Adult Development as a Lens: Applications of Adult Development Theories in Research

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Abstract

Adult development (AD) theories have a great potential for use in providing perspective and create new understanding of societal problems and challenges. The use of AD as a lens provides insights into people’s qualitative, different ways of thinking, talking, and acting. The theories are used by researchers and practitioners with various backgrounds in several different scientific domains. The aim of this article is to provide an overview of different approaches on how theories of AD are applied in research, with a focus on the potential of using it and how to eliminate the possibility of reproducing existing knowledge. The results consist of six approaches of how AD is currently presented and used in research: introductory work, creating and refining stages, making comparisons with established models, tracing the dynamics of promoting development, analysis of mismatches in adult life, and societal and organizational development. There are several promising avenues for future research by using a combination of these approaches as a way forward to promote the development of this scientific field.

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