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Article
Personalized and Global Generativity: A Prevalent, Important, but Unlabeled Distinction in the Literature
Journal of Adult Development (2015)
  • Myra Sabir, Binghamton University--SUNY
Abstract
Generativity researchers most often portray generativity as the long period of adulthood when individuals move into various roles of societal responsibility. Measures are designed to capture the unlimited ways individuals demonstrate care and concern for society’s continued well-being in the domains of family, work, and community, consequently sustaining the general society and the next generation. However, an alternative form of generativity is also prevalent in the generativity literature. This form portrays generativity as the continued investment of one’s most productive time and one’s most creative, intellectual, and material resources toward a single project over many years—one’s life’s work, which is to positively impact society in some idiosyncratic way. Erikson, McAdams, generativity psycho-biographers, and lifespan psychologists demonstrate clear recognition of personalized generativity; however, empirical studies featuring this form have not followed. Of the 26 generativity studies examined, none contain clear personalized generativity indicators. Research in other areas of adult psychological development strongly suggests that it is the identity-related (personalized) aspects of generativity that are more closely associated with psychological well-being in mid- to late life. Distinguishing these two forms of generative expression may help us to (1) better understand the relationship between aspects of generativity and well-being; (2) clarify some of the current discriminant validity measurement concerns in generativity research; and (3) invite important intervention strategies that could lead to creative, highly specified, and effective solutions to contemporary social problems and to later life revitalization for older adults.individuals move into various roles of societal responsibility. Measures are designed to capture the unlimited ways individuals demonstrate care and concern for society’s continued well-being in the domains of family, work, and community, consequently sustaining the general society and the next generation. However, an alternative form of generativity is also prevalent in the generativity literature. This form portrays generativity as the continued investment of one’s most productive time and one’s most creative, intellectual, and material resources toward a single project over many years—one’s life’s work, which is to positively impact society in some idiosyncratic way. Erikson, McAdams, generativity psycho-biographers, and lifespan psychologists demonstrate clear recognition of personalized generativity; however, empirical studies featuring this form have not followed. Of the 26 generativity studies examined, none contain clear personalized generativity indicators. Research in other areas of adult psychological development strongly suggests that it is the identity-related (personalized) aspects of generativity that are more closely associated with psychological well-being in mid- to late life. Distinguishing these two forms of generative expression may help us to (1) better understand the relationship between aspects of generativity and well-being; (2) clarify some of the current discriminant validity measurement concerns in generativity research; and (3) invite important intervention strategies that could lead to creative, highly specified, and effective solutions to contemporary social problems and to later life revitalization for older adults.
Keywords
  • generativity,
  • generativity measures,
  • global generativity,
  • personalized generativity,
  • identity
Publication Date
March, 2015
DOI
10.1007/s10804-014-9197-7
Publisher Statement
The final publication is available at Springer via http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s10804-014-9197-7
Citation Information
Sabir, M. (2015). Personalized and global generativity: A prevalent, important, but unlabeled distinction in the literature. Journal of Adult Development, 22(1), 14-26.