Institute for Research on Children, Youth and Family

Faculty of Social Studies at Masaryk University

Paths to adulthood: longitudinal research of developmental trajectories and predictors of autonomy and identity (GAP407/12/0854)

The grant project focuses on the developmental period of emerging adulthood, a transitory period between adolescence and adulthood. Based on a longitudinal methodology, the main aims of the project are twofold.

First, we aim to explore the process of transition from adolescence to adulthood and to describe the individual psychological characteristics specific to this “time of transition” within the current cultural and social context. The focus is on the interaction between the growing autonomy potential and commitment potential both on the macro time scale spanning the whole developmental period and on the micro time-scale following the immediate behavioural expression of autonomy and commitment processes in day-to-day functioning and during subjectively important events (Lichtwarck-Aschoff , van Geert, Bosma, Kunnen, 2008). Findings on the macro scale allow for prospective predictions of the individual development in terms of growth curves or life-span development, i.e. age-related changes in adaptive capacity (or in terms of positive/negative development - see Baltes, 1987; Lerner, Freund, De Stefanis, & Habermas, 2001). Findings on the micro scale help us better understand a particular individual and better theorise about the actual change processes thus effectively validating the macro scale theories.

Second, to supplement the macro-time models, we aim to research the predictors, moderators and mediators of the current behavioural and experiential levels of autonomy and commitment, such as personality characteristics, relational characteristics or significant events (current and retrospective). Besides retrospective self-report measures and indicators that will form the major part of data in this area we plan to also make use of the vast body of childhood and adolescence data collected over the 19 years of the longitudinal study ELSPAC. These characteristics are hypothesised to moderate or specify the mean developmental trajectories of autonomy and commitment (both baseline levels and further development). Under various conditions, some of which are only temporary, the levels of autonomy, commitment or both can decrease or increase with consequences for identity formation and possible adjustment issues.

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Institute for Research on Children, Youth and Family © 2012 | Institute for Research on Children, Youth and Family
Faculty of Social Studies at Masaryk university
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simkova@fss.muni.cz | +420 549 498 272