. What was the purpose of the study, and how was it tested?
2. What were the results of the study and some limitations of the findings?
3. What were some of the conclusions and future research directions?
1A: TRAIT APPROACHES TO UNDERSTANDING PERSONALITY DEVELOPMENT
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 children.
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.
SECTION 1B: TRAIT APPROACHES TO UNDERSTANDING PERSONALITY
DEVELOPMENT
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,
decreased neuroticism.
conscientiousness, and
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 goals.
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).
SECTION 1C: TRAIT APPROACHES TO UNDERSTANDING PERSONALITY
DEVELOPMENT
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 adults?
How might culture come into play in terms of gender effects on personality?
SECTION 1D: TRAIT APPROACHES TO UNDERSTANDING PERSONALITY
DEVELOPMENT
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
ground-up. 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).
SECTION 1E: TRAIT APPROACHES TO UNDERSTANDING PERSONALITY
DEVELOPMENT
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.
SECTION 1F: TRAIT APPROACHES TO UNDERSTANDING PERSONALITY
DEVELOPMENT
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.
SECTION 2: PSYCHODYNAMIC APPROACH TO UNDERSTANDING PERSONALITY
DEVELOPMENT
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
the
concepts
of extroversion and introversion and
the feminine and masculine aspects of personality.

The first theorist to posit that personality can change into adulthood.
SECTION 3A: LIFE NARRATIVE APPROACH TO UNDERSTANDING PERSONALITY
DEVELOPMENT
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 well-being.

Generativity is positively associated with all Big Five traits except neuroticism.

Programs such as Elder Service Corps provide structured opportunities to
foster generativity.
SECTION 3B: LIFE NARRATIVE APPROACH TO UNDERSTANDING PERSONALITY
DEVELOPMENT
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).
SECTION 4: MID-LIFE CRISIS – FACT OR FICTION?
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 men.
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.
SECTION 5: PERSONALITY DISORDERS IN OLDER ADULTS
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.
SECTION 1A: RELATIONSHIP STATUS OF CANADIANS
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.
SECTION 1B: RELATIONSHIP STATUS OF CANADIANS
Divorce
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 increasing?
It is possible that because people are living longer, don’t want to wait out their lives in
unhappy marriages, unwillin …
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