1 CHAPTER 3: EARLY ADULTHOOD THE EMERGING ADULT Polka Dot Images/Thinkstock Early adulthood may be the prime of life. We are at our best physically and mentally. Our speed and strength, height, hearing, vision, and sexual drive all are at their peak during the early adult years. During this period, we achieve the status of “adult” and embark on the great adventure of building a career, a family, and a place in society. Yet it is often a troubling time for many as they seek to discover who they are, what they want to do, and the type of person they want to become. In this chapter, we look at some important physical, cognitive, and psychosocial developments that help set a young adult’s path in life.
2 REFLECT ON IT: BECOMING AN ADULT Describe what you would consider to be your first major transition into adulthood—the time when you first began to consider yourself an “adult.” • Was it when you left home for the first time? Started a committed relationship? Had children? Attended college? • Would you consider it a successful or unsuccessful transition? Why? • What would you have done differently if you could go back to that time in your life? HEALTH AND PHYSICAL DEVELOPMENT Many of the physical changes in young adults are a result of the decisions they make, rather than programmed genetic changes as in earlier years. Some of the most important decisions include drugs and alcohol, smoking, nutrition, and sexual choices. The choices we make in each of these areas have an impact on our aging. This is called secondary aging because it is not based on the passage of time (known as primary aging) but on how our bodies are affected by the health decisions we make, the diseases we get, the environmental dangers we are exposed to, and the standard of living we have. Perhaps you’ve seen old photos of coal miners, as an example. Miners constantly breathed in coal dust (environmental), which often resulted in a terrible Secondary aging factors such as work environment respiratory disease called black lung disease, and had a poor and standard of living often make coal miners appear much older than they actually are. diet (nutrition) in large part due to their low income (standard Photodisc/Thinkstock of living). Like a “perfect storm,” these factors combined with natural aging to make a 30‐year old miner look like he was 50! DEMOGRAPHIC ISSUES Psychologists have found a relationship between social, cultural, and racial differences in secondary aging, but those findings may be explained by a third factor—income and education. Research shows that African Americans, Hispanics, and those in lower social classes have more chronic diseases, poorer
3 health, and a lower life expectancy than those who are in middle‐ and upper‐income brackets. However, if African Americans and Hispanics are divided into higher‐and lower‐income brackets, the racial differences disappear; it appears that income level is the most important factor associated with health, not race (Guralnik, Land, & Blazer, 1993). In addition, educational achievement is strongly associated with income. Therefore, income and education are better predictors of secondary aging than racial variables. In the early adult years, when most people are generally healthy, there is a small difference among income groups. But as people age and become more prone to disease, the impact of income on health widens. The reasons are apparent: People with lower incomes cannot afford the same health care as their wealthier counterparts, they have less access to the latest technology and tests, they are less likely to have health insurance, and most important, they have less medical knowledge and are more prone to let problems go for too long before Access to medical care has a big impact on our health, especially as we get older. seeking treatment. Thomas Northcut/White/photolibrary Although income plays an important role in the health of young adults, they make health‐related choices, which also have a major impact on their physical development, as part of their chosen lifestyle. Even small bits of information on how to keep oneself healthy can make a big difference in early adulthood. For example, by knowing the importance of taking calcium and being able to afford it, a person is much less likely to suffer from a fracture or osteoporosis later in life. In addition, young adults do not often die of diseases. The leading causes of death for young adults 18‐ to 29‐years old are accidents, homicide, and suicide, making up 70% of the 47,000 deaths in 2005. Of those deaths, 26% were caused by motor vehicle–related injuries. Not surprisingly, half of those accidents involved alcohol (National Centers for Health Statistics, 2008a; Center for Disease Control, 2008a). SEX AND SEXUALLY TRANSMITTED INFECTIONS Women reach their peak of sexual desire in their early 30s (Schmitt et al., 2002) while men peak in their early 20s. Sex researchers have known for a long time that the most important variable in sexual desire and pleasure is the brain. A lot depends on your partner, how well you communicate, and how comfortable you are with your body. Regardless, for women and men in early adulthood, in general, orgasms are more reliable, hormone levels peak (early to mid‐30s for women; late teens to early 20s for
4 men), and the awkwardness of adolescence has given way to more confidence and better communication. Over 80% of sexually transmitted infections (STIs) occur in the under‐25 population (Centers for Disease Control, 2008c). Obviously, the choices that adolescents and young adults make regarding sex can have lifelong health consequences. The human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), which is the virus that causes AIDS, and genital herpes have lifelong effects, whereas other STIs like chlamydia, gonorrhea, and syphilis are easily cured with immediate treatment. Demographic issues often change the discussion. For instance, AIDS/HIV has dropped from the 5th to the 20th leading cause of death in the United States; but more important, AIDS/HIV is the leading cause of death among African American women between 30‐ and 39‐years‐old. No doubt the vast majority of those women contracted HIV in their teens and early 20s. Acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS) is a chronic, life‐threatening disease caused by the HIV virus. The human Young adulthood is a time when many people are involved in sexual relationships. immunodeficiency virus (HIV) damages the immune system, making Joe Madeira/Stockbyte/Thinkstock it less able to fight off other illnesses and infections, including pneumonia. The virus is transmitted from one infected person to another by sexual contact (including oral sex), infected blood, sharing needles contaminated with the blood of an infected user, and even from mother to child—a tremendous problem in underdeveloped countries. HIV is not spread through ordinary contact like shaking hands, hugging, dancing, or kissing (Mayo Clinic, 2009h). Tens of millions of people worldwide carry the HIV virus. Roughly 15% of all new HIV/AIDS diagnoses in the United States are among people ages 40‐ to 44‐years‐old (Centers for Disease Control, 2008b). The incidence of HIV/AIDS deaths in the United States has remained roughly the same since 2000 and is less than half the rate in 1990. Three times as many men die of the disease as women (National Center for Health Statistics, 2008e). SMOKING Part of becoming an adult is making wise, long‐term choices for yourself and others in your life. Teens and young adults often smoke cigarettes because it seems like an adult behavior, a status they strongly desire. Twenty‐one percent of Americans smoke cigarettes. About 440,000 people in the United States die each year from various diseases caused by smoking cigarettes. One of the most dangerous choices anyone can make is to smoke. Worldwide, the death figure jumps to well over 4 million people per year
5 (Centers for Disease Control, 2009a). It is as if the entire population of Cleveland, Ohio, died every year from smoking! Smoking causes cancers of the lung, larynx, mouth, brain, esophagus, bladder, kidney, pancreas, and cervix. It sharply increases the risk of heart disease and stroke and is the leading cause of emphysema and other respiratory diseases that together are the 4th leading cause of death in the United States and 11th worldwide. Smokers are 14 times more likely to die from lung cancer than nonsmokers and twice as likely to die from a heart attack. When a pregnant woman smokes, it can cause a low–birth weight baby, stillbirth, or reduced cognitive ability in the newborn (Whalley, Fox, Deary, & Starr, 2005). Some Some decisions young adults make, such as choosing to smoke cigarettes, can have life‐long affects. studies have also found infants of smokers have a Photodisc/Thinkstock higher risk of dying from SIDS (sudden infant death syndrome). Young adults are often not aware of the dangers that their smoking poses for their children and others. Nonsmokers who breathe smoke in the air (secondhand smoke) are also at great risk. Sometimes called “passive smoking” or “environmental tobacco smoke” secondhand smoke carries over 250 toxic chemicals. Estimates on the number of nonsmokers who die each year from cancer and cardiovascular diseases related to breathing secondhand smoke range from about 26,000 to over 73,000. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services reports that “nonsmokers who are exposed to secondhand smoke at home or work increase their heart disease risk by 25–30% and their lung cancer risk by 20–30%. There is no Nicotene gum is a popular method used to try to risk‐free level of secondhand smoke exposure. Even brief quit smoking. Stockbyte/Thinkstock exposure can be dangerous” (2006). Nevertheless, one of the clearest beneficial long‐term choices is to not smoke. Stopping smoking has major health benefits, including a greatly reduced chance of cancer, stroke, heart attack, and emphysema (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 2001). As all smokers know, smoking is addictive, perhaps the most difficult addiction to break (National Institute on Drug Abuse, 2008).
6 PSYCHOACTIVE SUBSTANCES Among youths who smoke cigarettes, the rate of illicit (illegal) drug use is over 9 times higher than among those who didn’t smoke. Those data do not mean that cigarette smoking leads to drug use. They simply show that the kind of person who smokes at a young age is more likely to also use drugs. Personality factors may be more important than the actual behavior of lighting up. Drugs are not just confined to illegal, potentially addicting substances or medical prescriptions. They include all legal and illegal substances that can change a person’s functioning. Drugs and alcohol are called psychoactive substances Figure 3.1 ‐ The number of people in the United States using illicit because they alter brain functioning. Substances drugs in the month preceding the survey; the numbers total more than 20.1 million due to polydrug use. (Source: Substance Abuse like caffeine, methamphetamine, Ecstasy, and and Mental Health, 2009). alcohol affect consciousness, thought, perception, mood, or behavior. Psychoactive substances are often divided into four main categories, based on the effect that they have on the central nervous system: depressants, stimulants, opiates, and hallucinogens. According to data extrapolated from the 2008 National Survey on Drug Use and Health (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 2008), it is estimated that over 20 million people in the United States use illicit drugs on a monthly basis, or about 8% of the over‐12 years‐of‐age population (Figure 3.1). Of those who Figure 3.2 ‐ Drug usage by age in the United States: The survey use illicit substances, marijuana was used by over shows that young adults, ages 18‐ to 25‐years‐old, are the biggest 75% of current illicit drug users; it is the only drug users of illicit substances. (Source: Substance Abuse and Mental used by 57.3% of them. Young adolescents are not Health, 2009.) the biggest users of illicit drugs, as one might think; young adults are the biggest users of illicit substances (Figure 3.2).
7 ADDICTION When researchers and doctors assess for drug and alcohol addiction, they usually throw around terms like dependence, tolerance, chemical imbalance, craving, and withdrawal. A doctor may ask you if you have tried unsuccessfully to cut back or how you feel when you don’t use the substance. Unfortunately, none of those measures are particularly objective. They are based on a medical model that dominates the addiction field, but it doesn’t explain social variables in addiction. For instance, how come construction workers are most often addicted to beer? How come the drug of choice in Japan is methamphetamine? How come Hollywood‐types have more problems with cocaine? Tens of thousands of people (mostly adolescents) seek treatment for marijuana addiction every year, but according to most medical models, it is not physically addicting. And finally, although it is good advice to stay away from psychoactive There is no definitive way to explain why some people develop addictions and others substances, there is also evidence that shows former alcohol addicts do not. can use responsibly. Jupiterimages/Polka Dot/Thinkstock However, some factors can put you at a higher risk of drug addiction, such as a family history of addiction, peer pressure, anxiety, depression, loneliness, and lack of family involvement (Mayo Clinic, 2009b). If you are worried about someone (including yourself) being addicted, a number of objective psychological factors can be used in assessment. 1. Legal issues. Has the user been in trouble with the law, for example, by driving drunk, buying illegal narcotics, or stealing to support a habit? 2. Financial problems. Is the person buying drugs or alcohol instead of paying the rent or making the car payment? Did the user lose a job because of drug or alcohol use? 3. School or work. Has the person missed work or blown off school because of a hangover or because he or she was buying drugs? Does the person get high even though it interferes with studying? 4. Relationships. Have relationships changed because of substance use? Is the person hanging out with different (or significantly fewer) people? Is there an absence of formerly close relationships with friends or family?
8 5. Health. Are veins collapsing due to heroin injections? Is the person forsaking proper nutrition or sleep while taking methamphetamine? Did the user contract an STI or become seriously injured while engaging in questionable behaviors while using? Treatment for addiction can be effective in both inpatient and outpatient settings. Withdrawal therapy (detoxification, which means to get the drugs out of the body) is often an important first step. Treatment also includes therapy sessions focusing on behavior modification to resist temptations. The most commonly used treatment for addiction is self‐help, the largest organization of which is Alcoholics Anonymous (AA). One important factor related to overcoming addiction—regardless of the type of treatment—is having a strong social support group (Vaillant, 1992). That is why counseling often involves family members so that they can learn techniques to help the addict remain clean. DEPRESSANTS As its name implies, depressants—alcohol, barbiturates (downers), and benzodiazepines—depress, or slow down, your body’s functioning. Outside of nicotine and caffeine, alcohol is the most widely used psychoactive substance in the world. Alcohol abuse is widespread among young adults, especially those away from home for the first time at college. A national survey of full time college students in 2008 found that 61% were current drinkers and 40.5% were binge drinkers. The use of alcohol is somewhat lower among those not in college (Substance Abuse and Mental Health, 2009). Binge drinking, which is defined as elevating blood alcohol levels to .08 or greater over a 2‐hour period, is especially dangerous. For men, that would be having five or more drinks in a row, and four for women. Studies show that binge‐drinking students are much more likely to miss classes, sustain injuries, drive while drunk, have unprotected sex, forget events, and be arrested (Wechsler, Davenport, & Sowdall, 1994; Verster, van Duin, & Volkerts, 2003). Alcohol use is common among young adults, especially in social situations. Jupiterimages/Goodshoot/Thinkstock Alcohol is a large contributor to the number‐one killer of young adults, accidents (National Center for Health Statistics, 2008a). In 2008, drunk driving accounted for 11,783 deaths, 32%of all traffic fatalities. Young adults ages 21‐ to 35‐years‐old make up more than half of all alcohol‐related vehicle fatalities. The percentage of adults who have alcohol problems is greatest among 18‐ to 29‐year‐old young adults (National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, 2005).
9 A typical serving of alcohol is one beer, one 6‐ounce glass of wine, or one shot of “hard” liquor. Every drink contributes to a blood alcohol concentration (BAC), which is the percentage of alcohol in the blood. A level of .08 is considered drunk driving, but most people are impaired at a lower level, between .02 and .03. Every person is different though. Depending on your sex, weight, and the food in your stomach (food delays the release of alcohol, allowing the liver to break it down), three to four drinks per hour will significantly impair you and put you over the legal limit for drinking. Click here to see a BAC chart: http://alcoholprev.colostate.edu/bachart.shtml. The effects of alcohol on the body are widespread, affecting almost every organ. On a short‐term basis, alcohol depresses the inhibitory centers of the brain, allowing people to engage in behaviors they otherwise would not. The normal parts of the brain that inhibit responses are quieted. For this reason, it is sometimes called a “social lubricant.” Long‐term consequences of alcohol use include cirrhosis of the liver, a higher incidence of certain types of cancers, and an increase in heart disease and stroke. Pregnant women who drink expose their fetuses to the possibility of fetal alcohol syndrome (FAS), a devastating condition that causes damage to the developing central nervous system. FAS is almost always characterized by behavior and intellectual deficits (including low intelligence) and physical abnormalities. About 8% of pregnant women admit to drinking and 3% to binge drinking (Centers for Disease Control, 2009b), though the current recommendation by the Surgeon General of the United States is to completely abstain from alcohol during pregnancy. Excessive, long‐term drinking creates chemical changes that cause your body to crave alcohol to restore good feelings or to avoid bad feelings, known as the addictive disease of alcoholism. Alcohol abuse can have devastating Alcoholism is primarily due to heavy, long‐term drinking, but its consequences. onset can be influenced by genetics and social factors as well. iStockphoto/Thinkstock Barbiturates (“downers,” “blues”) and benzodiazepines (“bennies”) also slow your body’s functioning. They are most commonly used to treat anxiety and sleep disorders like insomnia. Unlike alcohol, the difference between a safe amount of barbiturates and a lethal dosage is quite thin. For example, the prescribed barbiturates Valium, Xanax, and Halcion and other popular street drugs can cause sleep, coma, and ultimately death. Like all “medications” someone might find in Mom or Dad’s medicine cabinet, “downers” and “bennies” are frequently used in suicide attempts. Rohypnol, or “roofies,” is a benzodiazepine that is illegal in the United States. It is commonly known as the “date‐rape” drug due to its quick‐acting sedative effect and ability to induce loss of memory. Rohypnol is most commonly ground
10 up and dropped into a drink and can leave the victim unable to remember events for hours at a time—when potential victims become vulnerable to sexual assaults. STIMULANTS Stimulants include those substances that speed your body’s functioning. They generally elevate mood, increase energy and alertness, and reduce appetite and the need for sleep. Examples include MDMA (Ecstasy), cocaine, and amphetamines such as those that are used to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Caffeine is the most widely used psychoactive drug worldwide. Over 80% of U.S. adults consume some caffeine on a daily basis. It is found naturally in coffee and tea, and to a much smaller degree, in chocolate and coffee‐flavored products. Among college students, energy drinks like Red Bull and Monster have replaced pure caffeine supplements of the past like No‐Doze and Vivarin. The main “energy” in those drinks comes from the stimulant effect of the 80–200 milligrams (and more) of caffeine! As you are probably aware, many soft drinks also contain a fair amount of caffeine, usually between 20 and 55 mg. As Figure 3.3 shows, the caffeine content of different products varies greatly, ranging from about 9 mg for a chocolate bar to 240 mg for the largest cup of Starbucks brewed coffee. If you doubt the psychoactive nature of caffeine, try taking it away from a moderate user. Withdrawal symptoms can include depressed mood, anxiety, sleepiness, and almost always, headaches. Figure 3.3‐ Caffeine content in popular items varies greatly. (Adapted from USDA National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference, 2009; Center for Science in the Public Interest, 2007; Journal of Food Science, 2007. Retrieved April 2010 from http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/caffeine/AN01211.)
11 OPIATES Opiates belong to a class of drugs that are derived naturally from the opium poppy or synthesized to have similar properties. They have narcotic (sedative) and analgesic (pain‐killing) effects. Heroin, the best known and perhaps most feared street drug, belongs to this class. Morphine and codeine are legal opiates that are used for pain relief and as a cough suppressant. Many of you have probably been prescribed acetaminophen (Tylenol) with codeine after dental work, for instance, but morphine is usually reserved for more severe pain like a cesarean birth or a physical trauma like a car accident. In 1975 scientists discovered a built‐in human painkiller that has properties almost identical to opiates. Endorphines block pain messages from reaching the brain and allow us to persist in activities. Those of you Use of opiates such as heroin can who have experienced a “runner’s high” or an “endorphine rush” result in physical dependence. BananaStock/Thinkstock understand the euphoria and sense of well‐being that endorphines produce. HALLUCINOGENS As the name implies, hallucinogens are substances that cause hallucinations and changes in perception, thought, emotion, and awareness. Users experience things that are not based in reality but appear as if they are. Marijuana, a hallucinogen, is the most common illicit drug in the United States. The leaves of the marijuana plant are dried and smoked, eaten, or brewed into a tea. Marijuana has a negative effect on energy, attention, and memory, but it has potentially positive Because marijuana has negative effects as well as medically beneficial properties, its legalization has become a debated effects as well. Marijuana has been found to alleviate issue. nausea and vomiting and to stimulate hunger, and that Doug Menuez/Valueline/Thinkstock allows chemotherapy and AIDS patients to gain weight and remain more comfortable. It has also been shown to relieve the intraocular (inside the eye) pressure that is caused by glaucoma (see Chapter 4).
12 INHALANTS Inhalants refer to a broad range of substances that contain toxic chemicals that alter perception when inhaled, such as spray paint, adhesive products, compressed air such as DustOff, and countless cleaners, solvents, and fuels. On a basic level, inhaling toxic chemicals interferes with oxygen delivery and interferes with normal heart and brain functioning. Long‐term use typically results in permanent brain damage. PRESCRIPTION DRUGS Almost any legal substance can become illicit, depending on the way it is used and distributed. Inhalants and prescription drugs are prime examples. For instance, OxyContin (generic name: oxycodone) is a pain reliever that is often prescribed after surgery. However, when “Oxy” is sold on the street, it becomes an illicit substance that in 2010 could bring up to $80 per pill. When prescription users begin to lie or seek multiple doctors to obtain a prescription, use has become problematic. If users are doing this, they have probably also hit one or more of the five assessment measures for addiction as discussed earlier, including health. Any prescription drug can be dangerous when used incorrectly. Medioimages/Photodisc/ Thinkstock REFLECT ON IT: DECISIONS Students often make choices that are harmful to them physically and mentally, even if they don’t seem dangerous at the time. Because the pleasure centers of the brain can exert such a powerful influence on decision making, students will often disregard good reasons for avoiding dangerous behaviors. • Can you think of a decision that you’ve made where you disregarded good evidence and participated in a harmful behavior because you wanted to make the choice that gave you pleasure? • What was the outcome of that decision? Would you make the same decision again? • Based on this, why do you think young adults are particularly resistant to changing their drinking‐and‐driving behavior or experimenting with drugs, despite knowing the dangers?
13 Some of these decisions are directly related to success in school. For example, students who drink too much or use illicit drugs may find their mind does not readily remember the material they study and that their willpower to study is too weak to overcome their desire for other pleasures. You can use your answers to the above questions to prepare a way to meet future challenges to your study time. Remember that one of the most common reasons why students do not pass classes—and fail in their dream of a college degree—is their frequent choice to do something else instead of studying. Plan now to meet that challenge. COMPONENTS OF HEALTH: WEIGHT, EXERCISE, AND SLEEP WEIGHT The United States has a weight problem, and the road toward obesity often starts with the choices that we make as young adults. Thirty‐six percent of us are overweight, and another 27% of us are grossly overweight, or obese—that means about 6 out of every 10 Americans are carrying around way too much weight! Experts say this is because we eat Figure 3.4 ‐ Adults in the United States have been getting steadily heavier since too much fast food, have the mid‐1970s (Source: National Center for Health Statistics, 2008d). “supersized” portions at home and restaurants, don’t exercise enough, pick poor nutritional meals, sit too much, and pick the easy options—like an elevator or driving—over the more strenuous options like taking the stairs or walking. We eat a lot more than our grandparents did and get a lot less physical exercise (Centers for Disease Control, 2008a; Mayo Clinic, 2009c). Weight has an enormous effect on health. It impacts everything from physical illnesses like heart disease and stroke to mental issues like anxiety and depression. As you can see from Figure 3.4, both men and women have been getting steadily heavier since the mid‐1970s, although the percentage of overweight women has begun to stabilize. Roughly half of young adults are overweight (National Center for Health Statistics, 2008d). Of those who are overweight, roughly half are classified as obese. To standardize weight categories and make comparisons, researchers and health‐care professionals define overweight
14 and obese by the body mass index (BMI), which is a measure that after comparing a person’s weight and height estimates healthy or unhealthy weights by the ratio (see Figure 3.5). Figure 3.5 ‐ Body mass index table. Be advised that the BMI can misclassify, especially for muscular athletes and those who are elderly. Experts also have somewhat different opinions about healthy weight ranges, so any figures should be taken as approximations, not absolutes. (Adapted from Clinical Guidelines on the Identification, Evaluation, and Treatment of Overweight and Obesity in Adults: The Evidence Report.) It is clear that many young adults are consuming more calories, which are the standard measure of food energy, than they burn. (A pound of fat has approximately 3,500 calories.) The body uses energy in two ways. First, energy is needed just to keep your autonomic nervous system (a system that is not controlled consciously) functioning: heart beating, lungs breathing, stomach digesting, maintaining body temperature, and so on. This basic functioning is called the basal metabolic rate (BMR). It normally accounts for 60–70% of all calorie requirements. When there is a calorie deficit—that is, more energy is being burned than is taken in through food and drink—the body starts burning stored fat. You can calculate your BMR by clicking this link: http://health.discovery.com/centers/heart/basal/basal.html. In addition to your BMR, you also need energy for activities—walking, reading, and even eating. These additional calories vary by the
15 amount of energy it takes to perform them. This calculator can give you an estimate of how many calories you can burn based on the type of activity and your current weight: http://health.discovery.com/tools/calculators/activity/activity.html. Because your BMR declines as you age, especially beginning in early adulthood, if you continue to eat at the same rate as you did when you were younger, you will likely gain weight. Part of that process is reflected in weight trends by age, as shown in Figure 3.6. If you want to lose weight, you must—on a daily basis—either reduce the calories coming in or expend more energy. (Before starting any plan to lose weight, it is wise to talk to your doctor.) Temporarily changing diets or increasing your physical output is not the same thing as changing your lifestyle. If you go on a crash diet or dramatically change your exercise habits over a short period of time, you are likely to revert back to your pre‐diet weight due to the body defending its set point, a mechanism that adjusts a person’s metabolism to keep weight consistent. Your body tends to burn fewer Our bodies need energy to do calories when you are dieting (to conserve energy), so your metabolism everything from pumping the heart to riding mountain bikes. slows. If you go back to your old habits, with a new (slower) metabolism, your body will take you back to your previous set point. In Jupiterimages/Photos.com/Thinkstock the meantime, that extra fuel is stored as fat. (This phenomenon is also the reason that those 10,000 calories you took in during the Thanksgiving weekend may be gone from your waistline before the next weekend—your body tries to defend the extra calories by increasing your metabolism.) If instead you reduce your calorie intake and/or increase energy use on a permanent basis (a lifestyle change), the weight will stay off. The primary cause of obesity is eating too much and eating the wrong sorts of foods, but a small genetic factor probably also makes it harder or easier to maintain one’s weight. Genes help control how efficiently your body turns food into energy, how your body burns calories, and where your extra weight is stored (e.g., waist or hips). Although researchers agree that there is at least some genetic component in weight, the strongest evidence for the absence of a large genetic role is the trend of the last 50 years or so (Mayo Clinic, 2009c). Childhood obesity has risen from less than 5% in the 1970s to 17% in 2009 (Centers for Disease Control, 2009d); among adults, the figure has risen from approximately 13% to about 36%. The percentage of overweight adults The rise of obesity is an alarming trend in the United States today. in that time (including those who are obese) has ballooned from 45 to 68%. Jupiterimages/Polka Dot/Thinkstock
16 Genetics cannot account for such a dramatic change in two generations. Weight issues run in families not only because of genetics but also because children learn bad eating habits from their parents and friends. (Recall from Chapter 2 that this is known as an environmental influence.) The Centers for Disease Control (2009d) says that, as a consequence of childhood obesity, 1 in 3 American children born in 2000 will develop diabetes. Children under 10 years of age are already developing type 2 diabetes, which in past generations had been seen virtually only in adults—and even then not usually until past the age of 40 (Centers for Disease Control, 2009c). Although most young adults are not overweight, the eating habits they create can lead to significant weight gain later when their metabolism and level of activity slows down. Though Americans continue to gain weight, more people than ever are either dieting to reduce weight or watching their calories (Kolata, 2000). The pressure that young people feel to look fit is often enormous. A fixation on weight can lead to destructive disorders like bulimia and anorexia. A lifestyle change that includes healthier food and fitness choices is the Unlike fad diets, a lifestyle that incorporates healthy key to maintaining one’s weight. Counseling and support food and exercise is the best way to keep excess groups have also shown great benefit in many cases. For more weight off over time. Max Oppenheim/Photodisc/Thinkstock severe obesity, prescription weight‐loss medications and even surgery are treatment options. Doctors warn of believing the quick‐fix pitches seen on TV and in magazines. Often the only thing you lose is your money, and these “fixes” can be dangerous. Trendy diets have shown over and over why they are simply fads: They come and go because the weight loss just doesn’t last. Consumers and health‐care professionals alike also forget that there is pleasure in food and eating. When diets take that away, they are destined to fail. Importantly, Kruger, Blanck, and Gillepse (2006) found that the most successful dieters exercised 30 minutes a day, planned their meals, and weighed themselves daily. EXERCISE Our society puts a premium on youth and attractiveness, with physical fitness being an important component of attractiveness. For most young adults, the 20s provide a double whammy of weight‐related issues. Not only does metabolism slow down, but for most of us there is also less time available for physical pursuits. Young adults are going to school, working, or taking care of a family and usually do not have the same freedom to exercise as they once did.
17 Exercise is an important component of good health. A regular exercise program reduces the danger of stroke, osteoporosis, diabetes, and some forms of cancer. It is also associated with positive mental health, especially a reduction in stress, depression, anxiety (Mayo Clinic, 2009p) and an increase in happiness. The American Heart Association (2007) reports that the fitness level of a young adult is a good predictor of whether that person will develop cardiovascular disease in middle age. Those who have a poor to Regular exercise is important for maintaining a healthy weight. What is moderate fitness level are at greater risk for your favorite way to exercise? Stockbyte/Thinkstock diabetes, high blood pressure, and heart disease, as well as reduced cognitive functions (thought to be due to less oxygen in the blood). Current recommendations by many health professionals include exercising 30 minutes a day, even if it is not continuous. It can include walking in a parking lot and taking the stairs, in addition to a daily walk during a work break. Despite the benefits, 38.5% of adults ages18‐ to 25‐years‐old do not engage in any exercise (National Center for Health Statistics, 2008a), and 80% do not exercise enough; those percentages increase with age. SLEEP It seems like an “all‐nighter” or two is a rite of passage for college students. Although those few nights of lost sleep don’t appear to have any effect other than short‐term mental, emotional, and physical fatigue, the cumulative effects of sleep deprivation may be problematic. The amount of sleep that an adult needs varies from person to person, but most sleep experts agree that you sleep enough if you are consistently alert and not drowsy during waking hours. However, for many, there is a growing sleep debt in the United States. It has been estimated that, because of electricity (especially light Figure 3.6‐ Some possible effects of sleep deprivation.
18 bulbs) and technology (especially television and the Internet), Americans on average sleep about two hours less now than they did 150 years ago. Sleep, an important part of good health, is even related to obesity in young adults. Spiegel, Knutson, and Leproult (2005) found that normal‐weight young adults who got less than 6.5 hours of sleep a night showed hormonal changes that inhibited their ability to process glucose (sugar) and a 30% increase in their levels of insulin over normal sleepers. Insulin and weight gain often go hand in hand. Figure 3.6 shows some possible health consequences of not sleeping. REFLECT ON IT: PHYSICAL HEALTH Good nutrition, exercise, and getting enough sleep are important for good health, as you have seen. And good health is important for success as a student. Poor health will rob you of the needed energy and brain functions to do well in your classes. One of your jobs as a student is to give yourself all the tools that you need to succeed. Ask yourself these questions: • Are you happy with your current exercise and nutrition regimen? Based on what you learned above, what can you do to be healthier in this aspect? • Do you feel like you get enough sleep? • How would your life be different if you were doing everything you could to promote good health? Think about what tools and support you need to start getting healthier. MENTAL HEALTH: STRESS AND DEPRESSION Moving from adolescence to adulthood can be a very traumatic experience, even in the best of circumstances. The person most often moves from a known environment where primary responsibilities are limited to an environment where the person is responsible for nearly all aspects of life—making money, paying bills, performing at work, creating a successful relationship, and even raising a child—often all within the span of a year or two. In addition, young adults have great expectations and oftentimes inflated evaluations of their skills, leading to crushing disappointments when things don’t work out as they expected them to. Early adulthood is one of the peak periods of depression. Depression is different from just being sad or unhappy. Depression is a clinical illness characterized by hopelessness, constant sadness, problems with sleep, and fatigue (Mayo Clinic, 2010). It is not just something that you can turn off, but it is treatable. You can take this free evaluation of personal depression offered by Mayo Clinic: http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/depression/MH00103_D.
19 Nearly 1 in 10 young adults reported major depression, anxiety disorders, or panic disorders during the past year. Major depression is characterized by profound sadness, loss of interest or pleasure in activities, and other symptoms that impair a person’s ability to function. These mental health problems can lead to suicide attempts, substance abuse, self‐harm, eating disorders, and other behavioral difficulties, along with health problems like heart disease (National Institute of Mental Health, 2009; National Center for Health Statistics, 2008b). Individuals suffering from depression may benefit from talking to a professional. Laurence Mouton/photolibrary Women are twice as likely as men to experience depression and anxiety disorders. Men and women deal with depression in different ways. Men are more likely to ignore symptoms and try to “tough it out” when feeling depressed. They often resort to alcohol or drugs to fight depression. Women are more likely to use their social networks of other women and are more likely to seek medical help (Mahalik, Burns, & Syzdex, 2007). Treatment for depression includes antidepressant medications and psychological counseling. Physical and social factors also can play a major role in treatment, including having the support of family and friends. Social support helps improve our sense of not being alone, improves our self‐esteem, provides a sounding board for discussing the problems, and may provide solutions or insights that are helpful. REFLECT ON IT: MENTAL HEALTH Many college students, especially those just starting out, have feelings of depression and doubt. Their lives were already full of responsibilities at work and home, and they now have to find a way to free up more hours to study, which usually means that they get less sleep and see less of their family; this can lead to depression and stress. • Do you feel stressed? If so, can you pinpoint the sources of your stress? • Has your stress caused you to feel depressed? If so, what have you tried to relieve it?
20 Students find that two key strategies for reducing stress and depression are to learn good time management skills, which do not come naturally to most people, and having the active support of your family, friends, or classmates, (You must study the techniques of time management—see the “Life Assessment” at the end of the chapter). This means that they not only accept that you have to study but also become active partners in encouraging you to study, even helping you study. Students who feel that their goal of a college degree is a shared goal to which everyone contributes in their own way have a more positive outlook than those who feel they are alone in their quest. The active and supportive partnership helps you make the right decisions about studying. COGNITIVE DEVELOPMENT There is some disagreement among psychologists over Piaget’s stage of formal operations. Traditional stage theorists believe that once adolescents reach Piaget’s final stage during adolescence, cognition does not fundamentally change again. Other stage theorists believe that cognitive changes do occur. We will examine both arguments. In addition, other models, like information processing, describe a more gradual change in thinking. JEAN PIAGET Piaget theorizes that adolescents and adults used the same basic thought processes, one of formal operations that is characterized by the use of more abstract and logical thinking. Piaget sees the difference between adolescents and adults as one of quantity of information, not style of processing or using it (Piaget, 1977). WILLIAM PERRY Others believe that substantive differences exist between adolescence and adulthood. Perry (1970, 1999) argues that adolescent thinking centers more on dualistic thinking, in terms of right/wrong or good/bad, with no middle ground. This type of absolutist thinking relies on authorities for answers: books, professors, and experts. Thinking is rigid. However, as we move into young adulthood, we become aware of relativistic thinking where there are fewer absolutes, just varying opinions and different perspectives. Perry found that this shift to reflective, relativistic thinking from the dualistic, absolutist thinking of adolescence occurs by the junior or senior year of college.
21 POSTFORMAL THOUGHT Other kinds of postformal thinking are also characterized by reflective thinking and have solutions that vary according to the situation. King and Kitchener (2004) built on Perry’s finding and suggest that postformal thought is the final stage in the development of reflective judgment. It is thought that higher order thinking develops during the final growth of the cortical regions of the brain. In the early stages of adult cognitive development, people do not understand or will not accept that knowledge may be uncertain or You may use postformal thought to make abstract decisions such as weighing all the factors involved in buying a car. contradictory and that some problems just do Thinkstock Images/Comstock not have a good solution. Beliefs need no justification because “What I believe is true” or “What the expert I trust says is true.” Later, knowledge becomes more subjective and facts vary by the situation so that people with different ideas can be right about the same question, depending on their situation. To recognize postformal thought, Sinnott (2003) proposes several criteria to judge its existence: 1. Using two different logic systems at the same time, shifting back and forth, such as between abstract reasoning and practical considerations: “It’s a logical plan, but it won’t work in real life.” 2. Categorizing the problem: “They seem to have a relationship problem, but it’s really a money problem.” 3. Deciding if the problem can be solved by applying a common solution or if it requires a unique solution: “Normally we could use that tool, but in this case we’ll have to build a special tool.” 4. Using pragmatic thinking in which multiple solutions and their pros and cons can be compared: “If we fly, we’ll save time; but if we drive, we’ll save money and see the sights.” 5. Recognizing that many problems have multiple solutions, some of which are equally good: “We could both be right about how to get this done.” 6. Recognizing that solutions aren’t perfect and that what you do might not solve the entire problem or might even create new problems: “This repair will get you back on the road, but you could end up with a radiator problem if you drive too long.”
22 REFLECT ON IT: HOW WE THINK Understanding how we think is an important part of understanding ourselves, and how we approach problems can influence our success in resolving problems. • Can you think of a situation where your thinking was rigid and you were absolutely certain that there was no other answer than yours (absolutist thinking)? • Can you think of a situation where your answer depended on a variety of factors and differing opinions (relativistic thinking)? • What type of thinking do you use most frequently in your daily life? What type of thinking do you think will make you the most successful at solving problems? LOGIC AND EMOTION Many psychologists say that being able to integrate emotion and logic is a critical step toward adult thinking (Labouvie‐Vief, 1997, 2005). Young adults, more so than adolescents, tend to analyze situations and make decisions on the basis of pragmatic, realistic, and emotional grounds, recognizing that the most practical solutions often involve compromise and a willingness to accept different thinking in different situations. ROBERT STERNBERG Unlike the stage theorists described previously, Robert Sternberg (1998) has used an information‐processing model to describe thinking. Sternberg emphasizes the importance of the initial step of encoding, or putting needed information into the system (our brain). Sternberg’s research shows that the best problem solvers are not the quickest; the quickest are the ones who take the time to gather a lot of information and then sort through it to find the most relevant pieces for the problem at hand. Novices encode a few pieces of information to draw a conclusion, whereas experts encode much more before deciding on an answer. Sternberg and Grigorenko (2000) also suggest that an important part of practical intelligence is tacit knowledge, or “know‐how” information. This is not formally taught knowledge but ways of getting things done, relating to people, and creating a positive impression, most often picked up Successful managers often have high through experience and observation. It does not correlate well with emotional intelligence. What other general intelligence, or IQ (one may be savvy without being smart), but it professions could benefit from this is highly correlated with managerial success (Sternberg, Grigorenko, & Oh, type of intelligence? iStockphoto/Thinkstock
23 2001). This association may be related to emotional intelligence (the ability to recognize and deal with feelings), both our own and those of others. Goleman (2001) found that people in major corporations who had risen to the top had a higher degree of emotional intelligence than those who had not been promoted as high, suggesting that these emotional competencies play an important role in overall evaluation of our performance. MORAL DEVELOPMENT Thinking about morality and ethical behavior is often brought to the forefront for young adults by changes in their lifestyles. When they leave home for college, jobs, or the military, they encounter new temptations and new beliefs that conflict with ideas instilled during childhood by parents, teachers, and their social network. They face new challenges in deciding what is right and wrong. As explained in Chapter 2, Kohlberg describes the late stages of moral development as an awareness that most values are relative and that laws can be changed. Universal ethical principles state that ideas about right and wrong come from within after a long period of thinking, reasoning, and integrating what we have learned about life. This last stage includes a sense of equal justice and respect for all, including empathy for the perspectives of others (Kohlberg, 1976). Kohlberg thinks that few people ever get to the last stage of moral development. Others, including Carol Gilligan, have explored these stages as they apply to adults, especially young adults. She suggests that men and women view morality in different ways (Gilligan, Sullivan, & Taylor, 1995). Men tend to define moral problems in terms of what seems right and fair, whereas women define moral problems Have you ever turned to a friend for advice in terms of caring, seeking to avoid hurting anyone. They see when faced with a moral dilemma? Jupiterimages/Comstock/Thinkstock relationships as more important than men do, so their moral perspective focuses more on maintaining those relationships and integrating oneself into “the larger human enterprise.” Men, on the other hand, see ethics and morality as a way of keeping things fair and stopping unfair aggression of the strong over the weak. This view fits with their worldview that life is about competition and seeking to gain autonomy in the face of attempts by the strongest to achieve domination. Hekman (1995, pp. 8, 11) writes that Gilligan isn’t saying one position is better than the other, just that they are different: “Gilligan claims that individuals can see moral conflicts in terms of either justice or
24 care, but not both at once. Moral problems are thus not resolved by balancing justice and care, but by taking one perspective rather than the other.” Friedman points out that in the Heinz moral dilemma (the man discussed in Chapter 2 who had to decide whether or not to steal medicine for his dying wife) it is only a dilemma if there is both a caring relationship between man and wife and a sense of unfairness about the demands of the druggist who has the medicine (Friedman, Robinson, & Friedman, 1987). This perspective suggests that care and fairness can be complementary. Her view has met resistance however, as support for differences in the moral perspectives of men and women is lacking (Pratt, Diessner, Hunsberger, & Prancer, 1991; Gilgun, 1995). REFLECT ON IT: MORALITY Almost everyone develops a sense of morality and decides what is ethical behavior for them, what they believe is right and wrong—although sometimes that decision depends on perspective. Think about the following questions to assess your view on morality • How would you describe your view of right and wrong? • Do any of the examples above seem to echo your perspective? • When you have been in an ethical conflict situation where you were torn between two actions (such as the Heinz example noted above), how did you decide what to do? EDUCATION IN EARLY ADULTHOOD Throughout most of the 20th century, it was natural to expect a college student to be between the ages of 18 and 25 years old, the years when most received their bachelor’s or master’s degrees. Late in that century, universities designed to meet the needs of adult students who wanted to return to college began to flourish, led by universities that promoted both on‐ground (“brick‐and‐mortar”) and online classes. Some traditional students go to college because it is expected of them, but many returning adult students are very goal driven. Adult students have a wide range of ages and a variety of goals. Younger adults focus on getting their college degree, whereas older adults often return for an advanced degree or specialized training to qualify for promotions. They recognize the need for a degree to open doors for employment and better salaries. They are self‐directed problem solvers who analyze The life experience of older adults often helps them to be very successful in their needs and take action to meet them. They often have an academic school. Ryan McVay/Photodisc/Thinkstock
25 advantage over younger students because their life experiences help them understand and master the academic material. They also have a strong focus on applying what they learn to their jobs, which enhances their memory for the material (Harringer, 1994). The impact of millions of better educated adults in the workforce should have a significant impact on productivity and individual opportunities for success. Adult students often fear not being able to do the work after a long layoff from school. Most often these fears are groundless, and students find that their experiences and maturity actually help them be better students. They do face additional stressful challenges as they try to juggle work and family responsibilities with the added time demands of school, so time management skills become critical. Having the support of family and friends is also important to reduce stress and provide an environment where students can study (Kirby, Biever, Martinez, & Gomez, 2004). REFLECT ON IT: YOUR EXPERIENCE AS A STUDENT • Does the above description of the motivations and challenges of being a college student reflect your own experience? • Do you think that time management skills would benefit you in your education? Click the following link for some time management strategies that you can use in your life and answer the following questions: http://collegelife.about.com/od/academiclife/a/timemanagement.htm • Which of the eight time management strategies in the link above do you currently use? Have they been successful? • Which additional strategies do you think would be helpful to you in balancing your education with your home life? Here are some additional sites that will help you think about and plan more effective time management strategies as a student: • Study Guides and Strategies (includes eye‐opening worksheets): http://www.studygs.net/timman.htm • Virginia Tech Time Management Strategies (includes online analysis of your time management now): http://www.ucc.vt.edu/lynch/TimeManagement.htm • Mind Tools (numerous helpful pages): http://www.mindtools.com/pages/main/newMN_HTE.htm
26 THINKING ABOUT THE FUTURE An important part of cognitive development in young adults revolves around developing the ability to rationally consider alternate futures for themselves. To make choices about our future plans—career, marriage, where to live—we must develop the skill of projecting ourselves into the different roles that we might occupy. What would it be like to be married to this person? What would it be like to be a nurse? What would it be like to live in San Diego? Non‐hypothetical thinking can sometimes lead to poor decision‐making. For instance, many young teens (and older women too!) romanticize child rearing. They look at only how cute little babies are and how easy they are to feed, change, and put down to nap. And they are easy—as long as you What career did you dream of as a only see them temporarily. Young mothers and fathers alike know that the child? What career would you like to reality of raising an infant—including sleepless nights, exhausting days, have now? George Doyle/Stockbyte/Thinkstock financial responsibilities, and the difficulty of simply taking a shower or running errands—is nothing like the simple projection that is sometimes discussed. Only by developing the ability for deeper reasoning and seeing the world without “rose‐colored glasses” can young adults make informed decisions about their futures. REFLECT ON IT: YOUR FUTURE Thinking realistically about your future so that you can rationally plan for it is critical. As you’ve read above, it is easy to be seduced by an unrealistic image of a job or lifestyle if you cannot think hypothetically about it. Perhaps you can think of a time (perhaps when you were a child) when you had a fantasy of what a certain career or a certain lifestyle might be like; then when you got older, you realized that it was not quite what you envisioned. It is important to get as much information as you can about the day‐to‐day experience of working in a career field, or maintaining a lifestyle, and then envisioning yourself doing it before you decide on that option. Because some young adults do not think hypothetically about their future careers or future lifestyles, the reality may not be the same as what they expected. Think about the following questions: • Can you think of a time when you were guilty of failing to use hypothetical thinking? • What career are you most interested in pursuing, either now or after you finish your degree program? • If it is a new career, what do you know about the day‐to‐day operations of that career? What do you need to learn about it to be able to project yourself into that role?
27 SOCIOEMOTIONAL DEVELOPMENT Research shows that children and adolescent socioemotional development sets the foundation for who we are as young adults. For example, one longitudinal study found that children who were highly active as toddlers were more likely to be outgoing as young adults (Franz, 1996). Another study found that children who adapted well to new experiences, had generally positive moods and emotions, and had regular eating and sleeping patterns (called “easy babies”) were more likely to be judged well adjusted as young adults (Chess and Thomas, 1987). In addition, baby boys who were emotional, irritable, cried a lot, and had irregular patterns of eating and sleeping (“difficult babies”) were more likely to drop out of school; baby girls who had this difficult temperament were more likely to later have marital problems (Wachs, 2000). Kagan (2008) found that children who had an inhibited temperament were less likely to be assertive as adults and to start full‐time work later. Individually, outcomes are dependent on gender, culture, and socioeconomic factors. However, it This baby’s temperament may offer a glimpse into what she’ll be like as an adult. does appear that our earlier years create Jupiterimages/Brand X Pictures/Thinkstock tendencies that play an important role in our psychosocial and emotional development. One of the most difficult challenges in life is becoming an adult. Recall that in Chapter 2 we discussed Erikson’s stage theory and briefly Levinson’s stage theory. Each suggested there is an underlying order of development, leading us through stages, each with its own goals and difficulties to overcome. In each stage, we must first learn what to do and how to do it; then we master those skills, making us more comfortable in that stage. DANIEL LEVINSON Levinson says that in the early adult years, we are in the novice phase of adulthood. In this stage, he suggests that as a man leaves his family and strikes out on his life adventure, he must accomplish four goals: (1) Find a dream of who he wants to become; (2) find an occupation that leads him in that direction; (3) find a mentor to help him achieve it; (4) find a love relationship (Levinson, 1979). Levinson believes that everyone goes through the same basic pattern of development, which he categorized in long periods he called eras. He likened this idea to seasons of the year (his 1979 book is titled The
28 Seasons of a Man’s Life). Each era (season) is different; there are transition periods between eras, and there is change within each era. In addition, each of the four eras contains stages (Table 3.1). Table 3.1 Levinson’s Life Stages ERA AGES STAGE AGE LIFE EVENTS Preadulthood 0–22 The formative years for physical, social, and psychological growth. Levinson was not too interested in the earlier part of this period. Transition Early adult 17–22 A developmental bridge from preadulthood to early period adulthood. The “budding” adult begins to modify transition her relationship with family and friends, seeking a place in the adult world Early 17–45 Starts with the transition period noted above. An Adulthood era of great energy and great stress. Dreams of the future are firmed up. Careers and families are made, both creating stressors that strain relationships. Entry life 22–28 A time to experiment and discover possible life structure for pathways related to career, relationships, and life early styles; a time to settle on a stable structure for life. adulthood Can be a time of great mental confusion. Age 30 28–33 A time to reappraise choices and make changes transition based on more mature goals, which are often focused on both family and career. Culminating 30–40 The period when early adulthood’s social and life psychological growth is completed and some goals structure for are achieved. We have greater self‐confidence early and purpose. We start to rely less on what others adulthood think and want and more on what we think and want. Transition Midlife 40–45 The second major life shift, this period bridges period transition young adulthood and middle adulthood. Decisions are made about what to do and who to be in middle adulthood. We’re forced to face the transition between young and old as physical
29 capabilities and health show evidence of decline. We begin to think a little about death, driven by the realization that half of life is over. We also tend to become more balanced in our masculine/feminine sides, and relationships built or discarded. It is a time to try out new ideas for a new era. Middle 40–60 The middle years of life separate the period of Adulthood youthful experimentation and the decline of old age. It can be a difficult time. Dreams of young adulthood may be achieved or let go. Relationships may flourish or die, although acceptance of “what we have” is most common. Fears about loss of jobs, loved ones, dreams and opportunities are more common. We may also become more at peace with ourselves and our place in life. Entry life 45–50 Just as we entered young adulthood with an structure for experimental stage, we enter middle adulthood middle with a time in which we let go of some parts of our adulthood youth and try out new ideas that are more realistic for middle age, including activities, relationships, career paths, spiritual thoughts, and planning for the future. This, too, can be a time of mental anxiety and uncertainty as we learn to be a middle aged adult. Age 50 50–55 This is a time when trying out new ideas gives way transition to making decisions about relationships, careers, goals, and generally how we want to live our lives, including the balance we need between work and family. This too can be a time of fear and upheaval, or of simply making modifications to improve life. The 55–60 As with the last stage of young adulthood, this is a culminating time when some of the new dreams and goals of life this era are fulfilled. Others are let go with a structure for greater acceptance of their loss than during our middle youth. Generally, a greater balance in many of life’s adulthood polarities are achieved, leading to greater
30 contentment. We become the senior members of most groups to which we belong, gaining respect for our wisdom and experience. Late 60–65 This is another transition period between eras. As adulthood we face the realities that much of our life is over and we are becoming old. It may lead to transition reappraisal of ourselves and our lives, including a hard look at what we have accomplished. It is a time of starting to re‐evaluate our priorities in life. Late 60– Priorities change in this period, with work and Adulthood death career goals now less important than family and health. It is a time of wrapping‐up unfinished goals and setting out new goals for the remainder of our active life, as well as planning for our death. Levinson writes of this stage, “we experience the culminating phase as a time of rich satisfactions and of bitter disappointments, discovering as we so often do that the era ultimately gives us much more and much less than we have envisioned” (Levinson, 1986, p 227.) A person gradually becomes less of a central character in his environment as he sets aside work and personal responsibilities. If he tries to hold on too long, he may be seen as a despot by his family and “out of touch” by his coworkers. He forms a broader perspective about himself and the world around him as he constructs a new life structure, his last. (Source: Levinson, 1979, 1986.) Levinson (1986) states that the pattern of life he discusses is supported by the findings of many studies. In Levinson’s life structure, people go through each stage in the same order and at roughly the same age. Eras are joined through a transition period that overlaps both and generally lasts 5 to 7 years. These transition periods allow the person to wrap up life in one period and start practicing on the life skills needed for next one. For example, during high school, students often have jobs to make extra money, and they often form intimate relationships. These are similar to the challenges they will face next in Early Adulthood, when they must seek and hold a job and perhaps get married. The purpose of each transition stage, says Levinson, is “to reappraise the existing [life] structure, to explore possibilities
31 for change in the self and the world, and to move toward commitment to the crucial choices that form the basis for a new life structure in the ensuing period [era]” (1986, p.226). Levinson theorizes that conflicts would arise as a person moves from one stage to another. For example, a boy may be good at the tasks required for doing well in high school, but when he enters the world of 9‐to‐5 jobs, a whole new set of skills are required, some of which he may be unprepared to handle. A girl may be good at having an intimate Members of the three generations of this family each represent a relationship as long as she lives in her own home different stage of life in Levinson’s schema. Jupiterimages/Creatas/Thinkstock but will face unknown challenges after she is married and lives with her husband. This is the period of adjustment that begins every new stage. Once new tasks are mastered, however, stability is created in that new stage—until it is time to move on again. Levinson sums up his theory this way: The life cycle is an organic whole and each period contains all the others. The developing individual is like a long‐distance traveler: from time to time he changes vehicles, fellow passengers and baggage of all kinds, but the past does not simply disappear. He is now engaged not only with his current locale, but with the various worlds he has lived in and the worlds he is moving toward. The past and the future are in the present. (1979, p. 321) Levinson (1996) says that women face the same four developmental tasks, but women are more interested in finding ways to combine work and family, while men see themselves in terms of their career. White women are more likely to try to juggle marriage, parenthood, and career simultaneously, while many nonwhite women begin with parenthood (married or not) and then enter the labor force. Critics have argued that, in addition to being too general, Levinson’s ideas are anachronistic. For example, Phinney (2006) notes that since Levinson’s time the pathways to adulthood have become more varied. For example, he notes that nonwhite men are more likely to follow a path of finishing high school, finding a job, siring a child, and then getting married.
32 REFLECT ON IT: LIFE STAGES Review the stages proposed by Levinson and answer the following questions: • Does one of them apply to how you see your life right now? • Do you feel you are in the stage he suggests for your age group? If not, how is your experience different from Levinson’s findings? ERIK ERIKSON You will recall from Chapter 2 that Erikson’s theory of psychosocial development enjoys both theoretical and applied support. If adolescents successfully develop a sense of identity, then, as they move into adulthood, they will be able to share themselves in an emotionally intimate relationship with another, which refers to not only sexual relationships but also any emotionally intimate relationship that involves sharing and vulnerability. On the other hand, if a young adult has not yet successfully resolved the crisis of identity, then it becomes more difficult to form deep relationships. Expressing hopes, dreams, and fears to an intimate partner also helps solidify and integrate self‐image. In the absence of that intimacy, relationships are more superficial; without the risk of vulnerability, a sense of isolation develops. This dichotomy is the basis for Erikson’s stage of Intimacy Versus Isolation, which is said to occur in early adulthood. Once intimacy has been achieved, it sets the stage for the next period of psychosocial development, generativity, whereby adults begin to provide for the next generation. (Generativity Versus Stagnation is discussed in Chapter 4, “Middle Adulthood.”) LOVE AND RELATIONSHIPS IN EARLY ADULTHOOD FRIENDSHIP It is well known that friendships are important for good mental health, providing us with affection, support, self‐esteem, and an outlet for stress. Women tend to have more friends than men and talk more about intimate, personal subjects than men do with their friends (Dow & Wood, 2006). Men tend to talk less with friends but engage in more activities, especially outdoor activities, while sharing information and opinions, rather than feelings or internal conflicts. When they do share emotions, they are seeking solutions, not sympathy as women do (Tannen, 1990).
33 Tannen makes a distinction between two types of talk. Women prefer rapport talk. It fosters relationships and understanding, establishes connections and enriches them. Report talk, which men prefer, concentrates more on giving information and advice. For example, when women are stressed out because of difficult issues at work or school and talk to men, they want them to simply listen, to pay attention and be empathic. However, men often only want to offer answers. Some men will become frustrated when their girlfriends or spouses want to keep talking about a situation for which they have already offered a solution. Making friends is a big part of our emotional development. Digital Vision/Thinkstock Newman, Groom, and Handelman (2008) found support for these differences in a study of the words that men and women use. He found that women use words that discussed people and what they were doing, expressing inner feelings and doubts, and were more emotional. Men, on the other hand, used more words to talk about events, money, sports, work, and so on. Unless the words involved swearing, they had distinctly less emotion than women’s words. LOVE Love may be expressed in many ways, such as romantic love, maternal love, friendship, and affection, which resembles romantic love without the sexual component. These types of love include feelings of intimacy with others, of being able to disclose private thoughts and accept those of others. This, of course, is what Erikson suggests must happen in his developmental stage called Intimacy Versus Isolation. Robert Sternberg’s triangular theory of love posits that love has three components—intimacy, passion, This couple shows signs of romantic love. and commitment (Table 3.2)—and these change over time Creatas/Thinkstock (Figure 3.7).
34 Table 3.2: Sternberg’s Types of Love Combinations of Love Type of Love Intimacy Passion Commitment Example Nonlove The way you feel about people with whom you feel no connection, perhaps the DMV worker Liking X Friends who Facebook and get together at parties during school breaks Infatuated love X Someone you might hook up with at a party because you were mutually attracted Empty love X Couples who stay married “for the kids” Romantic love X X Couples who have a “regular date” on Saturday nights but have been together only a short time and have no future plans Companionate love X X A loving older couple (perhaps) who no longer feel sexual interest in each other Fatuous love X X A couple who move in with each other after hooking up 2 weeks ago Consummate love X X X An emotionally close, sexually exciting long‐term relationship Each component develops at different times and in different amounts, depending on the person and the relationship. Sternberg says that a relationship based on a single element is less likely to survive than one based on two or three elements. At the start of a romantic relationship, it is often difficult to separate love from lust, especially for men. Passion is at its peak early in the relationship, producing intense excitement (Sternberg, 1997). Anderson and Middleton (2006) report there is a biological and neurochemical (related to brain chemicals) reason for this excitement. The brain’s pleasure centers are receiving jolts of dopamine, which stimulates feelings of pleasure. As the newness of the relationship subsides, so do the larger jolts of Figure 3.7‐ According to Sternberg, the relative importance of intimacy, passion, and commitment changes over the duration of the relationship. (Adapted from Robert J. dopamine. Sternberg, A triangular theory of love. Psychological Review, 93(2) , 119–135.)
35 This is not to say that passion goes away, but it is transformed. According to Sternberg, couples that experience companionate love are the ideal, what some describe as the “perfect couple.” Difficulties are overcome with grace and dignity. Sternberg also cautions that maintenance of a consummate love is more difficult than obtaining it. In other words, the relationship cannot be taken for granted; one must pay attention to it: “Without expression, even the greatest of loves can die” (1987, p. 341). Companionate love may replace consummate love if passion is lost. REFLECT ON IT: LOVE • Which of Sternberg’s types of love have you experienced? • Do you agree with the Sternberg’s categories and descriptions of love, or would you change them based on your own experiences? • Which types of love do you feel are the most rewarding and form the strongest basis for a long‐term relationship? MOST DESIRED CHARACTERISTICS IN LONG‐TERM LOVE RELATIONSHIPS What people report as being desirable varies by culture, by person, and by generation. In a rank order of mate preferences across six decades, some traits have remained stable while others have changed considerably. Things like character, emotional stability, and similar religious background have remained fairly stable. “Mutual attraction,” which for 30 years has been cited by both men and women as the most important trait, climbed from fourth place for men and sixth for women over the last two or three generations. Men are now less concerned that their mate is a good cook and housekeeper; interestingly, women are now less concerned about ambition and industriousness (perhaps because they are more likely to be industrious themselves). Among other factors, chastity is has become less important for both men and women, but an educated spouse has become much more desirable. So once you find someone you are attracted to, how do you know that What do you think are the most person is “the one”? If a relationship is to continue, importance of important traits in a long‐term intimacy and commitment become paramount. In The Art of Loving, relationship? Digital Vision/Photodisc/Thinkstock psychologist Erich Fromm (1956) offers a wealth of advice about nurturing love. Fromm says that love unites two people while retaining
36 the separateness and integrity of one’s sense of self. He pointed out four key aspects of love: • Care: Active concern for the other person’s growth and happiness • Responsibility. Active response to the needs of the other person, whether expressed or not. • Respect. Relating to the other person as he or she is, without modification based on my fears or wishes • Knowledge. Understanding the person at a deeper level than surface knowledge. This idea is what Erikson calls “intimacy.” GAY AND LESBIAN COUPLES Gay and lesbian relationships are similar to heterosexual relationships in satisfaction, joy, and conflict, and most do not fit the stereotype of one masculine/one feminine partner. In Kurdek’s comprehensive review of the literature (1998), it was concluded that the quality of relationships among gay and lesbian couples was the same as that of heterosexuals. In addition, Kurdek (1998) also reported that gay and lesbian couples generally value the same relationship principles as Desired relationship characteristics are the same for most couples ‐ regardless of sexual orientation. heterosexual couples. In other words, on average, homosexual BananaStock/Thinkstock couples want the same things and behave the same way as heterosexual couples. MARRIAGE When couples do marry, they are waiting. The median age for first marriage among American men is at an all‐time high of 27.5 years; among women, it is 25.6 years (Figure 3.8). When researchers look for an optimal age to get married, they rule out adolescent marriage where the odds of divorce are high (Furstenberg, 2007). But other than that, there doesn’t seem to be an ideal age to marry. Although homogamy—or marriage among people who are similar to each other culturally (especially within religious and ethnic affiliation) —has been the standard for most marriages in the United States, the rate of marriages crossing ethnic/racial lines has been increasing. While your grandparents might argue that ethnic and racial differences increase tension in a marriage, research does not support their position. Instead, similarities in values, background, and life goals of the couple are more likely to lead to a successful marriage (Popenoe and Whitehead, 2004).
37 What do psychologists say makes a good marriage? In some studies, both husbands and wives point to “equal say, equal responsibilities” as a key factor. Marriages with this characteristic have more happiness, more interaction, less conflict, fewer problems, and are less prone to divorce (Amato, Booth, & Johnson, 2007). Others have isolated specific behaviors associated with a strong marriage/partnership (Harvey & Weber, 2002): 1. Being positive and cheerful 2. Being open and talking about how you feel, especially about the relationship 3. Giving positive messages to your partner 4. Demonstrating love and faithfulness Figure 3.8‐ The median age of men and women when they marry (1890–2009). (Source: U.S. Census Bureau, 5. Spending time together with friends and family Current Population Survey, March and Annual Social and Economic Supplements, 2009 and earlier.) 6. Sharing tasks 7. Doing activities together (that both of you enjoy) 8. Being spontaneous 9. Expressing affection and being sexually intimate [(75% of women and 82% of men say that giving love and affection is very important for their partner to do, according to the Rockefeller Foundation study (Shriver & Center for American Progress, 2009). In recent years, major conflict and drama in relationships have become much more prevalent. Some psychologists have suggested that there has been a fundamental shift in marriages. Before the 1960s, unions were described as mostly companionate marriages. Spouses complemented each other and had mutual goals such as raising children, owning a home, and giving to the community (Mintz & Kellogg, 1988). Some have suggested that an individualistic marriage model has replaced the earlier model (Cherlin, 2004). If a relationship is focused more on selfish needs than on forming a complementary bond, then it is more likely to fail because one or both partners’ needs are not being met.
38 Successful psychotherapists often point to simple ideas that can be used to form more successful relationships. Early marital problems can often be helped and success in relationships facilitated with easy interventions. For instance, couples need to understand the simple importance of saying, “Thank you.” A basic tenet of social kindness, we sometimes take this simple expression of gratitude for granted. Remember, every marriage has an implied contract. It is not usually something that is discussed or written down; it is simply a way that couples settle down and fall into consistent roles and behaviors. But we still need to know that we are important (remember, according to Erikson, a strong sense of identity is a prerequisite for intimacy). When people take their partners for granted, intimacy can break down. It seems silly to “practice” thanking the other person, but it works. Expressions of gratitude like, “Thank you for washing the Couples who consciously work to develop a dishes,” “Thank you for taking the car in,” “Thank you for taking care successful relationship have a better chance at a lasting, happy marriage. of the bills,” “Thank you for taking the garbage out” shows Dynamic Graphics/Creatas/Thinkstock appreciation and that the other person is valued. You may not think that vacuuming deserves a “thank you,” but did you want to do it? While older adults who stay together learn by trial and error what works, young adults do not have that luxury. They can offset that disadvantage by going to school. Stanley, Amato, & Johnson (2006) cite research, with over 3,000 people, showing that premarital education contributes to a successful marriage. Couples going to the classes report that it resulted in a higher level of marital satisfaction and fewer arguments. Premarital classes always deal with one of the most often cited problems in troubled relationships: “lack of communication.” REFLECT ON IT: RELATIONSHIPS If you are married or in a stable relationship, the quality of that relationship has an impact on your mental outlook, your physical energy, and your success as a student. Look at the list of attributes for a strong marriage or partnership listed above and think about the following questions (If you are not currently in a relationship, think about past relationships that you have had): • How would you score your relationship on each one? • Which ones need the most improvement? • What “rules” do you have with your partner when there are disagreements? Do they work? • How well does each of you rate on Fromm’s love factors of giving each other care and respect?
39 COHABITATION In 1970 the U.S. Census Bureau reported just over half a million couples living together, but by 2009 that figure had risen to nearly 5.5 million (U.S. Census Bureau, 1998, 2009). Although about half of all first marriages are preceded by cohabitation, a growing body of research suggests that when compared to adults who do not live together before marriage, adults who cohabitate first are more likely to get divorced once they do marry (Popenoe, 2007; Watson & DeMeo, 1987; Kline, Stanley, & Markman, 2004). Others have found lower rates of marital satisfaction and eventually higher rates of divorce among couples who lived together first (Whitehead & Popenoe, 2003). Similarly, Xu, Hudspeth, and Bartkowski (2006) found those who divorced and then lived with someone else before a second marriage had a higher divorce rate than those who did not cohabitate. This phenomenon may be due to a more defined sense of In the United States it is not uncommon for a commitment among those who do not cohabitate. That is, if couple to move in together without being couples think “Well, let’s move in together to try it out,” they are married. not making as strong a psychological statement as “We don’t need Jupiterimages/Goodshoot/Thinkstock to move in together first because we know it will work.” In other words, those who choose to cohabitate and those who choose not to may be two different groups of people, with different values. A particular area of concern is when children live in the same household as cohabitating adults. Kellogg (2007) found that children under 5‐years‐old who were living with a cohabitating parent were 50 times more likely to die from child abuse than children living with just one parent or two biological parents. In addition, more young adults are deciding to remain single. The reasons cited include wanting to start a career, concern about divorce, enjoying the single life, having unresolved issues from past relationships, and not finding the perfect mate (Rogers & Rogers, 2006). DIVORCE Divorce often leaves emotional scars that last a long time. Both men and women usually experience emotional challenges after a divorce, including loneliness, lower self‐esteem, worry about the future, difficulty forming new relationships, fear of failure in a new relationship, and depression (Amato, 2006). However, many people cope effectively with divorce, and the emotional impact of divorce lessens over time for most people.
40 Expectations of what marriage would be like are highly associated with divorce. Unrealistic and overly rosy expectations are more likely to result in divorce. Those who marry early during the most passionate phase of a relationship are more prone to divorce (Huston, Caughlin, & Houts, 2001). Divorce is also more likely among those who marry young, have low education and income levels, have divorced parents, and have a baby before marriage. On the other hand, those who marry later, have a religious affiliation, and have a rich network of supportive friendships are less likely to divorce (Gottman, 1994). The divorce rate is lower in first marriages for educated people, couples who wait until their mid‐ to late 20s to marry, or those who are strongly religious and marry within their faith. PARENTING According to a recent survey, 62% of women and 68% of men say that it is important to have a family (Rockefeller Foundation, 2009). Parenting, especially with a first baby, can be very stressful. Part of that stress is economic. The typical American family spends roughly 20% of their pretax income on raising one child, and nearly double that for two children under age 5 (Joint Economic Committee, 2007). Perhaps those economics contribute to the trend of couples electing to have fewer children (Figure 3.9) (U.S. Census Bureau, 2008b). Although having children may create stress that can lead to divorce, most often it is a fulfilling experience. Raising a child requires a new set of interpersonal skills, though. It is not true that knowing how to take care of an infant is instinctual, requiring no training. As parenting consultant Blythe Lipman states in her book More Help! My Baby Came Without Instructions (2008), “When mom is alone with her crying newborn, her instinct is to quiet the baby, but she may not know what to do. Parenting skills are not instinctual, they must be learned at some point in life” (p. ii). After the baby is born, one possible challenge that new families face is the hormonal readjustment in the mother after giving birth, which often results in postpartum (after birth) depression. Symptoms include anxiety, confusion, irritability, waves of sadness, crying spells, sleeping Figure 3.9‐ U.S. total fertility rate, 1917–2007 (Source: National Center for Health Statistics, 2007). problems, feelings of hopelessness, and lack of appetite (Wisner, Parry,
41 & Piontek, 2002). Symptoms last from a few days to a few weeks. Cases longer than that are quite serious if they continue. Postpartum depression should always be treated by a health‐care professional. Infant development can be affected because of a lack of attention, care, or responsiveness. In addition, Evenson and Simon (2005) found that couples raising children, especially young children, had higher levels of depression than those not Parenting is not an easy job, but it does have its rewards. raising children. In their study, men and women Wave RF/photolibrary often said the emotional demands of child rearing outweighed the emotional rewards. However, the research also showed that a significant cause of this feeling was lack of sleep. With adequate sleep, both parents had a happier outlook on parenthood. In addition to lack of sleep, other stressors on a relationship include little or no time to show each other affection, fewer shared leisure activities, lack of time with friends, conflict over spousal roles and parenting decisions, and worry about making a health‐threatening mistake with the baby. Although men are now assuming more of a role in household duties than in the past, women usually still do a disproportionate share. For many couples, a shared division of responsibilities is critical for maintaining the relationship (Goldberg & Perry‐Jenkins, 2004). REFLECT ON IT: PARENTING If you are a parent . . . • How did the arrival of a child impact your life? • What sort of positive changes and negative changes occurred in your relationships with others? • How was parenthood similar or different from what you thought it would be? • Did being a parent influence your decision to go back to school? If you are not a parent . . . • How did the arrival of a baby impact the lives of those around you? • What changes did you notice in their relationships with others? • Did you notice any changes in their overall outlook on life?
42 WORK When researchers asked adults to describe their hoped‐for self in the future, young adults said that finding the right partner and the right career were most important (Hooker, Fiese, & Jenkins, 1996, Cross & Markus, 1991). Young adults hypothesize about ideal jobs and families. They see themselves improving with age and succeeding in their dreams, while the possibility of failure or disappointment is remote. Some have suggested that such a powerful belief is critical in giving young adults the confidence they need to try to succeed. WOMEN AND WORK When asked why they worked, 81% of married women say that being financially secure is very important to them, and 85% say they want to be self‐sufficient; they also said they liked “the feeling of accomplishment,” and “contact with people,” all of which add to their feelings of self‐esteem and identity (Amato et al., 2007). Women often have a different experience at work than men do. Gilligan (1982) suggests that women’s natural approach of building consensus can work against them in the workplace. For example, women Women may face a unique set of challenges in the often ask others what they think, but men (who do not workplace. Jupiterimages/Photos.com/Thinkstock share this orientation) can take that as a sign of weakness and indecision. Women are also less likely to speak up about their accomplishments and may even let others take credit for their work to keep harmony (Tannen, 2007). MEN AND WORK For men, work is an integral part of their identity, and they often define themselves by their job title or profession. Those who don’t work often feel adrift, outcasts who are violating the strong work ethic that permeates our culture. Unemployment can lead to depression, loss of self‐worth, feelings of isolation, and stress. These feelings often spill over into a relationship and can lead to abuse and the destruction of the relationship. Unfortunately, men are far less likely to seek help for depression and more likely to turn to alcohol or drugs. When men regain jobs, however, the negative feelings about themselves melt away, as they once again feel they have a purpose and are able to be the breadwinner. A mans job may be an important part of his identity. Thomas Northcut/ Photodisc/ Thinkstock
43 THE WAGE GAP There is a lot of discussion regarding the so‐called wage gap, comparing work and income by men and women. The Rockefeller Foundation (2009) reports that women, compared to men, on average earn just 77 cents on the dollar. However, women comprise 51% of all high‐paid management and professional jobs, such as financial or human relations managers, accountants and auditors, biological scientists, physical therapists, and public relations managers (U.S. Department of Labor, 2009). In one study that controlled for education, experience, and years on the job, the former director of the Congressional Budget Office found that women earned 99.9% of what men did for the same job. Regardless of the size of any wage gap, as we shift into middle adulthood in the next chapter, both men and women will move into their prime earning years. REFLECT ON IT: WORK Understanding that we are much more than our job title is an important part of developing a healthy and sustainable self‐image, but for many of us, our self‐image is wrapped up in our jobs. Answer the questions below to evaluate how you view work. • Do the above descriptions of men and women and work seem accurate in your experience? • If you work now, do you feel that an important part of your self‐image is wrapped up in your job? If you don’t, have you ever felt that way? • What was the key factor in that feeling—what you did on a daily basis, the job title, or both? • How would losing a job affect your self‐image (or, how did it affect your self‐image)?
44 LIFE ASSESSMENT: BALANCING RESPONSIBILITIES AND MANAGING YOUR TIME Early adulthood can be a stressful time of life. There are so many decisions to be made, and much is riding on those decisions. Career and relationship choices dominate, but more fundamental decisions are also required as we determine our values and what sort of person we want to be. It is a period of new freedom, endless possibilities, and the self‐confidence to believe anything may be achieved. It is also a time where such self‐confidence can lead to dangerous mistakes related to sex, drugs, alcohol, and food choices. Conversely, it can also be a time of self‐doubt and depression when events do not turn out as expected. Stress can build as we are forced to meet new challenges, including children, financial worries, and sometimes a return to school. Learning new, practical skills becomes paramount in dealing with these challenges, such as time management, child rearing, and a support network. As new realities set in, young adults often think more realistically about their future and what is important to them. Many marriages or relationships end as expectations are not met. Those who take classes in premarital education soon realize that many expectations are unrealistic, and marriage or serious relationships may be more difficult than they thought. Understanding the attitudes and behaviors associated with a strong relationship help, as do good communication skills and tolerance. Parenting adds additional stress but also provides powerful emotional rewards. As you move through the young adult years, the knowledge and experience that you gain—often through making mistakes—builds a solid confidence in your ability to meet the challenges of work and home. You develop the character, self‐image, and skills that will carry you into the next stage of your life, providing the personal foundation on which you will continue to grow. One of those skills is time management. You learned earlier that time management is one strategy that is useful in alleviating the stress that the challenges of adulthood can bring. The application below is meant to help you decide what current activities are important in your life—and what you can cut back on—to help you reduce the stress in your life. HOW DO YOU CURRENTLY SPEND YOUR TIME? A. Make a list of the major activities that you do on a daily basis and the number of hours dedicated to each. After each activity, check either “necessary” or “unnecessary” and “rewarding” or “not rewarding.” Something like doing laundry, for example, might be labeled necessary and not rewarding; playing the piano might be labeled unnecessary and rewarding; watching TV might be labeled unnecessary and not rewarding. An example is included below:
45 ACTIVITY HOURS/WEEK RATING Watching television 12 Unnecessary/not rewarding Spending time with significant other 12 Necessary/rewarding Preparing and eating meals 8 Necessary/not rewarding Completing coursework 25 Necessary/rewarding Spending time with friends 6 Unnecessary/rewarding Cleaning and doing laundry 8 Necessary/not rewarding Playing basketball 6 Unnecessary/rewarding Surfing the Web 8 Unnecessary/not rewarding Working 25 Necessary/not rewarding B. When you are finished, focus on the activities that you labeled unnecessary and not rewarding and think of ways you can cut the time spent on these activities out of your life to focus more on the rewarding ones. Total up the number of hours that you will save by doing this and think about what you would like to do with your extra time. In the example above, two items are listed as unnecessary and not rewarding—watching television and surfing the Web, which took up 20 hours per week of the student’s time. If the student was able to cut time spent on television and surfing the Web in half, this would result in 10 extra hours each week to spend time with friends or family, participate in an exercise class, or even get a little extra sleep every night (all of which we know can improve overall health!). C. Based on the above list, how would you rate the relative importance of your work, your family and friends, and your personal goals in your life? Do you feel as though these three items are balanced in your life? Would you be willing to give up a part of one to preserve the others? A FINAL THOUGHT Based on what you have learned in this chapter, what would you tell a friend who asked you for advice about how to have a successful transition into adulthood—a healthy life, good mental health, a happy relationship, and a satisfying career?
46 ASK THE ASHFORD FACULTY AND STUDENTS: HOW CAN I BALANCE MY LIFE AND MANAGE MY TIME? The narrative below was compiled from discussions with Ashford University faculty and students in PSY 202: Adult Development and Life Assessment. Note the importance of developing an effective time management plan when pursuing an online degree. Heather Miller, M.A.Ed. Lead Faculty I’ve had the privilege of working with hundreds of adult learners at Ashford University and can attest firsthand to the importance of an effective time management plan. Learning to balance multiple responsibilities while attending school is an ongoing process; however, your success as a student is chiefly determined by how your time is used. As you adjust to your role as an online student, take time to evaluate your current time management strategies, or lack thereof, and work diligently to implement a schedule that supports your many responsibilities and roles. The suggestions and strategies for effective time management come from students previously enrolled in PSY202: • Use a daily calendar (online or on paper) to keep track of your “to‐do” list. Each week, identify your times for completing homework, including reading assignments. Check items off as they are completed. For your coursework to‐do list, consider printing a copy of the course assignment calendar and syllabus. Both are provided in the left menu of each online course. • Review how you currently spend your time (guidelines for completing this activity are provided at the end of Chapter 3). You may find that you have time to read your textbook or work on class studies during a break at work, which would help reduce the amount of time spent on studies at home. • At home, create a schedule or calendar that identifies days and times for each person’s activities. Then, use the schedule to identify home/work/school responsibilities (chores, homework, etc.) for every person in the house. • Delegate. If others have offered to help, let them. Think about responsibilities that can be shared with others (laundry, dishes, child care, etc.). When asking for help, identify the times that you will be doing homework, help others recognize the importance of your studies, and discuss the future benefits of your degree. • Identify and list your priorities. Maintaining priorities is essential to staying on task. When we visualize our top priorities, it becomes easier to identify which item on the to‐do list is most important.
47 The one‐step‐at‐a‐time approach is one of the most effective ways to work toward achieving goals and making changes in our life. Managing multiple responsibilities while pursuing an education can be a daunting task; however, with incremental changes, the process will be less overwhelming. Use the resources provided in the “Reflect on It” sections of this chapter as you develop a time management plan that best suits your learning style and responsibilities. The first few classes are similar to Levinson’s “novice” phase—it will take a few classes before you find yourself more comfortable in your role as a student. If a time management strategy isn’t working well, then don’t hesitate to try something else. The key is to find strategies that suit your needs and help you reach your goals. KEY IDEAS TO REMEMBER Early adulthood is a time of decisions and change. We are at our peak physically and mentally. But it is also a time of great challenges as we seek our pathway through life, including relationships, career, and who we are. Physical Development • Income and education are two key factors influencing our health and development. Education has a strong relationship to income, which has a direct influence on health and opportunities for health care. • About 80% of sexually transmitted infections occur in those 25 years of age and younger, so they are a major concern for young adults. • Smoking plays a direct role in developing many diseases, including cancer, heart disease, stroke, and emphysema. Secondhand smoke is also very dangerous, causing cancer and heart disease. • Psychoactive substances can be classified as stimulants, depressants, opiates, and hallucinogens. All create changes in brain function, cognition, emotion, or behavior. • Obesity is at epidemic proportions in the United States: Sixty‐three percent of Americans are overweight or obese. At least 1 in 5 children are obese, resulting in the likelihood that 30% of them will become diabetic during their lives. • Reducing your weight with diet and exercise is an important step toward good health, as is enough sleep and quitting bad habits like smoking. • Early adulthood is one of the peak periods for depression. Men and women deal with depression in different ways. Depression is treatable and should not be ignored.
48 Cognitive Development • Young adults usually develop a more relativistic way of thinking, recognizing the importance of considering various perspectives and understanding there is often more than one “right” solution to a problem. • Integrating logic and emotion is an important step in developing adult thinking, including problem solving, which includes the value of compromise and adopting different solutions for different situations. • Young adults are often forced to confront their own perspective on morality and ethical behavior as they face radically new situations in college, jobs or the military and conflict with the moral perspectives of others. • Education in the United States has undergone a radical change with the availability of widespread opportunities for adults to return to school in classrooms or online. Stress is common as adults juggle responsibilities, but they are often as well or better prepared for academic success than traditional college students. • An important part of cognitive development is the ability to think logically about the future and to hypothesize “what if” scenarios about careers, mates, children, and so on. By projecting ourselves into different roles and then logically examining the consequences, we can make decisions that have a greater chance of leading to happiness. Socioemotional Development • Socioemotional development as children and adolescents sets the foundation for who we are as young adults, influencing our attitudes, emotions, temperament, and outlook on life. • Daniel Levinson proposes a stage structure to human development, suggesting that as we move through various age ranges, we face challenges and seek certain goals. Each stage helps prepare us for subsequent stages. Erik Erikson’s eight stages of life theory, similar to Levinson’s approach, states that to achieve the goals of later stages we must achieve a specific goal in each stage. Erikson’s theory is covered in more detail in Chapter 2. • Developing relationships is an important goal in young adulthood, including intimate relationships with loved ones and friends. There are several different types of love relationships, and these change over time. • Erich Fromm proposes four key aspects of a strong and loving relationship: Caring for the other person, feeling responsible for the other’s needs, respecting the other person, and knowing or understanding the other person intimately. • Many couples are waiting longer to marry, and it is more common to marry those who share some cultural similarities. • Loss of intimacy in a relationship can lead to depression, self‐doubt, guilt, withdrawal, illness, and poorer job performance, among other consequences.
49 • Cohabitation is increasing as more couples “try out” a long‐term relationship. • False expectations about marriage are highly associated with divorce. • Most couples say that having a family is important, but economic factors associated with raising a child may be responsible for couples having fewer children. Parents face new stresses including lack of sleep, lack of time, fewer intimate moments, conflict over roles and responsibilities, and worry about “doing something wrong” with the baby. • Finding the right career and the right mate are often the two top long‐term goals for young adults. A job is not only financially important but also helps define our self‐image. Loss of a job can throw self‐image into disarray, resulting in family conflicts, depression, and stress. Understanding that we are more than our job is an important part of developing a healthy self‐image. KEY TERMS TO REMEMBER absolutist thinking: A style of thought that is characterized by beliefs in absolutes (e.g., “black or white”) with no middle ground or variations depending on circumstances; believed to promote emotional distress when confronted with situations that do not confirm to adherents’ thinking. acquired immune deficiency syndrome: A chronic, life‐threatening disease caused by the HIV virus. AIDS: See acquired immune deficiency syndrome. autonomic nervous system: Controls body functions not under the control of the conscious mind, such as heart beat, digestion, and body temperature. barbiturate: A class of drugs that has a sedative effect. basal metabolic rate (BMR): The energy (measured in calories) required to keep the body’s autonomic nervous system functioning (heart, breathing, body temperature, digestion, etc.). benzodiazepine: A class of psychoactive drugs used in treating anxiety. binge drinking: The practice of drinking large quantities of alcohol at a single session; has serious health risks including alcohol poisoning. blood alcohol concentration: The percentage of alcohol in the blood. body mass index (BMI): A measure comparing a person’s weight and height, estimating healthy or unhealthy weights by the ratio. calorie: The standard measure of food energy. A pound of fat has approximately 3,500 calories of energy.
50 central nervous system: One of the two major divisions of the body’s nervous system along with the peripheral nervous system; consists of the brain and the spinal cord. cohabitation: A couple who is not married living together in a committed relationship. depressant: A chemical substance that slows the body’s functioning, reducing anxiety and blood pressure, slowing down thought processes and reaction time, and inducing sedation. depression: A clinical condition characterized by hopelessness, constant sadness, problems with sleep, and fatigue; may be accompanied by feelings of worthlessness. dopamine: A neurotransmitter that is essential for the functioning of the central nervous system; related to emotions, perception, and movement; in Parkinson’s disease, the areas of the brain that produce dopamine cannot produce enough to meet the body’s requirements. endorphine: A natural chemical produced by the body that acts as a painkiller and a sedative. formal operations: A form of thinking characterized by the ability to employ logic, deductive reasoning, abstract thinking, analysis, and evaluation of other perspectives. hallucinogen: A chemical substance that cause changes in perception, thought, emotion, and awareness, often altering the perception of reality. HIV: See human immunodeficiency virus. homogamy: Marriage among people who are similar to each other culturally, including socioeconomic status, class, religion, and ethnic background. human immunodeficiency virus: A retrovirus that causes AIDS by infecting the immune system; transmitted by blood, semen, breast milk, and vaginal secretions; also transmitted from mother to infant in the womb. illicit: Illegal. individualistic marriage model: A type of relationship in a marriage in which individual needs are emphasized over the common needs of the couple. inhalant: Any substance whose toxic chemicals are inhaled (spray paint, glue, cleaners), altering perception and awareness. Many inhalants reduce oxygen to the brain and result in permanent brain and heart damage or death. intimate relationship: A close interpersonal relationship that may or may not involve sexual intimacy.
51 life structure: An underlying pattern shaping our life, including all the roles and relationships that we have throughout our life. opiate: A narcotic sedative drug derived from the opium poppy or mimicking that drug. Long‐term use may create an addiction. primary aging: Aging based on the passage of time. psychoactive substance: A chemical substance such as a drug that can change the physiological functions of the brain, resulting in changes in perception, behavior, thinking, or emotions. relativistic thinking: Thinking that is situational, relying on consideration of multiple perspectives to determine the best conclusion for that situation; less dependent on one “correct” perspective. secondary aging: Aging that is influenced by the life choices we make rather than the passage of time. set point: A suspected physiological mechanism that adjusts a person’s metabolism, resulting in relatively consistent weight. It may possibly be reset lower with an increase in regular physical activity. sexually transmitted infection: An infection transmitted through unprotected sexual contact with an infected partner, including Chlamydia, gonorrhea, genital herpes, and HIV. stimulant: A chemical substance that speeds the body’s functioning, elevating mood, increasing energy, and reducing appetite and the desire for sleep.