Psychology Dictionary of Arguments

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Upton I 145
Stages of development/Levinson/Upton: According to Levinson (1986(1). 1996(2)), the lifespan can be divided into four seasons: pre-adulthood, early adulthood, middle adulthood and late adulthood-
Each season or era lasts 20-25 years and has a distinct character. Thus, the transition between eras requires a basic change in the character of a person’s life. This transition may take between three and six years to complete. Within the broad eras are periods of development, each of which is characterized by a set of tasks.
(…) in the early adult transition period the two primary tasks are to move out of the pre-adult world and to make a preliminary step into the adult world. A major theme throughout the various periods is the existence of ‘the dream’ - a vision of life’s goals. Levinson proposed that adults go through a repeated process of building a life structure, then assessing and altering it during transition periods.
Levinson Thesis: the transition from ages 40-45 is an especially significant time of life - a time of midlife crisis when a person questions his or her entire life structure, raising unsettling questions about where they have been and where they are heading. Levinson based his theory on a series of in-depth interviews and characterized 80 per cent of the men he studied as experiencing intense inner struggles and disturbing realizations in their early forties.
Women: women, however, experience significant crisis during the transition at age 30, as well as in the transition to middle age. >Stages of development/Erikson, >Method/Levinson, >Midlife Crisis/Levinson.
Upton I 147
Levinson thesis: according to Levinson, an individual’s life structure is shaped by the social and physical environment. Many individuals’ life structures primarily involve family and work, although other variables such as religion, race and economic status may also be important.


1. Levinson, DJ (1986) The Seasons of a Man’s Life. New York: Alfred Knopf.
2. Levinson, DJ (1996) The Seasons of a Woman’s Life. New York Alfred Knopf.


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Explanation of symbols: Roman numerals indicate the source, arabic numerals indicate the page number. The corresponding books are indicated on the right hand side. ((s)…): Comment by the sender of the contribution.
The note [Author1]Vs[Author2] or [Author]Vs[term] is an addition from the Dictionary of Arguments. If a German edition is specified, the page numbers refer to this edition.
Levinson, Daniel J.
Upton I
Penney Upton
Developmental Psychology 2011


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