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Adult development is physical, psychosocial, cognitive and personality growth that occurs after the age of 18.

Adult Development is a branch of developmental psychology that deals specifically with how adults age through physical, emotional, and cognitive means. One simple breakdown of the field is to look at its three dimensions.

For example, positive adult developmental may be divided into at least six parts: hierarchical complexity, (orders, stages), knowledge, experience, expertise, wisdom, and spirituality.

Nondevelopmental forms include adulthood and adult human behavior.[vague]

While adult development has long been a subject reserved for academia and medical professions, in recent years, adult development has become an integral part of leadership and executive development.


Studies are currently underway concerning adult development by Robert J. Waldinger and George Eman Vaillant at The Department of Psychiatry, Brigham and Women's Hospital and Harvard Medical School. Professor Robert J. Waldinger, from Boston Massachusetts, is studying a group of men who have been a part of an elaborate study for 67 years. The intention is to examine early life predictors of healthy or unhealthy aging and relationships late in life.[1] George E. Vaillant, who has been the Director of the Study of Adult Development at the Harvard University Health Service for the last thirty five years has published is work in his books Adaptation to Life, 1977, The Wisdom of The Ego, 1993, and The Natural History of Alcoholism-Revisited, 1995.[1] He charted adult development in 824 men and women their recovery process of schizophrenia, heroin addiction, alcoholism, and personality disorder.[1]

Four Adult Development Theories[]

  1. The Behavioral/ Mechanistic Approach
  2. The Psychological/ Cognitive Approach
  3. Contextual/ Sociocultural Approach
  4. Integrated Approach

Adult physical development[]

Adult psychosocial development[]

Adult cognitive development[]

Adult personality development[]


American Psychological Association's Division 20. Psychology of Adult Development and Aging.


Prominent workers[]

See also[]


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 Laboratory of Adult Development. Harvard University. URL accessed on 6 July 2011.

Further reading[]


  • Bee, H. L., & Bjorkland, B. R. (2004). The journey to adulthood (5th Ed.). Englewood Cliffs,

NJ: Prentice Hall.

  • Erikson, E. H. (1980). Identity and the life cycle. New York: Norton.
  • Gould, R. (1978). Transformations: Growth and change in adult life. New York: Simon &


  • Nemiroff,R.A. and Colarusso,C.A.(1990)(eds) New Dimensions in Adult Development:New York: Basic Books,


Bingham, Karen Havill(1989) The Psychology of Adult Development and Aging: A Survey of Reference Sources. Reference Services Review, v17 n1 p71-80 1989 (Provides an annotated survey of reference materials published since 1980 that provide access to interdisciplinary psychological literature on adult development and aging.)

External links[]

  • Laboratory of Adult Development [1]
  • Journal of Adult Development [2]
  • Psychology and Aging [3]
  • Talent Development Resources! [4]
  • National Center for the Study of Adult Learning and Literacy [5]
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