This proposal addresses processes from birth to age 35 that account for the development of competence in adult roles. The focus is the pathways individuals follow in attaining competence in work roles and workplace relationships, relationships with close-relationship partners and networks of social support, and - for individuals with children - parenting. Effective functioning in these roles is related to achieving and maintaining health and well being in and beyond the ages 31-35. For the past 30 years, we have traced in detail patterns of competence and adaptation of 180 individuals. The work follows from a developmental model, wherein outcome is the probabilistic result of complex interactions between assets and liabilities operating over time. Beginning at birth, age by age, the study focuses on the interplay of (1) individual capacities and functioning, (2) relationship experience, (3) representations of experience, and (4) surrounding stresses and supports. We now seek to link assessments of functioning in successive life periods to comprehensive data on adult functioning with the goal of identifying factors that account for continuity and change in competent functioning across the years. Uniquely, we can examine the role of the earlier transactions between child and environment in shaping adaptations to age-distinctive challenges and opportunities that arise in this critical adult period. Predicting differential responsiveness to stresses and opportunities is a critical issue in this field. All of this can be done based on independent sources of data and without relying on retrospective reports. Particular foci include how childhood and adolescent relationships contribute to competence in adult close relationships, parenting, and workplace functioning. In addition, we will examine the reciprocal effects of competence in the three focal social roles and investigate the antecedents of effective balancing of work and family roles.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health & Human Development (NICHD)
Research Project (R01)
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Study Section
Social Psychology, Personality and Interpersonal Processes Study Section (SPIP)
Program Officer
Bures, Regina M
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University of Minnesota Twin Cities
Schools of Education
United States
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