Psychology Summary


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Body, Mind, and

Social World


KEY Points

• Emerging adulthood (roughly ages 18 to 25) is a new period of development,

characterized by later marriage and more education, as well as robust good


• Sexual impulses and reproductive health reach a peak during emerging adulthood,

although the birth rate tends to be much lower today than in previous

centuries. Many nations are below the replacement rate of 2.1 births per woman.

• During emerging adulthood, risk taking is prevalent, sometimes constructively

and sometimes not. Edgework and violent death both increase, especially in men.

• Drug abuse and addiction increase during emerging adulthood; social norms

are powerful influences on drug use.


KEY Points

• Experience as well as maturation advance cognition in emerging adulthood.

Young adults are better able to combine emotions and rational analysis.

• Stereotype threat appears when emotional fears overwhelm cognition. This selfhandicapping

prejudice is common among many groups, but it may be overcome.

• Over the years of college, students gradually become less inclined to seek absolute

truths from authorities and more inclined to draw their own conclusions.

• In every nation, the sheer number of college students has multiplied, and their

goals and backgrounds have become more diverse. Despite all the changes,

college education still seems to advance intellectual development during

emerging adulthood.


KEY Points

• Personality patterns are evident lifelong, in part because genes and early childhood

are influential. Nonetheless, emerging adults may modify some traits and

develop others that were not evident in earlier years.

• For most people, emerging adulthood is a happy time, as the various transitions

increase a sense of well-being.

• The diathesis–stress model of psychological disorders suggests that genetic

vulnerability, past experiences, and current stresses combine to cause serious

psychological problems in some people.

• A minority of emerging adults are disabled by severe depression, anxiety disorders,

and schizophrenia.


KEY Points

• Identity achievement is often not attained until adulthood.

• Two aspects of identity often take time to achieve: ethnic identity and vocational

identity. Many people do not select a career or find a job they like until age 25

or later.

• Intimacy needs are strong during emerging adulthood. Friendships, romances,

and family all help young adults meet these needs.

• Far fewer emerging adults marry today than in earlier decades. Cohabitation

has become much more common.


Cultural and National Differences

  Emerging adulthood is a new period of development, characterized

by later marriage and more education. Age variations are

apparent; nonetheless, ages 18 to 25 can be described as a distinct

period worldwide.


All the body systems function optimally during these years;

death from disease is rare. Homeostasis helps emerging adults feel

strong and recover quickly from infections and injuries.


  The sexual-reproductive system functions especially well during

emerging adulthood, the time of peak fertility. However, most

people this age do not yet want to become parents. Sexual activity

before marriage is accepted by most young adults.


  One consequence of changing sexual mores is an increase in

sexually transmitted infections; they are much more common

now than in earlier generations because many young adults have

several sexual relationships.


  Risk taking increases during emerging adulthood, with edgework

particularly attractive to young men, who are more likely to

die violently than are young women.


  Drug and alcohol abuse increases during emerging adulthood;

these years are the most common period for addiction. However,

most emerging adults are not drug abusers: knowledge of this fact

may deter drug abuse,




Cognitive Maturity


  One hallmark of adult thought is the ability to combine emotions

and rational analysis. This ability is particularly useful in responding

to emotionally arousing situations, as when childhood

prejudices or stereotype threats are still present.


Stereotype threat can affect people of all ages and cultures, but

it is particularly likely to slow down cognition when a person

worries that other people might be biased in their assessment of

his or her abilities.


  Many more students of all backgrounds and nationalities

attend college currently than in former decades. Despite many

cohort differences, college students not only gain skills and

future career advances but also become less inclined to seek

absolutes from authorities and more inclined to make their own


Personality Patterns


  Personality patterns change in emerging adulthood, but continuity

is also apparent. Many emerging adults find an appropriate

combination of education, friendship, and achievement that improves

their self-esteem.


  The rates of some forms of psychopathology, including substance

abuse, anxiety disorders, depression, and schizophrenia, rise

during emerging adulthood. As the diathesis–stress model of mental

illness predicts, the seeds of these disorders are planted early in

life, but the stress of young adulthood may produce mental health



Identity and Intimacy


  The process of identity achievement continues from adolescence

through emerging adulthood. In a diverse, modern society,

ethnic and vocational identities are particularly difficult to

achieve. Most young adults seek an identity that differs from that

of their heritage, and take much longer to settle on a career than

their parents did.


Close friendships are common during emerging adulthood,

typically including some opposite-sex as well as same-sex friendships.

Romantic love is complex, involving passion, intimacy, and

commitment. Many emerging adults have a series of sexual relationships,

hooking up and cohabiting before establishing an intimate

partnership in marriage.


  Family support is needed lifelong. In emerging adulthood,

this often means that parents pay college costs and contribute in

other ways to their young-adult children’s independence. Total

separation from family is unusual and impairs young adults’

achievement. Everywhere, members of families have linked lives.