Social Status and Early Adulthood

Topics: Social status, Adult, Social class Pages: 16 (3080 words) Published: March 5, 2013

Early adulthood extends from age eighteen to approximately age forty, when the physical and psychological changes which accompany the beginning of the loss of reproductive capacity appear. [pic]

 In early adulthood, an individual is concerned with developing the ability to share intimacy, seeking to form relationships and find intimate love. Long-term relationships are formed, and often marriage and children result. The young adult is also faced with career decisions. Choices concerning marriage and family are often made during this period. Work/career choice affects not only socioeconomic status but also friends, political values, residence location, child care, job stress, and many other aspects of life.

The life stage called early adulthood defines individuals between the ages of 20 and 35, who are typically vibrant, active and healthy, and are focused on friendships, romance, child bearing and careers. Yet serious conditions, such as violent events, depression and eating disorders, can negatively impact young adults.

Early adulthood is a period of adjustments to new patterns of life and new social expectations. They are expected to play new roles, such as that of spouse, parent and breadwinner and to develop new attitudes, interests and values in keeping with these new roles. These adjustments make early adulthood a distinctive period in lifespan and also a difficult one.

Characteristics of Early Adulthood

Early Adulthood is the “Settling down Age”
Early Adulthood is the “Reproductive Stage”
Early Adulthood is a “Problem Age”
Early Adulthood is a Period of Emotional Tension
Early Adulthood is a Period of Social Isolation
Early Adulthood is a Time of Commitments
Early Adulthood is often a Period of Dependency
Early Adulthood is a Time Value Change
Early Adulthood is the Time of Adjustments to New Lifestyles Early Adulthood is a Creative Age

Physical Changes

Females reach their adult heights by age 18, and, except for some males who continue to grow in their early 20s, most have reached their adult heights by the age of 21. However, muscles continue to gain mass - especially among males, and both genders continue to add body fat. Average weight gain for both women and men is about 15 pounds.

Death rates due to disease are low in this life stage, but the rate of violence-related deaths is high. A 2005 report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) National Violent Death Reporting System states that violent death is highest for people ages 20 to 24, and overall, men are more likely than women to die violently. Violent death includes homicide, suicide and motor-vehicle deaths. The CDC reports that of approximately 50,000 violent deaths in the United States each year, more than 56 percent of those deaths are suicide, and 30 percent are homicides.

Another area of concern for people in this age group is eating disorders, which include anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, and binge-eating disorder. A study by the National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders reported that 5 percent to 10 percent of individuals with anorexia die within 10 years after contracting the disease, and 18 percent to 20 percent die after 20 years.

Cognitive Changes

Debate among developmentalists center on whether or not to assign a formal cognitive stage to early adulthood. Earlier life stages result in dramatic and critical changes, whereas in early adulthood essential brain growth already has taken place, and individuals are now applying and using their knowledge, and analytical capabilities.

However many researchers point to continued changes, such as those taking place in the frontal lobes of the cerebral cortex of the brain, which are areas where judgment, planning, speaking, and moving muscles are localized. Brain growth in this area only reaches final development in the early 20s.

Additionally, many theorists, such as Jean Piaget...
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