Antecedents and contexts of generativity motivation at midlife

Psychol Aging. 1996 Mar;11(1):21-33. doi: 10.1037//0882-7974.11.1.21.


A semiprojective measure of generativity motivation--the desire to contribute to the welfare of society--was developed and applied to a longitudinal sample of educated women. In support of previous theory that generativity represents a fusion of agency and communion, generativity at midlife was related to a combination of adolescent scores on achievement, affiliation, and power motivation. The measure was also related to independent indexes of generative wishes and Q-sort generativity. The importance of contextualizing generativity motivation is demonstrated: Generative women with careers found gratification through work, whereas generative women not working in careers experienced gratification through parenting. Generativity was also related to political consciousness. Finally, as young adults, generative women expressed gratitude toward mentors. The authors discuss theoretical implications for E. H. Erikson's (1950) concept of psychosocial generativity.

MeSH terms

  • Achievement
  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aging / psychology*
  • Altruism*
  • Creativity*
  • Female
  • Gender Identity
  • Humans
  • Interpersonal Relations
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Middle Aged
  • Motivation*
  • Parenting / psychology
  • Personality Development*
  • Power, Psychological
  • Thematic Apperception Test