The context of integrity development in later life

Mark Gereard Brennan, Fordham University


The purpose of the present study was to extend earlier phenomonological studies of personality by operationalizing development in later life as described by Erikson et al. (1986) regarding the importance of vital involvements and the life review using covariance structure modeling. Male and female senior center participants (n = 172) completed three questionnaires in small groups. In the conceptual model, life experience was predicted to have an indirect effect on personality development via the life review. Vital involvements and the life review were both predicted to have direct relationships with personality development as measured by the Generativity and Integrity scales. The conceptual model was rejected because of poor fit to the data, resulting from measurement problems with some observed variables and weak structural equations. Given the preliminary nature of the research, modifications were made to the model to determine if fit could be obtained, while still conforming to Erikson et al.'s theory. A model was obtained which fit the data, suggesting possible refinements to Erikson et al.'s theory of personality development. Generativity and Integrity were not found to represent a global construct of personality, but were estimated separately, indicating that development at these two stages might proceed independently. Similarly, vital involvements did not operate as a global domain, but as separate constructs of family and non-kin/community domains. Only non-kin involvements had a direct effect on Generativity and Integrity, family involvements had only indirect effects. The life review was estimated by LES ratings directly rather than the LSI, and was only related to Integrity, not Generativity. Results of the present study tend to support the theory of personality development in old age proposed by Erikson et al. However, the structural equations in the modified model while in the expected direction were nonsignificant, indicating that further work is required, particularly with regard to measuring personality development and the significance of life events.

Subject Area

Developmental psychology|Personality|Gerontology

Recommended Citation

Brennan, Mark Gereard, "The context of integrity development in later life" (1995). ETD Collection for Fordham University. AAI9530019.