The various strands of my work are described--people's coping and defending and moral thought, action, and development as these occur over the life span, within the social contexts of family and peer groups, and in reaction to adventitious and expectable life stress. The investigation of these elements' inter-relations and implications for people's effective and ineffective transactions with their social contexts, both diachronically and synchronically, is my guiding, long term objective. My style of conceptualization is constructivist-developmental in nature; I have proposed a way to integrate psychoanalytic insights concerning defenses with the Piagetian framework with respect to the structural development of logic to delineate the development and operation of coping and defending and interpersonal morality. This proposed integration is extended by drawing on other work concerning social interdependencies and deriving implications from these conceptualizations for interpersonal and intrapersonal interactions, including moral dialogues and agreements. The first study concerns personality development and ego functioning from early childhood, or early adolescence, to later maturity in three longitudinally studied samples. Study members' development would be analyzed in relation to their experiences of life stress and adventitious stress, their adaptations to aging, their moral development from middle to later maturity, and their self-views at later maturity. Moral assessments would be based on Kohlberg's system as well as my own system of interpersonal morality. The second study concerns consistencies and discrepancies between levels of moral thought produced by university students in interviews and their levels of moral action in five games that pose moral problems. The subjects would be 96 first-year Berkeley students, participating as friendship groups (four men and four women in each of eight groups). The students' patterns of thought and action would be analyzed in relation a) to their shifts from usual or preferred forms of ego functioning to their situationally specific functioning when they are morally strained by the games and b) to variations in the organizational structures and ways of functioning of particular friendship groups. Four additional friendship groups would discuss hypothetical moral dilemmas for five sessions, serving as controls for analyses that would determine the replicability of a previous finding that experiences in these games facilitate moral development. The third study would be a small, clinically-intensive investigation of the moral reasoning and actions of 24 young children, ages four to seven, with their peers and parents. Additional observations would include the parents' theories of moral transmissions, their reactions to their child's potential wrong-doing in test situations, and the structure of the family groups as strong or weak and as supporting or not supporting members' individuation. The intent is to sharpen formulations of young children's moral reasoning and action for use in later quantitative study. If the results of this pilot study were promising, I would later plan a four-year, longitudinal study of like-age children and their families.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH)
Research Scientist Award (K05)
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University of California Berkeley
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United States
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Haan, N; Millsap, R; Hartka, E (1986) As time goes by: change and stability in personality over fifty years. Psychol Aging 1:220-32
Haan, N (1986) Systematic variability in the quality of moral action, as defined in two formulations. J Pers Soc Psychol 50:1271-84