Across the whole life span individuality and communion are two central motivational orientations. These themes are scarcely studied in the second half of life. In this study the following questions are posed: which concerns are associated with individuality and communion in middle and late adulthood? How central are these themes? Do age groups in the second half of life differ with regard to the meaning and centrality of individuality and communion? In the German Aging Survey East- and West-Germans from 40 to 85 years of age (N=2934) were asked to fill out a sentence completion questionnaire (SELE) which requires self-descriptions. These self-descriptions were coded in terms of the different meanings related to individuality and communion: 13 concerns were identified. Results showed that individuality and communion are about equally important topics for meaning-giving in the second half of life. The comparison of five age groups shows that both themes are significantly less central in self-descriptions of older groups. The particular concerns associated with individuality and communion also differ according to age. When results on centrality and particular concerns are examined on the basis of theories of successful aging and psychological well-being, it becomes evident that the ideas adults have of themselves do not correspond with certain features of these theories. An important implication is that current theories of successful aging and well-being overemphasize individuality at the expense of communion. Implications for methodology are pointed out in the discussion.
|Translated title of the contribution||Self-conceptions: Individuality and communion in the second half of life|
|Number of pages||11|
|Journal||Zeitschrift fur Gerontologie und Geriatrie|
|Publication status||Published - 2001|
- Independent/interdependent selves
- Middle and late adulthood