master lectures


  • Sliding vs. deciding: Commitment, ambiguity, and relationship formation
    Scott Stanley
    Department of Psychology, University of Denver, Colorado
    Dr. Stanley is a Research Professor in the Department of Psychology at the University of Denver (view his faculty page here).

    From hooking up, to living together, to bearing children prior to clarity about having a future together, relationship and family development has changed. New paradigms have important implications for how we understand the romantic and sexual relationships of young adults. Ambiguity has fully arrived as a preferred condition, seemingly motivated to protect against rejection by making it easier to finesse intentions and commitment. These changes arose in the context of deep fears of relationships failing and worries over settling down prior to meeting “the one.” While the new paradigms make intuitive sense when the mate selection stage of life has stretched deeper into adulthood, relationships nevertheless develop on common paths that can constrain life options before one has decided what is most deeply wanted, resulting in the risk of giving up options before making a choice. In this talk, Stanley will explain the ways motivated ambiguity intersects with types of commitment (e.g., constraint and dedication) to impact mate selection and lasting love. The themes include the role of commitment in securing attachment, asymmetrical commitment, and research on how common types of relationship transitions can impact long-term outcomes.


  • Identity formation in emerging adulthood: A dynamic process
    Elisabetta Crocetti
    Department of Psychology, Alma Mater Studiorum University of Bologna, Italy
    Dr. Crocetti is a Senior Assistant Professor at the University of Bologna (view her website here).

    Emerging adulthood is a key period for identity formation. It represents a crossroad, in which young people can continue the identity work started in adolescence in the process of transitioning to adulthood. In emerging adulthood, in fact, young people can explore a large array of alternatives in multiple life domains (e.g.., educational, work, and relational domains) to find and consolidate meaningful identity commitments. How do emerging adults approach the identity formation task? Which factors can promote achievement of a stable identity? Which are the effects of identity formation? How does the context influence this process? In this master lecture, I will provide an overview of how different models inspired by Erikson’s psychosocial theory have progressively provided new answers to these core questions, improving our understanding of identity-in-context.

  • The caring motivation and its development during emerging adulthood – a neglected, fundamental facet of our human nature
    Ofra Mayseless
    Faculty of Education, University of Haifa, Israel
    Ofra Mayseless is a full Professor of Developmental Psychology at the Faculty of Education, University of Haifa (view her website here).

    The lecture will discuss our innate, fundamental and encompassing caring motivation, its centrality and comprehensiveness in our being and its connection to our self-actualization and meaning in life. The lecture, based on Mayseless recent book (“The Caring Motivation” published by Oxford University Press) will then focus on the developmental course of this motivation with a particular focus on emerging adulthood as a central period for learning new caring skills and embarking on creating the major caring bonds in our life. Finally, findings from research on caring in its diverse forms (e.g., volunteering, social support, generativity, altruism, pet adoption and caring in intimate relations) will be discussed and a general model of the enactment of the caring motivation during emerging adulthood will be presented.

  • Trajectories of flourishing and floundering: The good, the bad, and the lonely
    Larry J. Nelson
    Brigham Young University, Provo, Utah
    Dr. Nelson is Professor in the School of Family Life at Brigham Young University, Provo, Utah.  (view his faculty page here).

    Despite the tendency to categorize all young people into the overarching category of "emerging adults" we know there is a wide range of paths that young people take as they make their way through the third decade of life. The work that my colleagues, students, and I have undertaken in our research is to identify some of the characteristics of the trajectories that might be indicative of flourishing and those that might be characterized as floundering. The purpose of this presentation is to address some of what our work has demonstrated regarding flourishing and floundering including introducing some of our most recent work on this topic. In the lecture, a particular emphasis will be placed on socially withdrawn young people as they receive very little scholarly attention in emerging adulthood but they may experience some of the largest challenges in making their path towards adulthood. Taken together, the lecture will shed light on some of the most recent findings on factors, including social withdrawal, that appear to lead to flourishing or floundering during the third decade of life.