Inherent in the study of human behavior is the basic comprehension towards the life cycle. This life cycle appreciates the stages which every human being shall pass beginning at birth and ending in death. With these views, theories are made with the three major assumptions in mind: First the essential premise to the varieties of life cycle theories proposes that there is a sequential order of development that is successive and clearly defined. Second is the assumption that each individual stage or period comprises of events or crises that need to be resolved for the development to progress in a smooth manner.
This is termed as the epigenetic principle (Kaplan et al. , 1991). Whenever an individual fails to attain a resolution to a particular crisis or event, the subsequent periods will manifest that failure in such modes as the individual’s cognitive, physical, social and emotional maladaptive behavior. Thirdly, while these stages occur in sequence and contain events or crises that the individual needs to resolve, each stage however, reflects a “crisis point’ that makes each phase distinct from either of its preceding and succeeding stages (Kaplan et al. 1991).
Nature and significance of the study Erikson is a key figure in the study of developmental psychology. He is instrumental with the current understanding of the different stages of a human life span. This research work is a product of the attempt to expand on the understanding of Erikson’s major work with the integration of several others who are instrumental to a more updated and comprehensive appreciation of the changes and growth that proceed to the development of an adult personality specifically focusing on his emotional and social maturity.
The paper is developed towards a greater understanding of the characteristics of a person in this developmental stage called adulthood. Grand theories are explored alongside more recent models to present an updated portrayal of typical adulthood across cultures, race or persuasions. The paper is brought to a narrower focus by employing objective inquiry based on two statements of problem which the author attempts to satisfy for the remainder of this short study. ~Statement of the Problem 1. ) What is adulthood and its characteristic features? 2. ) What factors contribute to the social and emotional development of adulthood?
It is indeed interesting to note the depth of the understanding of man’s multidimensional nature revealed by decades of research with each of the distinct aspects of his personhood. Perhaps considered the most “important” years simply because everything seems to have reached its peak during these times, and perceived as the longest portion among the different stages in the lifespan with all its promise of achievement, productivity and procreation. Discussion Perspectives in psychology and philosophy in general, are developed to help explain and shed light on various human behaviors that not only boggle and are difficult to understand.
There are controversies that ensue and these also make interventions difficult at the same time. Development does not end once a person reaches maturity, but continues throughout life. Developmental psychologists seek to describe ad analyze the regularities of human development across the entire life span. It focuses primarily on these aspects of development that make us similar to one another (Berk, 2007). In order to thoroughly appreciate the changes that are happening to a young person specifically pertaining to the social and emotional aspects, the following discussion of the theoretical perspectives are undertaken.
Theoretical Underpinnings of the Social and Emotional Development in Adulthood There is a necessity to introduce the observations made by social scientists through the decades after Erikson introduced his theoretical viewpoint on the eight psychosocial stages. It is essential to explain how Erikson elaborates on the two stages of adolescence and early adulthood in order to help accommodate on the theory proposed by Levinson and Arnett and others in their league.
Erikson’s psychosocial stages: Adolescence & Early Adulthood Erikson identified the period of adolescence with a corresponding challenge to achieve a sense of identity. Adolescents need to leave behind the carefree, irresponsible, and impulsive behaviors of childhood and to develop the more purposeful, responsible, planned behaviors of adults. If the individual is successful in making this change, he will develop a sense of confidence and a positive identity. If he is unsuccessful, he will experience role confusion, which will result in low self-esteem and become socially withdrawn (Berk, 2007, ch. 12).
This concept assumes that in general, children will progress towards adolescence with the all-important development of establishing his identity and those problems that normally are encountered around this stage basically are related around the individual’s search for identity. The period of early adulthood is a time for finding intimacy by developing loving and meaningful relationships. On the positive side, a person can find intimacy in caring relationships. On the negative side, without intimacy, the individual will have a painful feeling of isolation and his relationships will become impersonal (Berk, 2007).
James Marcia’s four stages of identity formation The reason that the following concepts are importantly cited stems from the fact that these characteristics are investigated whether they form and are retained when young adult stage comes around. James Marcia posited these concepts and identifies what the researches tried to establish when commitment happens and at what particular stage it crystallizes. Commitment (Luyckx et al. , 2006) accordingly reinforces other characteristics which defines the young adult as no longer “aimless” and more satisfied with staying at home tending to the needs of his family members.
Identity Achievement This stage of identity formation refers to what Marcia calls as “crisis leading to commitment” which is typified as commitment to alternatives that are before the individual and made by that individual in accordance to the experiencing of a crisis, definitely a time used to search, delve into and discover life’s choices.
- Foreclosure This is described by Marcia as that of when a person does not undergo crisis and is committed to plans made for his/her life.
- Moratorium This is a stage is on the actual experience of a crisis and considers the options that are before him/her.
Identity Diffusion This is the stage which, according to Marcia is described as the absence of commitment, or the sense of obligation hence the resulting less necessity to seriously act on any alternatives. ~Results and findings The following discussion corresponds to the statement of inquiry posted at the beginning of the paper “What is adulthood and its characteristic features? ” To this end, Arnett proposes his theoretical perspective which he deems as apt to the transitional gap between the two stages proposed by Erikson and described by Marcia.
Arnett’s Emerging Adulthood The theory proposed by Jeffrey Arnett is labeled as emerging adulthood which is distinctly different from is more widely known as early or young adulthood. According to Arnett, there are characteristics that are prevalent in this stage. Identity formation is essentially known to be identified with the period of adolescence. However, even Erikson admitted that adolescence sometimes is prolonged or takes longer years of the “extended identity exploration,” Arnett noted (Arnett, 2000 in Erikson, 1958).
In Arnett’s observation, if his theory becomes a valid stage in the life span developmental stages, the extended identity formation that Erikson describes may well fit this proposed stage (Arnett, 2000). Arnett identifies in his findings the areas of demographics, subjective perceptions, and identity exploration where many of the goals and activities of the individual in “emerging adulthood” happen (Arnett, 2000). The adult with a capacity for true maturity is one who has grown out of childhood without losing childhood’s best traits.
As with one who has retained the basic emotional strength of infancy, the stubborn autonomy of toddle hood, the capacity for wonder and pleasure and playfulness of the preschool years, the capacity for affiliation and the intellectual curiosity of the school years, and the idealism and passion of adolescence, the mature adult incorporates these into a new pattern of development dominated by adult stability, wisdom, knowledge, and sensitivity to other people, responsibility, strength and purposiveness.
People who have approached maturity can feel that they have loved and been loved, have done their work, have made their mark on people, and have made the most of what there was. Arnett’s extensive studies identify a gap becoming apparent with distinct characteristics separate from the adolescent and that of formal adulthood. In Arnett’s observation, this transition in between the stages is non-existent in most cultures other than the western (Arnett, 2000). Understanding the concept of Social Clock
Studies affirm previous cultural and traditional observations concerning many aspects of adulthood. However, some glaring realities point to changing patterns due to many factors. The premise is based on the hypothesis that the maturation of an individual into adulthood is manifest when people conduct themselves in adult behavior and consider themselves to be adults. Then they should be dealt with as adults. By adulthood people are self-directing (Morris and Maisto, 1999).
The belief that there are descriptive and prescriptive age norms concerning adults during their developmental shift involves the concept of the social clock. The social clock hinges on its description of society’s expectations where time to get married and have children at the same time attaining more of life’s burdens. For example, the traditional or what has been considered as the perception of women who have not yet entered into matrimony as individuals who are negatively appraised during their middle adulthood stage in contrast to the young adults.
Social clock has something to do with an expectation that a person must somehow behave or conduct him/herself according to established developmental milestones or else, risk the consequences that may happen because the individual has allowed it to slip through (Morris and Maisto, 1999). The concept is not unknown to anyone today, this despite the fact that many among Americans have grown to know in informal set-ups that the social clock exists and must be followed.
Social and physical development affecting the expansion and constriction of their world from infancy through older adulthood Social and physical development during the stage of infancy constricts the infant’s life because of the child’s inability to walk yet as well as their inability to associate well because of immature brain development which lasts until the person reaches the age at approximately 20 years old. Understandably social and physical developments start to increase during childhood, adolescence and middle adulthood in contrast to the infant.
However, starting when the child reaches childhood, his/her world starts to increasingly expand as his motor skills develop and physical capability enhances. This goes on in largely intensified and greater results when the child enters the adolescent period until the person reaches the senior years and pace is affected considerably. The person’s social world constricts primarily because the physical limitations understandably inhibit the person and consequently isolates the person.
Older adulthood similarly possesses the same characteristics of that of an infant and toddler because the genes dictate when these traits start to emerge (Shiner et al, 2002). The concept of Growth goals In the study by Bauer and McAdams (2004), these activities and behavior reflect the growth goals, both intrinsic and exploratory, that are necessary for them to develop eventually. This is called peer pressure and although many children pretend to keep their cool, almost all of those who are at this developmental level have their share of frustrations from the influence of other individuals that surround them.
Peer pressure is inevitably tied up with the differences of culture and beliefs and when a particular child or young person emerges with the understanding that these experiences are necessary for them to ultimately be enabled to face many more troubles to come. It cannot be underestimated. Because of the major biological changes that their bodies go through, they tend to be flooded with overwhelming emotions that at most times make them confused. These biological changes include the normal maturation or unfolding of genetic characteristics marking the start of puberty.
Because of the hormonal changes accompanying puberty, the child’s moods and behavior are often affected (Bauer and McAdams, 2004). ~ Synthesis of data Behavioral scientists describe the following changes expected to occur during this stage:
- accepting one’s physique and a masculine/feminine role;
- New relations with age mates of both sexes;
- Emotional independence from parents;
- achieving awareness of economic independence from parents;
- selecting and preparing for an occupation;
- developing intellectual skills and
- Concepts necessary for civic competence;
- Desiring and achieving socially responsible behavior.
- Preparing for marriage and family life.
- Building values in harmony with adequate scientific world-picture.
These may not necessarily fall as exactly as they should but the pattern is there for many especially in the west (Arnett et al, 2001). The issues that surround emerging young adult include the individual’s adaptation to his body’s biological changes, struggle for autonomy, and peer influence.
These are some of the important concerns that an adolescent individual faces. Biological changes entail awareness of the transformation that is occurring in the person’s body. Since an adolescent is passing through a physiological transition, and because the transformation involves the appearance, this is a major concern for any adolescent. In the teen’s struggle for autonomy, there is a mounting tension between parents and children of adolescent age because the latter prefers to think that he/she is capable of a lot of things and are allowed a greater amount of liberties.
However, this becomes a source of frustration and conflict by both parents and children due to the latter’s inconsistencies. Furthermore, the shift from parental influence to peer influence is one of the major changes both the parents and teenagers have difficulty facing. Implications According to Piaget, individuals at this stage have developed the ability to form “hypothetical-deductive reasoning. ” Children think that they already have knowledge and some experience, and believe capable to think logically; able to judge certain matters well.
Though this may be true, recent findings in brain research show that adolescent emotions overcome rationality or despite some existing facts that should also be weighed, their feelings override reasoning. Teenagers make rash decisions which may or may not harm him/herself (Luyckx et al. , 2006). According to an explanation on Piaget’s formal operations stage, an individual may consider many possibilities in life, may be able to successfully handle crisis at most times, as well as analyze existing assumptions (Eisenberg et al. , 2001).