Physical Changes

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Physical Changes
Chapter 9
Human Development
maintaining personal purity (Shweder et al., 1994). As in other areas of cognitive development, culture plays a significant role in shaping moral judgments.
Gender may also play a role. Carol Gilligan (1982, 1993) has suggested that
Kohlberg’s research documented mainly the abstract, impersonal concept of justice
typically seen in males. When Gilligan asked people about moral conflicts, the majority of men focused on justice, but only half of the women did. The other half focused
on caring. This finding supports Gilligan’s belief that, for North American females, the
moral ideal is to protect enduring relationships and fulfill human needs. This difference between men and women has not been found consistently, however (Jaffee &
Hyde, 2000). In fact, it appears that males and females are capable of using either
approach to moral reasoning (Johnston, 1988). The tendency for females to focus on
caring more than males do and for males to focus on justice more than females do
appears most clearly when they are resolving hypothetical moral dilemmas (Turiel,
2006). When resolving real-life moral issues, both men and women focus more on caring than on justice (Walker, 1995).
Taken together, the results of research in different countries and with both genders
suggest that moral ideals are not absolute and universal. Moral development is apparently an adaptation to the moral world—and the specific situations in which people
find themselves (Bersoff, 1999). Formal operational reasoning may be necessary for
people to reach the highest level of moral reasoning, but formal operational reasoning
alone is not sufficient. To some extent, at the highest levels, moral reasoning is a product of culture and history, of situations, and of people’s emotions and goals in those
situations (Krebs & Denton, 2005; Turiel, 2006).
䉴 What developmental changes occur in adulthood?
Development does not end with adolescence. Adults, too, go through transitions and
experience physical, cognitive, and social changes. It has been suggested that adulthood
emerges as early as eighteen (Arnett, 2000), but for our purposes, adulthood can be
divided into three periods: early adulthood (ages twenty to thirty-nine), middle adulthood (ages forty to sixty-five), and late adulthood (beyond age sixty-five).
Physical Changes
In early adulthood, physical growth continues. Shoulder width, height, and chest size
increase, and people continue to develop their athletic abilities. By their mid-thirties
nearly everyone shows some hearing impairment, but for most people, the years of early
adulthood are the prime of life.
In middle adulthood, other physical changes slowly emerge. The most common of
these involve the further loss of sensory sharpness (Fozard et al., 1977). People become
less sensitive to light, less accurate at perceiving differences in distance, and slower and
less able at seeing details. At about age forty, increased farsightedness is common, and
glasses may be necessary to correct for it. In their late forties or early fifties, women
generally experience menopause, the shutdown of reproductive capability. Estrogen and
progesterone levels drop, and the menstrual cycle eventually ceases.
Most people are well into late adulthood before their bodily functions show noticeable impairment. However, inside the body, bone mass is dwindling, and the risk of
heart disease is increasing. Men shrink about an inch in height, and women about two
inches, as their posture changes and cartilage disks between the spinal vertebrae become
thinner. Older adults tend to go to sleep earlier but may find it harder to sleep through
the night without awakening to use the bathroom (Park et al., 2002). Hardening of the
arteries and a buildup of fat deposits on the artery walls may lead to heart disease. The
digestive system slows down and becomes less efficient. Both digestive disorders and
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