Psychology Essay Sample: Moving into the Adult World

Published: 2022-09-22
Psychology Essay Sample: Moving into the Adult World
Type of paper:  Research paper
Categories:  Psychology Personal development
Pages: 6
Wordcount: 1489 words
13 min read

Transitioning into adulthood is one of the most confusing stages of human life. This stage is characterized by a combination of rapid physical, cognitive and social transformation. There is also critical life-altering choices to be made during this stage such as career choices and choosing a life partner. With a young developing mind unsure of how to respond to physical, social and mental stimuli, there results in an identity crisis for young adults. Young men and ladies grapple to answer the question of "who am I" and in most times to no avail. This is a period marked by profound and in some cases debilitating anxiety. Adolescence marks a turning point in the lives of human beings and the most critical step taken during this time is the discovery of self-identity. With little experience to handle the daunting tasks at this stage of life, tremendous behavioral changes occur in the lives of adolescents.

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Adolescence discovers self-identity through various means which often cause confusion among parents and guardians. Some behavioral changes among the young men and women matriculating into adulthood bewilder guardians. These behaviors are the means towards discovering self-identity and in most case are erratic and unexpected moves. Some of the ways through which adolescence form self-identity is through the exploration and changes in musical tastes, hobbies, romantic partners, decision making, appearance and also moral conduct. Research is beginning to uncover some of the mysteries that lead to the formation of self- identity. Studies reveal that the means towards discovering self-identity differ based on the context. This means that adolescence begins behaving differently when they are with their peers, teachers and guardians or parents. One of the defining characters of the middle adolescence-the peak of adolescence is behavioral changes depending on the context. Teens start learning how to change their behaviors depending on whom they are interacting with at that particular time. Teens start becoming outgoing especially when they are together but also turn out to be shy at home. According to researcher James Marcia, the formation of identity takes four distinct progressive steps. The first step towards discovering self-identity is called the foreclosure step. This step is marked by a distinct commitment to a life-altering course such as an occupational or life partner commitment. However, the adolescent has not undergone any life crisis at this stage. They have just reaffirmed their expectation from others at this juncture, and parents become convinced about the future of thee young adults. The individuals at this stage have not explored any options and therefore have not encountered any uncertainty or any life crisis. The next stage towards identity formation is known as the diffusion stage. This period is defined by giving up on commitments to achieve a clear sense of self-identity. The individual has not made any strong commitments towards the realization of a persistent self-identity. The third stage, known as the moratorium according to psychologist Marcia is defined by an active exploration of available options and commitments (Marcia et al.,2012). For example, the adolescents may be deeply undecided about which career to take or what type of a life partner to pick or which way to behave. This period is deeply confusing and the young adolescents manifest a life crisis marked by indecisiveness (Cote,2009). Despite the unfolding life crisis, the adolescence begin taking a certain distinct direction towards the formation of elf identity. The final stage of the linear journey of discovering self-identity is called the achievements stage. In this stage, an individual has already made strong commitments after undergoing a life crisis.

Self-identity outcomes can result in some of the most wonderful and at other times adverse behavioral changes. Because adolescents are transformed across the cognitive, physical and social spheres, so many outcomes result both through the process of discovery of self-identity and after the discovery of self-identity. One of the most notable outcomes of self-identity is youth fidelity. Fidelity, according to psychologist and researcher Erikson, is defined as the ability to sustain loyalties which are at most times pledged freely despite the inevitable compromises that have to be made in the process (Erik,1968). The outcome of self-identity often manifests itself among the adolescents who are becoming young adults in a way that they begin blending in a particular community. The now young adults begin taking an active role in the society such as leadership position and engaging in social welfare projects such as helping in nursing institutions(Cote,2009). This paves the way to the development of intimate and committed relationships among young adults. A marked form of infidelity developed just after the realization of self-identity is known as youth fidelity. The young adults begin to identify and to belong to certain groups in the society. These young adult groups vary depending on personal contexts and are marked by jointly shared and practiced ideas. Young adults who fail to develop fidelity often manifest a reluctance to commit to any group belief. At other times, such individuals begin resorting to negative views and propaganda lead to defiance.

Adolescent sexual orientation can be defined as the development of a resolute sexual resolution in a bid to understand one's sexual feelings. This process usually results in a clear label to an individual's sexual orientation, which is a landmark feature of today's teenage world. Most of the young adolescents manifest a heterosexual orientation which is defined by an attraction to the opposite sex. However, in some instances, the adolescent also manifest a strange attraction to an individual for their gender. This minority group of adolescents attracted to people form their gender are termed as homosexual (gay or lesbian) Various factors determine adolescent sexual orientation. Researchers have been struggling to uncover why some adolescents come out as bisexual, homosexual while the majority come out as heterosexual. For the latter, it somehow obvious to suggest that people become attracted to their opposite sex due to an evolutionary relationship that exists between human beings of the opposite gender. Such evolutionary relationships are often inbuilt desires aimed at the preservation of the human species through reproduction. What puzzle researchers most is when individuals begin exhibiting an attraction towards the opposite gender during the adolescence stage. The medical and psychological necessities of both the homosexual and transgender sexual orientation are beyond the scope of current research. Often, this minority group faces a lot of stigma and rejection from the public especially when they openly manifest their sexuality. Research has revealed that various psychological and genetic factors lead to the development of homosexual orientation. For many adolescents, the development of these sexual orientations is a largely unconscious process. One particular culprit leading to the development of homosexual orientation is the existence of a gender identity disorder among adolescents (Bailey, Dunne & Martin,2000). For example, certain individuals feel trapped in the bodies of the opposite gender. They behave and do all the things that the opposite gender does and are more likely to be attracted to people of their sex. Research is still underway to pinpoint the exact causes of certain orientations.

Sexual exploration is another defining characteristic of the adolescent stage. Perhaps this is the most worrying characteristic of this stage since it can result in potential life-altering consequences. These include contracting sexually transmitted infections such as HIV/AIDs and also unwanted pregnancies. The decision on whether to become sexually active or not is a large unconscious one. Some youths become sexually active while others do not. The decision lies behind a complex set of interactions ranging from genetic factors, the setting of adolescent development, social and economic backgrounds and also personal norms and characteristics. The percentage of sexually active youths across all demographics stand at about 54%. However, this figure was much more prominent two decades ago. One worrying trend among sexually active adolescents is the adoption of reckless sexual behavior. According to research, the number of sexually active adolescents preferring to use active contraception has been steadily declining over the past five decades. The explanation given for this reckless sexual behavior can be explained by the fact that many adolescents undergo a very confusing life crisis period that makes them unable to make mature sexual decisions such as using contraceptives. Some teens also develop a sense of misguided confidence that may make them want to engage in unprotected sexual relations. Educating adolescents about the consequences of engaging in unprotected sexual relations should be done on a regular basis since these relations can result in live altering consequences.


Cote, J. E. (2009). Identity formation and self-development in adolescence. Handbook of adolescent psychology, 1, 266-304.

Marcia, J. E., Waterman, A. S., Matteson, D. R., Archer, S. L., & Orlofsky, J. L. (2012). Ego identity: A handbook for psychosocial research. Springer Science & Business Media.

Bailey, J. M., Dunne, M. P., & Martin, N. G. (2000). Genetic and environmental influences on sexual orientation and its correlate in an Australian twin sample. Journal of personality and social psychology, 78(3), 524.

Erik, E. (1968). Identity: Youth and crisis.

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