| Personality Development: Is Accepting the
Past Associated with Less Negative Affectivity?
The final stage in Erik Erikson's theory of development is ego integrity versus despair. This stage may occur at age 65 or older, and can be viewed as a stage in which a person reflects back on his or her life. The person may accept his or her life and be happy, or the person could view his or her life as unacceptable and experience dispair.
Santor and Zuroff (1994) found that a measure of accepting the past was positively correlated with a measure of ego integrity. This finding may suggest that accepting the past is an important component in achieving ego integrity.
If accepting the past is important for personality development and adjustment, it stands to reason that a greater acceptance of the past may be associated with a less negative mood.
Santor and Zuroff (1994) found that greater acceptance of the past was associated with less negative affectivity. Moreover, Rylands and Rickwood (2001) found that greater difficulty in accepting the past was associated with more negative affectivity. (1)
However, we cannot make causal conclusions from the above findings. There are several possible explanations for the findings. First, accepting one's past may foster a less negative mood. Second, a more negative mood may make it more difficult for people to accept the past. Third, some third variable may cause both negative affectivity and acceptance of the past, and there is no causal relationship between negative affectivity and acceptance of the past.
1. See the articles for information concerning other findings and measures.
Rylands, K. J., & Rickwood, D. J. (2001). Ego-integrity
versus ego-dispair: The effect of "accepting the past" on
depression in older women. International Journal of Aging
and Human Development, 53, 75-89.
Santor, D. A., Zuroff, D. C. (1994). Depressive symptoms:
Effects of negative affectivity and failing to accept the
past. Journal of Personality Assessment, 63, 294-312.