Cognitive Development in Early Adulthood
Changes in the structure of thought
· Postformal thought is cognitive development past Piaget’s formal operational stage. Thinking becomes restructured in adulthood, as life is rarely as clear and emotionally manageable as one thinks it will be in adolescence.
· Perry’s theory – after interviewing college students at the end of each year of college, Perry found that students gradually changed their thinking in the face of reality and adult responsibility.
· Dualistic thinking is representative of younger students- dividing information, values, and authority into right and wrong, good and bad, we and they. Truth is compared to abstract standards, and authority figures are respected simply because of their authority base.
· Relativistic thinking occurs as students age and become aware of the diversity of opinions on any topic. Now they see knowledge as embedded in a framework of thought. Now they recognize there is little absolute truth, but relative truths, based on context. Now thinking becomes more flexible, tolerant, and realistic.
· This transition in thinking may be unique to people pursuing extended education, with all the diversity that they face in that environment. The underlying theme is adaptive cognition- thought that is less constrained by the need to find one answer to a question and it more responsive to context.
· Schaie’s theory regards the goals of mental activity- the shift from acquiring knowledge to using it.
· Achieving stage (early adulthood) is when people adapt their cognitive skills to particular situations: job, marriage, childbearing, that affect long-term goals. Now they are applying knowledge to real life problems. These are problems that don’t have a single right solution. How a person negotiates getting his/her needs met, and cooperates with others sets a trajectory for the remaining life course.
Information processing: expertise and creativity
· Expertise is the acquisition of extensive knowledge in a field or endeavor, due to specialization coming from selection of a major or occupation. Becoming an expert has great effects on how we process information. Experts remember and reason more quickly and effectively. They know more domain-specific concepts and represents them in deeper ways. So experts approach problems with goals in mind, linking information and problems in complex patterns that are unseen to a novice. Experts have such knowledge that they arrive at solutions quickly because they use more automatic processing in the realm of their expertise. Expertise links to creativity, since they are directed at solving problems and meeting specific needs. Adult creativity has the ability to formulate new problems and ask significant questions that haven’t been suggested before. There is a movement from problem solving to problem finding. It seems to require 10 years to develop master-level creativity. Creat...