Using physical and cognitive arguments, explain how adolescence and emerging adulthood differ from each other.

Using physical and cognitive arguments, explain how adolescence and emerging adulthood differ from each other.


The transition from adolescence to emerging adulthood is an important life stage as it marks the shift from childhood to adulthood. Physical and cognitive changes during this period of development can have a significant impact on how an individual interacts with their environment. This essay will explore the differences between adolescence and emerging adulthood by examining physical changes, cognitive development, and the impact of social and cultural expectations on each stage.
Adolescence and emerging adulthood are two life stages characterized by physical and cognitive changes. According to DM Fergusson, LJ Woodward, and LJ Horwood in their 2000 study, “Psychological Medicine”, physical changes are an integral part of adolescence and emerging adulthood. During this period, the body is undergoing physical changes such as a growth spurt, which can result in an increase in height and weight. Additionally, adolescents and emerging adults experience changes in body shape and composition, as well as changes in bone and muscle mass. These changes are often accompanied by changes in skin composition and texture, which may cause acne or other blemishes. Furthermore, adolescents and emerging adults may experience changes in their reproductive organs and hormones, which can lead to the development of secondary sex characteristics. These physical changes are essential for physical maturation and pave the way for the transition into adulthood. As such, they are an integral part of the development process and are necessary for physical and cognitive development.
Cognitive development during adolescence and emerging adulthood is a crucial period for growth and maturation, both mentally and emotionally. The development of cognitive functions, such as executive functions and decision making, during this time has been studied extensively. For example, D Yurgelun-Todd states in their 2007 article in Current Opinion in Neurobiology that “executive functions, such as inhibitory control, working memory, and cognitive flexibility, appear to develop substantially in early adolescence and continue to mature throughout late adolescence and early adulthood” (Yurgelun-Todd, 2007). This is an important part of development as the cognitive and mental functions developed during this period are used later in life. In addition, during this period the developing individual is also exposed to a greater diversity of social experiences, which may aid in the development of cognitive functions. The development of cognitive functions is a complex process, and further research is needed to fully understand it. Nevertheless, it is clear that this period of adolescence and emerging adulthood is an important one for cognitive development.
It is no secret that social and cultural expectations have a profound impact on adolescence and emerging adulthood. This is particularly true for adolescents who are facing the challenges of identity formation and negotiating the expectations of their parents and peers. As Montgomery (2005) explains, “adolescents who are most successful in navigating through their developmental tasks often have the support of family, peers, and other significant individuals and/or access to resources or services to help them meet their goals” (p. 2). Therefore, it is important for adolescents to be aware of the expectations of their society and to use these expectations to their advantage. For example, adolescents may be more likely to perform well in school if they understand the value placed on education by their culture and use that to motivate themselves. It is also important to note that these expectations can be a source of stress for adolescents as they strive to meet their goals. If adolescents are unable to meet the expectations of their family and peers, they may experience feelings of shame and guilt. Ultimately, understanding the expectations of their culture and developing the skills to meet those expectations can help adolescents and emerging adults to be more successful in their development and self-identification.
Adolescence and emerging adulthood are two distinct life stages during which young people can experience rapid physical and cognitive changes. During adolescence, young people enter puberty beginning an array of irreversible physical and cognitive changes, such as spikes in physiological arousal and brain development causing a growth in abstract thinking and problem-solving skills. Whereas emerging adulthood is characterized by increased autonomy, exploration and identity development which reflects cognitive capabilities necessary for functioning in a more mature and independent way. Ultimately, although the physical and cognitive changes in adolescence and emerging adulthood both promote development and maturity, their respective characteristics provide distinct benefits that foster and support one’s journey through life.
Work Cited
D Yurgelun-Todd.”Emotional and cognitive changes during adolescence.”
DM Fergusson., LJ Woodward.”Risk factors and life processes associated with the onset of suicidal behaviour during adolescence and early adulthood.”
“Psychosocial intimacy and identity: From early adolescence to emerging adulthood.”





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