Dr. Gisela Labouvie-Vief's research focuses on changes in self and emotions over the adult life span. Her theortetical
work defines positive stages of adult development. This theory proposed that in adulthood, individualsbegin to form more complex
structures of thinking. In contrast to earlier thinking, which in terms of right or wrong, black and white, and similar dualisms,
many adults become better able to integrate dualities. Thus, they become better able to integrate positive and negative aspects
of self and others and to form a view in which self and others are seen as complex systems changing over time and combining
in themselves positively and negatively valenced facets.
Based on her data, Labouve-Vief sees this reuniting of mind and self taking place over a five-step sequence.
1) Concrete-presystemic level: Individuals are not yet able to organize and integrate behavioral actions
and psychological states into a coherent abstract system. (Explanations of one's actions are more likely attributed to the
influence of others such as parents or peers than personal states.)
2) Interpersonal-protosystemic level: Individual's psychological and physical characteristics are edescribed
more in terms of immediate relationships and social networks.
3) Institutional-intrasystemic level: Usually emerges in adolescence. The individual is now able to
coordinate actions and states into coherent abstract systems, which tend to correspond to particular institutions in society
such as marriage or thye family.
4) Contextual-intersystemic level: The language necessary to reflect on abstract systems begins to appear.
Adults are now able to reflect on the dialectical tension between personal desire and institutional constraints.
5) Dynamic-intersubjective level: Change and transformation continue to be the defining characteristics
of this level, but what is added is a fuller recognition of the role played by inner psychological mechanisms in this continual
process of change and transformation.
Goldhaber, D. E. (2000). Theories of human development. Mayfield Publishing Company, Mountain
Morrow, et al. (1996). Division 20: Past and future perspectives. APA