Type of paper: Essay

Topic: Adulthood, Culture, Love, Life, People, Youth, Teenagers, Focus

Pages: 3

Words: 825

Published: 2021/02/01

Emerging adulthood is a relatively new term in the field of lifespan development. It is a term referring to the transition period between adolescence and adulthood that most adolescents experience. According to Arnett (2000), it is a theory of development from the late teenage years to the twenties; this has a focus on the ages 18-25. It is a time of life when many varied directions remain possible. The individual has not made decisions regarding the future. He/she enjoys the scope of independent exploration of the possibilities of life (MHR Education, n.d.).

What is the meaning of emerging adulthood?

Arnett views the period as distinct from other stages of development; this is because it involves instability. People at the stage are semi-autonomous. They are aware they have not quite reached adulthood thus focus on identifying and accepting responsibility for themselves. It occurs through financial independence and independent decision-making. Identity exploration at the stage focuses on work, love, and worldviews (Arnett, 200)
The stage involves five major factors including; identity exploration, instability, feeling-in-between, self-focus and possibilities. Identity exploration involves deciding what a person wants to be and do in adulthood (Munsey, 2006). It focuses on love, work, and school. Instability involves constant changes in work, residence and careers. Self-focus involves little responsibility and commitment to others. Feeling-in-between involves taking responsibility get feeling like they are not yet adults. Last but not least, possibilities involve optimism and the belief that they have a better chance at a good life than their parents did. They believe in finding a lifelong soul mate.

Expectations for an emerging adult in my culture

The emerging adulthood stage among young people in USA has unique characteristics. In the society, young people are expected to experience the transition and make informal choices regarding the quality of life they seek. The period involves a focus on education; this is because most of the individuals are either in colleges or universities. It offers the prospect of learn about various career options and decide on the kind of work they seek in their careers.
In today’s American society, the experiences are almost smiles for both men and women. It is due to the increase in the number of women joining colleges and venturing into fields previously dominated by men (Munsey 2006). There is limited pressure on the young people to marry early. Thus many tend to get married towards the end of the emerging adulthood period. It is a time when they have decided on a career path and formulated worldviews to influence their actions, views and attitudes towards other people and life.
It also facilitates social and love development as they engage in relationships and seek lifelong marriage partners. The expectations for an emergency adult in the US culture depends on social and economic changes. The increasing focus on capitalism triggers the focus on professional development before the young people focus on other things such as marriage.
It is vital to note that young people from minority cultures that live in USA experience a conflict of expectation with reference to emerging adulthood. The period has different features in ethnic minority groups. Young people in such societies are expected to adopt adult responsibilities early and contribute towards the family’s income and younger siblings. The situation makes it a challenge for the individual to spend the period focusing on future career, love, and worldviews.

Comparing and contrasting the expectations and roles of an emerging adult in the different cultures.

According to Arnett (2000), emerging adulthood only occurs among adolescents in cultures where the young people receive a prolonged period of independent role exploration between the late teen and early twenties. Many studies focus on emerging adulthood in the western culture. However, it is imperative to note that the transition occurs among adolescents of all cultures. The difference emerges from the varied cultural practices. For instance, among many non-western cultures, marriage occurs when goals are 16-18 years, and boys are 18-20 years. Marriage in such cultures is a symbol of adulthood. Since emerging adulthood occurs between 18-25 years, the marriage practice does not accommodate a period of emerging adulthood. The situation explains why the transition is viewed as existent only in a culture that postpone the timing of adolescents’ entry into adult responsibilities and roles.
Emerging adulthood is thus common in cultures characterized by high industrialization. Such cultures have high levels of formal education and training preparing the individuals for professional careers. Most of the individuals go through schooling till the early and the mid-twenties; this gives them a duration to explore various directions they intend to take before marriage (Arnett, 2000).
It is critical to note that some of the cultures with shortened emerging adult periods may exist in industrialized countries. For instance, the Mormons of USA emphasize early marriages; this occurs to maintain their cultural beliefs by prohibiting premarital sex. The practice shortens the period of exploration the young people have before taking adult roles in the community.
Another cultural difference in reference to emerging adulthood involves limitations in occupational and educational opportunities. Young people in cultures with limited opportunities experience a shorter period. In such situations, young girls have children early and spend the period working low-paying jobs and caring for their children.

The implications of the transition to middle adulthood

The experiences and choices an individual makes during the emerging adulthood period determine the quality of life he/she leads during the middle adulthood stage. It occurs in reference to the quality of professional achievements, relationships, health, social life, and other accomplishments. In reference to Erik Erikson’s psychosocial stages, a person’s ability to successfully face the stage’s challenges determines the experiences of the next stage (MHR Education, n.d.). In Erikson’s perspective, it is the early adulthood period; this involves choices about education, independence, occupation, living environment, and relationships. It is the values and life goals established at the emerging adulthood period that influences the quality of life a person leads in the future (Garrette & Eccles, 2009).


The emerging adulthood stage is a distinct period in the life of young adults. It should be given significance due to the impact it has on the quality of life an individual experiences for the rest of his/her life. The paper explores emerging adulthood through a focus on its definition, aspects of my culture, comparisons and contrasts in different cultures, and the impact it has on middle adulthood. A comprehensive understanding of the transition period helps in ensuring every adolescent experience it in an adequate and healthy manner.


Arnett, J. J. (2000). Emerging Adulthood: A theory of development from the late teens through the twenties. American Psychologist, 55(5), 469-480. American Psychological Association. Retrieved April 7, 2015 from http://jeffreyarnett.com/articles/ARNETT_Emerging_Adulthood_theory.pdf
Garrett, J. L., & Eccles, J. S. (2009). Linking Late Adolescent Lifestyles to Family and Work Status in the Mid-Twenties. Chapter 11: Transition to Adulthood. Retrieved April 7, 2015 from http://www.rcgd.isr.umich.edu/garp/articles/garrett09.pdf
MHR Education. (n.d.). Chapter 4: Becoming an Adult. Retrieved April 7, 2015 from https://www.mheducation.ca/web_resources/sch/Chapter_4_Final.pdf
Munsey, C. (2006). Emerging Adults: The in-between age. Monitor Staff, 37(6), 68. American Psychological Association. Retrieved April 7, 2015 from http://www.apa.org/monitor/jun06/emerging.aspx

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