Cognitive development and professional activity - Psychology

Cognitive development and professional activities

Modern longitudinal studies show that general intelligence remains unchanged in humans, at least until middle age, and usually much longer. According to the American psychologist KW Shayi, there is an increase in intelligence tests up to 46 years, followed by a period of relative stability, continuing to 55-60 years. At present, it should be considered proven that the development of fluid and crystallized intelligence has a different character during adulthood.

Fluid Intelligence are abilities used to teach something new: memorization processes, rapid perception of spatial relationships, analysis and solution of various problems, etc.

Fluid intelligence reaches its peak in development during adolescence, and then gradually decreases throughout adulthood. Crystallized intellect, on the contrary, does not lend itself to destructive influence of time and even increases with age.

Crystallized Intelligence are abilities based on accumulated knowledge and experience: the ability to formulate judgments, analyze life problems and draw conclusions.

People who are satisfied with life, rarely conflicting with others, having friendly families and a wide range of contacts in close interaction with their cultural environment, intellectual abilities last longer, and even grow with the years (G. Kreig). Life experience, skill, education, continuous development of competence, active life contribute to the further development of cognitive abilities.

In the period of adulthood, there is a change in the functions of the intellect, and not of its nature or structure, KU Shayi believes. According to his periodization of cognitive development of adults, average adulthood corresponds to the stage of fulfilling social duties. Here cognitive abilities are used to solve the problems of others - in the family, at work, in society. For some middle-aged people, this stage takes a slightly different character and is called the administrative stage. This applies to those who work in administrative, managerial and government positions and whose decisions depend on the fate of hundreds, and even millions of people .

According to the descriptions of professional cycles, a middle-aged person is at the stages of career consolidation and preservation of achieved (D. Super), or at the stage of work for the benefit of society (R. Heywigherst) , or at the age of forming professional maturity (VA Bodrov). A middle-aged man tries to take a firm position in the field of activity he has chosen, to keep his occupation and that position in the workplace or in the service that he has achieved. Often it is in this age period that people reach professional maturity and the peak of their professional careers.

Indicators of achievement of professional maturity can take the following forms (VA Bodrov):

• an understanding of the system of moral values ​​associated with the profession;

• the ability to accumulate and analyze your own professional experience;

• Adoption of an adequate model of the image of the reference professional and the desire to match it in his development;

• the ability to maximize the mobilization of their efforts, personal resources to achieve their goals;

• manifestation of a sense of satisfaction with work;

• Striving for self-improvement;

• lack of personal deformities;

• The idea of ​​personal functional capabilities of the body and mind and the degree of their compliance with the requirements of the profession, etc.

If people of early adulthood often find dissatisfaction with work or profession, then in middle adulthood this is a great rarity. In this age period, respondents in every possible way emphasize a positive attitude towards their work, highlighting their own, different from others, skills and achievements. The professional life of middle-aged people is a source of self-expression, self-respect. Satisfaction with work in middle age is noticeably higher than in younger age. According to G. Shikhi, a man in this period is not enough to be a promising worker, he wants to be recognized and respected.


Empirical studies of domestic and foreign psychologists (AA Bodalev, LA Rudkevich, 1997, EF Ryalko, 2001) showed that the climax of scientific creativity just falls on the period of average adulthood and are more age 35-40 and 40-45 years old. Some authors believe that the first peak in creative activity falls on 37 years (according to other sources - 43 years), and the second rise is observed at the age of 52-58 years. A person who develops consistently during the specified period reaches the second creative climax. He can generalize and order his life experience, and he still has enough vitality to bring him into his work.

In the middle of life, often a rethinking of a professional career is associated with professional choice, assessment of their professional status and career advancement or with changing values, attitudes and goals, which can lead to a change in career direction. The period of 40-42 years is sometimes referred to as the professional career crisis (EF Eser, EE Simanyuk). It is conditioned by the stabilization of professional life, which can contribute to the professional stagnation of the individual: humility and professional apathy, when a person is acutely experiencing the dissatisfaction of the need for self-realization, faces the need to resolve the contradiction between the desired career and its real prospects.

Another problem of middle-aged people related to work - professional burnout - emotional exhaustion, which often occurs in middle-aged people working in the field of helping others (social workers, doctors, teachers , psychologists, etc.), although this term applies to people and other professions.


A person can burn at work, if he is extremely diligent, working hard, with great emotional load, gives all his strength, striving for an almost unattainable goal, while his high expectations are not justified and the great efforts made are not rewarded. In the case of professional burnout, a person begins to experience anger, frustration or apathy, work becomes a burden for him, he tries to restrain his emotions without showing them to people who should be helped. All this can lead not only to emotional, but also to physical exhaustion, the development of psychosomatic diseases.

The most, perhaps, serious crisis associated with professional life, people experience when loss of work , especially those who were fired or forced to retire. Left without work, people experience a real grief reaction, consisting of four stages (J. Battsworth, M. Harris):

1) shock as a consequence of a violation of the way of life;

2) optimism, when a person makes persistent attempts to find another job;


pessimism as a result of the realization that there are so many people seeking work;

4) fatalism and depression, when a person loses hope of finding a job.


After a few months of unemployment (often indicated by nine months as a critical period), patience ends and all hope is lost; then there may be an increase in the level of illness, suicide, alcoholism, divorce or friction in the family between spouses and in relationships with children, a sense of own uselessness and loss of self-esteem. Middle-aged people suffer a loss of work more heavily than young adults, since much of the identity of a middle-aged man is related to work. In addition, they are more likely to face age discrimination in hiring, and, as a rule, the proposed new job is associated with a lower status and is paid lower. The long absence of work, according to M. Argyle, has the worst effect on men aged 40 to 50 years.

It should be noted that the experience of the crisis associated with the loss of work occurs in different people in different ways and depends on gender, social and cultural environment, personal characteristics.

In recent decades, the features of the socio-economic situation in our country have significantly affected the behavior of a person in a professional environment. In particular, professional reorientation is becoming a common phenomenon, especially among persons of mature age. It is established that the professional reorientation in adulthood and its impact on the processes of professionalization are determined by the following features (VA Bodrov):

1) kind of reorientation situation (forced or voluntary);

2) socio-demographic and professional characteristics of the contingent;

3) the nature of the previous work;

4) the individual psychological features of the reorientation entities.

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