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Research at Mass General
The Laboratory of Adult Development at Massachusetts General Hospital is devoted to the study of adult lives and how earlier life experience is related to emotional well-being, physical health and interpersonal functioning in adulthood.
Our work spans the entire adult life cycle from late adolescence to the final decades of life.
Our projects involve the collaboration of psychiatrists, psychologists, neuroscientists, internists and social workers, along with undergraduate and graduate students from a wide variety of backgrounds.
The Study of Adult Development is the longest-running longitudinal study of adult life ever conducted. For 68 years, two groups of men have been observed from adolescence into late life to identify the predictors of healthy aging. This has allowed us to examine the psychological traits, social factors and biological processes that characterize adolescents and 80-year-olds who evolve into vigorous and engaged 80-year-olds.
The study has created an unprecedented database of life histories with which to view the dynamic character of the aging process.
The two groups of men that make up the study are very different:
A number of different methods have been used to learn more about our participants:
The Study of Adult Development has three main areas of focus:
We have begun to study the children of our original participants: the second generation of the Study of Adult Development. Our new project aims to evaluate the effect of childhood experiences on midlife health. We aim to use our rich data set to create a detailed model of how early events help shape our well-being in middle age. This project is currently funded by the National Institute on Aging.
We began contacting the prospective participants in the summer of 2015. We estimate that there are over 2,000 children living across the U.S. today who qualify for this study.
These second generation participants will provide vital information about aging across the lifespan.
For more information, visit the study website.
This observational study examined the interaction of couples. The goal was to understand how abuse in childhood and current violence in intimate adult relationships affects people's capacities to manage emotional arousal when dealing with conflicts with intimate partners. By observing couples in the laboratory discussing problems in their relationships, we sought to better characterize the interpersonal difficulties that plague the adult relationships of child abuse survivors, which can be compounded by re-victimization within an intimate relationship.
The initial data collection on 109 couples is finished. We are now conducting follow-up examinations. Our goal is to get a longitudinal view of how relationship violence, satisfaction and interaction styles at one point in time relate to relationship stability and satisfaction over time.
Ultimately, we expect that the results of this study will help us design better programs for prevention and treatment of family violence.
Thanks to a grant from the W. T. Grant Foundation, we began a large and important archiving project in 2010. W. T. Grant was the first person to support the Grant Study research project at Harvard University Health Services in 1938 with a $60,000 grant. Now, 75 years later, we are again the grateful recipients of the W. T. Grant Foundation’s generosity.
Because of the rich longitudinal data collected in the Study of Adult Development, it is crucial that we convert the collected data set into an electronic format. This will be available first to study staff and eventually to other researchers and scholars of human development.
With the help of college interns seeking degrees in archiving, publishing and library science and the services of DataBank IMX, a company specializing in document imaging, we are doing a complete digital conversion of both the Glueck Study records and the Grant Study records.
Original study records, which date back to 1939, were handwritten. Later documents were hand-typed until computers became available. Technology has now evolved to enable the study staff to search, manage and store these irreplaceable records on a secure server at Mass General. This archiving project ensures that this priceless study of lives will be preserved well into the future.
Robert J. Waldinger, MD - Program DirectorMarc Schulz, PhD - Associate DirectorGeorge E. Vaillant, MD - Director Emeritus
Michael Nevarez, MD - Research AssociateMelinda I. Morrill, PhD - Research StaffValentina Anderegg, PhD - Research FellowSimone Chad-Friedman, BA - Clinical Research CoordinatorStine K. Pehmoller, MSc - Clinical Research CoordinatorJenna Rice, BA - Clinical Research Coordinator
Margie Lachman, PhD - Brandeis UniversityKristopher Preacher, PhD - Vanderbilt UniversityTeresa Seeman, PhD - UCLARon Spiro, PhD - VA Boston Healthcare SystemUniversity of Wisconsin Survey Center
Laura Brumariu, PhD - Adelphi UniversityKara Cochran, BS - Michigan State UniversityShiri Cohen, PhD - Massachusetts General HospitalLaura Distel, BA - Loyola University ChicagoSabrina Liu, BA - University of California Santa BarbaraJohanna C. Malone, PhD - Massachusetts General HospitalLotte Smith-Hansen, PhD - Suffolk UniversityHannah Yee, BA - Harvard University
151 Merrimac StreetBoston, MA 02114
Phone: 617-643-7403Email: Stine K. Pehmoller, MSc, SKPehmoller@mgh.harvard.edu
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