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V.M.WESTERBERG'S SUPER BRIEF DEVELOPMENTAL THEORIES SERIES.
NEUGARTEN’S COPING AND AGEING THEORY
BERNICE NEUGARTEN’S COPING AND AGEING THEORY
Neugarten studied the life cycle with 2 emphases:
1.- The “Social clock: or timing of transitional events,
2.- The influence of personality on aging.
1. Social clock
The timing of life events like graduation, marriage, and childbearing led Neugarten to develop the
idea of the "social clock." Your "social clock" is pretty well-entrenched, conscious, or unconsciously.
[Which are the best years to get married (for society / you)? Have children? Have the children leave
home? Get your first permanent job? ]
If these events occur "on-time," they are not experienced as stressful. If they are "off-time," or unexpected
(accidents), they are more likely to be stressful and more difficult to cope with. People cope differently
depending on their personality.
2. Personality influence on aging
Neugarten identified "types" of personality/adaptational style. No one is a perfect, single "type”. She also
found a growing "interiority"-an emphasis on introspection as people age, meaning that we are more likely
to focus on inner, rather than outer life.
Rather than focusing on commonalities of aging, Neugarten focused on the different ways that people cope
with aging. Elderly individuals may exhibit:
Integrated personalities : Most successful type of personality, they cope comfortably with aging, accept
becoming older, and maintain self dignity; most people fall into this category.
Disintegrated & disorganized personality: Unable to accept aging, experience despair as they age, often
end up in nursing homes, or are hospitalized.
Passive-dependent personalities: Lead lives filled with fear of illness or future, inability to cope, may seek
out hope, even when not needed.
Defended personalities: Seek to ward off aging and try to act young, they may exercise vigorously, get
involved in youthful activities, and may have unrealistic expectations may lead to disappointment.