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Salud mental

Print version ISSN 0185-3325


IZQUIERDO RUS, Tomas. Life cycle and psycho-social characteristics of unemployed adults. Salud Ment [online]. 2012, vol.35, n.3, pp.225-230. ISSN 0185-3325.

This article offers a contextualization of adult unemployment considered from the psychology of life cycle. Evolutionary development is understood as a process that occurs during all periods of life cycle where consistency and change happen in a person's life. Adult development is marked by events such as new family roles, disease, unemployment, and retirement. Placing adults within a certain period of the life cycle theory implies that the corresponding social roles and norms are attributed to this level of the development process. Unemployment is studied from a psycho-social perspective with a special interest in aspects such as work in adulthood, the transition between work and unemployment, and the vulnerability of adults over 45 years old. Most of the development researchers that study adult age identify a series of changes in maturity. However, nowadays, only some believe that these changes usually produce a crisis in maturity. Other studies, on the contrary, reveal that there is a high degree of variability when comparing the development process of different people from the same age group and a great continuity in the development of each individual. To refer to life cycle psychology implies to propose a wider perspective than the one usually considered by Developmental Psychology. Evolutionary Psychology refers to the entire course of human life and its main interest is focused on the description, explanation and modification of the internal change of behavior and its relation with the inter-individual differences throughout the life cycle. From what was exposed above, the extremely social character of adulthood, or rather, the most relevant aspects and features related to adult development can be easily inferred. However, there is another set of authors who contribute to a series of diverse ideas and interests from a psycho-social perspective. These adulthood events evolve depending less on time than the previous stages and are more conditioned by the diverse experiences of the individual. Adulthood, unlike what happens in other stages of development, is strongly marked by social events, changes in role structure and new demands derived from important social tasks. Many authors have considered that the three most important roles that identify adulthood are those that have to do with family, work and community. Within the work environment, adults face the task of establishing a work identity. Mid-life is also the moment when there may be events linked to nil productivity, as in the case of unemployment and retirement. It is of great importance to consider that the psychosocial effects derived from unemployment must be heavily linked to the work environment. This study highlights the fundamental role played by age in the significance of work. Between unemployment and employment, with certain conditions (schedule, compensation, security...) there is a wide range of situations. One of the most common is included in the so-called "submerged economy". Therefore, age becomes one of the variables that modulate the effects of unemployment. People over 45 present the most evident characteristics which define the group. The studies that analyze the effects of adult unemployment show that the consequences become more noticeable in this age group. Many research results have shown that the negative effects derived from unemployment are especially important for the middle aged group where it indicates more remarkably the derived consequences of the deprivation of rank and privileges. Finally, the research results suggest the use of specific career guidance methods in order to offer solutions and alternatives to the unemployed, especially those with disadvantages in obtaining a job.

Keywords : Unemployment; adult age; life cycle; social psychology; career guidance.

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