Jeffrey Jensen Arnett, senior research professor in Clark University’s Frances L. Hiatt School for Psychology, is the lead editor of a special issue of American Psychologist focused people ages 60 and older. The issue, “Rethinking Adult Development: New Ideas for New Times,” was proposed at a conference by the same name that took place at Clark in October 2018 where leading scholars in the field of psychology from seven U.S. states, the United Kingdom, and Switzerland focused on ways to reconceptualize the course of adult life in light of recent dramatic changes in the workplace, family life, and longevity.
Arnett is the leading expert in the world on the age period from 18 to 29 that he termed “emerging adulthood,” now a thriving international field with thousands of researchers. His fellow editors on the special issue are Margie E. Lachman, director of the Lifespan Developmental Psychology Lab and the Boston Royal Center for Active Lifestyle Interventions at Brandeis University, and Oliver Robinson, president of the European Society for Research in Adult Development at the University of Greenwich in the United Kingdom. Professor Lachman is a widely respected expert on midlife and later life; Robinson researches topics such as the “quarter-life crisis” and spirituality in adult development.
The issue comprises 13 papers on topics including work in the 21st century, digitalization and the social lives of older adults, and culture and wellbeing in late adulthood, among others.
“The focus of psychology has been on the early years of life but adult development demands greater attention as it rises in importance in the 21st century,” said Arnett. “A lot has changed about adulthood compared to 50 years ago. People enter adulthood later than ever before, as marked by transitions such as marriage, and they stay healthy for longer, often well into their sixties and seventies. It’s time we gave some thought to what the new adulthood looks like and how people experience it.”
“This special issue of American Psychologist aims to be a landmark contribution that sparks a reassessment of adult development in light of its current changes and likely future,” Arnett wrote in the introduction.
Professor Arnett has directed several national Clark Polls that consider emerging adults’ views on a wide range of topics including financial support, sex and love, parenthood, work-life balance, career/workplace issues and more.