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Daniel J. Levinson (May 28, 1920 – 1994), a psychologist, was one of the founders of the field of Positive Adult Development.

Early life and education

He was born in New York City on May 28, 1920. He completed his dissertation at the University of California, Berkeley, in 1947, on the measurement of ethnocentrism. In 1950, he moved to Harvard University. He was involved the Harvard Psychological Clinic, led by Henry Murray, and the Department of Social Relations, where he worked with colleagues such as Erik Erikson, Robert W. White, Talcott Parsons, Gordon Allport, and Alex Inkeles. From 1966 to 1990, he was a professor of psychology at Yale University School of Medicine. His work on positive adult development built upon that of Erik Erikson, Elliott Jaques, and Bernice Neugarten.

Literary contributions

Levinson's two most important books were Seasons of a Man's Life (with Maria H. Levinson, Charlotte N. Darrow, Edward B. Klein and Braxton McKee) and Seasons of a Woman's Life, which both continue to be highly influential works. His multidisciplinary approach is reflected in his work on the Life Structure theory of adult development. Many of the central ideas in Seasons of a Man's Life were published by Gail Sheehy who interviewed Levinson for her book Passages. Sheehy had access to Levinson's research in progress, and published her book before Seasons of a Man's Life' using some of Levinson's findings.

Daniel Levinson died on April 12, 1994 in New Haven, Connecticut. His wife Judy Levinson carried on his work.


  • Levinson, D. J., with Darrow, C. N, Klein, E. B. & Levinson, M. (1978). Seasons of a Man's Life. New York: Random House. ISBN 0-394-40694-X
  • Levinson, D. J., with Levinson, J. D. (1996). Seasons of a Woman's Life. New York, NY: Alfred A. Knopf. ISBN 0-394-53235-X