A Gradual Transition: Emerging
What is emerging adulthood, and how has
cultural change contributed to it?
in emerging adulthood, young adults from
about age 18 to 25 are released from parental
oversight but have not yet taken on adult roles.
During these years of extended exploration,
young people prolong identity development as
they explore alternatives in breadth and depth.
increased education required for entry-level
positions in many fields, gains in economic
prosperity, reduced need for young people’s
labor, and globalization have prompted
the appearance and spread of emerging
In trying out possibilities, emerging adults
must adjust to disappointments in love and
work, and their explorations also extend risky
behaviors of adolescence. A wide array of
personal attributes and social supports foster
Erikson’s Theory: Intimacy
According to Erikson, what personality changes
take place during early adulthood?
In Erikson’s theory, young adults must resolve
the conflict of intimacy versus isolation,
balancing independence and intimacy as they
form a close relationship with a partner.
Research confirms that a secure identity fosters
attainment of intimacy.
6Young people also focus on aspects of generativity,
including parenting and contributions to
society through work.
Other Theories of Adult
Describe and evaluate Levinson’s and Vaillant’s
theories of adult personality development.
Levinson described a series of eras, each consisting
of a transition and a stable phase, in
which people revise their life structure.
Young adults usually construct a dream,
typically involving career for men and both
marriage and career for women, and form
a relationship with a mentor to help them
realize their dream. In their thirties, men
tend to settle down, whereas many women
remain unsettled into middle adulthood.
Vaillant refined Erikson’s...