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Chapter 13: Early Adulthood: Physical and Cognitive Development

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1 Chapter 13: Early Adulthood: Physical and Cognitive Development
Development Across the Lifespan

2 Physical Development and Stress In Early Adulthood
In most respects physical development and maturation are complete by early adulthood. Full height, proportional limbs, tend to be healthy, vigorous, energetic Most people are at the peak of their physical capabilities. The brain continues to grow in both size and weight, reaching its maximum in early adulthood. Brain wave patterns show changes (more mature patterns)

3 The senses are as sharp as they will ever be.
No significant deterioration in vision (until the 40’s) Hearing is at its peak Taste, smell, sensitivity to touch good Most professional athletes are at their peak during early adulthood Psychomotor abilities (eye-hand coordination, etc.)

4 Physical Fitness in Early Adulthood
 The superior physical capabilities common to early adulthood don’t come naturally; exercise and diet are required to reach full physical potential Although exercise is talked about a lot in the U.S., no more than 10 % of Americans exercise enough to keep themselves in good physical shape. Less than ¼ participate in moderate exercise on a regular basis

5 People in general do not exercise enough!
Unfortunately…. Exercise is largely an upper- and middle-class phenomenon People of low socioeconomic status (SES) often lack the time or money to participate People in general do not exercise enough! The conspicuousness of exercise in the U.S. is misleading! Less than 10% of Americans exercise sufficiently to keep them in shape Less than a quarter engage in even moderate regular exercise

6 Physical Fitness in Early Adulthood, continued
According the CDC (center for disease control), people should get 30 minutes of moderate physical activity at least 5 days per week Can be continuous, or in 10 minute chunks (as long as it totals 30 min. per day) Examples of moderate activity: walking briskly, biking/10 mph, golfing (no cart!), fishing, ping pong, household chores (weeding, vacuuming, etc.)

7 The Result of Fitness: Longevity
The greater the fitness level, the lower the death rate.

8 Other advantages to regular exercise
increases cardiovascular fitness lung capacity increases muscles become stronger body becomes more flexible and maneuverable reduces osteoporosis, the thinning of bones, in later life optimizes the immune response decreases stress, anxiety, and depression increases sense of control and feelings of accomplishment increases longevity

9 Health & exercise in early adulthood, continued
A lack of exercise may lead to poor health in general, but health risks in general are low during early adulthood Young adults are less susceptible to colds and illnesses Good immune systems Tendency to exercise More likely to die in accidents (usually car related) than most other causes

10 Health & exercise in early adulthood, continued
 The leading causes of death among young adults (ages 25-34) are: accidents AIDS cancer heart disease Suicide ~ At age 35, this reverses and illness and disease become more likely causes (for the 1st time since infancy)

11 Not all people fare equally well in early adulthood…
Men are more apt to die from accidents than women African-Americans have twice the death rate of Caucasians. ~~~The murder rate in the U.S. is significantly higher than in any other developed country. —U.S rate = 21.9 per 100,000 me; Japanese rate = 0.5 murders per 100,000 men <4000% difference!>

12 Tracking Murder

13 Racial Factors effect murder rates
Murder is the fifth most frequent cause of death for young White Americans (1 in 131 chance in lifetime) Murder is the most frequent cause of death for African-Americans (1 in 21 chance in lifetime) ---In some areas of the country, a young black male has a higher probability of being murdered than a soldier in the Vietnam War had of being killed! African American male: 1 in 21 chance of being murdered in his lifetime European American male: 1 in 131 chance

14 Eating, Nutrition, and Obesity
Most young adults know which foods are healthy, but ignore good nutrition Since physical growth is beginning to decline in this developmental period, young adults must reduce the calories they were used to during adolescence

15 Eating, Nutrition, and Obesity, continued
Young adults will put on weight if they do not eat sensibly. 31 % of the adult population is classified as overweight. 7 % of men and 10 % of women between the ages of 20 and 25 are obese. The rate of obesity in the U.S. is increasing

16 Obesity on the Rise…

17 Genetic factors may lead people to become obese.
Environmental and social factors also produce obesity. Obese people may have a higher WEIGHT SET POINT, the particular level the body strives to maintain. Most people who diet eventually gain back the weight

18 Physical Disabilities in Young Adulthood: Coping With Physical Challenge
Some 50+ million Americans are physically challenged - or disabled - a condition that substantially limits a major life activity such as walking or vision. Fewer than 10 % of people with major handicaps have finished high school. Fewer than 25 % of disabled men and 15 % of disabled women work full time. Adults with handicaps are often unemployed, or stuck in routine, low-paying jobs. ~~WHY? BARRIERS!

19 Discrimination and prejudice are barriers and affect the way that people with disabilities view themselves (their cognitive development!) Despite the Americans with Disabilities Act (1990), many older buildings are inaccessible to wheelchairs. Prejudice and discrimination affect the way disabled people think of themselves. Pity, avoidance Treating adults as children Seeing disabled person as a category rather than an individual

20 Stress & Coping in Early Adulthood: Another Factor Effecting Cognitive Development
STRESS is the response to events that threaten or challenge an individual. Our lives are filled with events and circumstances known as stressors, that cause threats to our well-being.

21 (Stress & Coping in Early Adulthood, continued)
Stressors can be both pleasant events and unpleasant events (weddings, winning awards, exams, arguments) Long-term, continuous exposure to stressors may result in a reduction of the body's ability to deal with stress. People become more susceptible to diseases as their ability to fight off germs declines

22 According to Lazarus and Folkman, not every situation produces stress
Lazarus and Folkman believe that people move through a series of stages that determine whether or not they will experience stress (the way a situation is appraised will determine the perception of stress) PRIMARY APPRAISAL is the assessment of an event to determine whether its implications are positive, negative, or neutral SECONDARY APPRAISAL is the assessment of whether one's coping abilities and resources are adequate to overcome the harm, threat, or challenge posed by the potential stressor

23 ~The way an individual evaluates a potential stressor determines whether the individual will experience stress. Steps in the Perception of Stress

24 Overall Principals Predicting When an Event will be Stressful (Shelly Taylor, 1991)
Events and circumstances that produce negative emotions are more likely to produce stress. Situations that are uncontrollable or unpredictable are more likely to produce stress. Events and circumstances that are ambiguous and confusing produce more stress. People who must accomplish simultaneously many tasks are more likely to experience stress. Stress Quiz in text

25 The Consequences of Stress During Early Adulthood
Stress may lead to PSYCHOSOMATIC DISORDERS, medical problems caused by the interaction of psychological, emotional, and physical difficulties. Some young adults are better than others at COPING, the effort to reduce, or tolerate the threats that lead to stress.

26 Styles of Coping… Problem-focused coping is the attempt to manage a stressful problem or situation by directly changing the situation to make it less stressful. Emotion-focused coping involves the conscious regulation of emotion. Coping is also aided by the presence of social support, assistance and comfort supplied by others. Defense coping involves unconscious strategies that distort or deny the true nature of the situation.

27 Cognitive Development in Early Adulthood
Physical development slows down during early adulthood, but does cognitive? Piaget and others argued that by the time the teen years were finished, thinking stabilized BUT increasing evidence suggests that this part of Piaget’s theory was incorrect!

28 Cognitive Development in Early Adulthood, continued…
Developmentalist Giesela Labouvie-Vief suggests that the nature of thinking changes qualitatively during early adulthood. Adults exhibit POSTFORMAL THOUGHT, thinking that goes beyond Piaget's formal operations. Adult predicaments are sometimes solved by relativistic thinking rather than pure logic. Postformal thought acknowledges that the world sometimes lacks purely right and wrong solutions and adults must draw upon prior experiences to solve problems.

29 K. Warner Schaie suggests that adults' thinking follows a set pattern of stages
The ACQUISITIVE STAGE, which encompasses all of childhood and adolescence, in which the main developmental task is to acquire information. The ACHIEVING STAGE is the point reached by young adults in which intelligence is applied to specific situations involving the attainment of long-term goals regarding careers, family, and societal contributions.

30 Schaie stages of cognitive development, continued…
The RESPONSIBLE STAGE is the stage where the major concerns of middle-aged adults relate to their personal situations, including protecting and nourishing their spouses, families, and careers. The EXECUTIVE STAGE is the period in middle adulthood when people take a broader perspective than earlier, including concerns about the world. The REINTEGRATIVE STAGE is the period of late adulthood during which the focus is on tasks that have personal meaning


32 Schaie’s Stages of Adult Development

33 “How do you meet your goals
“How do you meet your goals?”-- The way adults answer has a lot to do with their future success according to psychologist Robert Sternberg. Robert Sternberg, in his TRIARCHIC THEORY OF INTELLIGENCE suggests that intelligence is made up of three major components: Componential aspects Experiential components Contextual factors

34 Sternberg’s Triarchic Theory of Intelligence

35 Sternberg’s Triarchic Theory of Intelligence
Componential intelligence relates to the mental components involved in analyzing data, and in solving problems, especially problems involving rational behavior. (traditional IQ tests focus on this aspect) Experiential intelligence refers to the relationship between intelligence, people's prior experience, and their ability to cope with new situations

36 (Sternberg, continued)
Contextual intelligence involves the degree of success people demonstrate in facing the demands of their everyday, real-world environments. ~~ Sternberg contends that success in a career necessitates this type of intelligence (contextual), also called PRACTICAL INTELLIGENCE, intelligence that is learned primarily by observing others and modeling their behavior.

37 Sample items from a test that taps four domains of practical intelligence (see text)

38 Expanding on Sternberg’s theory…
Psychologist Seymour Epstein argues that constructive thinking, a form of practical intelligence, underlies success in such areas as social relationships and physical and emotional health

39 Creativity: Novel Thought in Early Adulthood
The major works of many creative individuals were produced during early adulthood Psychologist Sarnoff Mednick proposed that higher productivity exists during early adulthood One factor: “familiarity breeds rigidity” (the more people know about something, the more rigid they become) Clearly not universal

40 Creativity & Age…The period of maximum creativity differs
Creativity & Age…The period of maximum creativity differs depending on the particular field.


42 (Creativity: Novel Thought in Early Adulthood, continued)
CREATIVITY, combining responses or ideas in creative ways, is at its peak for many individuals during early adulthood. People in early adulthood may be at the peak of their creativity because many of the problems they encounter on a professional level are novel. Creative people are willing to take risks. Creative people develop and endorse ideas that are unfashionable or regarded as "wrong". Not all people reach their creative peak in early adulthood

43 Life events & cognitive development
Some research suggests that major life events, such as marriage, birth of a child, starting a first job, having a child, buying a house, may lead to cognitive growth. The ups and downs of life events may lead young adults to think about the world in novel, more complex, sophisticated, and often less rigid ways. Applying postformal thought (Labouvie-Vief) allows them to deal more effectively with the complex social world

44 College: Pursuing Higher Education
 Nationwide, a minority of high school graduates enter college. 40 % of White Americans enter college. 29 % of African-Americans enter college. 31 % of Hispanic high school graduates enter college.  Only about 40 % of those who start will graduate from college in 4 years. ½ will eventually finish. 70 % of African-Americans drop out of college.

45 African-American students have increased by 13 %.
By the year 2000, the U.S. Dept. of Education projects increases in college attendance Minority students are an increasingly larger proportion of the college population. African-American students have increased by 13 %. Hispanic students have increased by 22 %. White students have increased by 6 %

46 College Enrollment by Racial Group
Ethnic diversity has increased over the last several decades.

47 Changes in College Attendance, continued…
~These changes reflect differences in the racial & ethnic composition of the U.S. & the growing realization that higher education improves economic well-being.

48 Education & Economic Security

49 Higher education, continued
There are now more women than men enrolled in college, and by the year 2007, women's enrollment is expected to increase 30 % from 1995 compared to an increase of only 13 % for men. College is a period of developmental growth that encompasses mastery not just of particular bodies of knowledge, but of ways of understanding the world.

50 The Changing College Student: Never too Late to go to College
40 % of college students today are 25 years of age or older. The average age of a community college student is 31. A college degree is becoming increasingly important in obtaining a job. Many employers require and encourage their workers to update their skills.

51 (The Changing College Student, continued)
According to Sherry Willis, adults return to college for several reasons. To understand their own aging. To keep up with rapid technological and cultural advances. To combat obsolescence on the job. To acquire new vocational skills. As a means of broadening their intellectual skills

52 What do college students learn?.
 William Perry found that students grow intellectually and morally during college On entering, students tend to use dualistic thinking, either something was right or wrong, good or bad, for them or against them. Students increasingly realize during college that issues can have more than one plausible side, that it is possible to hold multiple perspectives on an issue, characterized by multiple thinking.

53 William Perry’s view of intellectual and moral development in young adulthood, continued
Students eventually enter a stage regarded as relativistic, where, rather than seeing the world as having absolute standards and values, they see that different societies, cultures, and individuals can have different standards and values, all equally valid.

54 Gender & College Performance
Prejudice and discrimination directed at women is still a fact of college life. Hostile sexism (overtly harmful treatment) Benevolent sexism (a form of sexism in which women are placed in stereotyped & restrictive roles that may appear positive. Complimenting a student on appearance Offering an easier research project so a student won’t have to work so hard ~ Message may be that the woman is not taken seriously, and competence is undermined.

55 ~Classes in education and the social sciences have larger proportions of women than men.
Differences exist in gender distribution in classes & attrition rates Classes in engineering, the physical sciences, and mathematics tend to have more men than women. Women earn just 22 % of the bachelor degrees in science and 13 % of the doctorates Women are more likely to drop out of math, engineering, and physical science classes.

56 Why do differences exist in gender distribution in classes & attrition rates?
The powerful influence of gender stereotypes! Women are less likely to consider choosing these majors their 1st year of college (societal messages) More likely to choose fields traditionally populated by women Different expectations regarding competence

57 The Great Gender Divide
During the 1st year of college, men are more likely to view themselves as above average in several academic areas. What is at the root of this difference?

58 Gender differences reflect the powerful effect of gender stereotypes.
Women expect to earn less than men and in fact earn 70 cents for every dollar that men earn. Women expect to do worse in some academic areas than men ~ Stereotype threat hypothesis (expectation based on stereotype leads to outcomes) Study by Spencer, Quinn & Steele (1997)- Tough math test given. When the test portrayed as gender-neutral, no gender difference in results! (chart, next slide)

59 Stereotype Threat Women are vulnerable to expectations regarding their success.

60 (gender & college performance, continued)
Males receive more extra help and more positive reinforcement for their comments than women do. Although not entirely consistent, some research shows that women who attend same-sex colleges show higher self-esteem than those attending coeducational colleges. They receive more attention. More professors are women. They receive more encouragement in science and math.

61 (gender & college performance, continued)
Boys & girls perform almost identically on standardized math tests in elementary and middle school, but this changes from high school through college When African-Americans start school, their standardized test scores are only slightly lower than those of European-Americans, but a 2-year gap emerges by 6th grade WHY??

62 Psychologist Claude Steele found that the reason both women and African Americans perform less well in college is academic disidentification - a lack of personal identification with an academic domain ~More understanding of this effect is needed! ~May be connected to high school drop out rates as well!


64 Dropping out of college
Half of all students drop out of college. Why? Marriage, children, or death of parent requires students to drop out Academic difficulties College is expensive Some students need time off to mature

65 Dropping out of college, continued
The FIRST-YEAR ADJUSTMENT REACTION is a group of psychological symptoms relating to the college experience. Most likely to occur among students who were especially successful academically or socially in high school (sudden change in status often causes distress) Surveys show that almost half of all college students have a least one significant psychological issue.

66 When should college students consider getting professional help with their problems?
~There are no strict rules about who can benefit from professional counseling Some common signals include the presence of the following Psychological distress that lingers and interferes with a persons sense of well-being and ability to function Feelings that one is unable to cope effectively with the stress Hopelessness or depressed feelings The inability to build close relationships with others Physical symptoms that have no apparent underlying cause

67 Almost everyone can benefit from talking to someone if things are bothering them!
Consider the college counseling center—can be very helpful to have support! Career Services on campus Both have lots of resources available including support groups, individual counseling, and help with career planning (AND most services are already paid for by your student fees!)

68 Remember to keep up with your reading!

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