Women on the River of Life: A Fifty-Year Study of Adult Development

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Univ of California Press, Nov 3, 2020 - Psychology - 386 pages
Commenced in 1958 with 142 young women who were seniors at Mills College, the Mills Study has become the largest and longest longitudinal study of women’s adult development, with assessments of these women in their twenties, forties, fifties, sixties, and seventies. Women on the River of Life synthesizes five decades of research to paint a picture of women’s personality and development across the lifespan. The book explores questions of family, work, life-path, maturity, wisdom, creativity, attachment, and purpose in life, unfolding in the context of a rapidly changing historical period with far-reaching consequences for the kinds of lives women would envision for themselves. Helson and Mitchell breathe life into abstract theories and concepts with the real-life stories and voices of the study’s participants. Woven throughout the book are the authors’ reminiscences on the profound endeavor of sustaining a longitudinal study of women’s lives through time.
 

Contents

Introduction and Overview
1
How the Mills Study Came About
13
Transforming into a Study of Womens Adult Development
27
Sustaining Fifty Years of the Mills Study
41
early adulthood
57
The Roots of Creativity in Women
59
The Social Clock Projects
72
Marriage and Motherhood
86
The Astonishing Importance of Personality
156
middle
173
Ups and Downs in Middle Age
186
developmental achievements
223
Three Conceptions of Positive
237
Wisdom
251
Tasks of the Second
266
the crown of life
279

Illustrating Two Developmental Theories
100
Loevingers Theory of Ego Development
113
major influences
127
The Enormous Impact of Gender Expectations
129
Individualism Gay Liberation the Counterculture
143
The Third Age
320
Complete Published Work of the Mills Study
335
Index
353
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About the author (2020)

Ravenna M. Helson is a Research Psychologist, Emeritus, at the Institute of Personality and Social Research at the University of California, Berkeley, and received a Legacy Award from the Society of Personality and Social Psychology in 2017. 

Valory Mitchell is a Distinguished Professor Emeritus of Psychology at the California School of Professional Psychology at Alliant University. In addition, she maintains a psychotherapy practice in Berkeley.

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