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Early Adulthood

Early Adulthood

Author: Erick Taggart

Examine the life stage of adulthood.

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Source: bungee: public domain;

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Hello, class. So today we're going to be expanding on the idea of adulthood. And in particular, on early adulthood.

Now adulthood is characterized as the phase of life, the time when a person is fully developed both physically and psychologically. Which isn't to say that they aren't going to be learning anything anymore. They have the cognitive capabilities to be able to do what a full person is able to do.

So the early adult period or the young adult period is the period of life between 20 and 40 years old, according to Erik Erikson and his theory of psychosocial development. And this is characterized by a period of time when an adult is looking for intimacy and trying to create relationships. And this is just preceding the period of time-- according to Erikson-- when the person is trying to establish an identity and trying to figure out who they are as a person. This is during adolescence, which comes right before this time.

Another way of thinking of this is this is the prime of your life period, which is to say this is when you're physically and mentally at your peak. Now it's important to realize that this concept of adulthood is very relative both culturally and even historically. So looking from culture to culture or place to place, what adults are expected or not expected to do, or even when adulthood is achieved is very different.

So when you are looking at certain areas of the world an adult might actually be someone that we consider a teen here in the US. Also, in modern US a lot of changes have occurred in society. And we've adjusted the idea of adulthood as a result of these. So it's important to realize our talks today are more focused on the US and on the West in particular.

In 2000, an American psychologist named Jeffrey Arnett developed a new category of life, which he called emerging adulthood. Now emerging adulthood is considered the period of time between 18 and 25 years of age. And he said this period of time is characterized as an extension on the experimentation of adolescence when we're trying to search for an identity.

So just like as Erikson was saying before, this is when we're trying to find ourselves. So Arnett says this period of time expands on that further. So emerging adulthood is characterized by the increase in independence in people and an exploration of life's possibilities. Trying to see what's out there in the world.

It's also a period of time where people are generally very unstable. There's instability in their lives from place to place. And people generally are more self-centered during this time. So major events that occur during this period of time is often people are going to college at this time. And also they might be trying to move to other places.

Personally, this is a period of time when I decided to move across the country and eventually to go live abroad for several years. So you can see that instability that's occurring, but also that exploration, trying to find yourself and what you want to do. Now the causes for this emerging adulthood period of time in society today increases in the economy.

So people are earning a bit more money right now and they have more money to spend or to use, as well as increases in medicine and technology, which have increased the lifespan of people. So they have more time to settle down and to look at life and to figure out what they want to do, as well as trying to explore who they are as a person.

Now after this period of time going into our 30s, this is generally a period of time when people start to settle down more. They have increased investments both physically in terms of things like houses and property, as well as psychologically. They start to try to form those lasting relationships. This is also the period of time when people are concerned with getting married sometimes, as well as having children. and this 30s period of time transitions into our midlife, which is our 40s all the way up to when we are about 65 as Erikson said.

Terms to Know

Phase of life in which full physical and psychological development has occurred.

Emerging Adulthood

Period of time between 18 and 25 that young adults in industrialized countries explore their options for adult life, prior to accepting the full responsibilities of adulthood.

Young Adult

Period between 20 and 40 years old, according to Erikson.