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University of Wyoming

Daniel Levison

Life Cycle of Adults


Daniel Levison's Life Cycle model proposes a pattern for adulthood characterized by distinct periods of stability (seasons), and periods of transition when that structure is reevaluated and perhaps altered or redirected.

Assumptions about Learning:

In order to make a successful transition from one stage of life to a successive one, the adult will have to learn new things. The learning activities, out of necessity, will be directly related to the requirements and challenges of this new season of one's life.

Brief History:

Levison was born in 1920. Received Ph.D. in psychology from UC, Berkeley. He began his research into adult development in 1967 while a professor of psychology at the Yale University School of Medicine. Having determined that standard research methods were inadequate for his purposes he developed his own Intensive Biographical Interviewing method. His first book, The Season's of a Man's Life, wsa published in 1978, and discussed the life cycle of adult males. A second book titled The Season's of a Women's Life was published posthumously in 1996, two years after Levison's death in 1994.

Major Tenets:

Developmental Periods in Male Adulthood


  • childhood and adolescence (birth -17 years)
  • early adult transition (17-22)

Early Adulthood

  • entering the adult world (22-28)
  • age thirty transition (28-33)
  • settling down (33-40)

Middle Adulthood

  • mid-life transition (40-45)
  • entering middle adulthood (45-50)
  • age fifty transition (50-55)
  • culmination of middle adulthood (55-60)

Late Adulthood

  • late adult transition (60-65)
  • late adulthood (65-?)

Levison's model is based on his research into "mid-life crisis". Through his work in the area of adult development, he has articulated the concept of an individual's life structure. According to Levison, the life structure changes and evolves over different stages of the adult life span. He views the human life cycle as consisting of four different stages (seasons) with overlapping periods called transitions.