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Development During Early Adulthood Essay

2507 words - 11 pages


This essay will explore the early adulthood age period, which is the period between 20 and 40 years of age (years vary across different theories). This exploration will consist of looking, first, at the typical physical, cognitive, and psychosocial (separated into personal and social) developmental milestones of early adulthood, then analysinghow the home and educational/vocational environment influences development in early adulthood, and finally describing depression and the effects of depression on development during early adulthood.

Typical Developmental Milestones During Early Adulthood

During the age period of early adulthood (20 – 40 years) the human body and mind ...view middle of the document...

Initially developmental psychologist Jean Piaget proposed four stages of cognitive development: the Sensory Motor Stage (birth to 2 years), the Pre-operational Stage (2 years to 7 years), the Concrete Operational Stage (7 years to 11 years) and the Formal Operations Stage (11 years to 16 years) (Appendix B) (Flinders University, n.d.). According to Piaget and his proposed stages, cognitive development finishes or stabilizes at the age of 16 and no longer changes or develops. However more recent revisions of Piaget’s research has found this to be a misconception, and that cognitive development continues further.
Many psychologists now propose that “the nature of thinking changes qualitatively during early adulthood” and suggest one further stage to Piaget’s cognitive development stages (Unknown, 2007). This stage is labelled Postformal Thought. As research into this proposition continues, “a growing number of psychologists now recognise that there are still new developments in cognition, even in early adulthood” (Boyd, 2014). Postformal thought is, in summary, “understanding that contradictions exist in the world around us” (Boyd, 2014) or “the notion that knowledge depends on the subjective perspective of the knower” (Krawford, 2014). There are two important or main aspects of this proposed Postformal Thought. Firstly is Relativistic Thinking, which is “understanding that things are not always black and white, but relative” (Krawford, 2014). This Relativist Thinking allows understanding of differing and diverse points of view even if contradictory to personal viewpoints. Secondly is Dialectical Reasoning, “considering and accepting both sides of an idea. It involves looking at two opposing views and then forging them into a synthesis that integrates both the original idea, called the thesis, and its opposite, called the antithesis”. Dialectical Thinking is thought to be “the most advanced form of cognition” (Krawford, 2014). It is proposed by psychologists that this fifth stage, an addition to Piaget’s previous four stages of development, is established and developed during early adulthood and explains the cognitive development of this age group.
Another perspective of cognitive development of the early adulthood stage comes from K. Warner Schaie (Ph.D.) (Rubinstein, Moss, & Kleban, 2000). Schaie’s stages are as follows: the Acquisitive stage (childhood and adolescence), the Achieving stage (early adulthood), the Responsible stage and Executive stage (middle age) and the Reintegrative stage (old age) (Appendix C) (Rubinstein, Moss, & Kleban, 2000). In his cognitive development stage model, Schaie observes young adults as being in the Achieving stage of cognitive development. This stage represents the “point reached by young adults in which intelligence is applied to specific situations involving attainment of long-term goals regarding careers, family, and societal contributions” (Unknown, 2007).
Psychologists are now understanding that cognitive...

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