Author: Barbara R. Bjorklund
: Pearson – 438 pages
Book Review by
: Sonu Chandiram

This book on the journey and process of development into adulthood is based on four sources of information:

  • Classical studies from pioneers in the field of adult development
  • Research findings from large-scale projects and major theories of adult development
  • Smaller studies of diverse groups, showing the influences of gender, culture, ethnicity, race and socioeconomic background on this journey
  • What the author calls “a sweetening of this sometimes medicinal taste with a spoonful of honey – a little personal warmth and humor.”

To give you a broad overview, the book covers the following subjects, listed as chapter titles in its Contents:

  1. Introduction to Adult Development
  2. Physical Changes
  3. Health and Health Disorders
  4. Cognitive Abilities
  5. Social Roles
  6. Social Relationships
  7. Work and Retirement
  8. Personality
  9. The Quest for Meaning
  10. Stress, Coping, and Resilience
  11. Death and Bereavement
  12. The Successful Journey

What is new in this eighth edition?  Among others, this edition includes

  • Data on the use of electronic devices and sources of information such as: cell phones, e-games, e-readers, the Internet, online dating services, relationship between early hearing loss and the use of MP3 music players, and sleep-related problems.
  • Increased importance of animals in our lives such as the use of dogs and monkeys by disabled people; use of comfort animals for stress reduction; social support from pets
  • New research on veterans: association between head injuries and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, and dementia; collaboration between researchers in positive psychology and the U.S. Army to help troops boost their resilience
  • More studies on the effects of discrimination and inequality; and stereotypes

Each of the book’s chapters begins with a brief introduction. The topics and their subtopics covered in the chapter and listed in a blue-highlighted tab on the right of the right-facing page.

Following discussion of the topics and subtopics, a Summary with a numbered list of the main points discussed in the chapter; Key Terms introduced in that chapter; and a list of References are provided at the end.

Through the chapters, short Critical Thinking tabs ask questions to get you to well, think!  For example in chapter 1, you are asked: “What are some of the stable themes in your life? How do you think these themes will be expressed 20 years from now?

This question is asked during a discussion of the two main themes in the development process: stability and change.  Stability refers to those parts of our lives that make up a consistent core throughout our existence, whereas change is the opposite.

Charts, photos with captions, tables, and other images hasten the reader’s learning process. At the end of the book are provided a References section; a Glossary to help you review, remember, and refer to the terms you encountered; an Author Index to possibly refer to other works he or she has written, and a Subject Index.

This is a very good book in terms of coverage of related topics in the area of psychological development, organization of material, and ease of use.

Barbara J. Bjorklund is affiliated with Wilkes Honors College of Florida Atlantic University