PSYC07023 2017 Adult Developmental Psychology

General Details

Full Title
Adult Developmental Psychology
Transcript Title
N/A %
Subject Area
PSYC - Psychology Studies
SOCS - Social Sciences
07 - NFQ Level 7
10 - 10 Credits
Start Term
2017 - Full Academic Year 2017-18
End Term
9999 - The End of Time
Breda McTaggart, Martha Doyle
Programme Membership
SG_HENGL_H08 201700 Bachelor of Arts (Honours) in Humanities in Joint Major: English and Psychology

Development is life long and not confined to any particular age or life phase. In this course we will explore adult development from mid-life to old age. Students will become familiar with key theories of adult development and ageing. They will explore the manner in which adult development is researched and the challenges of conducting this research. The module will introduce students to the relationship between social roles and health and the manner in which social identities, such as, gender, class, sexual orientation and class affect adult development. A key theme underpinning this module is that adult development is multi-dimensional and conditioned by a range of interrelated factors such as the changing socio-historical/cultural environment, personality characteristics, mental health across the life course and the micro social environment. Material will be covered through lecturing, class-based discussion, case work, exploring quantitative and qualitative research databases and video/podcasts.

Learning Outcomes

On completion of this module the learner will/should be able to;


Explore the multiplicity of forces, such as, social, cultural, and historical factors that impact developmental processes in later life.


Recognise how gender, social class and ethnic differences impact the experience and perceptions of ageing.


Demonstrate an understanding of the distinction between key theoretical theories as they relate to adult development.


Critically discuss the impact of social roles and social support on health and ageing.


Appreciate the range of research methodologies which can be used to explore adult development.


Be able to use psychological theories to interpret qualitative and quantitative date relating to adult development.

Teaching and Learning Strategies

Material will be covered through lecturing, class-based discussion, case work, exploring quantitative and qualitative research databases and video/podcasts.


Module Assessment Strategies

Life-Course Interview

Part 1:

Students will design and conduct a life-story interview with an older adult (within their own social network). They shall transcribe this interview and analyse the interview transcript through the lens of at least one of the theoretical perspectives of adult development covered in class. Within their analysis, they must also explore the impact of social roles or social support or health on the older persons’ subjective understanding of adulthood/later life

Learning outcome 3-5

50 % of module

Part 2:

During tutorial time, students will present the findings of their life-story interview either through the medium of a PowerPoint presentation or Poster (10 minutes per presentation).

Learning outcome 3-5

15% of module grade

Part 3: (Group Project)

Compile and review between 3-5 academic publications from the Trinity Longitudinal Study on Ageing (TILDA) study and explore what insights the findings reveal on the relationships between gender, social class and ethnic differences and individuals' health (physical and psychological) and social support.

Learning Outcome, 1-2

35% of module grade

Repeat Assessments

Repeat assessment will be dependent on failed component(s).

Indicative Syllabus

Two- three weeks shall be spent on each of the below topics.

Ageing: Historical and Current Perspectives

  • What is ageing
  • Demographic change
  • Chronological ageing
  • Biological ageing
  • Psychology ageing
  • Social ageing
  • Generations and cohorts

 Theories of Adult Development

  • Activity theory
  • Subculture theory
  • Disengagement theory
  • Lifespan developmental approaches: Jung, Adler, Eriksonian and Peck
  • Biopsychosocial model of adult development
  • Selection, optimization and compensation (Baltes, 1997)
  • Vygotsky - Sociocultural approach to cognitive development
  • Lifespan perspective – Baltes, 2006
  • Social identity theory

Social/Productive Roles, Health and Ageing

  • Relationships, family and changing family structures
  • Social support – perceived and received social support
  • What is the link between social support and health
  • Work and retirement
  • Caregiving - Contextual factors influencing adaptation to caregiving
  • Stress
  • Self-concept and wellbeing in later life
  • Religiosity and spirituality and ageing

 Researching the life-course

  • Research Design for exploring adult development
  • Qualitative versus Quantitative research
  • Cross-sectional versus longitudinal analysis, sequential design and meta-analysis
  • Measurement and design issues: Age, cohort and time measurement, mood congruency bias and poor recall, recruitment and selection bias
  • Life story interview
  • Evaluating life-course research – internal/external validity

Social identities: Diversity and ageing

  • Gender
  • Class
  • Ethnicity
  • Sexual orientation

Coursework & Assessment Breakdown

Coursework & Continuous Assessment
100 %

Coursework Assessment

Title Type Form Percent Week Learning Outcomes Assessed
1 3 Part Assessment Continuous Assessment Assessment 100 % Week 13 1,2,3,4,5,6

Full Time Mode Workload

Type Location Description Hours Frequency Avg Workload
Lecture Lecture Theatre Lecture and Tutorial 6 Weekly 6.00
Total Full Time Average Weekly Learner Contact Time 6.00 Hours

Module Resources

Non ISBN Literary Resources

Text Books

Core Reading

Barrett, A. E., & Montepare, J. (2015). "It's About Time": Applying Life Span and Life Course Perspectives to the Study of Subjective Age. Annual Review of Gerontology and Geriatrics, 55-77.

Cavanaugh, J.C., & Blanchard-Fields, F. (2011). Adult Development and Aging (7th ed.). Belmont, CA: Wadsworth.

Mortimer and M.J. Shanahan, M. J. (Ed) Handbook of the Life course. Springer: New York, NY.

Whitbourne, S.K. and Whitbourne (2010) Adult Development and Ageing: Biopsychosocial perspective (4ed) Wiley-Blackwell.

Additional Reading

Baltes, P. B (1997)  On the Incomplete Architecture of Human OntogenySelectionOptimization, and Compensation as Foundation of Developmental Theory. American Psychologist. 52 (4), 366-380.

Barrett, A. E. (2005). Gendered Experiences in Midlife: Implications for Age Identity. Journal of Aging Studies, 19, 163-183.

Barrett, A. E., & Toothman, E. (in press). Explaining Age Differences in Women's Emotional Well-being: The Role of Subjective Experiences of Aging. Journal of Women and Aging.

Bowling, A et al. (2005). Attributes of age-identity. Ageing and Society, 25(4), 479-500.

Costa, P. T., &McCrae, R. R. (1980). Still stable after all these years: Personality as a key to some issues in adulthood and old age. In P. B. Baltes &O. G. Brim, Jr. (Eds.), Life-span development and behavior, Vol. 3 (pp. 65-102). New York: Academic Press.

Coyle. J. M (Ed) (1997) Conn. : Greenwood Press

Duncan, L. E., &Agronick, G. S. (1995). The intersection of life stage and social events: Personality and life outcomes. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 69, 558-568.

Erikson, E. H (1982) The life cycle completed. New York, NY: Norton.

Horst, G. A (1995) Reexamining Gender Issues in Erikson's Stages of Identity and Intimacy. Journal of Counselling and Development, 73 (3), 271-278

Ryan, P & Coughlan, B.J. (2011) Ageing and older adult mental health: Issues and Implications for Practice, Routledge, London.

Toothman, E., & Barrett, A. E. (2011). Mapping Midlife: An Examination of Social Factors Shaping Conceptions of the Timing of Middle Age. Advances in Life Course Research, 16, 99-111.

Westerhof, G. J., Miche, M., Brothers, A., Barrett, A. E., Diehl, M., Montepare, J. M., Wahl, Hans-Werner, & Wurm, S. (2014). The Influence of Subjective Aging on Health and Longevity: A Meta-analysis of Longitudinal Data. Psychology and Aging, 29, 793-802.

URL Resources


Science Now

Ted Talks

All in the Mind

Thinking Aloud: Morie Taylor 

Other Resources


7-UP ( 21 to 56 Up)