Motivation and Social Mobility Across the Lifespan: Potential and Limits of Individual Agency
Monday, Mar 6, 2017 @ 12:00 pm - 1:00 pm
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School of Education Brownbag
“Motivation and Social Mobility Across the Lifespan: Potential and Limits of Individual Agency”
Presented by Professor Jutta Heckhausen
UC Irvine School of Social Ecology
Monday, March 6, 2017
12:00 – 1:00 pm
Open to the public
Abstract: My research addresses motivational processes involved in development across the life span. Together with my colleagues Richard Schulz (University of Pittsburgh) and Carsten Wrosch (Concordia University, Montreal) I developed the Motivational Theory of Life-Span Development, which has influenced a plethora of empirical studies over the past two decades. The theory addresses the role of individual motivation in the context of life-span development and raises specific propositions about adaptive vs. maladaptive developmental regulation. I will present a select set of empirical findings speaking to the major propositions of the theory. We use quasi-experimental designs to study the motivational adaptation of individuals to developmental transitions when opportunities for major developmental goals arise or vanish. Exemplar life-course transitions addressed in our research are those associated with the “biological clock”, the progression from school to work, and with changes associated with illness, disability, and rehabilitation. Our theory can be applied to the role of individual agents in social mobility. I will talk about the windows of opportunity for upward social mobility at different phases of the life course, and how those differ across different countries with their specific educational systems and labor markets. I will discuss which individual characteristics make a difference for the effectiveness of individual agency in different societal and life-course ecologies.
Bio: Jutta Heckhausen is Professor of Psychology and Social Behavior in UCI’s School of Social Ecology. Her research areas of interest include life-span developmental psychology, motivational psychology, control behavior, and developmental regulation across the life span. Her current focus of research is on developmental regulation during major life-course transitions, in particular the transition from school to work and to college. She and her research team in the Laboratory on Life-Span Development and Motivation currently conduct empirical studies in three areas: (1) psychological and in particular motivational processes involved in social mobility during the transition to adulthood and in educational and vocational careers, (2) goal engagement and disengagement during adulthood and old age, and (3) the role of individual differences in the regulation of goal engagement and in implicit motives (achievement, power, affiliation) for shaping the way individuals influence their own development. Heckhausen holds a PhD from the University of Strathclyde, Glasgow, Great Britain.