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Postformal thought

Thinking in adulthood differs from earlier thinking in 3 major ways:
1. More practical
2. More flexible
3. More dialectical

postformal thought

a proposed adult stage of cognitive development. Following Piaget's 4 stages, goes beyond adolescent thinking by being more practical, more flexible, and more dialectical. More capable of combining contradictory elements into a comprehensive whole

Really a stage

Piaget considered formal operations to be final cognitive stage. Brain researchers report that the prefrontal cortex is finally developed by age 20. Context and culture are crucial. Stages that are neurologically based do not appear in adulthood. Many scholars find a "qualitative" change in cognitive functioning throughout the adult life span. May be a misnomer:New cognitive level and Reached if adult life circumstances allow it

Subjective thought

thinking that is strongly influenced by personal qualities of the individual thinker, such as past experiences, cultural assumptions, and goals for the future

Objective thought

thinking that is not influenced by the thinker's qualities, but involves facts and numbers that are universally considered true and valid

Consolidating emotions and logic

Acomplex problem solving is the crucial intellectual accomplishment of adulthood. Combing effect (emotion) and logic (cognition)

Cognitive Flexibility

The ability to Be practical, Predict, Plan, Combine objective and subjective mental processes

Plans can go away

because of Corporate restructuring, Failure of birth control, Parent's illness, Adults with cognitive flexibility avoid retreating into their emotions or intellect

working together

More likely than children to imagine several solutions for every problem and then choose the best one. Emerging adults have been shown to be better problem solvers than both adolescents and the oldest adults

Countering Stereotypes

The ability to change one's childhood assumptions is needed to counter stereotypes. Younger adults hold less gender-stereotyped views than older adults and stereotype threat

Stereotype threat

the possibility that one's appearance or behavior will be misread to confirm another person's oversimplified prejudice attitudes

Dialectical thought

(most advanced cognitive process) Characterized by the ability to consider a thesis and its antithesis is simultaneously and thus to arrive at a synthesis. It makes possible an ongoing awareness of pro's and con's, advantages and disadvantages, possibilities and limitations


A proposition or statement of belief


A proposition or statement of belief that opposes the thesis


A new idea that integrates the thesis and its antithesis, thus representing a new and more comprehensive level of thought

"broken love affair

Nondialectical thinker:Likely to believe that each person has stable, independent traits, Concludes that one person is at fault. A mistake from the beginning- "bad match"
Dialectical thinker: See people and relationship as constantly evolving and Partners are changed by time as well as by their interaction

Culture and Dialectics

Researchers believe that background affects cognitive processes. Greek Philosophy led Europeans to use analytical absolution logic: a. To take sides in a battle between right and wrong, good and evil. Confucianism and Taoism led the Chinese to seek compromise- "middle way":To think holistically, the whole rather than the parts

Culture and Dialectics

Dialectical thought affects priorities and values. Researchers agree that notable differences in culture are the result of nurture, not nature. Cognitive differences have ecological, historical, and sociological origins

Morals and Religion

Adult responsibilities, experiences, and education affect moral reasoning and religious beliefs. Many emerging adults enter college expecting to deepen their values

Which era? which place?

Moral values are powerfully affected by circumstances, including national background, culture, and era. Culture determines whether a Articular practice is a moral issue. The power of culture makes it difficult to assess whether adults morality changes with age. Moral thinking improves with age


Defining Issues Test: A series of questions designed to asses respondents' level of moral development by having them rank possible solutions to moral dilemmas

Measuring Moral Growth

Shifts are seen as young adults incorporated human social concerns and Young adults became dialectical, reaching a new level

Stages of Growth

Fowler proposed a six stage model of faith. Faith progresses from a single, self-centered, one-sided perspective to a more complex, altruistic (unselfish) and many sided way. Faith is one way people combat stress, overcome adversity, and analyze challenges

Cognitive Growth and College

College graduates seem to be not only healthier and wealthier, but also deeper and more flexible thinkers. These conclusions are so powerful that scientists view these conclusions with suspicion

Affects of College

Students attend college to secure better jobs, learn specific skills, and obtain a general education. College correlates with better health, less smoking, better eating, more exercise, and longer life. Overall whole people who go to college are healthier and wealthier throughout life. Every year of college, students are able to comprehend more

Changes in the College context

The fact that colleges and universities are designed to foster cognitive growth does not necessarily mean that they succeed

Changes in the Students

College is no longer for the few elite and College students in the early 20th century are more diverse in every possible way

Evaluating Changes

Colleges that make use of their diversity help students stretch their understanding. Interactions with people of different backgrounds and various views lead to intellectual challenges and deeper thought

Graduate and Dropouts

Many young students lack the cultural knowledge or cognitive maturity to acquire the "social know-how" needed to navigate through college. Some adapt to complexities better as they proceed through college

Stage Approach

Evaluating cognitive development based on levels reaches is the:

Stereotype threat

The possibility that one's appearance or behavior will be misused to confirm another person's oversimplified, prejudiced attitude is referred to as

According to Gilligan's view of moral development:

adult decisions particularly advance moral thinking.

9. Favoring what feels right over what makes intellectual sense is typical of ___ faith.

Synthetic Conventional

10. In surveys of college freshman, ___ percent of students in 1966 rated keeping up to date on politics as important, and ___ percent of students in 1998 rated this as important.


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