There's no single way to achieve a well-adjusted life. However, there are at least three different but equally effective paths that lead to psychological maturity, according to a 39-year study of women who were first contacted as college seniors.
The study, in the June Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, traces psychological development in 111 graduates of a private women's college. Participants completed questionnaires at five points between ages 21 and 60. Their psychological maturity was rated on a variety of scales. Only a handful of the woman in the study experienced serious emotional problems that blocked their development.
Some women, dubbed conservers by the researchers, successfully sought the security of marriage, family life, and traditionally female occupations. Conservers reported dealing well with daily situations and with other people, say psychologist Ravenna Helson and graduate student Sanjay Srivastava, both of the University of Cali