Academic journal article Human Ecology

Midlife Crisis Less Common Than Many Believe

Academic journal article Human Ecology

Midlife Crisis Less Common Than Many Believe

Article excerpt

Although more than 25 percent of Americans over age 35 think they have had a midlife crisis, more than half of these were no more than "stressful life events," says sociologist Elaine Wethington.

And contrary to the traditional view, she says, women are just as likely as men to believe they have had a midlife crisis.

The associate professor of human development bases her conclusions on the largest study ever done on midlife, funded by the MacArthur Foundation Research Network on Successful Midlife Development. Her research, based on the study's midlife crisis section, which she conducted, is based on intensive follow-up surveys of 724 respondents aged 28 to 78 years and is published in the October 2000 issue of the journal Motivation and Emotion. The larger study is called the "Midlife in the United States Study."

A midlife crisis is defined by researchers as personal turmoil and coping challenges in people age 39 through 50 brought on by fears and anxieties about growing older. Most people who told the researchers they had had a midlife crisis, however, were describing stressful life events that had occurred before age 39 or after age 50 rather than the type of turmoil defined as a midlife crisis. Wethington notes that the stressful life event identified by many respondents is a challenging situation brought on by specific transitions or events that may or may not be associated with typical aging, such as a life-threatening illness or job in security. …

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