Human Adult Development and Transitional Stages

Human development is a complex and multicomponent process, which, at first glance, is challenging to evaluate. However, it can be characterized by assessing development within four domains: physical, cognitive, social, and emotional (Berk, 2018). Nevertheless, this task is complicated due to the interconnectedness of all aspects. Physical parameters can influence emotional state, and cognitive development and academic success can be associated with the level of socialization (Zander et al., 2018). Thus, it is necessary to consider the development process in the aggregate of these spheres, examining the areas of their intersection. This paper aims to reflect on the material studied and highlight the most interesting issues in the development of people.

From my point of view, the very first question that should be analyzed in the studied context is the very definition of an adult. Undoubtedly, each person can perceive a mental image corresponding to this characteristic. However, how exactly can it be described? What markers exist to determine this status? The most striking group of factors is, perhaps, the features of physical development. From a scientific point of view, during adolescence and early adulthood, i.e., the twenties, the formation of all organs and tissues ends, and the process of biological aging begins (Berk, 2018). Although many functions reach their peak at this age, the process of decreasing the efficiency of the organs, especially the lungs and the heart, gradually begins. Physical development is also reflected externally since the human body is fully formed in all aspects. However, even this factor is highly subjective, not to mention cognitive, social, and emotional development elements.

The physical image is also a product of interaction with society, a particular norm enshrined in social foundations. And although, for example, people of twenty-five years old almost always were considered adults, the boundaries of this age shifted depending on time. For instance, in the early historical periods, a girl could be regarded as an adult when she became capable of childbearing – potentially at 13-14 years old. Now such a classification absolutely cannot be applied, and moreover, there is a reverse trend. Many students up to 23-24 years old live with their parents, ensuring their existence at their expense, which does not really fit into the social image of an adult. Furthermore, as history shows, not only modern youth travel a similar path, since, despite common myths, people faced the same problems in the 19th century and at other times (Beck, 2016). Therefore, when a person is considered an adult must be based on different factors.

As practice shows, even other markers established in society often do not coincide with the worldview of the would-be-adults themselves. For example, an adult is considered a person who lives independently, has a job, a family, and, potentially, children. However, even with these factors, young people often do not consider themselves adults (Beck, 2016). They deliberately refuse some aspects, for example, motherhood, not accepting the imposed values and choosing their own path (Hanson, 2021). Therefore, the definition of when and how a person becomes an adult cannot be based on any established social norms because they are too vague. Perhaps this issue should be resolved separately in the context of each specific person, but one way or another, this topic is extremely interesting for research and discussion.

No less attractive is the transition from the “adult” category to the “elderly” category, which is almost even vaguer. Again, the underlying factor for most people is the person’s actual age, i.e., the number of years lived and the appearance, which is subject to aging to varying degrees. Despite certain social and legal norms, such as the retirement age or the age of majority, it is hard to accurately determine the moment when a person moves into middle age. Some stigmatization of this stage of life hinders this even more. Many people fear aging, attributing it primarily to the midlife crisis and the problems that result from it, although only ten percent of the population is affected by this crisis (Hagerty, 2016). In addition, aging is much more strongly associated with appearance than growing up. This is especially critical for women, the attitude towards whom changes significantly when even the slightest signs of aging appear (Chrisler et al., 2016).

Ageism can seriously poison life, especially when combined with other factors, such as racial ones. Research shows that racism leads to poor health, and age discrimination has the same effect (TED, 2017). Ageism can also manifest itself from a social point of view since older people are often the first in line to be fired in the event of any disaster (Terrell, 2020). However, despite all these problems, it is challenging to identify a specific age at which people move into the category of elderly. Even after 60 years, people are still able to look for a partner to rebuild relationships, thereby being socially active (Hill, 2020). Therefore, from my point of view, this concept also requires a more individual approach and research.

Thus, from my point of view, the most exciting question in the studied material is not specific aspects of growing up but the features of the identification of transitional stages. Despite the norms established in society, they practically never coincide with the reality and attitude of specific individuals. Even at the age of 30, not all people consider themselves adults, and not all 60-year-olds can be called old, even outwardly. From my perspective, these transitional moments, signaling the main stages of human development, are closely intertwined with the individual’s self-identification. This topic is vibrant for discussion and study and is definitely worth further research.


Beck, J. (2016). When are you really an adult? The Atlantic. Web.

Berk, L.E. (2018). Exploring lifespan development (4th ed.). Pearson.

Chrisler, J. C., Barney, A., & Palatino, B. (2016). Ageism can be hazardous to women’s health: Ageism, sexism, and stereotypes of older women in the healthcare system. Journal of Social Issues, 72(1), 86-104. Web.

Hagerty, B. B. (2016). Forget the red sports car. The midlife crisis is a myth. NPR. Web.

Hanson, K. (2021). Child-free by choice: Why many women are intentionally opting out of parenthood. Today. Web.

Hill, F. (2020). What it’s like to date after middle age. The Atlantic. Web.

Terrell, K. (2020). Unemployment’s toll on older workers is worst in half a century. AARP. Web.

TED. (2017). How racism makes us sick | David R. Williams [Video]. YouTube. Web.

Zander, L., Brouwer, J., Jansen, E., Crayen, C., & Hannover, B. (2018). Academic self-efficacy, growth mindsets, and university students’ integration in academic and social support networks. Learning and Individual Differences, 62, 98-107. Web.

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PsychologyWriting. 2023. "Human Adult Development and Transitional Stages." September 11, 2023.

1. PsychologyWriting. "Human Adult Development and Transitional Stages." September 11, 2023.


PsychologyWriting. "Human Adult Development and Transitional Stages." September 11, 2023.