Love and Work in Adulthood


Freud reportedly made the cryptic statement that the definition of maturity was to be found in the capacity to love and to work. Although Freud did not sharply define these terms, modern society has constructed major institutions specializing in these two defining human roles. A conference at the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences explored emerging scholarly work on the social and psychological characteristics of adulthood as a distinct stage in the human life cycle. Papers from the conference were published in a book that became a major research source for scholarly work. Since its publication, the continually changing nature of adulthood — including changes in sex roles, the midlife crisis, the nature of marriage and commitment, and the role of work — has become an increasingly important topic among scholars, policymakers, and the media.

Resulting Publication

  • Themes of Work and Love in Adulthood, eds. Neil J. Smelser and Erik H. Erikson. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1980. (out of print)


Principal Investigators