Nan Stevens, born in Seattle, Washington, USA, in 1949. Ph.D. from Radboud University Nijmegen. Associate Professor at the Department of Psychogerontology at Radboud University Nijmegen and Professor of Applied Social Gerontology at the VU University, Amsterdam.
Fellow (1 September 2002 – 30 June 2003)
While at NIAS I was a member of the project group “Older adults’ life strategies in preparing for the future”. During the year, I worked on three topics related to pro-activity, or goal directed activity, in close relationships. In the first place, I worked at developing a theoretical framework for developments in close relationships that would be useful for three intervention studies that I am supervising. This framework combines the socio-emotional selectivity theory (Carstensen) and the social compensation model (Ferraro). Hypotheses based on each theory were developed and tested on data from a study of developments in friendship and other close relationships following participation in the Friendship Enrichment Programme for older women. Results indicate that there are circumstances under which social selectivity is applied and those under which social compensation is more relevant. A paper that was prepared for the 55th Annual Meeting of the Gerontological Society of America is being expanded to include new data from a second study; the article will be completed this summer.
A second project at NIAS focused on loneliness in marriage, using data from the Dutch Aging Survey, a representative study of 1000 persons aged 40-85. To explain loneliness, gender differences in sources of support and companionship, composition of the core network and negative relational experiences were examined. One article has been completed and a second article was written, together with Gunhild Hagestad, which made a cross-national comparison of factors contributing to loneliness in marriage in the Netherlands and Norway.
During the course of the year, I also worked on preparation of my inaugural lecture that will be held at the Free University in Amsterdam in November 2003. I also co-authored an article on “Meaning in later life” for a handbook on aging, contributed to a symposium on social isolation in the Netherlands and another on the emancipation of older women.