Generativity: A model of self-integration

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)




Barbara H. Fiese


agency, communion

Subject Categories

Developmental Psychology | Social Psychology


Erikson (1950) proposed that the psychologically healthy midlife adult shifts his or her attention from self goals to a concern for the next generation. Subsequent theorists (e.g., Kotre, 1984; McAdams, 1993) have suggested that generativity may be manifested in primarily agentic or communal modes. Theory and empirical research on generativity are discussed with particular attention to the roles that agency and communion may play in the expression of generativity. Research is presented that examines how agentic and communal modes of generativity were embodied in the generative concerns, commitments, and behaviors or 48 men and 50 women whose children ranged in age from 15 to 22 (the "launching" phase). Fathers in the present study reported more agentic behaviors related to parenting, whereas mothers were more communally generative in occupation, volunteer work, and leisure activities. There were no agentic and communal gender differences in generativity reflected in parents' self goals, although more communal themes emerged in mothers' possible selves for their children. The categories of "occupation" and "parenting" were reflected most often in the possible selves of both mothers and fathers. The possible relationship between balance in agentic and communal generative modes and well-being is discussed.