The thorough synthesis of this study illustrates that there are different paths to adulthood and that human development cannot be described in average terms. The 42-year perspective that the JYLS provides shows the developmental consequences of children’s differences in socioemotional behavior over time, and the great significance of children’s positive socioemotional behavior for their further development until middle age.
Not only will the book be an invaluable tool for those considering research methods and analysis on large datasets, it is ideal reading for students on lifespan courses and researchers methodologically interested in longitudinal research.
Lea Pulkkinen, PhD, is Professor of Psychology Emerita at the University of Jyväskylä, Finland. For 40 years, she has conducted a longitudinal study on personality and social development. Her interest has focused on the continuity of positive and problem behaviors over time, and transformation of findings into policy for improving the quality of life in childhood and adulthood.
Regular Guys follows 67 well-adjusted mostly white males, who were initially chosen during the 1960s, to test theories of normal adolescent functioning. They were reinterviewed at age 48 to examine male functioning at middle age. This unique, 34-year study contrasts the critical period of adolescent development, which has been culturally characterized by stress and turmoil, with the relative stability of middle age. It addresses such issues as:
- Attitudes and behaviors concerning work, sex, religion, and self.
- Relationships with parents, siblings, spouses, and children.
- Coping and resilience in response to trauma.
- Negative health behaviors (particularly overeating and problem drinking as adults).
- Memories of their teenage years.
The authors’ findings are likely to be of considerable interest and use to clinicians and academics alike. In addition, the results provide a baseline as to what, by contrast, reflects psychopathology. Regular Guys provides a much-needed portrait of individuals rarely studied across several decades of time.