What Concerns Young Adults?
Physical Development in Early Adulthood
Early adulthood is the summit of physical health. Athletic skills, such as strength (weight lifting) and speed (100-meter dash), peak in the 20s, while marathon running peak in the 30s; except for gymnastics, which peak during adolescence. Presumably because of good health, early adulthood is also the time when young adults increase the use of dangerous vices - cigarettes, alcohol, marijuana, amphetamines, barbiturates and hallucinogens. Weschler et al. (2000) found that 40% of 14,000 college students binge drink at least once a week. (Binge drinking is defined as 5 or more drinks for men and 4 or more in women.) This behavior is associated with class absences, physical injuries, police trouble and unprotected sex. Bachman (1997) found that college students drink more alcohol than high school students; that single and divorced young adults drink more than those who were engaged, married and remarried; and that alcohol consumption reduce in the mid-20s. He also found that college students smoke lesser than other groups (in early adulthood), and that single young adults consume marijuana more than those who were married. This means that although young adults seem to take their health for granted, living arrangements and marital status motivate them to pursue a healthier lifestyle.
Cognitive Development in Early Adulthood
Developmental psychologist Jean Piaget states that humans go through qualitative stages of cognitive development, the last stage being the Formal Operational Stage. This stage is characterized with idealism, abstraction and logical thinking. Labouvie-vief (1986), however, thinks otherwise. He believes that young adults think differently from adolescents. For him, idealism in the formal operational stage is replaced with a realistic and pragmatic kind of thinking. Kitchener and King (1981) also elevated the cognitive status of young adults - from adolescent absolute thinking to relative and reflective thinking in early adulthood.
Socioemotional Development in Early Adulthood
Sigmund Freud and Leo Tolstoy both believe that the most important themes in early adulthood are work and love. Famous developmental psychologist Erik Erikson places young adults at the stage of finding intimacy or facing isolation. According to him, love is finding oneself and losing oneself in another; it develops from establishing an identity and maintaining healthy friendships.
Despite the steady high rate of divorce in the United States since 1970s, marriage is still strongly preferred among Americans. The average duration of marriage in the United States is 9 years. Quest for personal fulfillment, overly idealistic expectations on marriage or of the partner (due in part by marriage myths), and gender differences are some of the factors that contribute to divorce. John Gottman, et al., after following and studying 700 couples through interviews, videotapes and physiological assessments, identified 4 principles of a successful marriage - nurturing admiration, friendship (especially at troubled times), balance of power, and cooperative solution to conflicts (such as regulating emotions and reaching compromise).
Although most Americans prefer to get married, many remains to be single; and the period of singlehood is steadily getting longer since the 1990s. Singles range from the swinging single, to the desperately lonely, suicidal single. Swinging singles stress that singlehood offers a lot of advantages - time to make decisions about one's direction in life, time to develop personal resources to meet goals, freedom to pursue own schedule and interests, opportunities to explore and try out new things, and privacy. On the other hand, desperately lonely, suicidal singles raise some common problems associated with singlehood - lack of intimate relationship, loneliness and feeling of being out-of-step in a marriage-oriented society. Because of these disadvantages, many consider cohabitation as halfway step between singlehood and marriage. (Cohabitation is living together in a sexual relationship without marriage.) In 2000 alone, 7% of Americans in the United States cohabit, wherein 25% are 19-24 years old, and 42% are 25-29 years old. Cohabitation, however, commonly lasts less than a year, around 4 months on average. Cohabitation can either lead to marriage or broken relationship. Nock (1995) concludes that cohabitation does not lead to successful marriage. He observed that cohabitation is correlated with tendency to be less happy in marriage, and divorce. One possible reason is that cohabitation presents some elements in marriage, thereby reducing its value to couples.
Work, also, takes center stage in a young adult's life. This is because adulthood is socially considered as the period of total independence from parental financial support. Work influences one's financial standing, residence, friendship and health. Work is also important in establishing a family. Today, there are more dual-earning couples than traditional couples. Men are increasing their responsibility for house-keeping - doing 45% of the house work - and are having greater interest in family and parenting. Egalitarian fathers see fatherhood as decrease of 9 hours a week devoted to work, while traditional fathers view fatherhood as increase of 11 hours per week in work. Women, on the other hand, are increasing their responsibility for bread-winning; 1/3 of women are, in fact, higher earners than their husbands.
Desired Skills of an Ideal Job Candidate
From a national US survey, employers rated job skills from 1 (extremely unimportant) to 5 (extremely important). The top 9 are the following:
- Oral Communication Skills (4.7)
- Interpersonal Skills (4.6)
- Analytical Skills (4.5)
- Teamwork Skills (4.4)
- Flexibility (4.3)
- Leadership Skills (4.2)
- Proficiency in Field of Study (4.2)
- Written Communication Skills (4.2)
- Computer Skills (4.1)