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Shanahan, Michael J.; Hofer, Scott M.; & Miech, Richard A. (2003). Planful Competence, the Life Course, and Aging: Retrospect and Prospect.. Zarit, Steven H.; Pearlin, Leonard I.; & Schaie, K. Warner (Eds.) (pp. 189-211). New York: Springer Publishing.


Planful competence refers to individual differences in people's ability to choose roles that are well suited to their interests and talents, and to pursue these roles effectively and with perseverance. In this chapter, we review the evidence on planful competence and propose avenues for future research. We begin by locating planful competence within the broader framework of life course studies and by reviewing the empirical evidence that suggests links among planfulness, social change, and the life course. We then propose hypotheses that interrelate planfulness during adolescence with development in adulthood and successful aging. Finally, we review limitations to prior studies and identify a series of objectives for future research. Some of these objectives involve the measurement of planful competence, and others focus on the interactive nature of planfulness. Comments by F. Blanchard-Fields and M. E. Ensminger follow the chapter.

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Book Section

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Series Title

Societal Impact on Aging


Shanahan, Michael J.
Hofer, Scott M.
Miech, Richard A.