Action & Self-Development: Theory and Research Through the Life Span


Edited by: Jochen Brandtstädter & Richard M. Lerner

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  • Part I: Development as a Personal and Social Construction

    Part II: Designing Personal Development: Goals, Plans, and Future Selves

    Part III: Resilience and Efficacy across the Life Span

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    Introduction: Development, Action, and Intentionality

    Richard M.Lerner

    The notion of intentional self-development presented in this volume epitomizes a theoretical stance that has become increasingly influential in developmental research and theory. At the core of this notion is the proposition that individuals are both the products and active producers of their ontogeny and personal development over the life span. Through action, and through experiencing the effects and limitations of goal-related activities, we construe representations and internal working models of ourselves and of the physical, social, and symbolic environments in which we are situated. These representations in turn guide and motivate activities through which we shape the further course of personal development. It follows that we cannot adequately understand human ontogeny over the life span, including the processes of aging, without considering the ways in which individuals, in cognition, action, and social interaction, construe their personal development. Intentionality, and the “intentional world” (Shweder, 1990) in which intentional activity is embedded, thus becomes an indispensable explanatory category for developmental research. The chapters collected in this volume cover the different themes and strands of an action perspective on development that have emerged in recent years, and they provide an indication of the promise that this perspective holds as a central paradigm for developmental research.

    The basic proposition that human individuals actively contribute to shaping their development has never been controversial among developmental researchers, of course. Indeed, the formative role of action and interaction in human ontogeny has been explicitly stressed in most paradigms (see Chapman, 1984). Traditional views, however, have tended to conceive of developmental change as an outcome or by-product, rather than as a target area, of goal-related activity, and thus have missed the basic logic of human development as a self-referential process that both creates and is formed by intentionality and action (see Brandtstädter, 1984; Lerner, 1982).

    There are several reasons for this apparent neglect. Some of them certainly have their roots in epistemological complications of the concepts of action and intentionality. As human activities in general, actions related to the control of personal development are situated simultaneously in social and physical as well as mental and symbolic contexts; the question of how these contexts or levels of discourse are linked or can be theoretically integrated leads right into the heart of the mind/body problem (e.g., Greve, 1994; Searle, 1983). Can action explanations be framed according to the causal explanatory scheme? How can we hope to find lawful regularities of action and development, given the fact that we, as intentional actors, reflect upon these regularities and thus may act on them in order to change or destroy them? Would an action perspective on human development not necessarily involve a disavowal of the classical nomothetical ideal of developmental research, which aims at universality and lawful connectedness? These are important but controversial questions, and any attempt to settle them in short compass here would be preposterous (for discussion, see, e.g., Brandtstädter, 1985, 1998; Dannefer, 1989). Suffice it to express our conviction that we apparently must transcend (or deconstruct) traditional dichotomies that have split our worldviews—such as “causes versus reasons,” “freedom versus determinism,” and “nature versus culture”—in order to gain a comprehensive perspective on human development. “Avoid all splits” (Overton, 1998b) appears to be a fitting motto and guiding methodological principle for this view.

    Today, resentments against notions of action and intentionality have faded away. Action-theoretical concepts have made strong inroads into nearly all fields of human and social science (for examples, see Lenk, 1981; Lerner, 1998a). Developmental researchers, impressed by the plasticity and contextual variation of development in most functional domains, have come to recognize that observed ontogenetic patterns reflect cultural and personal agency (see Baltes, 1987; Brandtstädter, 1984; Brim & Kagan, 1980; Bruner, 1990; Eckensberger & Meacham, 1984; Emde & Harmon, 1984; Gergen, 1980; Gollin, 1981; Gottlieb, 1991; Lerner, 1998b; Lerner & Busch-Rossnagel, 1981; Magnusson, 1995; Silbereisen, Eyferth, & Rudinger, 1987; Valsiner, 1987; Wozniak & Fischer, 1993; see also in this volume Lerner & Walls, Chapter 1; Brandtstädter, Chapter 2). Constructs such as “life tasks,” “identity goals,” “personal projects,” “life planning,” “possible selves,” “life themes,” and “compensation,” which belong to the conceptual sphere of action theory, have imported notions of intentionality to the developmental domain and have become vantage points of innovative theorizing and research (e.g., Bäckman & Dixon, 1992; Cantor & Fleeson, 1991; Emmons, 1989; Little, 1989; Markus & Ruvolo, 1989; Pulkkinen & Rönkä, 1994; see also in this volume Brunstein, Schultheiss, & Maier, Chapter 6; Little, Chapter 7; Smith, Chapter 8; Gollwitzer, Bayer, Scherer, & Seifert, Chapter 10; Oettingen, Chapter 11; Freund, Li, & Baltes, Chapter 14).

    As implied above, intentionality and intentional action are not only driving forces of human ontogeny, but also ontogenetic products (e.g., Brandtstädter, 1998; Bullock, 1991; Higgins, 1988; Oppenheimer & Valsiner, 1991; see also in this volume Brandtstädter, Chapter 2; Mascolo, Fischer, & Neimeyer, Chapter 5; Skinner, Chapter 16). It is only when both sides of this circular relationship are heeded that the central contours of a new developmental paradigm emerge. From early transactions with the environment, and by inauguration into social networks of knowledge and practice, children form the primordial representations of self and personal development from which the processes of intentional self-development evolve. These lines of development eventually merge in the formation of the knowledge systems, identity goals, and self-regulatory skills that are basic to intentional self-development. Typically, the skills and intentional contents involved in self-regulation become more articulate in adolescence and early adulthood, that is, during a transitional period when developmental tasks of identity formation and of an autonomous, self-reliant life planning become salient concerns.

    The emergence of processes of intentional self-development marks a dialectic shift in the relation between action and development. To the extent that development gradually forms intentionality and the self, intentional action comes to form development. This is a shift only in emphasis, however; the beliefs, values, and goals that guide activities of intentional self-development remain subject to change along historical and ontogenetic dimensions of time. Normative self-definitions are filled with new meanings in response to role expectations and developmental tasks that confront individuals as they move across the life cycle, and personal ambitions are continually adjusted to age-related alterations in physical, material, and temporal resources of action. Indeed, negotiating a balance between available resources and developmental goals appears to be a basic task of intentional self-development, which becomes particularly salient in contexts of aging (see in this volume Heckhausen & Schulz, Chapter 3; Brandtstädter, Wentura, & Rothermund, Chapter 13; Freund et al., Chapter 14).

    The diversity of goals, projects, and life designs that may guide the reflexive monitoring of behavior and development cannot be captured in an exhaustive taxonomy; on a more abstract level, however, we may discern two overarching themes of intentional self-development: self-efficiency and self-cultivation. These themes do not denote developmental outcomes that could be achieved through a finite sequence of instrumental steps, but rather constitute basic motivational tendencies that underlie all self-referent and self-regulatory actions, and that take different expressions in different sociocultural contexts and different phases of the life course. Both themes involve the capacity and readiness to act and reflect upon oneself and to make one's own behavior and development the object of evaluation and intervention.

    Self-cultivation, on the one hand, comprises all self-regulatory actions and processes through which we try to bring ourselves and our lives into a form that conforms with normative standards or ideals. As a historical aside, it may be noted that the earliest notions of life-span development were largely synonymous with self-perfection and self-cultivation (e.g., Tetens, 1777). Activities of self-cultivation may reflect notions of virtue and competence, aesthetic ideals, moral or ethical maxims, or socially shared notions of a “good life”; they involve visions of development or conduct that we admire or respect and that influence our choice of developmental paths within culturally preformed opportunity structures.

    In the course of their ontogeny, individuals develop not only intentionality, but also intentions about intentions; that is, they can form intentions to have, or not to have, particular intentions. It should be noted at this juncture, however, that our capacity to originate or control our own mental states intentionally is not without limits. This holds not only for pathological cases, but in general: Although we can to some extent strategically control attention and thought, we cannot choose or change our beliefs and preferences by mere act of fiat. Action theorists increasingly recognize that an intentional system that would need to originate intentionally its own intentions would not be able to act at all, for logical as well as functional reasons (see Baumeister, Heatherton, & Tice, 1994; Brandtstädter, 1998; Gilbert, 1993). Nevertheless, it is obvious that self-regulatory processes hinge crucially on the capacity to form, and enact, “second-order volitions” (Frankfurt, 1971); the normative standards of rationality and morality that we embody in our behavior and development generally operate on this metaintentional level.

    The theme of self-efficiency, on the other hand, points to the basic fact that we generally strive to expand our action resources and developmental potentials, to defend them against losses and constraints, and to economize the use of resources so that there remain reserves to enrich our developmental prospects. Generally speaking, self-efficiency becomes a dominant motivational concern wherever individuals approach performance limits or “production possibility frontiers,” to put it in economic terms (see Brandtstädter & Wentura, 1995).

    From a developmental point of view, the transition to later life constitutes a paradigm case. The curtailment of physical, social, and temporal action reserves that typically accompanies the processes of aging puts pressure on the optimization and optimal allocation of functional resources, as well as on the selection and accommodation of goals and ambitions (see in this volume Heckhausen & Schulz, Chapter 3; Brandtstädter et al., Chapter 13; Freund et al., Chapter 14). The themes of self-efficiency and self-cultivation merge in what Rawls (1971) has termed the “Aristotelian principle,” that is, in the tendency to select and create environments where one's capacities and competencies can be used and expressed on their highest and most differentiated levels; this tendency constitutes a fundamental motivational vector of intentional self-development (see also Bandura, 1991; Brim, 1992).

    From a social-historical point of view, it should be noted that issues related to self-management and compensation of deficits gain particular weight under conditions of cultural acceleration, globalization, and pluralization of life forms. The necessity of adjusting life policies to rapidly changing role structures and task environments has led to a gradual blurring of normative “timetables” for individuals' organization of life and development; development has increasingly become a “reflexive project” (Giddens, 1991, p. 145) requiring individualized choice and planful competence. In addition, developmental settings under conditions of modernity have placed increasing emphasis on the efficient use and allocation of temporal, physical, and psychological resources, thus forcing individuals to take active, self-monitoring, and optimizing attitudes toward their own behavior and development. While opening new options for intentional self-development across the life span, these historical trends also involve developmental hazards. The maintenance of a sense of personal continuity and control and the creation of meaningful identity projects under conditions of uncertainty, change, and risk have become developmental tasks in themselves (see Sennett, 1998).

    These preliminary considerations should not be read to imply that humans are the sole or omnipotent producers of their development. Like any other human activity, intentional self-development is structured by the interaction of biological, social, and cultural forces. Although these constraints are in turn to a large extent structured by human action and interaction, they are not throughout mentally represented by individual actors, and they partly transcend personal control (see Giddens, 1979). Thus elements of autonomy and of heteronomy are closely intertwined in intentional self-development (see Dannefer, Chapter 4, this volume); this holds all the more as intentional activities throughout involve nonintentional and subintentional mechanisms (see Bargh & Barndollar, 1996; Brandtstädter, 1998). Furthermore, due to the bounded rationality of human actors and the partial intransparency of the external and “internal” contexts of action, life histories are always a mixture of controllable and uncontrollable elements. Over the life course, some desired goals and developmental outcomes are accomplished, others remain unachieved or drift outside the individual's span of control, which itself is subject to developmental change and modifications across the life cycle (see in this volume Fung, Abeles, & Carstensen, Chapter 12; Skinner, Chapter 16).

    Notions of self-regulation and personal control over development thus converge with a growing emphasis in developmental psychology on the malleability, contextual embeddedness, and sociohistorical specificity of developmental patterns; at the same time, these ideas provide scope to integrate biological and evolutionary points of view. Among the biological and evolutionary factors that enforce, and at the same time make possible, intentional self-regulation, the great openness and plasticity of human development must be mentioned as of primary importance (see Lerner, 1984, 1998b). Anthropologists and biologists have recognized that culture, and the functional potentials to create culture and cultivate personal development, to a large extent compensates for a lack of adaptive specialization in the human species (e.g., Geertz, 1973; see also in this volume Brandtstädter, Chapter 2; Heckhausen & Schulz, Chapter 3). Biology does not impose rigid constraints on development, but rather establishes norms of reaction that involve a range of developmental outcomes over a range of environmental conditions (see Gould, 1981). Epigenetic environmental influences, however, are structured and temporally organized through interactions of the developing individual with his or her environment. Phenotypic and genotypic conditions are thus linked in a circular, co-constructive relation; the influence and expression of genetic factors in ontogeny are interactively moderated, as well as mediated, by activities through which individuals select and construct their developmental ecology (see Gottlieb, 1997; Gottlieb, Wahlsten, & Lickliter, 1998). In this view, traditional splits between “nature” and “culture,” as well as attempts to establish a causal priority between these categories, are rendered obsolete (e.g., Overton, 1998a; Tooby & Cosmides, 1992; see also Lerner & Walls, Chapter 1, this volume).

    As noted above, concepts of action and intentionality cannot be isolated from the sociocultural forces that structure goal-related human activity. The notion of intentional self-development integrates personal and contextual views on personal development and braids together action-theoretical, developmental, cultural, and historical perspectives. In fact, the concepts of intentionality, development, and culture presuppose one another; we cannot explicate one of these terms without referring to the other two. As Boesch (1991) has put it, cultures “develop, change, and remain constant as a result of individual actions and interactions” (p. 31); this holds even if the action results are not completely desired or anticipated, and certainly do not form a coherent intentional plan. Cultural systems maintain, reproduce, and reform themselves across historical time not only by imposing constraints on action, but also by providing tools and compensatory devices that expand personal action spaces. The self-reproductive or “autopoietic” functions (see Dupuy & Varela, 1992) of sociocultural systems also involve the control of human ontogeny over the life span.

    Across all areas and throughout all phases of the human life course, developmental processes are shaped and canalized by culturally preformed arrangements of stimulation and information as well as by institutionalized beliefs about optimal development and successful aging. Activities of intentional self-development form part of, and in fact mediate, the cultural regulation of development, although individual actors may play an unwitting part in this process. It is through transaction with their social and cultural environment that individuals form personal conceptions of possible and desired developmental courses, as well as acquire the knowledge and means to implement them. Sociocultural demands and expectations about development, of course, often conflict with personal goals and developmental potentials. Such conflicts, and the ways in which they are personally negotiated, are important forces in both cultural evolution and personal development, as they motivate individuals to create a “personal culture” (Heidmets, 1985) that may partly diverge from culturally scripted patterns of the life course.

    Developmental researchers not only analyze, explain, and predict development, they also put ideas about development into the heads of developing individuals. Some of these ideas may encourage them to take a proactive stance with regard to their own development and aging; others may undermine such an active and engaged attitude. The contributions collected in this volume speak clearly for the former option. They remind us, as scientists and developing individuals, that our theoretical ideas also shape and inform our lives and personal development. Thus, in effect, our theories become part of the antecedent conditions of the processes that they attempt to explain.


    We would like to close this introduction by expressing our appreciation for the support we have received from many quarters during the conceptualization and implementation of this volume. Our first thanks are due to the authors who have joined us in exploring the interfaces among action, intentionality, and development, and who share our fascination for this particular theoretical perspective. We appreciate their splendid contributions as well as their responsiveness to our editorial wishes. We also wish to express our gratitude to Sage Publications, and in particular to our editor at Sage, Jim Brace-Thompson, for support and advice. A number of people have helped us in the task of preparing this volume for publication; above all, we should pay tribute to Brigitte Goerigk-Seitz (Trier) and Sofia T. Romero (Boston) for their skillful assistance in editing the chapters. This volume was completed while Jochen Brandtstädter was a Fellow at the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences (Stanford); the financial support by the German-American Academic Council is gratefully acknowledged. Richard M. Lerner's work was supported in part by a grant from the William T. Grant Foundation, which he gratefully acknowledges.

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  • Author Index

    About the Contributors

    Ronald P. Abeles is Special Assistant to the Director of the Office of Behavioral and Social Sciences Research in the Office of the Director at the National Institutes of Health. From 1994 to September 1998, he served as the Associate Director for Behavioral and Social Research at the National Institute on Aging, where he served as the Deputy Associate Director from 1980 to 1991 and Acting Associate Director from 1991 to 1994. In 1993, he received the National Institutes of Health Award of Merit for “leadership and contributions to the advancement of behavioral and social research on aging.” His 1971 doctoral degree in social psychology (with a minor in sociology) is from the Department of Social Relations, Harvard University. His experience as a Staff Associate at the Social Science Research Council (1974–1978) for the Committee on Work and Personality in the Middle Years and the Committee on Life Course Development stimulated his interest in life-course issues. He has organized several symposia at the annual meetings of professional societies, published chapters, and edited books on various aspects of life-course and aging research, most frequently in regard to the sense of control and to the interface between social structure and behavior. He is the editor of Life-Span Perspectives and Social Psychology (1987), coeditor of Aging, Health, and Behavior (1993) and Aging and Quality of Life (1994), and an associate editor of the fourth edition of the Handbook of the Psychology of Aging (1996). In addition to his duties at the National Institute on Aging, he has been instrumental in fostering behavioral and social research throughout the National Institutes of Health. From 1980 to 1993, he served as the Executive Secretary and Acting Chair of the ad hoc NIH Working Group on Health and Behavior. From 1993 to the present he has been first the Vice Chair and then the Chair of the NIH Health and Behavior Coordinating Committee and then the NIH Behavioral and Social Sciences Research Coordinating Committee, which is successor to the Working Group and is charged with coordinating behavioral and social research across the NIH and with making recommendations to the Director, Office of Behavioral and Social Sciences Research, NIH. For these activities, he received the NIH Director's Award in 1990.

    Paul B. Baltes is Director of the Center of Lifespan Psychology at the Max Planck Institute for Human Development in Berlin and Professor of Psychology at the Free University of Berlin. He received his doctorate from the University of Saarbrücken (in Saarland, Germany) in 1967. Before returning to Germany in 1980, he spent 12 years as Professor of Psychology and/or Human Development at several American institutions, including Pennsylvania State University, where he directed the Division of Individual and Family Studies. He is interested in advancing a life-span view of human ontogenesis that considers behavioral and cognitive functioning from childhood into old age. Substantive topics in his research include work on historical cohort effects, cognitive development, a dual-process conception of life-span intelligence, and the study of wisdom. His interests also include models of successful development (including aging) and the cross-cultural comparative study of self-related agency beliefs in the context of child development and school performance. Together with his late wife, Margret Baltes, he proposed a systemic metatheory of ontogeny that characterizes life-span development as the orchestration of three processes: selection, optimization, and compensation. He is active in various national and international organizations, including the U.S. Social Science Research Council (where since 1996 he has served as Chair of the Board of Directors), the German-American Academy Council, the Berlin-Brandenburg Academy of Sciences, and the European Academy of Science. Regarding interdisciplinarity, he is engaged primarily in two projects: He chairs (together with Karl Ulrich Mayer) the Berlin Aging Study and, together with the sociologist Neil Smelser, he is coeditor in chief of the 26-volume International Encyclopedia of the Social and Behavioral Sciences, which is scheduled to appear in 2001. He is author or editor of 15 books and more than 250 scholarly articles and chapters. For his work, he has been honored with numerous awards, including honorary doctorates and election as foreign member to the American Academy of Sciences and the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences.

    Ute Bayer has worked since 1993 as a Research Assistant in the Psychology Department of the University of Konstanz. She is a member of Professor Gollwitzer's team researching social psychology and motivation and has specialized on various aspects of the mind-set concept. Her doctoral thesis deals with the effects of the deliberate and implemental mind-sets on social information processing.

    Jochen Brandtstädter is Professor of Psychology at the University of Trier, Germany. He received his Ph.D. in psychology from the University of Saar, Saarbrücken, Germany, and subsequently held academic positions at the University of Trier and the University of Erlangen, Germany. He has received numerous grants to support his research in developmental psychology and action theory. His current longitudinal and experimental research projects center on issues related to personal control over development in adulthood, development in partnership relations, and mechanisms of coping and adaptation in later life. His publication record is extensive, with influential contributions in the areas of adult development, action theory, psychological prevention, theoretical psychology, theory of science, and methodology. He has held editorial board positions and has served in other capacities on several journals, including Human Development and the International Journal of Behavioral Development. Since 1992, he has been a member of the Academia Europaea, London. In 1984–1985, he was Fellow at the Wissenschaftskolleg (Center for Advanced Study) in Berlin. He is currently (1998–1999) a Fellow at the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences, Stanford University.

    Joachim C. Brunstein is Professor of Educational Psychology at the University of Potsdam in Potsdam, Germany. Prior to graduating in 1983 from the University of Giessen, he was a guest student at the University of Pennsylvania and the University of California, Santa Cruz. A Fellow of the Scholarship Foundation of the German People, he received a doctoral degree in 1986 from the University of Giessen. He then joined the Max Planck Institute for Psychological Research in Munich, where he worked together with the late Heinz Heckhausen. Before he joined the Department of Psychology at the University of Potsdam, he was a Lecturer of Developmental and Educational Psychology at the University of Erlangen and a stand-in Professor of Educational Psychology at the University of Frankfurt. He is a member of the German Psychological Association, the American Psychological Association, and the American Educational Research Association. His research focuses on the points of intersection among motivational, developmental, and educational psychology. His primary areas of interest include helplessness and depression, volition and self-regulation of performance, cognitive and affective underpinnings of achievement motivation, personal goals and subjective well-being, life aspirations and identity commitments, and social support in close relationships.

    Laura L. Carstensen is Professor and Vice Chair of the Psychology Department at Stanford University. She holds the Barbara D. Finberg Directorship of the Institute for Research on Women and Gender, and she is a Fellow of the American Psychological Association, the Gerontological Society of America, and the American Psychological Society. On two occasions she has been a Visiting Fellow at the Max Planck Institute for Human Development in Berlin. In 1994 she was President of the Society for a Science of Clinical Psychology and in 1996 served as Chair of the Behavioral Sciences Section of the Gerontological Society of America. Among her awards are the Richard Kalish Award for Innovative Research and the Dean's Distinguished Teaching Award. Her research, supported by the National Institute on Aging, focuses on life-span development, gender, and emotion.

    Dale Dannefer is Professor of Education and Sociology in the Margaret Warner Graduate School of Education and Human Development, University of Rochester. He has been a Fellow of the Andrew Norman Institute for Advanced Studies, Andrus Gerontology Center, University of Southern California, and a visiting scholar at the Max Planck Institute for Human Development and Education in Berlin. His extensive writings on the life course and human development include “Differential Aging and the Stratified Life Course” (in Annual Review of Gerontology), “On the Concept of Context in Developmental Discourse” (in Life Span Development and Behavior), and “Paths of the Life Course: A Typology” (coauthored with Peter Uhlenberg, in the Handbook of Aging Theory). His current research examines the effects of radical social change in nursing homes on the normal trajectories of decline displayed by those who live in such facilities.

    Lisa Feldman Barrett is Associate Professor of Psychology at Boston College. A psychologist whose interests span clinical, social, and personality psychology, she received a Ph.D. in 1992 from the University of Waterloo. Prior to joining Boston College, she was on the faculty at the Pennsylvania State University. She is the author of many scholarly articles and chapters that discuss the varying facets of human emotion. Her use of experience-sampling methodologies in the study of emotion is currently supported by the National Science Foundation.

    Kurt W. Fischer, Professor of Education and Director of the Mind, Brain, and Education Concentration at the Harvard Graduate School of Education, is a student of human development from birth through adulthood. Before coming to Harvard, he began his career at the University of Denver, where he was Professor of Psychology. He has also been Visiting Professor or Scholar at the University of Geneva (Switzerland), the University of Pennsylvania, the University of Groningen (Netherlands), and the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences at Stanford University. At Harvard, he is Chair of the Department of Human Development and Psychology. His work focuses on the organization of behavior and the ways it changes, especially cognitive development, social behavior, emotions, and brain bases. In his approach, called dynamic skill theory, he aims to combine the many personal organismic and environmental factors that contribute to the rich variety of developmental change and learning across and within people. His research analyzes change and variation in a range of domains, including students' problem solving and co-construction, concepts of self in relationships, cultural contributions to social cognitive development, early reading skills, emotions, child abuse, and brain development. His research generally focuses on the diversity of cognitive and emotional development, including developmental variation between and within different cultural and ethnic groups. His primary research directions include dynamic growth modeling, analysis of microdevelopmental change in real-life learning situations, emotional pathways to psychopathology, brain bases of cognitive change, and pedagogical implications of knowledge about development of cognition, emotion, and brain. His cultural research focuses on the development of emotions and self in diverse nations, including Korea, China, and the United States. He is coauthor of “Dynamic Development of Psychological Structures in Action and Thought” in the Handbook of Child Psychology (5th edition, Volume 1) and has written more than 200 scientific articles and nine books and monographs.

    Alexandra M. Freund is currently a Research Scientist at the Max Planck Institute for Human Development in Berlin. She received her diploma in psychology in 1989 and her Ph.D. in 1994 from the Free University of Berlin. Before she took her current position at the Max Planck Institute in 1994, she was a postdoctoral fellow at Stanford University. Her dissertation was about the content, structure, and function of the self-definition in old age. This topic continues to be one of her central research interests. Her other research interests include processes of developmental regulation and motivation across the life span. Her current projects focus on the empirical investigation of selection, optimization, and compensation as processes of developmental regulation from an action-theoretical perspective.

    Helene H. Fung is a fourth-year predoctoral student in personality psychology at Stanford University. She received her B.S. from the University of Washington at Seattle in 1995 and her M.A. from Stanford University in 1997. Her research interests lie in the area of sociocultural influences on adult socioemotional development. For her paper “The Influence of Time on Social Preferences: Implications for Life-Span Development” she received the 1998 Margaret Clark Award.

    Peter M. Gollwitzer has held the Social Psychology and Motivation Chair at the University of Konstanz, Germany, since 1993. From 1988 to 1992 he headed the “intention and action” research group at the Max Planck Institute for Psychological Research in Munich. He studied psychology and educational sciences at the University of Regensburg and social psychology at the Ruhr University-Bochum. In 1981 he received his Ph.D. at the University of Texas at Austin. His research interests cover a broad range of issues that have broken new ground in social and motivation psychology. In his work on self-completion theory (with Robert Wicklund at the University of Texas at Austin), he discovered that people conceive of their identities (e.g., being a good father) in terms of long-term goals that in turn stimulate an ongoing and enduring pursuit of the respective identities that includes numerous different compensatory efforts (so-called self-symbolizing). In collaboration with Heinz Heckhausen at the Max Planck Institute for Psychological Research, he suggested in the mid-1980s that goal pursuit is best conceptualized in terms of a progression through four consecutive action phases: deliberation, planning, acting, and evaluating. This perspective led him to the development of two important theoretical concepts: mind-sets and implementation intentions. The mind-set concept stimulated an in-depth analysis of the type and quality of people's information processing when preparing to get started on a goal (implemental mind-set) compared with choosing a goal (deliberative mind-set). The concept of implementation intentions initiated theorizing on automatic action initiation. Peter Gollwitzer is coeditor (with John Bargh) of The Psychology of Action (1996) and coauthor (with Robert Wicklund) of Symbolic Self-Completion (1982). He is a member of the Academia Europaea and a Charter Fellow of the American Psychological Society. In 1990, he received the Max Planck Research Award.

    Jutta Heckhausen is a Senior Research Scientist at the Center for Lifespan Psychology at the Max Planck Institute for Human Development in Berlin where she heads a research group on “Motivational Psychology of Ontogenesis.” She received her Ph.D. in 1985 from the University of Glasgow, Scotland. Her work addresses motivational psychology and control behavior in life-span development in general and developmental regulation in particular. Together with Richard Schulz, she developed the life-span theory of control and is applying it to processes of developmental regulation at various stages in life. From 1995 to 1996, she was a Fellow at the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences at Stanford University. Her recent publications include “A Life-Span Theory of Control” (with Richard Schulz, Psychological Review), a monograph, Developmental Regulation in Adulthood, and a volume coedited with Carol S. Dweck titled Motivation and Self-Regulation Across the Life Span.

    Ingrid E. Josephs was educated in psychology at the Ruhr University, Bochum, Germany, where she obtained her Ph.D. in 1993. She then worked in the Section of Developmental Psychology at the Otto von Guericke University Magdeburg. Since October 1998 she has continued her research in developmental psychology at Clark University in Worcester, Massachusetts, sponsored by a fellowship from the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation. Her main area of interest is the development of the self within a cultural psychological framework.

    Richard M. Lerner holds the Bergstrom Chair of Applied Development Science at Tufts University. A developmental psychologist, he received a Ph.D. in 1971 from the City University of New York. He has been a fellow at the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences and is a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the American Psychological Association, the American Psychological Society, and the American Association of Applied and Preventive Psychology. Prior to joining Tufts University, he was on the faculty and held administrative posts at Michigan State University, Pennsylvania State University, and Boston College, where he was the Anita Brennan Professor of Education. During the 1994–1995 academic year he held the Tyner Eminent Scholar Chair in the Human Sciences at Florida State University. He is the author or editor of 32 books and more than 250 scholarly articles and chapters, including his 1995 book America's Youth in Crisis: Challenges and Options for Programs and Policies. He edited Volume 1 of the fifth edition of the Handbook of Child Psychology, titled Theoretical Models of Human Development. He is known for his theory of, and research about, relations between life-span human development and contextual or ecological change. He is the founding editor of the Journal of Research on Adolescence and of the new journal Applied Developmental Science.

    Karen Z. H. Li is currently a Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the Center for Lifespan Psychology at the Max Planck Institute for Human Development in Berlin. She completed her M.Sc. in psychology at the University of Alberta in 1991 and her Ph.D. in psychology at the University of Toronto in 1996. Prior to joining the Max Planck Institute, she spent a postdoctoral year at Duke University. As a researcher of cognition and adult development, she has investigated processes that underlie age-related change in working memory, dual-task performance, and selective attention. Her recent work includes less conventional memorial factors such as age and individual differences in circadian arousal levels and sensory acuity as possible determinants of memory and cognitive change. Her present work focuses on the integration of dual-task methodology and principles of the Baltes and Baltes framework of selection, optimization, and compensation (SOC). Using the SOC model, she aims to delineate the costs and benefits of compensatory aid use in the context of age-related losses in the sensorimotor and cognitive domains.

    Brian R. Little received his early education in British Columbia and his Ph.D. from the University of California, Berkeley. He was a Commonwealth Scholar and subsequently a faculty member at Oxford University. He is currently Professor of Psychology and Director of the Social Ecology Laboratory at Carleton University in Ottawa, Ontario. In 1995, he was at McGill University as the inaugural recipient of the Royal Bank Fellowship in University Teaching. His research lies at the intersection of personality, social, and life-span developmental psychology, and his recent writing has emphasized the conative turn in psychological research. His development of “personal projects analysis” has been influential in both personality psychology and developmental science. He has been the recipient of several awards for research and teaching, and he delivered the G. Stanley Hall lectures for the American Psychological Association in 1996.

    Günter W. Maier is a Lecturer of Industrial and Organizational Psychology at the University of Munich. He studied psychology at the Universities of Giessen (Germany) and Munich. After graduation in psychology in 1992 from the University of Munich he worked on a research project called “Selection and Socialization of Managerial Candidates.” He received his doctoral degree in 1996. He is a member of the German Psychological Association, the American Psychological Association, the International Association of Applied Psychology, and the Academy of Management. His research focuses on motivational psychology and organizational socialization. His areas of interest include personal goals at work, self-regulation, realistic job preview, organizational citizenship behavior, team climate and team performance, and organizational learning.

    Michael F. Mascolo is Professor of Psychology at Merrimack College in North Andover, Massachusetts. He received his Ph.D. from the State University of New York at Albany and performed postdoctoral work at Harvard University. He is editor (with Sharon Griffin) of What Develops in Emotional Development? (1998) and author of numerous articles on social constructivism, systems theory, and the development of self and emotion in sociocultural contexts.

    Robert A. Neimeyer is Professor in the Department of Psychology at the University of Memphis in Memphis, Tennessee, where he also maintains an active private practice. He completed his doctoral training in clinical psychology at the University of Nebraska in 1982, and since then the majority of his research has drawn on concepts and methods in personal construct theory and related constructivist approaches to personality and psychotherapy. He has published 17 books, including The Development of Personal Construct Psychology (1985), A Personal Construct Therapy Casebook (1987), Advances in Personal Construct Theory (Volumes 1 through 4; 1990, 1992, 1995, 1997), and Constructivism in Psychotherapy (with Michael J. Mahoney; 1995). The author of more than 200 articles and book chapters, he is currently most interested in developing a narrative and constructivist framework for psychotherapy, with special relevance to the experience of loss. He is coeditor of the Journal of Constructivist Psychology and serves on the editorial boards of a number of other journals. In recognition of his scholarly contributions, he has been granted the Distinguished Research Award by University of Memphis (1990), designated Psychologist of the Year by the Tennessee Psychological Association (1996), made a Fellow of Division 12 (Clinical Psychology) of the American Psychological Association (1997), and received the Research Recognition Award of the Association for Death Education and Counseling (1999).

    Gabriele Oettingen is a Senior Researcher at the Max Planck Institute for Human Development in Berlin. After her dissertation in behavioral biology working with I. Eibl-Eibesfeldt at the Max Planck Institute for Behavioral Physiology in Seewiesen, Germany, and Robert A. Hinde at the Medical Research Council in Cambridge, Great Britain, she did her postgraduate work at the Department of Psychology at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia. Starting out with investigating the impact of educational style on peer interactions and the development of hierarchies in peer groups, she later extended this observational research to cultural contexts by observing behavioral signs of depression and analyzing explanatory style (with Martin E. P. Seligman) in various political and socio-cultural contexts. A cross-cultural focus prevailed in her analyses (with Todd D. Little and Paul B. Baltes) of the development of efficacy and control beliefs, where she and her collaborators identified relevant cultural factors that shape the appraisal of efficacy expectations. Her recent research focuses on the development and motivational function of thinking about the future. She published a monograph titled Psychologie des Zukunftsdenkens (Psychology of Thinking About the Future) that addresses the question of when and how people set themselves developmental tasks.

    Karen S. Quigley is Assistant Professor of Psychology at Pennsylvania State University. She received her Ph.D. in psychobiology from Ohio State University and completed postdoctoral work in developmental psychobiology at Columbia University. Her primary research interests lie in understanding the cardiovascular, autonomic, and behavioral effects of threat, fear, and distress in both humans and animals. Her work in collaboration with Gary Berntson and John Cacioppo on models of autonomic control of the heart has been published in Psychological Review, Psychological Bulletin, and Psychophysiology. Her more recent work on individual differences in cardiovascular reactivity to interpersonal and physical stressors has been supported by the National Institute of Mental Health and Pennsylvania State University.

    Klaus Rothermund is Research Scientist at the University of Trier, Germany, where he received his Ph.D. in 1998. He has published in the fields of development, cognition, and motivation. As a member of Jochen Brandtstädter's research group, he has been involved in the investigation of coping processes and personal control over development, primarily with regard to development in later adulthood and old age. His current research projects focus on attentional mechanisms, automatic affective processing, and motivated reasoning.

    Michaela Scherer recently received her master's degree from the University of Konstanz in Germany; the topic of her thesis was self-affirmation versus self-completion. During an internship at the University of Georgia in Athens, she worked with Abraham Tesser on confluences of self-serving mechanisms and attitude change. She is now working on her doctoral degree; her dissertation will deal with how fantasies turn into binding action goals.

    Oliver C. Schultheiss is currently a Fellow of the German Research Foundation (Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft) at the University of Potsdam in Germany. He earned both his diploma (1994) and his doctoral degree (1996) at the University of Erlangen, Germany. As an undergraduate and as a graduate student, he was awarded scholarships by the Scholarship Foundation of the German People (Studienstiftung des deutschen Volkes). In 1997, he was a Research Fellow at Harvard University, where he worked together with the late David C. McClelland. He is a member of the American Psychological Association, the German Psychological Association (Deutsche Gesellschaft für Psychologie), and the Society for Personality and Social Psychology. Although in the past he has done research on the role of goal imagery in motive-goal congruence and goal commitment, his current research focuses on the function of neuroactive hormones in implicit motivation. His primary areas of interest include biopsychological substrates and correlates of implicit motives, motivational components of implicit learning, the interplay between motivational and temperamental factors in personality functioning, and the effects of motive-goal mismatches on mental and physical health.

    Richard Schulz is Professor of Psychiatry and Director of the University Center for Social and Urban Research at the University of Pittsburgh. He has spent most of his career doing research and writing on adult development and aging. He has been particularly interested in social psychological aspects of aging, including the role of control as means for characterizing life-course development; age-related changes in the experience, perception, and expression of affect; and the impact of disabling late-life disease on patients and their families. His publications include “A Life-Span Model of Successful Aging” (with Jutta Heckhausen; American Psychologist, 1996), Adult Development and Aging: Myths and Emerging Realities (1999), and Handbook of Alzheimer's Disease Caregiver Intervention Research (forthcoming).

    Andrea E. Seifert received her master's degree in psychology from the University of Konstanz, Germany, in 1999. Her thesis deals with the effects of social reality of goal intentions and implementation intentions on their execution. She is currently working on her doctoral dissertation, which concerns the importance of future-related thinking for conflict resolution.

    Ellen A. Skinner is Professor of Human Development and Psychology at Portland State University, where she has worked since 1992. She was trained as a life-span developmental psychologist at the Pennsylvania State University, from which she received her Ph.D. in human development in 1981. She spent the next 7 years as a Research Scientist at the Max Planck Institute for Human Development and Education in Berlin. In 1988, she joined the Motivation Research Group at the University of Rochester. Her research focuses on the development of children's self-system processes; how the self can exert so powerful an influence on children's motivation, ongoing engagement, and coping with challenges and failures; and the role close relationships with parents and teachers play in promoting or undermining the developing self. She has written most on perceived control and coping. In the past few years, in addition to research articles and chapters, she has published a book on control, motivation, and coping; a review article on constructs of control; and a Society for Research in Child Development monograph on individual differences and the development of control. She has also edited a special section for the International Journal of Behavioral Development on the development of coping across the life span. She was named a W. T. Grant Faculty Scholar and the Distinguished (Young) Researcher of the Year for 1996 by the Western Psychological Association.

    Jacqui Smith is a Senior Research Scientist at the Max Planck Institute for Human Development in Berlin and has a long research collaboration with Paul B. Baltes. She is Codirector (together with Paul Baltes) of the Psychology Unit of the Berlin Aging Study, a project sponsored by the Berlin-Brandenburg Academy of Sciences. A life-span developmental psychologist, she received her Ph.D. in 1984 from Macquarie University, Sydney, under the mentorship of Jacqueline J. Goodnow. She was on the faculty at Macquarie University for 10 years before moving to the Max Planck Institute in 1984. She is the editor of four books and more than 50 scholarly articles and chapters. Her research spans cognitive, personality, and lifespan psychology and includes studies on memory, wisdom, expertise, life planning, and aging. Her particular interest in the Berlin Aging Study is to examine the dynamic interdependencies of cognitive functioning, self-related processes, and social relationships in late life. In this context she has published on psychological predictors of longevity, cross-domain profiles of functioning, self-regulation processes, well-being, and gender differences in old age.

    Seth E. Surgan is pursuing a doctorate in developmental psychology at Clark University in Worcester, Massachusetts, as a National Science Foundation Predoctoral Fellow. He is interested in theoretical issues within developmental cultural psychology and has done research on how self is constructed and maintained through body decoration and modification. Despite time spent in Massachusetts, he still prefers the New Jersey dialect and blue T-shirts.

    Jaan Valsiner works on issues of cultural and developmental psychology. He has written a number of monographs, among which The Guided Mind(1998), Culture and the Development of Children's Action (2nd edition, 1997), and Understanding Vygotsky (with Ren Van der Veer, 1991) are of notice. He is the founding editor of the journal Culture and Psychology (from 1995 on) and is editor of numerous volumes, including The Individual Subject and Scientific Psychology (1986), and of the book series Advances in Child Development Within Culturally Structured Environments. Prior to joining Clark University in Worcester, Massachusetts, as Professor of Psychology in 1997, he was a faculty member at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (since 1981) and a frequent visitor to the University of Brasilia, Technical University of Berlin, Institute of Psychology of Italian Research Council (CNR), and University of Melbourne.

    Ted Walls is completing his doctoral work in developmental and educational psychology at Boston College. Prior to his study at Boston College, he was a research manager at a nonprofit organizational consulting firm, where he developed methods for organizational problem solving and strategic planning. His current research interests lie in the areas of program evaluation from a developmental perspective, longitudinal study of social development, and work-based interventions for youth and families.

    Dirk Wentura is Assistant Professor at the University of Muenster, Germany. He received a Ph.D. in 1994 from the University of Trier, Germany. Prior to joining the University of Muenster, he was a member of Jochen Brandtstädter's research group, with which he has been involved in the investigation of coping processes, especially in later adulthood and old age. His research interests include topics at the interface of cognitive psychology, life-span psychology, and social psychology. He has published on coping, age stereotypes, and automatic affective processes.

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