Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)




Faculty of Science

First Advisor

Michael Pratt

Advisor Role

Thesis Supervisor


This study focused on examining the possible impact that intimacy (in each of four separate relationship domains) had on generativity in emerging adulthood. In total, 50 emerging adult respondents (mean age: 24) participated in a one and one half hour structured interview. Twenty-five of the participants were from an ongoing longitudinal study, and the other 25 were newly recruited. By examining the longitudinal participants, it was possible to: track the trajectory of development of loneliness, generative concern, generative action, and generative narration across time, and to study the potential impact that earlier loneliness (the relative absence of intimacy) had on generative development at age 24. Three separate measures were used to examine different aspects of Eriksonian generativity, as described by McAdams: 1) generative concern, 2) generative behavior, and 3) generative narration. Participants also told narratives that were designed to assess their level of attained intimacy in three separate relationship domains, those being relationships with: 1) a same-sex friend, 2) a date or romantic partner, and 3) a parent. Furthermore, participants completed a questionnaire for each of these domains (plus a domain pertaining to relations with one of their future children) regarding their interpersonal competence, as well as questionnaires assessing overall intimacy motivation and overall loneliness. The intimacy measures linked together in a logical manner (providing support for the validity of the newly developed intimacy narrative measure), as did the generativity measures. This speaks to the validity of the measures used. There were four hypotheses: 1) several aspects of generativity would clearly be present by age 24, and would show stable individual variations between people at those periods, 2) emerging adults who achieved a greater sense of intimacy in their relationships with others would have higher generativity levels than those who had not achieved such intimacy, and those who scored high on a loneliness measure would yield low scores on all measures of generativity, 3) participants’ anticipated level of intimacy with one of their future children would be the best predictor of their overall level of generativity (as compared to intimacy in the other three relationship domains: in same-sex friend, romantic partner, and parent relationships), and 4) for both intimacy and generativity, women would, on average, score higher than would men. Results revealed support for hypothesis one. Hypothesis two, that emerging adults who had achieved a higher sense of intimacy in their relationships with others would be more generative than those who had not achieved such intimacy, was partially supported, particularly with respect to measures of loneliness, and of generative concern on the Loyola Generativity Scale. Hypothesis three could not be fully tested, due to measurement problems with the future child narrative. Results showed mixed support for hypothesis four: for intimacy, somewhat surprisingly, males were found to be the higher scorers. With respect to generativity, however, the hypothesis was supported: females, on average, did score higher than males overall. Taken as a whole, the present study provided support for Erikson’s model of psychosocial development, and aided in illuminating the relationship that exists between intimacy and generativity. Gaining knowledge in this area is importance because, by and large, having individuals concerned about the next generation is regarded as being beneficial to society. So, by learning when and how this concern develops, one may be better able to foster concern (and thus caring thoughts and behaviors) in adolescents and emerging adults in the future.

Convocation Year


Convocation Season


Included in

Psychology Commons