During the early adulthood development, physical changes that occur prepare one to undergo transition between childhood and adulthood. According to Berger (2007), “during emerging adulthood, muscles grow and shape changes in ways that differ by sex, with males gaining more arm muscle and females more hip fat. By age 22 women have attained adult breast and hip size and men have reached full shoulder width and upper-arm strength” (p. 448). This is the stage where physical activities and reproduction are at peak.
In terms of cognitive development, there is a drastic change in the capacity of thinking. Berger acknowledges that thinking in early adulthood changes into “…more practical, more flexible, and more dialectical” (2007, p. 471). Unlike the adolescents who use formal skills in their analysis of situations and reacting to the situations emotionally. At the early adulthood, the cognitive becomes not only involved in problem solving but also problem finding. The emerging adults “take a more flexible and comprehensive approach as they consider various aspects of a situation beforehand, noting difficulties and anticipating problems, dealing with them rather than denying, avoiding, or procrastinating because planning realistically is so difficult” (Berger, 2007, p. 471). This ability enables the college students in formulating strategies of working hard and passing exams despite many challenges.
The emerging adult has socio-emotional challenges such as lifestyle, relationships, marriage, and child bearing. According to Erikson, the psychosocial crisis that occurs at this stage is between intimacy and isolation and if appropriately resolved, it will result into love as a virtue. Quest for intimacy and love make the emerging adults view physical appearance and lifestyle as important aspects of their lives. “Appearance is connected to the sexual drives, since appearance attracts sexual interests” (Berger, 2007, p. 452). The sexual drive makes the emerging adults to perceive sex as source of pleasure and not for procreation
Physical changes occurring during middle adulthood include decline in homeostasis, organ reserve, and muscles reserve. For instance, “a 40-year-old pregnant woman might notice that her kidneys, blood pressure, and lung capacity are less resilient than when she was pregnant at age 20, but she is unaware of any slowdown when she is not expecting a baby” (Berger, 2007, p.449). It shows that physical strength and physiological capacity declines with age.
The middle adults are postformal thinkers. According to Berger, “many researchers believe that, in adulthood, the complex and conflicting demands of daily life sometimes produce a new cognitive perspective, which can be called post-formal thought” (2007, p. 496). The adult mind has ability to analyze emotions and reality. “The postformal thought is practical, flexible, and dialectical” (Berger, 2007, p. 297). The adults have the ability to anticipate, find, and solve the problems they encounter in life.
The socio-emotional challenges that adults experience are childcare, family, and career management. Proper resolution of the psychosocial crisis at this stage results in the virtue of family care. As young adults get mature they “are encouraged to do well in school and get good jobs, partly to make their families proud, partly so that they will be able to care for their families when necessary and partly for their own future” (Berger, 2007, p. 514). The tasks at this stage are to fulfill the childhood dreams of having a good job and happy family. The middle adulthood is a stage where one tries to explore and achieve full potential in life.
Berger, L. S. (2007). Emerging Adulthood: Life Span Human Development. Web.