Thwarted Belonging and Perceived Burdensomeness During Middle and Older Adulthood: The Role of Generativity

Constance T. Gager, John F. Gunn, Sara Goldstein, Stephanie M. Martinez

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Using a sample of middle-aged and older adults, this research explores associations between generativity and two key risk factors for suicide: thwarted belonging (T.B.) and perceived burdensomeness (P.B.). These variables are typically studied as predictors of suicide; the current study is unique in examining their psychosocial correlates. Erikson described, generativity as a psychosocial construct that characterizes adult well-being in mid-life, conceptualized as the sense one has successfully guided and contributed to the younger generation through mentoring. Using the Midlife in the United States Survey (MIDUS), the current analyses indicate that generativity is associated with lower levels of P.B. and T.B., even after accounting for measures of hopelessness, depressive symptoms, financial stability, perceived neighborhood quality, chronic health conditions, and respondent's demographic characteristics including gender and age. Results are discussed in terms of applications for suicide-risk prevention, and with regard to the promotion of positive psychosocial development across the lifespan.

Original languageEnglish
JournalInternational Journal of Aging and Human Development
StateAccepted/In press - 2024


  • aging
  • belonging
  • depression
  • generativity
  • suicide risk


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