Think of yourself at a particular time in your childhood (e.g., age 10).  Using the model from Urie Bronfenbrenner, reflect in your journal about the following:





your family.

your school and teacher.

your peer group.

the media - favorite TV shows, books, movies.

your surrounding community.





how your parents interacted with your peers.

how your parents interacted with your school.

whether your parents helped with schoolwork.

how your community supported your school or activities (e.g., sports).





your parents' jobs.

vacations you took.

whether there was a divorce in your family.





your ethnic heritage.

your religious affiliations.

whether you lived in an urban (city) or rural (country) setting.

your social class (poor, working class, middle class, wealthy).

what was going on in the world at the time (e.g., Vietnam war, who was president, etc.).





Journal Exercise 2


If possible, interview your mother and father (if this is not possible, try an aunt or uncle or a grandparent) about your own prenatal development.  Use the following questions to get you started.


Was this a planned pregnancy?

Was this your first baby?

How did you find out you were pregnant?

How did you feel?

Were you working?

When did you see a doctor?

Did you take vitamins?

When did you start feeling the baby?

When did you begin wearing maternity clothes?

What changes did your body go through?

What are some of the strongest memories you have of this pregnancy?

Did you have any prenatal tests?

How did your lifestyle change?

Did you smoke?  Drink alcohol?  Drink coffee or tea?  Take any drugs?

Did you know the sex of the baby before the birth?  Did you have a preference for a boy or a girl? How did you feel when you found out the sex of your baby?

When did you decide on a name for the baby?

Did you attend any special classes or workshops about childbirth, nursing, etc.?

Did you know of any preexisting conditions?

Where were you living?

Were there any features/characteristics you were hoping the baby would have?  Were there any       you were hoping the baby would not have?

How much of your spouse's medical history did you know?  In retrospect, how important would      that have been?

What role/expectations did you have for this child?

What influenced your decision to have a child at this time?

Did you have any trouble conceiving?  Did you expect to have any trouble getting pregnant?


Now, reflect on what you learned.  How do you think your own pregnancy (or your wife's) will be (was) the same or different than your mother's?





Reflective Journal Exercise #3


You may (a) consult with your parents about your own birth, (b) interview a new parent about the birth experience, or (c) consider the birth of your own child(ren).  Please discuss the following in your journal:


1.                  Describe the events leading up to the delivery.  Where did the delivery take place?  Who was present?  Was any medication used?  Was the birth experience as you expected it to be?


2.                  What was your initial reaction to the newborn?  How soon were you able to hold the baby?  When did you name the child?  If you stayed in a hospital, describe your experience after the birth.


3.                  What were the first weeks at home like?  What problems did you experience?  How was having a baby different than you expected?  Describe a typical day at home during the first weeks after the baby was born.

Reflective Journal Exercise #4



If possible, write about your own first year of life.  (If this is not possible, you can write about your own children, or interview another person about their first year.)


Where did you sleep?  Describe your typical sleeping pattern during the first months (e.g., How many naps did you take?  When did you begin to sleep through the night?).  Were you breast-fed or bottle-fed?  Why?  For how long?  When were you introduced to solid food?  Were you allergic to any foods?  Were you overweight, underweight, or average weight at one year old?  How old were you when you:  rolled over, sat up, crawled, cruised, walked alone?   What were some of your favorite toys?  Why do you think this is so?  (You might want to include some photos of yourself from this period.)




Reflective Journal Exercise #5




If possible, ask your parents to help you write about your cognitive development during the first two years.  (If they are not available, you can write about your own children or interview a parent of an infant.)  You can use the following questions to help you reflect.


What were your first words?   What is your earliest memory?  How old were you?  Was there a game you particularly liked to play, such as peek-a-boo or patty cake?  What were your favorite books?  How did your parents try to stimulate your intellectual growth?  Was your IQ ever tested?  Was more than one language spoken at home?  If so, which did you prefer to use?



Reflective Journal Exercise #6



How would you describe your own temperament?  If possible, ask your parents or someone who knew you when you were an infant about your temperament.  Were you an easy child, a difficult child, or a slow-to-warm-up child?  How stable has your temperament been over the course of your development?  If you had brothers or sisters, how different or similar were your individual temperaments?  Do you think temperament is inherited?  How do other individuals (your parents, siblings, grandparents, friends, teachers, etc.) react to your temperament style?  What have been the advantages and disadvantages of having your temperament?  Do you think there is a connection between your temperament and how your body feels during emotions (for example, if you are shy do certain situations make your body feel uncomfortable)


Reflective Journal Exercise #7


It’s hard for grownups to imagine themselves as little children or what their life was like then  (let alone remember).  Write an essay titled “When I Was a Preschooler...”.   Listed below are a number of questions to help you recreate your life as a preschooler.  You might have to ask a parent or relative for some of the answers.  Feel free to include other relevant information or stories about yourself.  As you reflect back or find out about your life as a young child, consider how those early days might have influenced your development.



  1.       Where did your family live when you were a preschooler?  Who was living in the house?  Did you share a bedroom?  With who?  Did you have a “going to bed” routine?  Can you describe it?


  2.       What was your favorite toy?  Story?  Game?


  3.       Describe one of your preschool birthdays.  Who was there?  What presents did you get? 


  4.       Recreate an early Christmas or holiday.  Do any of the family traditions still occur today?  If you have children, do you carry on these traditions for Christmas or a holiday in similar fashion?


  5.       Did your mother work?  Did you go to preschool or have babysitter?  When did you first write your name?  Is there a copy of it somewhere?


  6.       Do you recall any special event, pleasant or traumatic, that happened to you or in your family between two and six years of age?  How might this have affected your later development?


  7.       Who was your closest friend?  Describe a common activity you played.


  8.       What was your health like?  Any serious illnesses?  Did you have any food preferences?


  9.       Ask someone to describe your personality and some of your typical behaviors.


10.              Try to describe your earliest memory.







                                                     Reflective Journal Exercise #8


Reflect on your early childhood years.  What style of parenting did your parents use?  Did both parents use the same style or were they different?  Explain your answers, using examples.  How has your parents' style affected the person you have become?  How has their style of parenting affected how you plan to discipline your children?



Reflective Journal Exercise #9


The purpose of this exercise is to reflect on the influence of family characteristics on your socialization and development.  What socioeconomic status was your family?  On what do you base your answer?  What ethnic group(s) did your family identify with?  List any values, beliefs, attitudes, holidays, foods, etc. supported by your ethnic group(s).  What religion did your family practice?  Describe the effects of that religion on your school years.  How did your family feel about education and future goals?  Were they supportive?  Did you experience any school difficulties (e.g., poor or failing grades, behavior problems, truancy, etc.) during your elementary school years?  How did your family react to these?  How do you think your upbringing affects how you plan (or already do) to raise your own family?




Reflective Journal Exercise #10


Think back to your elementary and junior high years.  How would you describe your social competence?  Were you a high or a low status child?  Did you play predominantly with high or low status children?  Were you popular?  Think of a popular child in your school and an unpopular child (first names only!).  Describe the popular child.  Make sure to consider the characteristics that contributed to that child's popularity.  Describe the unpopular child.  What characteristics contributed to this child's unpopularity?





                                                     Reflective Journal Exercise #11


Body image (how you think you look to other people) is an important part of your self-concept and self-esteem.  This is especially true during adolescence.  Because of the rapid changes taking place, many adolescents are dissatisfied with their bodies.  Think back to high school.  How did you feel about your body?  Use the following to help you reflect on how you felt about how you looked and whether this had any effect on how you felt about yourself and how you dressed and behaved.


Try to imagine yourself on a typical day in high school.


Compared to others, how did you feel about your:
















athletic ability




sexual activity with a date

overall body


How do you think these early adolescent feelings have affected how you feel about yourself now?





Reflective Journal Exercise #12


Think back to your adolescence and identify the groups and individual people that had the most effect on

your sense of identity and self.   Using Marcia's identity statuses (Identity Achievement, Moratorium,

Identity Foreclosure, and Identity Diffusion), identify which categories you experienced in high school and the

order you went through them.




Reflective Journal Exercise #13


In your journal, reflect on your college experience.


What are your goals?  When did you decide to go to college?  Why did you choose this college?  Who is paying for your education?  Is this your first time in college?  If you are older than 20, why did you delay going to college?  What difficulties are you experiencing?  What is your impression of the chart in your text on p. 471?  How is college like what you expected it to be; how is it different?  What conditions would make college a better experience for you?



Reflective Journal Exercise #14


According to Sternberg's Triangular Theory of Love, there are eight types of love possible, depending on the combinations of the three elements:  Intimacy, Passion, and Commitment.  Reflect on your life as a child, an adolescent, and an adult.  Have you experienced all eight types of love in your life?  Describe these relationships.  Do you consider all of them  "love," in other words, do you or did you say about that person, "I love them"?


1.  Nonlove (all three missing)

2.  Liking (intimacy)

3.  Infatuated love (passion)

4.  Empty love (commitment)

5.  Romantic love (intimacy and passion)

6.  Companionate love (intimacy and commitment)

7.  Fatuous love (passion and commitment)

8.  Consummate love (intimacy, passion, and commitment)



Reflective Journal Exercise #15


Think of your current lifestyle.  What health habits do you follow that will enhance the quality of your life and your longevity?  What health habits do you need to acquire to live longer and healthier?  Why do you and other adults find it so difficult to follow good health habits?  What can you do to help yourself change these poor habits?  Do you have any family history of disease or early death that would encourage you to do so?





Reflective Journal Exercise #16


Think about your personality.  According to McCrae and Costa, some basic elements of our personality do not change over the lifespan.  These five factors are described in the following chart:











calm, relaxed, satisfied with self, clear-cut personality, prides self on objectivity


thin-skinned, basically anxious, irritable, guilt-prone




emotionally bland, avoids close relationships, overcontrol of impulses, submissive


talkative, gregarious, socially poised, behaves assertively




favors conservative values, judges in conventional terms, uncomfortable with complexities, moralistic


values intellectual matters, rebellious, nonconforming, unusual thought processes, introspective




critical, skeptical, shows condescending behavior, tries to push limits, expresses hostility directly


sympathetic, considerate, warm, compassionate, arouses liking, behaves in a giving way




eroticizes situations, unable to delay gratification, self-indulgent, engages in fantasy, daydreams


behaves ethically, dependable, responsible, productive, has high aspiration levels

Source:  McCrae, R. R. & Costa, P. T. (1990).  Personality in adulthood.  New York: Guilford.


Using the data from the online test, describe your personality.  Do you think it has been this way since you were young?  Do you believe you will stay this way the rest of your life?  Explain why you agree or disagree.




                                                    Reflective Journal Exercise #17


Complete the “Longevity Questionnaire”.  Discuss what you learned.  Will you live to be 100?  Do you agree with all the areas purported to be associated with living long?  Why or why not?




Respond to each item honestly, and sum the various positive and negative factors to arrive at the appropriate number of years more (or less) than average you are likely to live.





For each grandparent who lived past 80, add 1 year.                                                       _________


For each grandparent who lived to 70 but not 80 add 1/2 year.                                       _________


If your mother lived past 80, add 4 years.                                                              _________


If your father lived past 80, add 2 years.                                                                _________


For each grandparent, parent, or sibling who died of any type of heart

disease before age 50, subtract 4 years.                                                                               _________


For each such relative dying of heart disease between age 50 and 60,

subtract 2 years.                                                                                                        _________


For each such relative who died of diabetes or ulcers before age 60,

subtract 3 years.                                                                                                        _________


Women:  for each sister or mother who died of breast cancer before

age 60, subtract 1 year.                                                                                                         _________


If your intelligence is superior, add two years.                                                                    _________





If your mother was younger than 18 or older than 35 at your birth,

subtract 1 year.                                                                                                          _________


If you are the first born in your family, add 1 year.                                                          _________


Women:  if you have had no children (or plan no children) subtract

1/2 year.                                                                                                                      _________


If you have an annual physical exam, add 2 years.                                                            _________



Go to the next page.





If your weight is 10-30 percent above ideal weight shown in standard

tables, the amount you must subtract depends on your age and gender.

For women, subtract 5 years if you are between 20 and 30; 4 years if you

are between 30 and 50, and 2 years if you are over 50.  For men, subtract

10 years if you are between 20 and 30, 4 years if you are between 30 and 45,

and 2 years for any age over that.                                                                           _________


If your weight is more than 30 percent above standard tables:  Women,

subtract 6 1/2 years if you are between 20 and 30, 5 years if you are

between 30 and 50, and 4 years thereafter.  Men, subtract 13 if you are

between 20 and 30, 6 if you are between 30 and 40, and 4 years

thereafter.                                                                                                                  _________


If your diet is genuinely low in fat and sugar, and you never eat

past the feeling of fullness, add 1 year.                                                                               _________


If you smoke 2 or more packs a day, subtract 12 years; if you

smoke 1-2 packs a day, subtract 7 years; if you smoke

less than 1 pack a day, subtract 2 years.                                                                 _________


If you never drink, neither add nor subtract; if you are a

heavy drinker, subtract 8 years; if you are a moderate

drinker add 3 years, if you are a light drinker, add 1 1/2 years.                                      _________


If you do some aerobic exercise at least 3 times a week,

add 3 years.                                                                                                                _________


If you sleep more than 10 or less than 6 hours per night,

subtract 2 years.                                                                                                        _________


If you have intimate sexual relations once a week or twice

a week, add 2 years.                                                                                                  _________


If you have a chronic health condition (e.g., high blood pressure,

diabetes, ulcer, cancer) or are frequently ill, subtract 5 years.                                         _________





If you have 4 or more years of college, add 3; if you have 1-3 years of

college, add 2; if you have completed high school and gone no

further, add 1; if you have less than an 8th grade education,

subtract 2.                                                                                                                  _________

Go to the next page.



If your occupation is at a professional, technical, or managerial level,

add 1 year; if you work at unskilled work, subtract 4.                                                      _________


If your family income is above average for your education and

occupation, add 1 year; if it is below average, subtract 1.                                     _________


If your job is a physically active one, add 2; if it is sedentary,

subtract 2.                                                                                                                  _________


If you now live in an urban area and have lived in urban areas

most of your life, subtract 1; if you have spent most of your

life in a rural area, add 1.                                                                                         _________


If you are married and living with your spouse, add 1.                                                     _________


If you are separated or divorced, subtract 9 if you are a man,

4 if you are a woman.                                                                                                           _________


If you are widowed, subtract 7 if you are a man, 4 if you are

a woman.                                                                                                                    _________


If you are a never-married woman, subtract 1 year for each

decade unmarried past age 25.                                                                                            _________


If you are a never-married man and living with family, subtract

1 year for each decade unmarried past 25; if you live alone,

subtract 2 years for each decade unmarried past 25.                                                        _________


If you have at least two close friends in whom you can confide,

add 1.                                                                                                                          _________


If your personality is noticeably aggressive and hostile and you

feel regularly under time pressure, subtract 2-5 depending

on how much the description fits.                                                                            _________


If you are a calm, relaxed, easygoing person who adapts well

to whatever happens, add 1-3 depending on how well the

description fits.                                                                                                                      _________


If you are a basically happy person and have a lot of fun, add 2.                                    _________


If you have had an episode of being depressed or very tense,

guilty, or worried that lasted as long as a year or more,

subtract 1-3 depending on how severe the depression was.                                              _________


If you take a lot of risks, subtract 2; if you generally avoid risks, add 1.             _________

Handout 17-3


                                                   LIFE EXPECTANCY TABLE



Your Age in 1989                              White                                                  Black



Male                Female                                    Male                Female



10                                            73.6                 80                                66.5                 75.1

12                                            73.6                 80                                66.5                 75.1

14                                            73.6                 80                                66.5                 75.2

16                                            73.7                 80.1                             66.7                 75.2

18                                            73.8                 80.1                             66.8                 75.3

20                                            74                    80.2                             67.1                 75.3

22                                            74.1                 80.3                             67.3                 75.4

24                                            74.3                 80.3                             67.6                 75.5

26                                            74.4                 80.4                             67.5                 75.6

28                                            74.6                 80.4                             68.2                 75.7

30                                            74.7                 80.5                             68.5                 75.5

32                                            74.9                 80.6                             68.8                 76

34                                            75                    80.6                             69.1                 76.2

36                                            75.2                 80.7                             69.5                 76.4

38                                            75.4                 80.8                             70                    76.6

40                                            75.6                 80.9                             70.4                 76.8

42                                            75.8                 81                                70.9                 77

44                                            76                    81.1                             71.4                 77.3

46                                            76.2                 81.2                             71.9                 77.5

48                                            76.4                 81.4                             72.4                 77.8

50                                            76.7                 81.5                             73                    78.2

52                                            77                    81.7                             73.6                 78.5

54                                            77.3                 82                                74.3                 78.9

56                                            77.7                 82.2                             74.9                 79.4

58                                            78.2                 82.6                             75.7                 79.8

60                                            78.7                 82.9                             76.4                 80.4


Source:  Statistical Abstract of the United States, 1992, U. S. Department of Commerce, p.77.



Reflective Journal Exercise # 18


How do you imagine you will handle your own successful aging after age 65?  Will you gradually withdraw from the world to enjoy peace and solitude to do the things you want to do, like read or relax, according to the DISENGAGEMENT THEORY OF SUCCESSFUL AGING?  Or do you imagine you will want to continue an active life full of socializing, volunteer work, being with family, going on trips, etc., according to the ACTIVITY THEORY OF SUCCESSFUL AGING?  Tie your speculations into how you view your personality today.  For example, are you a loner who prefers peace and quiet leisure activities like reading or watching TV?  Or, are you an extrovert who only finds real happiness out with friends and doing some activity like dancing, or taking exercise classes?  Try to paint a picture of your life at 65 or older.



Reflective Journal Exercise #19


Take the Death Anxiety Questionnaire.  Add up your score.  (Your score will be between 0 and 30.)  According to Conte, Weiner, and Plutchik, the average score for most people, regardless of age, is 8.5.  What was your score?  Was it higher or lower than the average score these researchers found?  Why do you think this is so?


The DAQ identifies four specific aspects of Death Anxiety: fear of the unknown (items 1, 2, 12, 14, and 15); fear of suffering (items 3, 4, and 5); fear of loneliness (items 6 and 7); and fear of personal extinction (items 10, 11, and 13).  Items 8 and 9 stand alone as other aspects of death anxiety.


How did you score on each of the four aspects?  Reflect on what you learned from this exercise.



                                                      Death Anxiety Questionnaire


For each of the following items, indicate you response according to the following scale.


0                                                                                              1                                  2

not at all                                                                      somewhat                    very much


_____     1.  Do you worry about dying?


_____     2.  Does it bother you that you may die before you have done everything you wanted to do?


_____     3.  Do you worry that you may be very ill for a long time before you die?


_____     4.  Does it upset you to think others may see you suffering before you die?


_____     5.  Do you worry that dying may be very painful?


_____     6.  Do you worry that the persons closest to you won’t be with you when you are dying?


_____     7.  Do you worry that you may be alone when you are dying?


_____     8.  Does the thought bother you that you might lose control of your mind before death?


_____     9.  Do you worry that expenses connected with your death will be burden to other people?


_____   10.  Does it worry you that your instructions or will about your belongings may not be carried out              after you die?


_____   11.  Are you afraid that you may be buried before you are really dead?


_____   12.  Does the thought of leaving loved ones behind when you die disturb you?


_____   13.  Do you worry that those you care about may not remember you after your death?


_____   14.  Does the thought worry you that with death you may be gone forever?


_____   15.  Are you worried about not knowing what to expect after death?





Conte, H. R., Weiner, M. B., and Plutchik, R. (1982).  Measuring death anxiety: Conceptual, psychometric, and factor-analytic aspects.  Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 43, 775-785.