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University of Wyoming

Robert Havighurst

Developmental Stages and Tasks of the Adult


Havighurst's model focuses on various sequential sociocultural patterns of development and values to which adults must adapt during their adult years. His model ties the stages of an adult's development with specific ages.

Assumptions about Learning:

Various tasks that arise during each stage of an adult's life result in "teachable moments". These moments create a need and/or a readiness to learn on the individual's part.

Brief History:

Born in 1900 in Wisconsin. Received Ph.D. from Ohio State University in physical chemistry. Received a post-doctoral fellowship at Harvard working on the structure of the atom. Accepted position as assistant professor of physics at the University of Wisconsin in 1928 and as advisor in the Experimental College there. From this experience his interest shifted to education. In 1941 he became a professor of education at the University of Chicago. It was around this time that he began his work in the field of aging. He was also interested in international and comparative aspects of education.

Major Tenets:

Havighurst's Developmental Stages and Tasks of the Adult

Early Adulthood

  • selecting a mate
  • learning to live with a marriage partner
  • starting a family
  • rearing children
  • managing a home
  • getting started in an occupation
  • assuming civic responsibility
  • finding a congenial social group

Middle Age

  • achieving adult civic and social responsibility
  • establishing and maintaining an economic standard of living
  • assisting adolescent children to become responsible/happy adults
  • developing leisure time activities
  • accepting and adjusting to the physiologic changes of middle age.
  • adjusting to the aging of parents

Later Maturity

  • adjusting to decreasing physical strength and health
  • adjusting to the death of a spouse
  • adjusting to retirement and reduced income
  • establishing an explicit affiliation with one's age group
  • meeting social and civic obligations
  • establishing satisfactory physical living arrangements