3 Apr 2022


Classifications of Life-Span Development

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Academic level: College

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According to psychologist, adulthood is a period of prolonged adolescence or emanating adulthood that continues into the 20s. There are numerous explanations as to when one becomes an adult. Adulthood is a social construct with consequences that determine the legal responsibility of one's actions. They also define the roles that they assume how people perceive each other and view themselves. The time at which one becomes an adult is determined by the circumstances surrounding activity. Legally, individuals are not allowed to drink until they reach a certain age that is different from the time one is allowed to vote or watch adult movies or start working (Hutchison, 2008; Zastrow, 2016). 

Age alone is not a good indicator of adulthood because cases of younger wiser and mature people are available while at the same time there are older people who are reckless and immature. The maturity of the body can also be an indicator of adulthood. Cultural transitions can also be used to define adulthood. High school and college graduations can be an indicator, but individuals rarely graduate into a fully formed adult. Education both secondary and higher has played a role in expanding the transition period from childhood to adulthood (Hutchison, 2008; Zastrow, 2016). 

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Brain maturity takes place at the age of twenty-one or twenty-two. By the time an individual attain an age of twenty-three years, the brain is mostly done developing though it remains plastic and malleable throughout one's life. The difficulty of determining the exact age to becoming an adult resulted in the lumping up of people between eighteen to twenty-five years into emerging adulthood which is an indefinite transitory period between adolescence and adulthood. To be an adult, one needs to meet three criteria; making of independent decisions, taking responsibility and being financially independent. The three have been ranked high in different countries, but some cultures have additional values (Hutchison, 2008; Zastrow, 2016).

Zastrow classification of adulthood into young and middle to identify the lifespan between eighteen to sixty-five years is useful in understanding the behavior at every stage and enable the categorization of adults into different groups. However, this criterion might not be applicable in some situations because different individuals mature differently and no clear cut age determines when one becomes an adult. This classification needs to take into account other factors like environment, economic conditions, brain development and personality in determining adulthood. The new classification should also consider legal issues, culture, rites of passage and transitions from one stage to the other (Hutchison, 2008; Zastrow, 2016). 


Hutchison, E. D. (2008).  Dimensions of human behavior . Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.

Zastrow, C., & Kirst-Ashman, K. K. (2016).  Understanding human behavior and the social environment . Boston, MA: Cengage Learning. 

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