Part VI Chapter Eighteen Emerging Adulthood: Cognitive Development Postformal Thought Morals and Religion Cognitive Growth and Higher Education Prepared by Madeleine Lacefield Tattoon, M.A.
Cognitive Development in Emerging Adulthood • Cognitive development can be described as the… • stage approach • evaluates whether a new stage or level is reached—postformal stage of thinking and reasoning in adulthood • psychometric approach • analyzes intelligence by means of IQ tests and other measures • information-processing approach • studies how the brain encodes, stores, and retrieves information
Postformal Thought • Postformal thought • a proposed adult stage of cognitive development • by being more practical, more flexible, and more dialectical • more capable of combing contradictory elements into a comprehensive whole
Postformal Thought • The Fifth Stage • self-protective—high in self-involvement, low in self-doubt • complex—valuing openness and independence above all • integrated—able to regulate emotions and logic
Postformal Thought • Combining Subjective and Objective Thought • subjective thought • rises from the personal experiences and perceptions of an individual • objective thought • devalues subjective feelings, personal faith, and emotional experience while overvaluing objective, logical thinking
Postformal Thought • Consolidating Emotions and Logic • complex problem solving is the crucial intellectual accomplishment of adulthood • combining affect (emotion) and logic (cognition)
Postformal Thought • Cognitive Flexibility • the ability… • to be practical • to predict • to plan • to combine objective and subjective mental processes
Postformal Thought • Cognitive Flexibility • plans can go awry: • corporate restructuring • failure of birth control • parent’s illness • adults with cognitive flexibility avoid retreating into either emotions or intellect
Postformal Thought • cognitive flexibility • problem-solving • talking through problems with others • changing your mind once you made a mistake • behavioral changes
Postformal Thought • cognitive flexibility • more likely to imagine several solutions for every problem and then choose the best one • research on problem-solving abilities concludes that emerging adults are better problem solvers than both adolescents and the oldest adults
Postformal Thought • Countering Stereotypes • cognitive flexibility • to change one’s childhood assumptions • younger adults hold less gender-stereotyped views • stereotype threat • the possibility that one’s appearance or behavior will be misread to confirm another person’s oversimplified prejudiced attitudes
Postformal Thought • Dialectical Thought • a most advanced cognitive process, characterized by the ability to consider a thesis and its antithesis simultaneously and thus to arrive at a synthesis • makes possible an ongoing awareness of pros and cons, advantages and disadvantages, possibilities and limitations
Postformal Thought • Dialectical Thought • thesis • a proposition or statement of belief; the first stage of the process of dialectical thinking • antithesis • a proposition or statement of belief that opposes the thesis; the second stage of the process of dialectical thinking
Postformal Thought • Dialectical Thought • synthesis • a new idea that integrates the thesis and its antithesis, thus representing a new and more comprehensive level of truth; the third stage of the process of dialectical thinking
Postformal Thought • A “Broken” Love Affair • nondialectical thinker • likely to believe that each person has stable, independent traits • concludes that one partner is at fault • a mistake from the beginning – “bad match”
Postformal Thought • A “Broken” Love Affair • dialectical thinkers: • see people and relationships as constantly evolving • partners are changed by time as well as by their interaction
Postformal Thought • Culture and Dialectics • dialectical thought affects priorities and values • notable differences in culture are the result of nature, not nurture • “cognitive differences have ecological, historical, and sociological origins"
Morals and Religion • adult responsibilities, experiences, and education affect moral reasoning and religious beliefs. • maturation of values appears first in emerging adulthood and continues through middle age.
Morals and Religion • morals and culture • morals • affected by circumstance, including national background, culture, and era • culture • determines whether a particular practice is a moral issue
Morals and Religion • the power of culture makes if difficult to assess whether adults morality changes with age • moral thinking improves with age
sex sexuality reproduction relationships contraception abortion drugs education vocation Morals and Religion Dilemmas for Emerging Adults
Morals and Religion • Stages of Faith – James Fowler • Stage 1: Intuitive projective faith • Stage 2: Mythic-literal faith • Stage 3: Synthetic-conventional faith • Stage 4: Individual-reflective faith • Stage 5: Conjunctive faith • Stage 6: Universalizing faith
Morals and Religion • Stages of Faith – James Fowler • …faith progresses from a simple, self-centered, one-sided perspective to a more complex, altruistic (unselfish) and many-sided view. • …faith is one way people combat stress, overcome adversity, and analyze challenges.
Cognitive Growth and Higher Education • The Effects of College • students attend college • to secure better jobs, learn specific skills • general education • college correlates with • better health • less smoking • better eating • more exercise • longer life
Cognitive Growth and Higher Education • Changes in the College Context • the fact that colleges and universities are designed to foster cognitive growth does not necessarily mean that they succeed • Changes in the Student • students and social structures change over time • Changes in the Institutions • current colleges offer more career programs and hire more part-time faculty
Cognitive Growth and Higher Education • Evaluating the Changes • what do today’s students get out of attending college? • colleges no longer produce the “great intellectual flexibility” that earlier research found
Cognitive Growth and Higher Education • Evaluating the Changes • Diversity and Enrollment • evidence on cognition suggests that interactions with people of different backgrounds and various views lead to intellectual challenges and deeper thought
Cognitive Growth and Higher Education • Evaluating the Changes • Graduates and Dropouts • many young students lack the cultural knowledge or cognitive maturity to acquire the “social know-how” needed to navigate through college • some “adapt to complexities better as they proceed through college…”