Stagnation and Generativity: Structure, Validity, and Differential Relationships With Adaptive and Maladaptive Personality


  • Correspondence should be addressed to Alain Van Hiel, Department of Developmental, Personality, and Social Psychology, Henri Dunantlaan 2, B-9000, Ghent, Belgium, E-mail: A portion of this article was presented at the conference of the Belgian Psychological Society, May 2004. The comments of Jefferson Singer and two anonymous reviewers are gratefully acknowledged.


ABSTRACT Erikson's concepts of stagnation and generativity were investigated in two studies. Study 1 (N=457) yields two important results. First, it revealed that a model in which stagnation and generativity load on a separate dimension showed a significantly better fit to the data than a one-dimensional model. Second, the stagnation and generativity measures were valid predictors of parental behavior. In Study 2 (N=191), the relationships between stagnation and generativity and the dimensions underlying comprehensive measures of personality were investigated. It was found that stagnation was strongly related to Neuroticism, Extraversion, and Openness to Experience, whereas generativity bore strong relationships with Extraversion, Conscientiousness, and Openness to Experience. In the discussion, stagnation is distinguished from several related variables and a profile of the stagnant individual is constructed and compared with the generative individual. Finally, the interaction between stagnation and generativity in producing specific outcomes is discussed.