Schaies Developmental Theory of Adult Cognitive Adjustment and Early Adulthood
K. Warner Schaie has studied how health, demographic, personality, and envi- ronmental factors influence individual differences in successful cognitive aging. Schaies (2005) and Schaie and Williss (2000) developmental theories divide the lifespan into several stages: acquisitive, achieving, responsibility and executive, reorganizational, reintegrative, and legacy leaving. These stages describe cognitive phases throughout the lifespan. Since this chapter focuses on early adulthood, let us discuss the stages falling within this phase of life.
The achieving stage begins in early adulthood. This substage depicts early adulthood as the time when the individual uses cognitive skills to acquire success in life situations such as on the job, in marriage, and in raising children. Previously learned skills are strengthened and decisions are considered with regard to how they affect other life issues.
The responsibility stage occurs once a family is established and decisions require a consideration of others. For example, the person in the responsibility stage must consider family needs and make decisions accordingly. Knowing that ones decisions affect others in the family or community creates a need for open mindedness and thoughtfulness in choices.
The executive stage affects approximately 25% of early- and middle-aged adults. These adults are those who attain professional positions requiring high levels of leadership and who must make responsible executive decisions affecting numerous peoples lives and careers (Schaie, Willis,
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