Alexandra M. Freund is a Professor of Psychology at the University of Zurich, Dept. of Psychology. She studied psychology at the University of Heidelberg and the Free University of Berlin, where she also received her Ph.D. She was a post-doctoral fellow at Stanford University and returned to Germany to co-direct a project on successful aging and developmental regulation with Paul B. Baltes at the Max Planck Institute for Human Development in Berlin for seven years. After that, she was an assistant professor and later an associate professor at Northwestern University. Since 2005, she is at the University of Zurich where she holds the chair of “Developmental Psychology: Adulthood.” Alexandra M. Freund was elected as one of the founding members of the Young Academy of Sciences. In 2013, she received a mentoring award of the section for Developmental Psychology of the German Psychological Association, and in 2015 the Humboldt-Research Award. She is a fellow of the APS, and in 2017 she was elected as a member of the Wilhelm-Wundt-Society. She serves on several editorial boards; from 2010-2017, she was an associate editor of the APA-journal Psychology and Aging. Central research interests are: processes of successful aging, developmental regulation, motivation across the lifespan.
The Bucket List Effect: Is it All Work When We are Young and All Play When We are Old?
I argue that historical changes in globalization and increases in life expectancy influence the structuring of the life course, resulting in a “rush hour” of life in late young and middle adulthood with a concentration of work- and family-related goals, and the postponement of more social and leisure-related goals to the post retirement phase. Paradoxically, then, young and middle-aged adults feel rushed because of the subjectively perceived more options due to globalization as well as longer life expectancy. There is some evidence that social norms have weakened over historical time, with fewer and less strict restrictions on when in the course of one’s life to pursue which goals than a century ago. In addition to the weakening of social norms, globalization also results in a situation in which people have many alternative options at their disposal regarding lifestyle, career paths, or whom to choose as a life partner. The more alternative options for life paths available, the longer it takes young adults to explore them. At the same time, age-graded social opportunity structures as well as biological constraints do not allow one to postpone the main developmental tasks of young adulthood (e.g., finishing one’s education, starting a career, finding a romantic partner, and starting a family) until later in life, so the time available to achieve these important tasks is compressed into a relatively short period during late young and early middle adulthood. Taken together, then, historical changes in globalization and the increased life expectancy represent a challenge as well as an opportunity for developmental regulation.