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6 - The influence of early behavior patterns on later life

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  22 September 2009

Lea Pulkkinen
University of Jyväskylä, Finland
Avshalom Caspi
Institute of Psychiatry, London
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Each stage of life plays a distinctive role in shaping the life-course and its developmental trajectories. This applies in particular to the young adult years, which are typically marked by diversity and flux as young people complete school, enter the labor market, and establish families (Rindfuss, 1991). The recurring wars and economic depressions of the twentieth century have only added to this variability. As a rule, life changes pile up in the 20s and 30s, but a coherent life pattern usually emerges, with intimations of the future. These changes and anticipations involve interrelated domains, from education and work to health and family life. Each domain is best viewed in relation to the others.

The goal of this study is to investigate how young adult behavioral profiles foretell the subsequent life-course of men. Their achievement and emotional health at an early stage of life provide insight regarding their lifetime potential, possibly setting in motion developmental pathways. How might early achievement and emotional health account for the adjustment of men in midlife or late life, their successes and failures? Early advantages and disadvantages might accumulate, widening the gap between success and failure and perhaps strengthening the relation between accomplishment and health (Sampson and Laub, 1997). Alternatively, initial differences among men, or discrepancies between accomplishment and emotional health, might fade over time.

Paths to Successful Development
Personality in the Life Course
, pp. 157 - 176
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2002

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