Psychology Dictionary of Arguments

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Adulthood: Adulthood in psychology signifies the developmental stage following adolescence, marked by maturity, independence, and assuming adult roles and responsibilities. See also Adolescence, Aging, Responsibility, Developmental psychology.
Annotation: The above characterizations of concepts are neither definitions nor exhausting presentations of problems related to them. Instead, they are intended to give a short introduction to the contributions below. – Lexicon of Arguments.

Author Concept Summary/Quotes Sources

Cognitive Psychology on Adulthood - Dictionary of Arguments

Upton I 137
Adulthood/logic/Cognitive psychology/Upton: (…) we now recognize that cognitive development goes beyond [the years of childhood (>Cognitive development/Piaget)] and a fourth stage of cognitive development has been suggested by a number of theorists (e.g. Commons et al.(1), 1984; Sinnott, 1994(2); Yan and Arlin, 1995)(3). Called ‘post-formal thought’, this stage has been suggested to be typified by relativistic thinking, whereby adults recognize that knowledge depends on the subjective perspective of each individual and that there is, therefore, no absolute truth (…).
Perry (1970)(4) studied cognitive growth in college students and found that there was a shift from the initial assumption when entering college that there was an absolute truth to be found, to a gradual recognition that questions might have many answers. (…) we move from absolutist to relativist thinking and, according to some theorists, this results in the use of a greater variety of thinking styles (Zhang, 2002)(5). Furthermore, it is suggested that advanced thinkers relish the challenge of finding the paradoxes and inconsistencies in ideas so as to attempt to reconcile them (Basseches, 1984)(6).

1. Commons. ML, Richards, FA and Armon, C (1 984) Beyond Formal Operations: Late adolescent and adult cognitive development. New York: Praeger.
2. Sinnott J.D. (2002) Postformal Thought and Adult Development. In: Demick J., Andreoletti C. (eds) Handbook of Adult Development. The Springer Series in Adult Development and Aging. Springer, Boston, MA
3. Yan. B and Arlin PK (1995) Nonabsolute/relativistic thinking: a common factor underlying models of postformal reasoning? Journal of Adult Development, 2: 223-40.
4. Perry, WG (1970) Forms of Intellectual and Ethical Development in the College Years. New York: Holt, Rhinehart.
5. Zhang, LF (2002) Thinking styles and cognitive development. Journal of Genetic Psychology,
163: 179-95.
6. Basseches, M (1984) Dialectical Thinking and Adult Development. Norwood, NJ: Ablex.

Further reading:
Kitchener, KS, Lynch, CL, Fischer, KW and Wood, PK (1993) Developmental range of reflective judgment: the effect of contextual support and practice on developmental stage. Developmental Psychology, 29:893—906. Available online at https :// —ddl/articles Copy! Kitchener-etal 1993 DevRangeReflectjudgem.pdf.

Explanation of symbols: Roman numerals indicate the source, arabic numerals indicate the page number. The corresponding books are indicated on the right hand side. ((s)…): Comment by the sender of the contribution. Translations: Dictionary of Arguments
The note [Concept/Author], [Author1]Vs[Author2] or [Author]Vs[term] resp. "problem:"/"solution:", "old:"/"new:" and "thesis:" is an addition from the Dictionary of Arguments. If a German edition is specified, the page numbers refer to this edition.
Cognitive Psychology
Upton I
Penney Upton
Developmental Psychology 2011

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