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CHAPTER 14: SOCIAL AND PERSONALITY DEVELOPMENT IN EARLY ADULTHOOD

 

Learning Objective Questions (items marked *** are required objectives)

After completing Chapter 14, students should be able to:

14.1            ***What did Erikson mean when he described early adulthood as a crisis of intimacy versus isolation?

14.2            What is a life structure, and how does it change?

14.3            What are the characteristics of emerging adulthood?

14.4            What types of research do evolutionary and social role theorists cite to support their theories of mate selection?

14.5            ***How do marriage and divorce affect the lives of young children?

14.6            What factors contribute to the relationship between premarital cohabitation and divorce?

14.7            In what ways are gay and lesbian couples similar to and different from heterosexual couples?

14.8            How do singles accomplish Erikson’s psychosocial developmental task of intimacy?

14.9            What happens during the transition to parenthood?

14.10        ***How are family and friends important to young adults?

14.11        What factors influence an individual’s occupational choices?

14.12        ***How do career goals and job satisfaction change over time?

14.13        What are some of the innovations that are associated with the quality of work-life movement?

14.14        In what way do women’s work patterns differ from those of men?

 

THEORIES OF SOCIAL AND PERSONALITY DEVELOPMENT (pp. 405-407)

 

Erikson’s Stages of Intimacy versus Isolation

 

14.1     ***What did Erikson mean when he described early adulthood as a crisis of intimacy versus isolation?

 

For Erikson, the central crisis of early adulthood is intimacy versus isolation.  The young adult must find a life partner, someone outside her own family with whom she can share her life, or face the prospect of being isolated from society.  Intimacy is the capacity to engage in a supportive, affectionate relationship without losing one's own sense of self.

 

Successful resolution of the intimacy versus isolation stage depends on a good resolution of the identity versus role confusion crisis encountered in adolescence.  Individuals who reached early adulthood without having established a sense of identity would be incapable of intimacy.  That is, young adults would be, in a sense, predestined to social isolation.

 

A poor sense of identity is only one barrier to intimacy.  Misunderstanding stemming from sex differences in styles of interaction can also get in the way.  To women, intimacy is bound up with self-disclosure.  Most men do not see self-disclosure as essential to intimacy.  Consequently, many men are satisfied with relationships that their female partners see as inadequate.

 

Most adults succeed in establishing some kind of close relationship.  For those who have no such relationship, however, Erikson's theory seems to be fairly accurate.  These individuals experience more loneliness and depression than the average adult and suffer from a variety of mental health problems.

 

Levinson’s Life Structure

 

14.2     What is a life structure, and how does it change?

 

According to Levinson, a life structure includes all the roles an individual occupies, all of his or her relationships, and the conflicts and balance that exist among them.  Like Erikson, Levinson theorized that each of these periods presented adults with new developmental tasks and conflicts.  He believed that individuals respond psychologically to these tasks and conflicts by creating new life structures.  Consequently, adults cycle through periods of stability and instability.  As adults enter a period in which a new life structure is required, there is a period of adjustment, which Levinson called the novice phase.  In the mid-era phase, adults become more competent at meeting the new challenges through reassessment and reorganization of the life structure they created during the novice phase.  Stability returns in the culmination phase, when adults have succeeded in creating a life structure that allows them to manage the demands of the new developmental challenges with more confidence and less distress.

 

Emerging Adulthood

 

14.3     What are the characteristics of emerging adulthood?

 

A growing number of developmentalists view the period between 17 and 22 as a transitional one.  Jeffry Arnett proposed that the education, social, and economic demands that modern cultures make in individuals in this age range have given rise to a new developmental period he calls emerging adulthood.  He defines this phase as the period from the late teens to the early twenties when individuals experiment with options prior to taking on adult roles.

 

Neuroimaging studies provide some support for the notion that emerging adulthood is a unique period of life.  The studies suggest that the parts of the brain that underlie rational decision making, impulse control, and self-regulation mature during these years.

 

Glenn Roisman hypothesized that emerging adults must address developmental tasks in five domains:

§         Academic

§         Friendship[

§         Conduct

§         Work

§         Romance

He suggests that skills within the first three domains transfer easily from adolescence to adulthood.  By contrast, emerging adults must approach the work and romantic domains differently than they did as adolescents.

 

INTIMATE RELATIONSHIPS (pp. 407-416)

Theories of Mate Selection

 

14.4     What types of research do evolutionary and social role theorists cite to support their theories of mate selection?

Evolutionary Theories

Evolutionary explanations of behavior focus on survival value.  Heterosexual relationships ensure the survival of the species because they are the context in which conception takes place.  When choosing a mate, however, heterosexuals do not simply look for someone of the opposite sex.  Instead, mating is a selective process, and evolutionary theorists often site research on sex differences in mate preferences and mating behavior in support of their views.  Cross-cultural studies conducted over a period of several decades suggest the following sex differences:

§         Men prefer physically attractive, younger women.  In the short run, men appear to be willing to lower their standards when forced to choose between a partner who meets their standards and no partner at all.

§         Women look for men whose socio-economic status is higher than their own, who offer earning potential and stability.  Women have little interest in short-term mating unless it will lead to a beneficial long-term relationship.  Evolutionary theorists hypothesize that mate-switching—using an affair to lead to a long-term relationship with a higher-status man—is an important motive in women's extramarital affairs.

 

The reasons behind men's and women's divergent mating goals are explained by parental investment theory.  This theory proposes the following:

§         Men value health and availability in their mates and are less selective because their minimum investment in parenting offspring—a single act of sexual intercourse—requires only a few minutes.  Men seek to maximize the likelihood of survival of the species by maximizing the number of their offspring.

§         Women's minimum investment in childbearing involves nurturing an unborn child in their own bodies for nine months as well as enduring the potentially physically traumatic experience of giving birth.  Women seek to minimize the likelihood of survival of the species because their investment is so much greater.

 

Evolutionary theorists argue that both men and women realize that a truly adaptive approach to child-rearing requires much more than a minimum investment.  Human offspring cannot raise themselves.

§         Men value health and youth in their mates because a young, healthy woman is likely to live long enough to raise the children.

§         Women realize that to be able to nurture children to adulthood, they must have an economic provider so that they will be able to invest the time needed in rearing the offspring.

 

Consistent sex differences in mate preferences and mating behavior have been found across many cultures, and evolutionary theorists suggest that this cross-cultural consistency is strong evidence for a genetic basis for the behavior.  Certainly, these sex differences are consistent, but they could be the result of gender roles that are passed on within cultures.

 

Social Role Theory

Social role theory provides a different perspective on sex differences in mating.  According to this view, such sex differences are adaptations to gender roles that result from present-day social realities rather than from natural selection pressures that arose in a bygone evolutionary era.

 

Researchers have also found that college-educated women with high earning potential prefer to date and marry men whose income potential is higher than their own.  The more a woman expects to earn herself, the higher are her income requirements in a prospective mate.  Evolutionary theorists cite the research as support for their view that such preferences are genetic and are not influenced by cultural conditions.  Other theorists found a different conclusion form the research, however.  They suggest that many of today’s higher-income women desire to take time off to have and raise children without lowering their standard of living substantially.  Thus, social role theorists say the research findings can be explained by social role theory just as well as by evolutionary theory.

 

Social role theorists point out that high-income women desire high-income husbands because members of both sexes prefer mates who are like themselves.  People are drawn to those who are of a similar age, education, social class, ethnic group membership, religion, attitudes, interests, and temperament.  Sociologists refer to this tendency as assortative mating, or homogamy.  Partnerships based on homogamy are much more likely to endure than are those in which the partners differ markedly.

 

Marriage

 

14.5     ***How do marriage and divorce affect the lives of young adults?

 

The often-quoted statistic of a 50% divorce rate is derived from dividing the number of marriages each year by the number of divorces.  Longitudinal studies of marital duration, however, suggest that only about 2-% of marriages end in divorce.  After a couple has been married for eight years, the probability that they will divorce declines to nearly zero.  Compared to adults without committed partners, on average married adults:

§         are happier

§         are healthier

§         live longer

§         have lower rates of a variety of psychiatric problems

 

Relationship Quality

Many powerful influences on marital success exist before a marriage even begins.  Each partner brings to the relationship certain skills, resources, and traits that affect the emerging partnership system.  The personality characteristics of the partners seem to be especially important.  Another important factor appears to be the security of each partner’s attachment to his or her family of origin.

 

The parental attachment relationship contributes to the construction of an internal model of intimate relationships that children bring with them into adulthood, and into their marriages.  Once the marriage takes place, spouses must know when and how to let go of their families of origin in favor of the new family they are in the process of establishing. 

 

Emotional affection contributes to relationship quality as well.  Robert Sternberg argues that love has three key components:

§         intimacy, which includes feelings that promote closeness and connectedness

§         passion, which includes a feeling of intense longing for union with the other person, including sexual union

§         commitment to a particular other, often over a long period of time.

When these three components are combined in all possible ways, the result is eight sub-varieties of love (Figure 14.4).  Sternberg's theory suggests that the characteristics of the emotional bond that holds a couple together influence the unique pattern of interaction that develops in each intimate relationship.

 

How a couple manages conflict is also an important predictor of relationship quality.  Psychologists have identified three quite different types of stable or enduring marriages.

§         Validating couples have disagreements, but the disagreements rarely escalate.  The partners express mutual respect when they disagree, and listen well to one another.

§         Volatile couples squabble a lot, disagree, do not listen to each other very well when they argue, but they still have more positive than negative encounters, showing high levels of laughter and affection.

§         Avoidant couples, or "conflict minimizers," do not try to persuade each other—they simply agree to disagree, without apparent rancor, a pattern sometimes described as "devitalized."

 

Psychologists find two types of unsuccessful marriages.

§         Hostile/engaged couples, like volatile couples, have frequent hot arguments, but they lack the balancing effect of humor and affection.

§         Hostile/detached couples fight regularly, but they rarely look at each other, the arguments tend to be brief, and they also lack affection and support.

In both unsuccessful types, the ratio of negative to positive encounters gets out of balance, and they spiral downward toward dissolution.

 

Divorce

Divorce is clearly a major source of stress and is associated with increases in both physical and emotional illnesses.  Recently separated or divorced adults have more automobile accidents, are more likely to commit suicide, lose more days at work because of illness, and are more likely to become depressed.  They also report strong feelings of failure, loss of self-esteem, and loneliness.

 

The psychological effects of divorce are often significantly exacerbated by serious economic effects, particularly for women.  Because most men have had continuous work histories, they commonly leave a marriage with far greater earning power than women.  Additionally, women usually retain custody of the children, adding to the financial impact.  Several studies indicate that divorced men generally increase their economic positions, while divorced women are adversely affected, with an average decline in income of 40 to 50 percent.  The long-term economic loss of divorce is especially likely for working-class women or those with relatively low levels of education.

 

For many adults, divorce affects the sequence and timing of family roles.  It may lengthen the total number of years of child rearing, especially for divorced men who remarry younger women with young children.  One effect of this is to reduce the number of years a person may have between the departure of the last child and the time when elder parents may need economic or physical assistance.

 

Cohabiting Heterosexual Couples

 

14.6     What factors contribute to the relationships between premarital cohabitation and divorce?

 

A significant proportion of unmarried couple in the U.S. live together, and most such couples plan to marry.  Studies show that those who cohabit before marriage are less satisfied with their subsequent marriages and are more likely to divorce than are those who marry without cohabiting.  Several explanations have been proposed to explain the relationship between premarital cohabitation and divorce.

 

Couples who cohabit are less homogamous (less similar) than those who do not.  Cohabiting couples also differ more often in religious beliefs, educational levels, and socio-economic status.  Homogamy contributes to relationship stability.  Thus, the difference in marital stability between cohabitants and non-cohabitants may be a matter of self-selection, not the result of some causal process attributable to cohabitation itself.

 

Other developmentalists believe that these findings result from the tendency of researchers to lump all kinds of cohabiting couples into a single category, which may distort a studies findings.  It ignores that there are two rather distinct types of heterosexual cohabitation.

§         One type involves couples who are fully committed to a future marriage and choose to live together for convenience or for economic reasons.

§         In the second type, the relationship between the partners is more ambiguous.  Many such couples regard future marriage as a possibility but also believe that the relationship may be temporary.

One important difference is previous cohabitation and premarital sexual experience.  Married women whose premarital cohabitation and sexual experience was limited to their future husbands are no more likely to divorce than women who did not cohabit prior to marriage.  Researchers have also identified interaction differences across cohabitants with firm intentions to marry and those whose future plans are less clear.  Communication patterns distinguish cohabiting women of the two types.  Another finding is that cohabiting couples who are clear about their intentions to marry are happier during the period of cohabitation than couples whose future plans are more ambiguous.

 

Gay and Lesbian Couples

 

14.7     In what ways are gay and lesbian couples similar to and different from heterosexual couples?

 

Developmentalists have become interested in whether the same factors that predict satisfaction and stability in heterosexual partnerships also relate to these variables in same-sex partnerships.

 

Similarities include the following:

§         Attachment security is just as important to same-sex unions as it is to opposite-sex relationships.

§         Neuroticism in one or both partners is related to relationship quality and length.

§         Homosexual couples argue about the same things as heterosexual couples.

§         Gay and lesbian relationships are of higher quality if the two partners share similar backgrounds and are equally committed to the relationship.

 

Differences include the following:

§         Social Support:  Gay and lesbian couples are often more dependent on one another for social support than men and women in heterosexual partnerships.  Many homosexuals are isolated from their families, and they build families of choice for themselves.

§         Power Relationship between the Couple:  Homosexual couples seem to be more egalitarian then heterosexual couples, with less specific role prescriptions.  Power and tasks are more equally divided, especially in lesbian couples.

§         Expectations of Monogamy:  Both men and women in heterosexual relationships overwhelmingly state that they expect their partners to be sexually faithful to them, as do lesbian partners.  Gay men, however, even those in long-term partnerships, do not necessarily regard sexual fidelity as essential to their relationships.

 

Singlehood

 

14.8     How do singles accomplish Erikson’s psychosocial task of intimacy?

 

Many adults are single by preference.  The impact of singlehood on an adult’s life often depends on the reason for his or her relationship status.  Continuous singlehood is associated with greater individual autonomy and capacity for personal growth than a life path that has included divorce or loss of a spouse.  Many single adults participate in intimate relationships that do not involve either cohabitation or marriage.  Close relationships with their families of origin are more likely to be an important source of psychological and emotional intimacy than they are for individuals who are married or cohabiting.  Close friends are likely to play a more prominent role in the social networks of singles than among married or cohabitants.

 

The number of years an individual has been single appears to be an important factor in the influence of singlehood on his or her development.  There is a transition during which long-term singles move from thinking of themselves as people who will be married, or partnered, in the future, to viewing themselves as single by choice.  Afterward, singlehood becomes an important, positive component of the individual’s identity.  This self-affirmation may protect singles from some of the negative health consequences associated with singlehood.

 

PARENTHOOD AND OTHER RELATIONSHIPS (pp. 416-420))

The second major new role acquired in early adulthood is that of parent.  The transition into this new role brings with it unique stresses.

Parenthood

 

14.9     What happens during the transition to parenthood?

 

Most parents agree that the role of parent brings profound satisfaction, a greater sense of purpose and self-worth, and a feeling of being grown up. The birth of the first child, however, signals a whole series of changes in adult lives, particularly in sex roles and in marital relationships, and not all of these changes are without strain.

 

Becoming a Parent

In the U.S., nine out of every ten women aged 18 to 34 has had or expects to have a child.  The percentage of men who feel strongly that they want to become parents and who view parenting as a life-enriching experience is actually greater than the percentage of women who feel this way.  Most expectant fathers become emotionally attached to their unborn children during the third trimester of pregnancy and eagerly anticipate the birth.

 

The average age at which a woman delivered her first child has risen in the last century.  One reason is that many more women are enrolled in post-secondary education than in past generations.  Moreover, the majority of young adults believe that the best environment for raising a child is a household that is headed by a married couple.  Thus, the social clock underlies all of these trends because it includes the idea that people ought to become socially and economically established before they bring children into the world.

 

The Transition Experience

Even when new mothers are emotionally healthy, the transition to parenthood can be very stressful.  New parents may argue about child-rearing philosophy as well as how, when, where, and by whom child-care chores should be done.  Both parents are usually exhausted, perhaps even seriously sleep-deprived, because their newborn keeps them up for most of the night.  New parents report that they have less time for each other—less time for conversation, for sex, for simple affection, or even for doing routine chores together.

 

Some cultures have developed ritualized rites of passage for this important transition, which can help parents manage stress.  For example, in Hispanic cultures, la cuarenta is a period of 40 days following the birth of a child, during which fathers are expected to take on typically feminine tasks such as housework.  Hispanic couples who observe la cuarenta adjust to parenthood more easily than those who do not.

 

Postpartum Depression

Some women suffer from an extended period of depression following the birth of their baby called postpartum depression (PPD).  The symptoms are like those of clinical depression, but most cases persist only a few weeks.  The causes of PPD are unclear, but research suggests the that women with the following conditions are more likely to have postpartum depression:

§         Women who have unusually high levels of steroid hormones toward the end of pregnancy.

§         Women whose pregnancies were unplanned.

§         Women who were anxious about the pregnancy.

§         Women whose partner was unsupportive during pregnancy.

§         Women who experience major life stressors during pregnancy or immediately after birth.

§         Fatigue and difficult temperament in the infant.

§         Depression during pregnancy.

 

Developmental Impact of Parenthood

Despite its inherent stressfulness, the transition to parenthood is associated with positive behavior changes.  Sensation-seeking and risky behavior decline considerably when young adults become parents.  Despite these positive changes, martial satisfaction tends to decline after the birth of a child.  Generally, marital satisfaction is at its peak before the birth of the first child, after which it drops and remains at a lower level until the last child leaves home.  A number of variables contribute to just how dissatisfied a couple becomes.  For example, the division of labor, the support from extended family members, the relative effectiveness of the coping strategies couples use to adjust to their new roles, and the quality of the new parents' attachment to their own parents can determine the amount of dissatisfaction.

 

New parents who are married or cohabiting experience a much smaller decline in overall life satisfaction than new single parents, whose lives are far more complicated and stressful.

 

Childlessness

Like parenthood, childlessness affects the shape of an adult's life, both within marriages and in work patterns.  Without the presence of children, marital satisfaction fluctuates less over time.  Couples who do not have children report higher levels of marital cohesion. 

 

Another difference is in the role of worker, especially for women.  Childless married women, like unmarried women, are much more likely to have full-time continuous careers and to be more committed to the goal of career success than are women with children.  One of the disadvantages associated with childlessness may be that it is always socially a bit risky to be seen as "different" from others in any important way.

 

Social Networks

 

14.10   ***How are family and friends important to young adults?

 

Creating a partnership may be the most central task of the stage of intimacy, but it is certainly not the only reflection of that basic process.  In early adult life, each of us creates a social network made up of family and friends as well as our life partner.

 

Family

Parents remain significant parts of the young adult's life.  Most young adults are in contact with their parents at least once a month.  Not surprisingly, the amount and kind of contact an adult has with kin is strongly influenced by proximity.  Adults who live within two hours of their parents and siblings see them far more often than is true of those who live at longer distances.  Long distance does not prevent a parent or sibling from being part of an individual's social network; these relationships can provide support in times of need, even if physical contact is infrequent.

 

Friends

Friends can be important members of a social network.  Friends are chosen as partners are chosen, from among those we see as like ourselves in education, social class, interests, family background, or family life cycle stage.  Cross-sex friendships are more common among adults than they are among ten-year-olds, but they are still outnumbered by same-sex friendships.  Young adults' friends are also overwhelmingly drawn from their own age group.  Beyond this basic filter of similarity, close friendships seem to rest on mutual openness and personal disclosure.

 

Sex Differences in Relationship Styles

As in childhood, there are very striking sex differences in both the number and quality of friendships in the social network.  Women have more close friends, and their friendships are more intimate, with more self-disclosure and more exchange of emotional support.  Young men's friendships, like those of boys and older men, are more competitive.  Male friends are less likely to agree with each other or to ask for or provide emotional support to one another.  Adult women friends talk to one another; adult men friends do things together.

 

Another facet of the same difference is that women most often fill the role of kin-keepers.  They write the letters, make the phone calls, and arrange the gatherings of family and friends.  Taken together, this means that women have a larger "relationship role" than do men.  In virtually all cultures, it is part of the female role to be responsible for maintaining the emotional aspects of relationships—with a spouse, with friends, and, of course, with children.

 

THE ROLE OF WORKER (pp. 420-426)

Adding to the stress is the fact that a large percentage of young adults are simultaneously filling a third, time-consuming and relatively new role, that of worker.  Work not only provides economic support; satisfying work also provides an important ingredient in happiness or life satisfaction for men and women.  Although more women than ever are in the work world, women are still likely to work for fewer years than men.

 

Choosing an Occupation

 

14.11   What factors influence an individual’s occupational choices?

 

A multitude of factors influence a young person's choice of job or career:  family background and values; intelligence and education; gender; and personality (in addition to other factors such as ethnic group, self-concept, and school performance).

 

Family and Educational Influences

Typically, young people tend to choose occupations at the same general social class level as their parents—although this is less true today, than it was a decade or two ago.   In part, this effect operates through the medium of education.  Parents who have higher-than-average levels of education themselves are more likely to encourage their children to go on for further education past high school.  Such education makes it more likely that the young person will qualify for middle-class jobs, for which a college education is frequently a required credential.

 

Families also influence job choices through their value systems.  In particular, parents who value academic and professional achievement are far more likely to have children who attend college and choose professional-level jobs.  Families who have high career aspirations for their children tend to produce young adults who are more intrinsically motivated as employees.  Parental moral values influence young adults' willingness to enter various occupations.  Another way in which parents influence young adults’ career choices is by urging them to go to college.

 

Gender

Specific job choice is strongly affected by gender.  It is still true that sex-role definitions designate some jobs as "women's jobs" and some as "men's jobs."  Stereotypically male jobs are more varied, more technical, and higher in both status and income, whereas stereotypically female jobs are concentrated in service occupations.  Children learn these cultural definitions of "appropriate" jobs for men and women in their early years, just as they learn all of the other aspects of sex roles.  Cross-sex job choices are more common among young people who see themselves as androgynous, or whose parents hold unconventional occupations.

 

Personality

Another important influence on job choice is the young person's personality.  John Holland proposes six basic personality types, summarized in Table 13.1.  His basic hypothesis is that each person tends to choose, and be most successful at, an occupation that matches her or his personality.  People whose personality matches their job are more likely to be satisfied with their work, although interestingly, job success is only very weakly related to personality/job match. It is obviously quite possible to succeed at a job that is a poor match for a person's personality, but the person is likely to be less happy with such a job in the long run.

 

Career Development

 

14.12   ***How do career goals and job satisfaction change over time?

 

Once the job or career has been chosen, what kinds of experiences do young adults have in their work life?  Career development is the process of adapting to the workplace, managing career transitions, and pursuing personal goals through employment.

 

Super’s Stage of Career Development

Psychologist Donald Super claims that the roots of the career development process are found in infancy.

§         Between birth and age 14, Super claims that we are in the growth stage, a period during which we learn about our abilities and interests.

§         Between roughly ages 15 to 24, we are in the exploratory stage.  In this stage, the young person must decide on a job or career, and he searches for a fit between his interests and personality and the jobs available.  The process involves a good deal of trial and error.

§         Next comes the establishment stage (also called the stabilization stage), roughly from age 25 to 45.  Having chosen an occupation, the young person must learn the ropes and begin to move through early steps in some career ladder as she or he masters skills, perhaps with the help of a mentor.

§         The final stage is the maintenance stage.  It begins around age 45 and ends at retirement.  The primary goals of this stage are to protect and maintain the gains that were made during the establishment stage.  Older workers must keep up with new developments in their fields.  They must acquire new skills in order to avoid becoming obsolete.  Additionally, they must prepare for retirement.

 

Job Satisfaction

Early studies show that job satisfaction was at its lowest in early adulthood and rose steadily until retirement.  More recently, however, researchers have found that satisfaction is lowest at mid-career, usually toward the end of the early adulthood period.  This trend is attributed to changes in workers’ perceptions of job security.  Job security is elusive because of the speed with which job requirements and employers’ priorities shift.  Thus, workers, who have been on the job for some time are no longer assured of having greater security, higher incomes, or higher status positions than beginning workers do.

 

A number of variables contribute to job satisfaction in young adults.  Individual personality traits, such as neuroticism, and race affect job satisfaction.  A workplace setting at which a young person is encouraged makes a difference.  Workers are most satisfied when they experience more pleasant than unpleasant emotions while working.

 

The Quality of Work-Life Movement

 

14.13   What are some of the innovations that are associated with the quality of work-life movement?

 

Workers who are happy have lower turnover rates, thereby increasing an organization’s efficiency and profitability.  In an effort to enhance job satisfaction among employees, employers have developed new policies that focus on a variable called work-life balance, the interactions among workers; work and non-work roles.  Research has shown that work-life balance issues affect not only workers’ mental and physical health, but also their job performance.  To address the work-life balance needs of today’s employees, psychologists have developed the quality of work-life (QWL) movement.  Advocates of the QWL movement emphasize job and workplace design based on analyses of the quality of employees’ experience sin an organization.  Examples of innovations include the following:

§         On-site child-care centers

§         Telecommuting

§         Flextime

§         Job sharing

 

Women’s Work Patterns

 

14.14   In what ways do women’s work patterns differ from those of men?

 

Some findings about work patterns hold true for both women and men.  Women’s work experience in early adulthood differs from men’s in one strikingly important respect: The great majority of women move in and out of the work force at least once, usually to have and raise children.  Most such women return to work, thereby increasing the numbers of mothers in the workplace.

 

Researchers conclude that work-family conflict more strongly influences women’s career decisions than those of men.  Women are both more concerned about and more adept at integrating work and family roles than men.  Some researchers point out that it may be more useful to think of work-family conflict as qualitatively different for mothers and fathers rather than important to one but not the other.

 

It is important to also note that many women willingly adapt their work lives to the demands of raising children simply because that is what they believe is best fro their families rather than out of a sense of duty to culturally prescribed roles or the fear that they will be blamed if their children develop problems.