If I am because I am I, And you are you because you are you, Then I am, and you are But if I am I because you are you, And you are you because I am I, Then I am not, and you are not.

Rabbi Mendel of Kotzk

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52 Chapter 2 Self-Awareness

“Self-Image” Development

Reviewing the story above, we realize that people acquire a sense of self throughout their life. It is an ongoing process that evolves from our experi- ences and interactions with others within the environment. Signifi cant adults in our life also provide us with feedback as to who we are. Th is is the begin- ning of self-image development. In this chapter you can learn ways in which you can identify and better understand your real self and learn strategies to improve your self-esteem.

WAS I BORN THIS WAY? Are you born with a self-image or is it acquired? Most psychologists say that it is acquired. During infancy, early emotional experi- ences form the basis for its development (Eder and Mangeldorf 1997). Our self- image is aff ected by all the experiences we have had—successes and failures, compliments and “put downs,” happy times and sad times, personal thoughts and experiences, our own expectations and others’ expectations of us, and the way other people have reacted to us, especially in our early adulthood. As you

Think about this My “Self-Image”—Student Story

In my memories of when I was a “little” kid, between the ages of two and four, it seemed like everything I would attempt would be a “No, No,” “No” to this, and “No” to that, and “No” to everything. For awhile I almost thought my name was “NoNo.” I soon learned that my life was much easier if I just sat and watched television.

Life was not much fun because I was afraid to try anything since I thought I would get in trouble. I didn’t think I was a very good kid since most of the people around me kept telling me that I wasn’t capable of doing anything. I thought it was because I was “no good” and “inferior,” but in reality I just wasn’t old enough to do what I wanted to do. I didn’t realize that.

When I turned six, I was excited because it was time to go to school like the “big kids.” It was a new life, and I needed a change. It didn’t take long for me to realize that I was not as good as the rest of the kids. Th ey laughed at my overalls and shiny shoes. When it came time to select teams, I was the last to be picked since I was short, skinny, and wore glasses.

I wanted to be liked by the other students and my teachers, so I became the “class clown.” I needed attention and I got it, but it was the wrong type of attention. I became depressed and felt inferior to the people around me, so I withdrew into my own little world and isolated myself as much as I could. I would sit in the corner at school, and at home I would go to my room and draw.

My early school years were not fun. In middle school I got mixed up with the “wrong crowd.” I wanted to be accepted, so I thought I had to be like everyone else. I wanted to be part of a group with an identity so I got involved in a gang. In the meantime I tried a few drugs and got in trouble. It wasn’t a happy time in my life.

In ninth grade, I registered for an art class, not knowing what art was all about. Th e teacher asked the students to draw a picture. I turned mine in and the teacher thought it was great. Th e teacher thought that I had talent, but I knew better. I have been told that I am “dumb, inferior and not capable of accomplishing anything,” so why try. My teacher encouraged me and kept telling me how good I really was, so I kept trying. All of a sudden the other students were also telling me that I was good and I began to believe it. I became motivated to succeed in the fi eld of art. I overcame my depression, set some goals, found some friends that accepted me for being me and not because of my size or looks.

I am now a professional artist and feel good about myself and my life. I like people and accept them as they are and will allow them the freedom to grow and develop as an individual. I hope you will too.

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Chapter 2 Self-Awareness 53

can see, a person’s self-concept is not a singular mental self-image, but a multifaceted system of related images and ideas ( Hermans 1996).

WHO ARE YOU? How many times have you asked yourself that ques- tion? Before we go on, take a few minutes and try to answer the question by writing twenty brief statements that begin with I am ___________. Aft er you have completed your list, examine it to fi nd ways that your self-image has evolved. It may have developed from your social world with statements such as: I am a Roman Catholic, I am a student, I am an adult, I am a mechanic; or it may refer to the nature of your inter- actions with others with statements such as: “I am a friendly person,” “I am a shy person,” “I am a family-oriented person,” “I am a political activist.” Still other statements may refer to traits that you attribute to yourself either because other people have attributed them to you or because you have seen that you stand out in those ways in comparison to other people: “I am short,” “I am good at math,” “I am conscien- tious.” You probably will not fi nd any self-statements in your list that do not stem in one way or another from your social environment. We will now begin to explore many of the theories and ideas of how you have become the person you are. Let us take a look at how other people infl uence our feelings about ourselves.

Signifi cant Others

We learn who we are from the way we are treated by the important people in our lives. Harry Stack Sullivan (1968) calls these important people signifi cant others . Sullivan goes to the extent of saying that a person is nothing more than the refl ected appraisal of signifi cant others. From the verbal or nonver- bal communication of these signifi cant others, we learn whether we are liked or disliked, accepted or unaccepted, worthy of respect or disdain, a success or a failure. If we are to have a strong self-concept, we need love, respect, and acceptance from the signifi cant others in our life. In essence, our self-image is shaped by those who have loved—or have not loved us.

WHO ARE THE SIGNIFICANT OTHERS IN YOUR LIFE? How have they aff ected your self-image? To whom are you a signifi cant other? Th ink about the kind of infl uence you are having on their self-image. Is it a positive or negative eff ect? You may be surprised to fi nd that if you are a parent, a spouse, a boyfriend or girlfriend, a teacher, a son or daughter, a brother or sister, or a person that can have any impact on another individual, you are a signifi cant other.

A parent says to a child, “You better not try that, I don’t think you can do it.” You tell your husband, “Can’t you ever do anything right?” A teacher tells a student, “Everyone else in the class understands it, what’s wrong with you?” A son tells his mother, “You’re a ‘rotten’ parent, you made me this way.” Have you heard any of these comments? If we hear these comments too oft en, we soon begin to believe them, especially if the person saying them is important or signifi cant to us.

W here you are now, everything you are, everything you do,

begins with and is based on what I call your personal truth. By personal truth, I mean whatever it is that you, at the absolute, uncensored core of your being, have come to believe about you. This personal truth is critical, because if you believe it, if it is real to you, then it is for you the precise reality that you will live every day.


We learn who we are from the way we are treated by the important people in our lives.

Do you ever compare yourself to other people?

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54 Chapter 2 Self-Awareness

From all of these numerous experiences, we construct a mental blueprint of the sort of person we believe we are. Once an idea or belief about ourselves goes into this mental picture, it becomes “true” as far as we are personally c oncerned. We generally do not question its validity, but proceed to act upon it as if it were true. Most of our actions, feelings, responses, and even our abilities are consistent with this contracted self-image. If we see ourselves as incapable when we enter a math class, we will most likely experience dif- fi culty and failure. If you view yourself as well qualifi ed and capable as you are interviewed for a job, the interviewer will evaluate you on a positive basis, and this will improve your prospects of getting the job. Do you remember from chapter one what this process is called? Th is is oft en called the self- fulfi lling prophecy. For further discussion on the self-fulfi lling prophecy, refer to chapter one.

Do you ever compare yourself to other people? How does this compari- son infl uence your feelings about yourself?

GAINING SELFKNOWLEDGE FROM OUR PERCEPTIONS OF OTHERS: SOCIAL COMPARISON. How many times have you asked yourself such questions as, “Am I as good looking as Jake?” “Can I play tennis as well as Anne?” “Am I as smart as Marti?” We gain self-knowledge from our own behavior; we also gain it from others through social comparison , the process in which indi- viduals evaluate their thoughts, feelings, behaviors, and abilities in relation to other people. Social comparison helps individuals evaluate themselves, tells them what their distinctive characteristics are, and aids them in building an identity. Some years ago, Leon Festinger (1954) proposed a theory of social comparison. He stressed that when no objective mean is available to evalu- ate our opinions and abilities, we compare ourselves with others. Festinger believed that we are more likely to compare ourselves with others who are similar to us than those who are dissimilar to us. We tend to compare our- selves with others of our own sex; males compare themselves to other males and females compare themselves to other females. Social comparison allows us a way to decide if we are the same or diff erent, inferior or superior.

Same or diff erent? How did you learn about your ethnicity or that you are male or female? A child that is told that he is a diff erent color than his school mates begins to see himself as diff erent. A 6’4” female student com- pares herself with her female school mates and perceives herself as weird. “All my friends are from Vietnam just like I am and this makes me feel like I’m part of the group, I’m the same as they are.” Th is perception of sameness or diff erence in relation to others has a great infl uence on how we perceive ourselves (Flora 2005).

Inferior or superior? We tend to decide whether we are superior or infe- rior by comparing ourselves to others. Are we attractive or ugly? A success or failure? Intelligent or dumb? It depends on those against whom we measure ourselves. In school we compare ourselves with other students, “I’m not as smart as Jose,” or “I’m more intelligent than Gretchen.” In sports we tend to compare ourselves with other athletes, “I’m a better racquetball player than Steve,” or “Ben’s a better quarterback than I am.”

Social comparison theory has been modifi ed over the years and continues to provide an important rationale for why we affi liate with others and how we come to know ourselves (Kimmel and Aronson 2009).

THE IMPORTANCE OF SELFCONCEPT. When our self-concept is intact and secure, we feel good. When it is threatened, we feel anxious and insecure.

M an’s main task in life is to give birth to himself. ERICH FROMM

A man has to live with himself, and he should see to it that he always has good company.


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Chapter 2 Self-Awareness 55

When it is adequate and one that we can be wholesomely proud of, we feel self-confi dent. We feel free to be ourselves and to express ourselves. When it is inadequate and an object of shame, we attempt to hide it rather than express it—we withdraw inside ourselves. If we have strong, positive feelings about ourselves, we want and feel that we deserve a good loving relationship, or a good job, and even a feeling of freedom—whatever we think of as the high- est good for us. On the other hand, if we have a poorly developed, negative, or inferior self-image, we may expect very little for ourselves. We may settle for second or third best because we feel that is all we deserve. In essence, we project to others the way we feel about ourselves. If we cannot like and respect ourselves, how can we ever hope other people will see us as worthy individu- als who have something to contribute to the world in which we live?

To gain a better understanding of how the self-image evolves over a life span, we need to study some of the traditional theories of personality that will provide us with a foundation of how we become aware of who we really are.

Personality Development

Th roughout our lives, we will be attempting to understand other people, such as our boyfriends or girlfriends, our bosses, our husbands or wives, or our teachers. In addition, we will also be attempting to understand ourselves. Th e following theories will help us gain an understanding of ourselves and the people around us. We will consider a variety of theories that will help you in the journey of fi nding yourself and answering the question, who am I.

Th e theory that has had the greatest impact on the fi eld of psychology was developed by Sigmund Freud. Th is theory has created a lot of controversy, not only within the realm of psychology, but also within our everyday lives—in literature, movies, child-rearing practices, the feminist movement, etc. Let us take a look at some of Freud’s ideas— Th e Psychodynamic approach .

SIGMUND FREUD. Freud’s theory of personality development provided the foundation for many other personality theories. Freud (1965) states that a person’s personality is made up of three distinct but interrelated parts: the id, ego, and superego.

WHAT IS THIS THING CALLED AN ID? Th e id is composed of the basic bio- logical drives that motivate an individual. Th is includes the hunger drive, the thirst drive, sexual impulses, and other needs that assure survival and bring pleasure. Th e id operates according to the pleasure principle , which demands immediate gratifi cation of its urges. Many of Freud’s supporters feel that this could be the reason some people resort to drugs, alcohol, or some form of sexual gratifi cation. Th ey do not think about what they are doing, they just look for immediate gratifi cation. Th e id engages in primary process think- ing, which is primitive, illogical, irrational, and fantasy-oriented. Th e id is present at birth and remains an active force throughout our life. We are not consciously aware of the actions of our id. As many of you have heard, Freud has received much of his criticism because of the emphasis he puts on the sexual impulses, pleasure drives, and their control over our behavior (Larsen and Buss 2008).

WHEN DOES THE SUPEREGO DEVELOP? Th e superego begins to develop aft er the age of four and is acquired from the environment around us. It consists of our values, morals, religious beliefs, and ideals of our parents and society.

R etrospectively, one can ask “Who am I?” But in practice, the answer has come before the question.


I do the very best I know how, the very best I can, and I mean to keep on doing it to the end.


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56 Chapter 2 Self-Awareness

Another name for the superego would be our conscience. Th e superego tells us what is right and wrong, what we should do and should not do— the moral component. Th is is the part of our personality that makes us feel guilty and experience anxiety. Th e superego attempts to limit the sexual and aggressive impulses of the id. As you can observe, the id and the superego are in confl ict. Each characteristic is trying to take control of your life. You could use the fol- lowing analogy—the id is the “devil” and the superego is “God,” each attempt- ing to control your life. If the id or the superego takes control of your life you may develop some form of personality disorder.

THE EGO TO THE RESCUE. Th ank goodness for the ego and the fact that it develops before the superego. Th e ego begins to develop aft er the fi rst year of life and begins to moderate and restrain the id by requiring it to seek grati- fi cation of its impulses through realistic and socially acceptable means. Th e ego the reality principle, is the rational, logical, and realistic part of your per- sonality that attempts to maintain balance between the id and superego. Th e confl ict between the id and the superego causes anxiety, which, in turn, leads the ego to create defense mechanisms to control the anxiety. Defense mecha- nisms will be discussed in chapter eight.

Freud’s theory has had a major impact in the fi eld of psychology. As you have observed, his theory has created a lot of controversy, but that is not at all bad. Many people became so upset with his ideas that they began doing seri- ous research in the fi eld of psychology, and since that time many new theo- ries have evolved. As you take additional psychology classes, you will study Freud’s theory and many of these other theories in more depth. We will take a brief look at a few of these theories in the following pages.

Most psychologists today think that Freud put too much emphasis on the biological drives, specifi cally the sex drive—the id. For example, Alfred Adler, a charter member of Freud’s inner circle, argued that the foremost human drive is not sexuality, but a striving for superiority. Also, Erik Erikson, an original follower of Freud, realized that the biological drives are important, but that the eff ects of the environment on our development and us are as important, if not more important. Let’s take a look at Adler and Erikson’s theories.

Adler’s Individual Psychology Theory

To Alfred Adler, personality arises from our attempts to overcome or com- pensate for fundamental feelings of inadequacy. Adler was responsible for coining the popular term inferiority complex , a concept, he argued, that underlies and motivates a great deal of human behavior. From his point of view, it is our natural drive for superiority that explains motivation, not sexual gratifi cation as envisioned by Freud. Adler viewed striving for superiority as a universal drive to adapt, improve oneself, and master life’s challenges. He felt that young children understandably feel weak and helpless in comparison to more competent older children and adults. Th ese early inferiority feelings supposedly motivate individuals to acquire new skills and develop new talents (Nevid and Rathus 2005).

Adler also noted that everyone has to work to overcome some feel- ings of inferiority. Compensation involves eff orts to overcome imagined or real weaknesses, limitations, or inferiorities by developing other areas of our personalities. Adler believed that compensation is entirely normal.

B ecoming is superior to being. PAUL KLUE

I am not what I think I am, I am not what you think I am. I am what I think you think I am.


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Chapter 2 Self-Awareness 57

However, in some people, inferiority feelings can become excessive, resulting in what is called an inferior- ity complex, exaggerated feelings of weakness and inad- equacy. Adler thought that either parental pampering or parental neglect could cause an inferiority problem. He also believed that early childhood experiences exert momentous infl uences over adult personality.

Adler was careful to explain that an inferiority complex can distort the normal process of striving for superiority. He felt that some people engage in over- compensation in order to conceal their feelings of infe- riority. Instead of working to master life’s challenges, people with an inferiority complex work to achieve sta- tus, gain power over others, and acquire the trappings of success (fancy clothes, impressive cars, or whatever looks important to them). Unfortunately, they tend to fl aunt their success in an eff ort to cover up their underlying inferiority complex (Adler 1998).

ERIK ERIKSON. Erikson (1993) has identifi ed eight stages of psychosocial development that each individual experiences through his or her life. Each stage is characterized by specifi c tasks that must be mastered. If these tasks are not satisfi ed, an unfavorable outcome throws us off balance and makes it harder to deal with later crises. As each stage is completed, we continue to build toward a positive, healthy development and a satisfying life. Th ose who are plagued with unfavorable outcomes will continue to face frustration and confl ict while striving to develop as a person. A brief description of Erikson’s eight stages of psychosocial development follows (Feldman 2007).

Erikson’s Eight Stages of Psychosocial Development

1. Trust vs. Mistrust. During the fi rst years of life, a child is completely dependent on others for the satisfaction of his or her needs. If these needs are satisfi ed on a consistent basis, the child will feel comfortable and secure. If the child’s needs are not satisfi ed on a regular basis, mistrust will develop, and this may become the core of later insecurity and suspiciousness. Th is child will become mistrusting and fearful of others and have diffi culty developing close, trusting relationships with others in the future. 2. Autonomy vs. Doubt. During ages one through three, a child is attempting to become more independent. He or she is learning to walk, talk, explore, and become toilet trained. Th e people around him or her, especially the parents, help the child to develop a sense of independence and autonomy by encouraging him to try new skills and by reassuring him or her if he fails. Consistent discipline is also important during this time. If the parents are inconsistent, overprotective, or show disapproval while the child is attempting to do things on his or her own, he or she will become doubtful, unsure, and ashamed of himself or herself. If a child is told by a signifi cant other that he should be able to read or be toilet trained, s/he may wonder, “What is wrong with me? My parents say I should be able to do that but I can’t do it.” Th is child will feel doubtful and shameful of himself or herself and thus feel negative about

What is wrong with me?

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58 Chapter 2 Self-Awareness

his or her capabilities. A child that has accomplished some of these tasks and is given encouragement and positive reinforcement will feel confi dent and independent. 3. Initiative vs. Guilt. During the ages of four through fi ve, the child moves from simple self-control to an ability to take control. Th is is the questioning and exploring stage when a child wants to try anything and everything. Th e child becomes very curious about the world around himself or herself. If s/he is encouraged to take the initiative and explore the world, the child will feel good about himself or herself and will continue to be curious in the future. If the parents inhibit the child’s activities and curiosity, the child will feel guilty whenever he or she takes the initiative and thus cause the individual to become passive. Why try to do something if your parents keep showing disapproval? 4. Industry vs. Inferiority. Assume that the child is between the ages of six and twelve and is excited about life and motivated to solve problems and accomplish tasks. Th ese are the early school years when the child should be making new friends, joining clubs and teams, and succeeding in school. When a child has a task to complete, such as a homework assignment, or cookies to sell, or a wood car to make, the child should attempt to accomplish the task with encouragement from others. Th e parents should not intervene and complete the task for the child. Otherwise, the child will quickly learn that the parents will always complete the task, so why try? Or possibly the child will feel inferior and incapable because his or her parents always ended up completing the tasks for them. Many parents feel like they are being responsible parents by helping their children learn, but, in reality, they are hindering their development. During this stage, the child is becoming involved in the outside world, and other people such as teachers, classmates, and other adults can have a great infl uence on the child’s attitude toward himself or herself. 5. Identity vs. Role Confusion. Between the ages of twelve and twenty, a person is caught between childhood and adulthood. Th e major task to accomplish during this stage is to answer the question, “Who am I?” Adolescence is a turbulent time for many individuals. Mental and physical maturation brings on new feelings and new attitudes of which people are unsure. Should these new feelings and attitudes be expressed or inhibited—especially one’s new-found sex drive?

Our identity evolves from our self-perceptions and our relationships with others. People need to see themselves as positive, capable, and lovable individuals as well as having the feeling that they are accepted by others. Otherwise, they will experience role confusion , an uncertainty about who they are and where they are going. Role confusion may lead to a constant searching for acceptance and a feeling of belonging. Th is search for identity can lead people to unhealthy relationships and to alternatives such as drugs and gangs.

THE BEGINNING OF THE ADULT YEARS. Freud did not put much emphasis on the adult years, but Erikson noticed that we continue to go through diff erent stages as we age.

6. Intimacy vs. Isolation (20–40 years). Now that we feel good about ourselves and have an identity , we are ready to form meaningful relationships and learn to share with others. During the young adult years, we must develop the ability to care about others and express

B e yourself because if people don’t like you as you are, they’re not going to like you as someone you are trying to be.


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Chapter 2 Self-Awareness 59

a willingness to share experiences with them. Marriage and sexual intimacy does not guarantee these qualities. Failure to establish intimacy with others leads to a deep sense of isolation . Th e person feels lonely and uncared for in life. A person that satisfi es this stage is capable of developing close, intimate, and sharing relationships with others and feels comfortable and secure in these relationships. 7. Generativity vs. Self-Absorption (40–65 years). Until middle age, we seem to be preoccupied with ourselves. Even the intimacy stage is primarily for the self to prevent loneliness. Now we are ready to look beyond the self and look to the future, not only for ourselves, but also for others. Th is seems to be the best time to establish a family because we are concerned about the development and welfare of others. Th is is the time in our life when we feel productive and are concerned for the benefi t of humankind.

What about the individual who does not feel productive and also feels like he or she is not accomplishing any goals in life? Th is person feels trapped. Life loses its meaning and the person feels bitter, dreary, unfulfi lled, and stagnant. Th is person becomes preoccupied with the self, personal needs, and interests.

Daniel Levinson (1986) has written extensively about stages of adult development. According to Levinson, if people do not go through a mid-life transition, they will live a life of staleness and resignation. Some individuals, approximately two to fi ve percent of the population (McCrea and Costa 2005), will experience a painful and disruptive struggle, which is called the mid-life crisis. Th is is similar to the adolescent identity crisis (Erickson’s stage of identity versus role confusion), where the individual seeks a new identity or to fi nd an identity. Since these individuals have not satisfi ed their goals they had set for themselves, they experience frustration. It is not uncommon for individuals to divorce their spouses, quit their jobs, and attempt to start all over again. 8. Integrity vs. Despair (65 years–death). Old age should be a time of refl ection, when a person should be able to look back over the events of a lifetime with a sense of acceptance and satisfaction. Th is is the type of person who has tried to live life to its fullest. Th e individual who wished he or she could live life over again, and also feels cheated or deprived of any of the breaks in life, will live a life of regret and failure. Th is is the person that keeps saying, “What if . . .?” or “If I would have taken that opportunity” and because of this, feels depressed and will be unhappy the rest of his or her life.

As most people continue through this stage, they re-evaluate the meaning of life for themselves and ideally fi nd a new meaning that will help reduce fear and anxiety and help prepare them for facing death.

All of us need to continue to evaluate our lives on a regular basis. As long as we do this, we will not experience any traumatic transitions that will disrupt our lives (Gibbs, 2005). As you observe the above eight stages you notice that there is a positive and negative aspect of each stage. Are you able to identify the stage you are in right now? Are you able to identify the stages

L ife is an echo. What you send out—Comes back.

What you sow—You reap. What you give—You get. What you see in others—Exists in you.


What drems do you have for your life?

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60 Chapter 2 Self-Awareness

some of your friends are in? Erik Erikson was one of the fi rst psychologists to put some emphasis on the fact that we continue to go through developmental stages throughout our lives. Freud emphasized that the fi rst six years of life were the most important years.

D o not be too timid and squeamish about your actions. All life is an experiment.


What traits do you think this woman possesses?

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Trait Theory

Your friends ask you to tell them about your brother. You tell them he tends to be domineering, anxious, optimistic, intelligent, and athletic. Are these terms you have used to describe other people? Many of us use terms like moody, smart, stupid, restless, impulsive, passive, care- ful, aggressive, quiet, reliable, shy, outgoing, etc. to describe people. Th e words you use to describe other people (and yourself) are called traits , relatively stable and consistent personal characteristics. Trait theorists are interested in measuring how people diff er (which key traits best describe them), and then in measuring how much they diff er (the degree of variation in traits within the individual and between the individuals). THE BIG FIVE. Because trait and type theories, developed by well- known psychologists, such as Gordon Allport, Raymond Cattell, and Hans Eysenck, follow a common sense approach, researchers today still fi nd them attractive. However, rather than speaking of hundreds of traits or of a few types, many theorists agree that there are fi ve broad catego- ries. Th ese fi ve major dimensions of personality have become known

There’s a Revolution Going On! (Many changes have taken place in the last 20 years)

There is a revolution going on in our “life-cycle” development. People are leaving childhood sooner, but they are taking longer to grow up and much longer to die. Look at some of the “happenings” that we have been hearing about.

Nine-year-old boys carrying a gun to school Nine-year-old girls developing breasts and pubic hair 16-year-olds divorcing their parents 35-year-old men still living at home with their parents 40-year-old women are just getting around to pregnancy 50-year-old men are forced into early retirement 55-year-old women can have egg donor babies 65-year-old women receive their doctorate degrees 70-year-old men reverse aging by 20 years with human growth hormones 80-year-olds run marathons 85-year-olds remarry and still enjoy sex More and more people are reaching the age of 100

There seems to be a shifting of all the stages of adulthood—by at least ten years. Adoles- cence is being prolonged, especially for the middle and upper class. Adulthood begins around 30. Most baby-boomers do not feel “grown up” until they are into their forties. When our parents turned 50, we thought they were old! Fifty is what 40 used to be; 60 is what 50 used to be. Middle age has already been pushed far into the 50s (Sheehy 2006). So what’s next?

Check This Out

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Chapter 2 Self-Awareness 61

Men or Women: Who’s the Better Leader? Americans believe women have the right stuff to be political leaders. When it comes to honesty, intelligence and a handful of other character traits they value highly in leaders, the public rates women superior to men, according to a nationwide Pew Research Center Social and Demographic Trends survey. Nevertheless, a mere 6% of respondents in the survey of 2,250 adults taken in August of 2008 say that, overall, women make better political leaders than men. About one-in-fi ve (21%) say men make the better leaders, while the vast majority (69%) say men and women make equally good leaders.



What do you think about the survey results?

From Men or Women: Who’s the Better Leader, August 25, 2008. Copyright © 2008 by Pew Research Center. A Social and Demographic Trends Report. Reprinted by permission.





Leadership Traits: Women Rule! % saying this trait is more true of . . .








Note: Traits listed in order of the public’s ranking of their importance to leadership. “Equally true” and “don’t know” responses are not shown.







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as the Big Five (McCrae and Costa 1999; 2005). (You can easily remember the fi ve factors with the following mnemonic device by using the fi rst letters of each of the Big Five traits, which spells OCEAN.)

Many researchers are now convinced that the best way to describe person- ality and individual diff erences is to fi nd where people stand on the following dimensions: 1) openness to experience, 2) conscientiousness, 3) extroversion, 4) agreeableness, and 5) neuroticism. Like Cattell, McC

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