The Harvard Study of Adult Development: What We Learn From Tracking Lives Over 80 Years
The Harvard Study of Adult Development is the longest in-depth study of adult life ever done. Beginning in 1938 with cohorts of Harvard undergraduates and inner-city Boston boys, the Study has tracked the health and wellbeing of the same group of men for eight decades. We are now studying their baby-boomer children, and we plan to study their grandchildren and great-grandchildren with particular attention to the ways that social media use and technological change are shaping wellbeing and social functioning. We will talk about the particular strengths of longitudinal research, along with the complexities of balancing continuity with innovation in research methods.
Robert Waldinger is a psychiatrist, psychoanalyst and Zen priest. He is Clinical Professor of Psychiatry at Harvard Medical School and directs the Harvard Study of Adult Development, one of the longest-running studies of adult life ever done. The Study tracked the lives of two groups of men for over 75 years, and it now follows their Baby Boomer children to understand how childhood experience reaches across decades to affect health and wellbeing in middle age. He writes about what science and Zen can teach us about healthy human development.