Midlife crisis in men: Affective organization of personal meanings
Hubert J.M. Hermans & Piotr Oles
Human Relations, 1999, 52, 1403-1426
The purpose of this article is to explore the specific affective organization of personal meanings in midlife crisis in men. Midlife crisis is described as a process of intensive transition of the self including the reinterpretation of time perspective, re-evaluation of life values and goals, confrontation with death as a personal event in the future, and planning of the second half of life. Personal meanings referring to past, present and future were investigated using a self-confrontation method that is sensitive to the affective properties of individual experiences. The intensity of midlife crisis was investigated by means of a Midlife Crisis Scale in a sample of 104 men in Poland. Three groups, one high in midlife crisis (N=27), one medium (N=37), and one low in midlife crisis (N=40) were compared. It was found that the high crisis group had a lower level of affect referring to self-enhancement, a lower level of positive affect and a higher level of negative affect than both other groups. Moreover, time perspective played a differential role in the organization of the self: in an intra-group comparison of the most influential personal meanings, the high crisis group showed a higher level of negative affect than positive affect for personal meanings referring to the future, but not for personal meanings referring to the past and the present. The relevance of affective organization for midlife crisis is discussed.