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Adolescence and Adulthood Developmental Stages – Psychology Essay

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Updated: Apr 13th, 2020

The human development process is a lifelong process that commences immediately after conception ending at death. Any development at any stage of life primarily depends on the interaction of a number of physiological and environmental factors, whose effects determine an individual’s personality. Developmental milestones are developments abilities that a normally developing human being must attain at specific stages of development, which can be cognitive, physical, or social-emotional (Rogoff, 2003, pp. 169-170). T

Milestones Related to Physical Development in Adolescence

The physical development process involves the attainment of specific body physique characteristics, which vary and change as an individual’s age changes. At puberty, the human body undergoes a rapid developmental process, characterized by sexual maturity and other bodily abilities. It is important to note that, the rapid development of human abilities at this stage occurs, because of the increased release of the gonadotrophic hormones from the pituitary glands; testosterone in boys and estrogen in girls.

There exist three stages of adolescence development namely: early, middle, and late adolescence. Primary developments during the early adolescence stage include growth of body hairs, breasts and hips starts to appear in girls accompanied with the onset of menstruation whereas, in boys there is growth in testicles’ size and the general length of the penis, accompanied with the onset of wet dreams and change in the voice tone and pitch.

Also, there is the rapid growth of the physical abilities of adolescents, accompanied by increased interest in sex-related activities; hence, the adolescents’ nature of relationships. Age 14 marks the onset of middle adolescent, characterized by the completion of puberty and decrease in physical growth rate in girls, although for boys the process continues at a rapid rate, by 19 years majority of the girls are fully developed.

This contrary to boys of the same age, as most of them will continue with the development process, which eventually leads to increase in bodily hairs and other physical attributes for example, the muscle content, body tallness, and weigh (American Academy Of Child and Adolescent’s Facts for Families, 2008, p.1).

Major Milestones Related To Cognitive Development in Adolescence

The onset of adolescence marks the refinement of most individuals’ thinking abilities because at this stage the majority of individuals would have attained control in their thinking process. In addition, this stage marks the onset of abstract thinking, as most individuals thinking is usually from a multidimensional perspective, characterized by an absolute and relative way of seeing life occurrences.

During the early stages of puberty, most adolescents are in most cases are never interested in their future, a fact that makes them center their thinking on present times. Although this is the case, most adolescents thinking encompass deeper moral imaginations, a fact that boosts their abstract thinking. Age 14 marks the onset of middle adolescence, a stage characterized by increased abstract thinking capacities and development of enhanced moral reasoning, as most individuals would have started to set their life targets.

As adolescents cross into late adolescence at age 19, most individuals can control fully their thinking abilities. On the other hand, examination of inner learnt lessons is another primary characteristic of this stage, a fact that greatly aids the decision making process of most adolescents, because most of them will begin to take their future very seriously hence, the inclusion of moral reasoning in their decision-making process (Harvard Medical School, 2010, p.1).

Therefore, because of the rapid development of individuals’ thinking abilities in adolescence, a fact concreted by increased relationships among adolescents, there is a change from concrete to formal operational thinking. In addition, changes in hypothetical thinking characterize this stage, as the onset of adolescence in most cases marks the onset of increased rational, absolute, and relative thinking (Steinberg, 2005, pp. 69-74)

Major milestones related to physical development in early, middle, and late adulthood

The end of the puberty stage marks the onset of one of the most important stages in most individuals’ lives because it is at this stage that most individuals venture into family life and formulation of serious relationships.

Change in relationship’s patterns and perceptions are the primary characteristics of this stage, as most individuals in this stage are in a process of discovering and exploiting their potentialities. In addition, because most individuals take seriously their careers, there is a general change in lifestyle as most individuals will be in a struggle to attain financial independence, as they seek to live their own private lives.

During early adulthood, most individuals undergo a rapid change in their general body physique, characterized by a change in body weight and height. Because of the hormonal changes that characterize this stage, there is full of the development of individuals’ physical agility and motor coordination abilities. In addition to the development of coordination abilities, there is fully refinement of individuals’ hearing, vision, and sensory coordination; hence, the energetic nature of most individuals in this stage.

As individuals enter their mid-life (middle adulthood), to some extent most of the developed physical abilities start to deteriorate, because of changes in sensory and other bodily abilities. Primary characteristics of this stage include the emergence of grey body hairs, anomalies in the cardiovascular system, vision and hearing difficulties, and wrinkling of body parts, for example, the face (Durkin, (n.d.), pp. 208-214).

Completion of this stage ushers late adulthood, a development period characterized by very many physical changes. Primary physical milestones that characterize this period include loss of the skin’s elasticity; a condition that increases the wrinkling of the skin, further weakening in individuals’ sensory, hearing, and vision capacities. Also, most individuals in this stage have reduced amounts of subcutaneous fats and volumes of hair (Durkin (n.d), 215-216).

Milestones Related To Cognitive Development in Early, Middle, and Late Adulthood

As individuals enter their adulthood ages, the only primary changes that occur in their cognitive abilities is a refinement of their abstract thinking abilities, as most individuals will start to embrace concepts of practicality and development of better methodologies of dealing with challenges in their daily lives.

Because of the occurrence of many changes in life patterns of most individuals, to adapt to their new life and develop better problem-solving abilities, most individuals face the challenge of developing new patterns of thinking, hence the prevalent changes in individuals’ thinking patterns.

Other cognitive characteristics of early adulthood include refinement of individuals’ rational thinking capacities, a fact that occurs as each day’s challenges pose new problems that require conceptual thinking in formulation of appropriate solutions of solving them. Although these changes are prevalent among most individuals in their middle adulthood, it is important to note that, the full manifestation of cognitive abilities becomes clear in the middle adulthood stage.

This is because, although many individuals attribute the decline in intelligence with old age, there is a refinement of some intellectual capacities in this stage, for example, crystallized intelligence. In addition, the application of formal operational reasoning is prevalent in this stage, a case accompanied by an increase in creativity (Durkin (n.d), 208-214).

Contrary to such improvements in individuals’ cognitive abilities during the middle adulthood stage, the onset of the late adulthood years marks the start of memory failures, because of the inability of most individuals to retrieve content from their subconscious and conscious memories.

Although this is the case, it is important to note that, because of development of new interests and methodologies of thinking by most individuals in this stage, likelihoods of many of these individuals developing wisdom are high; hence a positive incentive of this stage (Durkin (n.d), 215-216).

Considering these changes that characterize adults’ cognitive abilities, there is great variation in thinking modes of adolescents and adults. Although most adolescents think abstractly, as compared to adults their thinking methodologies are less conceptual and absolute; hence, the nature of cognition variations, which occur between adolescents and adults.

Major Milestones Related To Socio-Emotional Development in Adolescence

As research studies show, the majority of adolescents’ behavior portrays some of the immaturity as most of them have problems in balancing their social abilities with their levels of cognitive and physical development. Majority of individuals in their early puberty stages are in the struggle to discover their real sense of identity hence, in most cases they express many uncertainties about their bodies’ appearances.

In addition, because most individuals in this stage value friends and peers than family, most of them desire to be independent hence, in most cases they will be in conflicts with their parents or guardians. On the other hand, most individuals in this stage tend to engage themselves in rule and testing activities in an endeavor to understand the limits of set rules, a fact that puts the majority of them in trouble with authorities, as most of them may exhibit rude behaviors.

As individuals enter their fourteenth year, the majority of adolescents engage themselves in intense self-involvement, as most of them usually have high achievement hopes, although most of them will adopt poor self-concept and decision-making methodologies. Because the increase in body size is one primary characteristic of this stage, most adolescents become very self-conscious about their body sizes, because the majority of them believe that an unseen audience is watching their every move.

As research studies show, the increased level of body size consciousness occurs, because of peer influence as most adolescents work in groups, far from parental influence. As the adolescence stage enters its final stage at age nineteen, the majority of adolescents will have started to develop a sense of identity, increased emotional control, affiliations with peers, and commitment into relationships.

Because most adolescents value their peers more than their families, the childhood mode of basing companionships on convenience undergoes a greater transition, as most adolescents prefer forming new friendships as they grow.

This makes the intimacy or involvement of most adolescents in relationships to increase as they approach their late adolescent stages, as new concepts of relationship emerge, for example, disillusionment (Davis, 2007, pp. 1-2). Considering this and the fact that most adolescents tend to isolate themselves from their caretakers, there is a need to guide adolescents and advice them on appropriate methodologies of dealing with this stage.

On the other hand, majority of adolescents are in a process of self-discovery, and because many changes occur during this stage parents or caretakers should take the responsibility of helping adolescents go through this stage successfully, although sometimes most of them ignore adults’ advice. Also, it is necessary for caretakers to understand their children hence, formulate better methodologies of approaching their problems, as one endeavor to make sure adolescents accept themselves and appreciate their body changes.

Further, because of likelihoods of deviant behaviors occurring among adolescents are high, a fact that may lead to school administrations suspending or expelling most of the adolescents from schools, it is important for schools in collaboration with school administrations to ensure in dealing with adolescents. Such collaborative initiatives are important in ensuring that adolescents receive the required advice on the importance of good behavior and academic excellence (Branwhite, 2000, pp. 33-89).

Major milestones related to socio-emotional development in early, middle, and late adulthood

During the adulthood stage, most individuals are primarily concerned with their careers and starting of personal families. Because most individuals engage themselves in the process of settling on their own, away from parental influences, one primary characteristic of this stage is setting of personal goals and formulating of mechanisms of solving life’s challenges. The frustration of these endeavors; a case that mostly occurs, because of unemployment, is the primary cause of stress most individuals in this stage go through.

As individuals in their early adulthood are also in the struggle to discover their self-identity hence, making many individuals to seek closeness to individuals they perceive to be their friends. The happiness of individuals in this stage depends primarily on personal achievements in terms of both career and family.

Majority of individuals in this stage fear and detest failure or meaninglessness, because failure to achieve set goals in this stage can lead to stagnation, which in most cases can make most individuals to devalue themselves and their endeavors; hence the importance of Erikson’s stage of generality vs. stagnation (Durkin, (n.d.), pp. 208-216).

As individuals enter their last adulthood stage, one primary factor determines their well-being and happiness in the stage, namely the level of success or failure in their early developmental stages. This is because; most individuals in this stage use their level of achievement or failure as a mechanism of gauging their lives. Therefore, depending on their level of achievement or failure, most individuals will either accord themselves respect or term themselves as useless, which is the primary cause of despair (Harder, 2010, p.1).

Reference List

American Academy Of Child and Adolescent’s Facts for Families. (2008). Stages of Adolescence Development. Web.

Branwhite, T. (2000). . Web.

Davis, J. (2007). The change in peer relationship during adolescence. Associated Content. Web.

Durkin, K. . Web.

Harder, Arlene. (2010). The developmental stages of Erick Ericson. Learning Place. Web.

Harvard Medical School. (2010). Intellectual development. Mass General Hospital. Web.

Rogoff, B. (2003). . New York: Oxford University Press. Web.

Steinberg, L. (2005). Cognitive and effective development. Trends in Cognitive Sciences 9(2), 69-74. Web.

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