Changes in young adulthood


Young adulthood is a transitional period expanding from ages 18 to 26 respectively during the life cycle when young people are traditionally expected to be self-sufficient in finance, to build up relationships even become parents, and to take on responsible roles as the engaged members of a community. From the adolescence to young adulthood, people also have a certain physical and psychological changes as well as the psychosocial development due to their socializing process.


Physical Characteristics

Most people achieve the highest position in their physical nimbleness, strength as well as speed throughout the young adulthood. However, many marks of aging start to pop up in the same period of life. The workings of human body are influenced by slow and continuing changes at the age of 20 (Spence, 1989). Muscle tone and physical ability accomplishes the top of strength from 20 to 30 years old, then weaken after; that is the result of the relative amount of fatty tissue to muscle begins to increase. The acuity of vision started to decline with the first tiny wrinkle appears around the eyes. The skin is aging for the reason that ultraviolet rays from the sun impede DNA manufacture and the synthesis of protein in the skin. Then, skin cells regenerate more gradually; the skin becomes thinner and crinkles (Perlmutter and Hall, 1992). Every year, the proportion of blood the kidneys filter decrease 1 percent as does the amount of air took into the lungs every time we inhale at the age of 20 (Vestal and Dawson, 1985).

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Most diseases are multi-factorial, involving both genetic and environmental causes. An illness which affects about 4% of population over the world is non-insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus. The study indicated that a gene on chromosome 2 contributes to susceptibility to this disease in Mexican Americans (Horikawa et al., 2000). However, obesity is considered as one of the most fundamental predictors of this type of diabetes. Moreover, behavioral factors also contribute to this disease can be lack of exercise, poor nutrition and smoking (Hu et al., 2001).

People can both do this or not do that to have a good health because it is not just a matter of luck. Researchers study 7000 adults from 20-70 years old have shown that health was directly associated with several daily habits like eating regular meals (including breakfast and not snacking), eating and excising moderately as well as drinking; not smoking; having a regular 7-8 hour sleep each night. After at least 10 years, adults who followed these common habits were twice as likely to be healthier as people who did not do so (Breslow & Breslow, 1993).

Psychological Development

Self-concept. Self-concept is the organized, coherent and integrated pattern of perceptions related to the self. About 65 percent of young adults at college age admit that they think about their future selves a great deal of time, and they are much more likely to focus on desirable future selves with confident, powerful or charming images than on undesirable one such as depressed, destitute, unimportant selves (Markus and Nurius, 1968). Positive selves play a vitally important role in affecting motivation, guiding a person present behavior or responses which should be “fight or flight”.

Self-esteem. Janet Spence (1979) studied college students more than a decade ago and said that who possess fewer both masculine and feminine characteristics will have lower self-esteem. In this “in-between” period, self-esteem occasionally decreases in successful women who commit themselves with a marriage life. A research compared high IQ full –time housewives who all graduated from college in honor, married professional women since all were mothers with single professional women found that homemakers had the lowest self-esteem and sense of personal competence even in social or housework skills areas Judith Birnbaum (1975).

Sensation: Steinberg stated that risk taking decrease when people grow from adolescence to young adulthood related to impulse control as well as reward sensitivity. Executive function, impulse control, planning, and related aspects of psychological functioning continue to mature in young adulthood. Compare to adolescents, young adults often think more slowly and carefully about hard issues before taking action (Steinberg et al., 2009). They also are more sensitive to costs and less impressionable to rewards (Cauffman et al., 2010).

Psychosocial Development

Work. Our position in society is defined by work, and sometimes gives meaning to our lives and provides satisfying activity, an outlet for creativity as well as a source of social stimulation (Perlmutter and Hall, 1992). Many single men and women are apt to have orderly occupational lives, despite longitudinal surveys indicate that most men choose to change occupations at least once during their working lives (Jacobs, 1983).

Work can cause stress, especially when a person becomes over-involved in a job and devotes long hours to it (Hoffman, 1986). However, people who are unemployed also can suffer stress. According to L. Hoffman (1989), mothers who work outside the home bearing the major responsibility for housework and childcare show less stress and fewer psychology diseases than those stay at home. Depression is highest among mothers who stay at home out of duty when they would rather be employed (Hock and DeMeis, 1990).

Intimacy versus Isolation. When people enter into young adulthood, their major task is the development of intimacy, an advance that presupposes their earlier development of identity in adolescence. At that age, isolation is the alternative pattern in the intimacy versus isolation stage according to Erik Erikson (1982). When the conflicts are solved successfully, adults are capable of entrust themselves to a sacrificing and pro-compromise relationships. They are able to love others from their heart less as being egotistical as before. However, their emotional affinity seems to be cold and non-impulsive when isolation controls over intimacy and there can be no real emotional expressions between the partners in that relationship.


From a developmental point of view, young adulthood is the period in the life course with a certain normal biological characteristics and some predictable psychological traits, but the specific social roles and tasks expected of each young adult is based on the particular society at a specific time in history. Young adult are at peak in health and start aging simultaneously. They have their own self-concept with desirable images, self-esteem as well as lower risk taking. Work and love which play important parts as social factors in their development.


Birnbaum, J.A. (1975). Life patterns and self-esteem in gifted family-orientated and career-committed women. In M.T.S. Mednick, S. S. Tangi, & L.W. Hoffman (Eds.), Women and achievement. New York: Haslstead Press.

Breslow, L., & Breslow, N. (1993). Health practices and disability: Some evidence from Alameda County. Preventie Medicine, 22 (1), 86-95

Cauffman, E., E. P. Schulman, L. Steinberg, E. Claus, M. T. Banich, S. Graham, and J. Woolard. 2010. Age differences in affective decision making as indexed by performance on the Iowa Gambling Task. Developmental Psychology 46(1):193-207.

Erikson, E.H. (1982). The life cycle completed. New York: Norton.

Hock, E., & Demeis, D. K. (1990). Depression in mothers of infants: The role of maternal employment. Developmental Psychology, 26, 285-291

Hoffman, L.W. (1986). Work, family and the children. In M.S. Pallak & R. O. Perloff ( Eds.), Work, family, and the children. Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.

Hoffman, L.W. (1989). Effects of maternal employment in the two-parent family. American Psychologist, 44, 283-292

Horikawa, Y., Oda, N., Cox, N. J., Li, X., Orho-Melander, M., Hara, M., Hinokio, Y., Lindner, T.H., Mashima, H., Schwarz, P.E., del Bosque-Plata, L., Oda, Y., Yoshiuchi, I., Colilla, S., Polonsky, K.S., Wei, S., Concannon, P., Iwasaki, N., Schulze, J., Baier, L., Bogardus, C., Groop, L., Boerwinkle, E., Hanis, C.L., & Bell, G.I. (2000). Genetic variation in the gene encoding calpain-10 is associtted with type 2 diabetes mellitus. Nature Genetics, 26, 163-175.

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Hu, F, B., Manson, J.E., Stampfer, M.J., Colditz, G., Liu, S., Solomon, C.G., & Willet, W.C. (2001). Diet, lifestyle, and the risk of type 2 diabetes mellitus in women. New England Journal of Medicine, 345, 790-797.

Jacobs, J. (1983) Industrial dector and career mobility reconsidered. Amrerican Socialogical Review, 48, 415-420.

Monahan, K. C., L. Steinberg, E. Cauffman, and E. P. Mulvey. 2009. Trajectories of antisocial behavior and psychosocial maturity from adolescence to young adulthood. Developmental Psychology 45(6):1654-1668.

Perlmutter, M., & Hall, E. (1992). Adult development and aging (2nd ed.). New York: Wiley.

Specnce, A. P. (1989). Biology of human aging. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall.

Spence, J.T (1979). Traits, roles, and the concept of androgyny. In J.F. Gullahorn (Ed.), Psychology and women in transition. New York: Wiley.

Vestal, R. E., & Dawson, G. W. (1985). Pharmacology and aging. In C. E. Finch & E.L. Schneider (Eds.), Handbook of the biology of aging (2nd ed.). New York: Van Nostrand Reinhod.



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