Work as the Catalyst of Reciprocal Adult Development and Learning

Carol Hoare

in The Oxford Handbook of Reciprocal Adult Development and Learning

Second edition

Published in print September 2011 | ISBN: 9780199736300
Published online September 2012 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Library of Psychology

 Work as the Catalyst of Reciprocal Adult Development and Learning

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  • Developmental Psychology


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With a focus on identity and personality, this chapter explores the ways in which paid work is a crucial catalytic force in reciprocal adult development and learning. Heretofore, rather little theoretical and empirical attention has looked to the positive effects on individuals of engaging in jobs that foster growth. Today, it is particularly important to examine these effects in light of job mobility and the demise of the social contract, the prior policy of employing organizations to provide a lifetime of employment. In this chapter, adult learning and development are defined. The meaning and evolution of adult identity are examined, as are the negative effects of job loss on the person and family. With respect to personality, its change and coherence during adulthood are examined. The six personality attributes of autonomy, conscientiousness, interpersonal competence (including prosocial behavior), maturity, openness to experience, and intellectual functioning are particularly related to work. These are explored in light of paid work’s importance in fostering their continuance, development, and adaptability. The intersection of such qualities with development and learning is shown.

Keywords: adult learning; adult development; identity; paid work; autonomy; interpersonal competence; organizational citizenship behavior; openness to experience; intellectual development

Article.  22735 words. 

Subjects: Psychology ; Developmental Psychology

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