Independence and Traditional Roles

The longitudinal study of Mills College women (Helson & Picano, 1990) yielded another fascinating finding. The women were divided into four distinct groups: (1) homemakers with intact marriages and children, (2) working mothers with children (neotraditionals), (3) divorced mothers, and (4) nonmothers (Helson & Picano,

Figure 5.4

Means on the Competence cluster of the Adjective Check List (ACL) for women and their partners at the early parental (n = 65) and postparental (n = 48) periods, and for a subsample of the women's parents (n = 29 couples) at the postparental period.

O Wives — Husbands -A- Mothers O Fathers

Early parental period (1964)

Postparental period (1990) (Parents, 1961)

1990). Figure 5.5 shows the results for the CPI Independence scale, which measures two related facets of personality. The first is self-assurance, resourcefulness, and com petence. The second is distancing self from others and not bowing to conventional demands of society . The act frequency correlates of this scale reflect these theme (Gough, 1996). Those high on the independence scale tend to set goals for groups they are in, talk to many people at parties, and take char ge of the group when the situation calls for it. High scorers also tend to interrupt conversations and do not always follow instructions from those who are in a position to lead (hence, distancing themselves from others in these ways).

For the divorced mothers, nonmothers, and working mothers, independence scores increased significantly over time. Only the traditional homemakers showed n increase in independence over time. These data, of course, are correlational, so we cannot infer causation. It is possible that something about the roles af fected the degree to which the women became more independent. It is also possible that the women who were less likely to increase in independence were more content to remain in the traditional homemaking role. Regardless of the interpretation, this study illustrates the utility of examining subgroups within the population. Personality change may be revealed in specific subgroups, whereas such change may be obscured when th entire group is examined in an undif ferentiated manner.

In sum, although the evidence is sparse, there are enough empirical clues to suggest that personality traits show some predictable changes with age. First, impul-sivity and sensation seeking show predictable declines with age. Second, men tend to


Homemakers Nonmothers Neo-traditionals


Homemakers Nonmothers Neo-traditionals

Age 21

Age 43

Figure 5.5

Means on the CPI Independence scale at ages 21 and 43 for homemakers (n = 17) and three groups of women with less traditional role paths: neotraditional, n = 35; divorced, n = 26; and nonmothers, n = 26.

decline in psychological flexibility and to become somewhat less ambitious with age There are indications that both men and women become somewhat more competent and independent with increasing age. Finally , there are hints that changes in independence are linked with the role and lifestyle adopted, with traditional homemaking women changing less on independence than women who get divorced or lead less traditional work lives.

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Anxiety and Depression 101

Anxiety and Depression 101

Everything you ever wanted to know about. We have been discussing depression and anxiety and how different information that is out on the market only seems to target one particular cure for these two common conditions that seem to walk hand in hand.

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