Exploring Lifespan Development Third Edition  Laura E. Berk
Chapter 13
Physical and Cognitive
Development in Early Adulthood
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Exploring Lifespan Development Third Edition  Laura E. Berk
Senescence
 Influences:




genetic
lifestyle
environment
historical period
 Multidimensional and multidirectional
 Average life expectancy has increased
25–30 years over past century
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Aging at the Level of DNA and
Body Cells
 Programmed theories: Genes are “programmed” to cause
changes resulting in aging.
 Telomeres: a type of DNA at the end of chromosomes that limit
the number of times a cell can divide (usually 40-60)
 “random” damage theory: DNA is gradually damaged by
spontaneous mutations or through external influences that cause
mutations. The more damage, the more difficult cell repair and
replacement becomes.
 Damage may also result in abnormal or cancerous cells
 Release of free radicals (naturally occurring, highly reactive
chemicals that form in the presence of oxygen) may cause
age-related DNA and cellular abnormalities
Aging at the Level of Organs
and Tissues
 Cross-linkage theory:
 Over time, protein fibers that make up the body’s connective
tissues form bonds (links) with one another.
 As these fibers cross one another, tissue becomes less elastic.
 Regular exercise and a vitamin-rich, low fat diet reduce cross
linkage.
 Gradual failure of the endocrine system
 A decline in growth hormone is related to loss of muscle,
increase of body fat and thinning of the skin
 Declines in immune system functioning
 Increase susceptibility to infectious and cardiovascular disease,
and cancer.
Exploring Lifespan Development Third Edition  Laura E. Berk
Cardiovascular and
Respiratory Changes
 Heart:
 few resting changes but reduced
performance under stress, exercise
 hypertension, atherosclerosis
 disease declining due to better lifestyle
 Lungs:
 maximum vital capacity declines after age
25
 stiffness makes breathing harder with age
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Exploring Lifespan Development Third Edition  Laura E. Berk
Motor Performance
in Adulthood
 Athletic skills
 peak from the early twenties to early thirties
 decline gradually until sixties or seventies,
then more rapidly
 Continued training
 slows loss
 retains vital capacity,
muscle, response speed
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Exploring Lifespan Development Third Edition  Laura E. Berk
Aging and 10-km Running Time
Figure 13.2
(From H. Tanaka & D. R. Seals, 2003, “Dynamic Exercise Performance in Masters Athletes: Insight into the Effects of
Primary Human Aging on Physiological Functional Capacity,” Journal of Applied Physiology, 5, p. 2153. © The
American Physiological Society (APS). All rights reserved. Adapted with permission.)
Copyright © 2014, 2011, 2008 by Pearson Education, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
Exploring Lifespan Development Third Edition  Laura E. Berk
Immune System
in Early Adulthood
 Declines after age 20:
 shrinking thymus: reduced
maturity and differentiation
of T cells
 B cells rely on T cells to
function
 Stress weakens
immune response:
 psychological stressors
 physical stressors
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Exploring Lifespan Development Third Edition  Laura E. Berk
Reproductive Capacity
 Increase in delayed childbearing
 Fertility risks for women:
 problems jump sharply at 35–44 years
 reduced number, quality of ova
 Fertility risks for men:
 problems gradual, starting
age 35
 decreased sperm volume,
motility
 increased percentage
abnormal sperm
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Exploring Lifespan Development Third Edition  Laura E. Berk
Variations in Health
 U.S. early adulthood death rates exceed
other industrialized nations:
 extreme obesity
 gun-control policies
 SES variations:
 poverty
 lack of universal health care
 environmental factors:
pollution, crowding,
stressors, lack of social
support
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Exploring Lifespan Development Third Edition  Laura E. Berk
Leading Causes of Death
in Early Adulthood
Figure 13.3
(Adapted from U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 2011b.)
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Exploring Lifespan Development Third Edition  Laura E. Berk
Causes of Overweight
and Obesity
 Heredity
 Ethnicity
 Declining physical
activity
 Increase in calorie,
sugar, and fat intake
over last four decades
 Basal metabolic rate
declines with age
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Exploring Lifespan Development Third Edition  Laura E. Berk
Consequences of Obesity
 Health problems:




heart disease
diabetes
various forms of cancer
early death
 Social discrimination:
 finding mates
 housing
 education, careers
 Mistreatment
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Exploring Lifespan Development Third Edition  Laura E. Berk
Treating Obesity
 Lifestyle changes:
 diet
 exercise
 Record-keeping:
 food intake
 body weight
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 Social support
 Problem-solving skills
 Extended intervention
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Exploring Lifespan Development Third Edition  Laura E. Berk
Dietary Fat
 Saturated fat from meat and dairy
 plays a role in breast and colon
cancer and in heart disease
 should account for 7% or less of
daily calories
 Replace saturated fat with
unsaturated fat from fish,
vegetables
 Total fat should account for
30% or less of daily calories
Copyright © 2014, 2011, 2008 by Pearson Education, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
Exploring Lifespan Development Third Edition  Laura E. Berk
Exercise
 Over half of Americans are inactive:
 more women than men
 low SES:
 less safe neighborhoods
 less social support for exercising
 Recommendations:
 30 minutes per day of moderately intense
physical exercise
 increased intensity offers greater health
protection
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Exploring Lifespan Development Third Edition  Laura E. Berk
Benefits of Exercise
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 Reduces fat, builds muscle
 Boosts immune system,
resistance to disease
 Cardiovascular benefits
 Mental health benefits:
 reduces anxiety, depression
 enhances cognitive
functioning, well-being
 Longer life
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Exploring Lifespan Development Third Edition  Laura E. Berk
Substance Use
in Early Adulthood
Peaks at 19–25 years, then declines:
 up to 12% of men and 6% of women
ages 19–25 are substance abusers
 cigarettes, alcohol are
most common
 drugs:
 marijuana
 stimulants
 prescription drugs
 party drugs
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Exploring Lifespan Development Third Edition  Laura E. Berk
Cigarette Smoking
 About 19% of U.S. adults smoke
cigarettes:
 numbers slowly declining
 fewer college graduates; more college
students, high school dropouts
 more men, but gender gap shrinking
 Deadly health risks
 Hard to quit: most treatment programs
do not use effective strategies
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Exploring Lifespan Development Third Edition  Laura E. Berk
Alcohol Abuse
in Early Adulthood
 10% of men, 3% of women are heavy drinkers
 About one-third of heavy
drinkers are alcoholics
 Genetic, cultural factors
in alcoholism
 Causes mental, physical
problems
 High costs to society
 Treatment is difficult: half
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relapse in a few months
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Exploring Lifespan Development Third Edition  Laura E. Berk
Heterosexual Attitudes
and Behavior
 Most have intercourse by age 25
 Most sex in context of a relationship:
 70% had only one partner in past year
 partners similar to each other
 Sex less frequent than media suggest:
 only one-third twice a week or more
 more often in twenties, declines with age
 Most satisfied with their sex lives; only a
minority report sexual problems
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Exploring Lifespan Development Third Edition  Laura E. Berk
Homosexual Attitudes
and Behavior
 Public acceptance growing: majority say it’s
“OK,” support civil liberties, job opportunities
 Estimated 3.5% of U.S. population are
homosexual or bisexual
 Sexual behavior similar to that of
heterosexuals
 Tend to live in larger cities, college towns
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Exploring Lifespan Development Third Edition  Laura E. Berk
Factors Related to
Sexual Coercion
Perpetrator Characteristics
Cultural Forces
 Manipulative, remorseless
 Men taught to be
 Approve of violence
dominant, competitive
 Women taught to be
submissive
 Acceptance of violence
 Dulled sensitivity due to
media, pornography





against women
Accept rape myths
Misinterpret social cues
Childhood sexual abuse
Sexual promiscuity
Alcoholism
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Exploring Lifespan Development Third Edition  Laura E. Berk
Sexual Coercion




Physical injury
STDs
General ill health
Rape: 18 percent of U.S.
© Arlem Furman/Shutterstock
women
 Perpetrators’ personal characteristics and cultural
forces are predictive
 Immediate: shock, confusion, withdrawal
 Long-term: fatigue, depression, substance abuse,
social anxiety, suicidal thoughts
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Exploring Lifespan Development Third Edition  Laura E. Berk
Preventing and Treating
Rape and Abuse
 Community services:
 underfunded
 few for victimized men
 Routine screening
 Validation of experience
 Safety planning
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Exploring Lifespan Development Third Edition  Laura E. Berk
Psychological Stress
 Related to
 social conditions
 traumatic experiences, life events
 daily hassles
 Caused or worsened by low SES
 Associated with




overweight and obesity
diabetes
cardiovascular problems
decreased immunity
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Exploring Lifespan Development Third Edition  Laura E. Berk
Cognitive Changes in
Early Adulthood
 Piaget:
 postformal thought
 Perry:
 epistemic cognition
 Labouvie-Vief:
 pragmatic thought
 cognitive-affective
complexity
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Exploring Lifespan Development Third Edition  Laura E. Berk
Development of
Epistemic Cognition




Dualistic thinking
Relativistic thinking
Commitment within relativistic thinking
Contributing factors:
 opportunities to tackle challenging
ill-structured problems
 peer interaction
 metacognition
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Exploring Lifespan Development Third Edition  Laura E. Berk
Development of
Pragmatic Thought
 Adulthood brings
 increased experience with real-world
problems
 new ways of thinking that thrive on
contradiction and compromise
 Increase in cognitive-affective complexity:
 greater awareness of one’s own and
others’ perspectives
 improved emotion regulation
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Exploring Lifespan Development Third Edition  Laura E. Berk
Age-Related Changes in
Cognitive-Affective Complexity
Figure 13.4
(From G. Labouvie-Vief, 2003, “Dynamic Integration: Affect, Cognition, and the Self in Adulthood,”
Current Directions in Psychological Science, 12, p. 203, copyright © 2003, Sage Publications.
Reprinted by permission of SAGE Publications.)
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Exploring Lifespan Development Third Edition  Laura E. Berk
Expertise and Creativity
 Expertise:
 acquisition of extensive knowledge in a field
 takes many years
 enhances information processing
 Essential for creativity:




move to problem finding
10-year rule
rise in creative productivity in early adulthood
requires multiple personal qualities
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Exploring Lifespan Development Third Edition  Laura E. Berk
The College Experience
 Formative, influential
“developmental testing ground”
 Exposure to new ideas, beliefs,
and demands fosters diverse
cognitive capacities:
 reasoning about ill-structured
problems
 broader attitudes and values
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 Depends on participation in
campus life
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Exploring Lifespan Development Third Edition  Laura E. Berk
Dropping Out of College
 U.S. dropout rates:
 44% at two-year schools
 32% at four-year schools
 Personal factors:
 preparation, motivation,
skills
 financial problems, low SES
 Institutional factors:
 few support services
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 Early support crucial
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Exploring Lifespan Development Third Edition  Laura E. Berk
Periods of
Vocational Development
 Fantasy period
 Tentative period
 Realistic period:
 exploration
 crystallization
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Exploring Lifespan Development Third Edition  Laura E. Berk
Factors Influencing
Vocational Choice
 Personality
 Family influences:
 parent–child
vocational similarity
 Teachers
 Gender stereotypes:
© michaeljung/Shutterstock
 gender-role conformity
diminishing slowly
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