Adolescence and Adulthood Stages
Though the changes in adulthood may not be considered as dramatic as those which happen in the years of childhood they hold their own importance as they begin to affect quality of life and how long an individual will remain independent. Physical Development Milestones in Adolescence Adolescence is a time of many changes in an individual’s life and several physical changes take place during this time in the life span. A few of the most marked changes which occur regarding physical development deal with the endocrine and reproductive system.
The endocrine system gives off hormones will allow for the beginning of puberty from a hormonal aspect then the pituitary gland controls the secretion of hormones (Boyd & Bee, 2006). Adolescence is the beginning of sexual maturity and changes of the body will appear which emphasize physical sexual characteristics. Other changes also occur in other body systems, the brain goes through several growth spurts in which portions of the brain further develop and allow for more complex functioning. The skeletal system also continues to grow and adolescents may grow up to six inches per yet during times of growth spurts (Boyd & Bee, 2006).
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The muscular system changes right along with the skeletal system in which joints grow and prepare themselves for the other changes the body will go through. The development of the heart and lungs continue to change and grow which allows for higher amounts of overall endurance of activity. Though these are some of the milestones that an adolescent goes through in development other health issues also exist. Health issues are important to examine not only because they relate to health but because they snow the cognitive thinking levels of an individual and his or her decision making skills.
These types of issues will also effect socioemotional development and relationships with those an individual is surrounded by. Cognitive Development Milestones in Adolescence In adolescence cognitive development is noted by the change sin thinking and memory that occur. Piaget proposes that in adolescence an individual reaches the formal operational stage where they are able to reason logically about abstract concepts (Boyd & Bee, 2006). This means that several types of problem solving become available to an adolescent and are able to use logic.
With the idea of logic comes the idea of hypothetico-deductive reasoning which is the ability to come to a conclusion from a hypothetical situation, something an individual is not able to do in childhood (Boyd & Bee, 2006). Advances in memory occur in adolescence that were not present in the years of childhood until several growth spurts of the brain occur. Information processing such as metacognition or strategy use become advance by the age of 15 and an individual is able to remember a higher capacity of elements (Boyd & Bee, 2006) all the way until early adulthood before cognitive functions slowly begin to decline.
Teenagers also benefit more from particular trainings than younger children – this is especially applicable in text learning. As an individual becomes older learning becomes less interactive and more independent. Since learning is more independent text is often relied on to point out main ideas and objectives; researchers have shown that adolescents carry more information from text learning than younger children.
Studies have also shown that particular patterns exist with regard how information was processed and the ability to delete unwarranted information and retain what is important (Boyd & Bee, 2006) – again with this study the older the individual the more likely they were able to hold more of the relevant information in their minds. Socioemotional Development Milestones in Adolescence Many of the socioemotional developmental changes that occur in adolescence relate to self-discovery and an individual finding what they want to do out in the world – this idea is called identity versus role confusion.
Several different arguments exist both against and for the idea but where they meet in the middle deals with the fact that during adolescence many ideals are formed about the concept of self that will be with an individual throughout the rest of his or her life. Identity achievement is formed with different statuses that occur throughout life and they help to define how an individual’s identity is actually formed. This idea relies on the degree of crisis and degree of commitment to classify an individual into being in one of four statuses (Boyd & Bee, 2006).
Self-concept and personality are also further developed in the stages of adolescence. The older an individual grows the more area of opportunity exists for them to understand who they are in relation to the world and as an individual. Several elements can take place in self-understanding such as sex-role, self-esteem, and personal identity. Many adolescents are influenced by their peers and the media during these years of development but it becomes crucial for an individual to allow themselves in a natural way without ignoring the traits they wish to exhibit as an adult.
With this self-concept and discovery experiences out in the world are given which produce a locus of control, or a set of beliefs which follow particular events (Boyd & Bee, 2006). Relationships take on a new stance during adolescence and the importance of them shifts from family to their peers. Throughout adolescence it is likely that there will still be a strong relationship with parents but along with teenage years conflict will always arise. Relationships with the opposite begin to take on a different role as sexual maturity progresses and the opposite sexes become interested in one another as more than friends.
Common interests become an important element for adolescent relationships and the majority of friendships remain to be between the same sex as they have more in common to relate to at this developmental stage. Peer groups begin to change structures into cliques and crowds (Boyd & Bee, 2006). Many elements of relationships are based upon the relationships an adolescent was exposed to when they were children but these are some of the common traits which begin to change as a child enters adolescence. Physical Development Milestones in Adulthood
The transition for an adolescent into adulthood might not be easy but as adulthood progresses they are many physical traits that can be marked to describe the stages than an individual experiences. During early adulthood two different types of aging can be examined – primary and secondary. Primary aging refers age-related changes based upon physical changes that are biologically based which secondary aging is individual and based upon environment, mental influences, and other choices an individual themselves have made (Boyd & Bee, 2006).
Throughout the entire span of adulthood the brain and nervous system will go through changes. In early adulthood it is seem that growth spurts of the brain can continue to the age of 22 which connects itself to formal operation which is more heavily relied on in middle adulthood. It has also been hypothesized that a brain peek in development occurs by the age of 21 and that it may be connected to abstract reasoning and thinking – this is also tied to the limbic system which is responsible for emotional responses (Boyd & Bee, 2006).
Studying the brain of someone in middle adulthood is more difficult because finding a brain which has not yet been damaged in some way is difficult. Many different factors have an effect on the adult brain such as mental health and trauma – these instances change the physical structure of the brain and as a result the brain has to compensate and does not always perform at a defined level of normal (Boyd & Bee, 2006). Eventually when an adult reaches late adulthood there is a loss of speed in nerve impulse within the brain and this allows for typical traits of old age to be exhibited.
Outside of the changes that occur within the brain and nervous system there are also many other physical changes that an adult goes through. The main focus of physical change from early to late adulthood is a change in functionality and its decline. Every year in adulthood it becomes likely that physical functionality slowly declines and this can be thought of as a change between physical capacity and physical demand (Boyd & Bee, 2006). Fitness is often measured through the heart and lungs and as an individual grows older strength, speed, reproductive capacity, and immune system functionality will all decline.
During the span of middle adulthood the functionality of the reproductive system will become climacteric in which reproductive capacity begins to decline or is lost (Boyd & Bee, 2006). This is exhibited in different ways between the two sexes and women go through many psychological effects and changes throughout menopausal phases. Regardless of the loss of the functionality of the reproductive system sexual activity has the ability to remain the same and often does with adults who are in middle age.
Another large change that begins to occur in middle adulthood and falls into late adulthood is a change in the skeletal system with the loss of bone mass which can be experienced. Finally, there is often a change in the ability of vision and hearing in an individual who is aging. Presbyopia is the loss of normal vision due to age and presbycusis is the equivalent to the loss of hearing (Boyd & Bee, 2006). Cognitive Development Milestones in Adulthood Cognitive changes occur through life and adulthood is no different in this area.
As an individual transitions from adolescence to adulthood they are able to use thinking skills that are more highly advanced and do not have to rely on basic, formal operations; however, this does not mean that one mode of thought is better than the other but instead of a different structure (Boyd & Bee, 2006). Two other models of thinking and cognitive development exist for those in early adulthood but the above model is most commonly built off of and accepted for what it has brought to the world of science.
Intelligence remains consistent throughout childhood to early adulthood but early adults do gain the ability to use crystallized intelligence and fluid intelligence. Crystallized intelligence is the knowledge and judgment that is used through experience and judgment calls made by an individual while fluid intelligence is base off of biological processes (Boyd & Bee, 2006). Memory follows a very similar pattern to that shown with intelligence in early adulthood; however, its process does become more intensified for long-term memory.
In middle and late adulthood cognitive functioning becomes tied to the health of the individual. Many of the changes (physical and cognitive) can be seen as a single model but the model does not take all facts into account and should not be the only piece of information which is relied on in a study. Both primary and secondary occur at the same time and it often becomes difficult to separate the two; however, the relationship between cognitive function and secondary aging is of interest to researchers.
Researchers have found that certain illnesses help to decline cognitive function while things such as exercise over time allows for a lower mortality rate (Boyd & Bee, 2006). Memory functions in middle adulthood are again hard to define because of the lack of study of undamaged braids. Regardless of this fact middle aged adults overcome memory difficulties by providing themselves with hints and clues; however, memories seem to not be as permanent overall as they were in early adulthood (Boyd & Bee, 2006).
Practiced and unpracticed skills are skills that are either used or not and tie into new learning, something middle aged adults are very capable of. In late adulthood several changes happen with memory that may be considered an element of old age. Short-term memory function begins to decline and this is where a significant change can be seen (Boyd & Bee, 2006). Such things as every day tasks become difficult such as recognizing numbers – that said, not all patterns will be standard among individuals.
Everyday memory is a topic of debate and as to whether or not older individuals and younger individuals are able to remember on the same level. An element of memory which defers is whether or not memory is task-specific and they can be dependent on factors such as vocabulary or elements of health (Boyd & Bee, 2006). Like many elements of development cognition changes throughout each stage from childhood to late adulthood and though there is a decline in function the cognitive functions do not disappear completely. Socioemotional Development Milestones in Adulthood
Through the years of adolescence through late adulthood there are many changes that happen within Socioemotional development. In early adulthood individuals will begin to form relationships that they choose to keep throughout his or her entire lifespan. Erikson presents an idea that relates to this in the fact that individual’s choose to find a life spouse because otherwise they will become isolated in the later years of their life (Boyd & Bee, 2006). Another element of formal lifelong relationships is that of having children, some individuals have the desire to become a parent nd others will not; however, having a child also does have a developmental impact on the parents themselves (Boyd & Bee, 2006). In middle adult hood Erikson’s Stage of Generativity versus Stagnation is an important developmental tool of social and personality development which will be discussed in more detail later. Another element of middle adult hood is whether or not the mid-life crisis really exists and role transition and conflict throughout life but especially at this developmental stage; these elements can deal with both personal and professional elements and are not solely based upon one or another.
At the end of life in late adulthood Erikson has a stage which he calls the state of ego integrity versus despair which describes older adults coming to a sense of satisfaction and piece with life and the life that has been lead. Social engagements have a tendency to taper off in late adulthood and an individual separates themselves from people in their life, this eventually ends with acceptance of their situations and ends an individual’s legacy of socioemotional development (Boyd & Bee, 2006). Erikson’s Stage of Generativity versus Stagnation
Erikson’s Stage of Generativity versus Stagnation tries to describe a stage of life in which middle-aged adults find a purpose in contributing to future generations and development of those who are younger than his or herself (Boyd & Bee, 2006). This plays a roll in socioemotional development of adults because this is related to mental health alongside the role that an individual plays to others in their life. Generativity means to establish and guide something and in this case it is the next generation of individuals who are to follow.
It has become commonly suggested that this is more applicable during middle-age because of the changes that an individual goes through and empty nest syndrome if a parents children have left home. This also affects socioemotional development with regard to how an individual acts – those who are not generative often exhibit symptoms of acting life the world is their own and full of stagnation and thus a contribution or lack thereof to future generations (Boyd & Bee, 2006). Conclusion Every element of developmental stages has its place within a human life.
Though it can sometimes be difficult to understand the purpose of each stage as an individual experiences it the process of evolution has allow for them to be experienced in different ways according to the way an individual had to live their life. The stages of adolescence into adulthood are not a simple process – through adolescence an individual has already gained many of his or her perceptions about the world, many of which stick with an individual throughout their entire adulthood.
It may be argued that individuals stop developing after they reach adolescence but as can be seen people develop until the day they die, it’s an entirely different story as to what comes to that – one that science can keep out of its pocket for now and let the focus stay on human developmental stages. References Boyd, B. & Bee, H. (2006). Lifespan Development. (4th ed). Pearson Education, Inc. Retrieved April 23, 2009, from Denise Boyd & Helen Bee, Week Five, PSY375 Website.