Study Uncovers the Downsides of Growing Up Fast

Modern society moves at a rapid pace. In order to keep up, people strive to complete tasks quickly, acquire new information at the speed of a button, and achieve more. But one thing that cannot be rushed is psychosocial maturity. Adolescents reach the precipice of childhood at different times. Some mature into adulthood early, developing adult characteristics, responsibilities, and attitudes. Others delay their maturation by pursuing postsecondary education and engaging in other activities prior to entering the workforce. But does subjective maturity affect career and life achievement in later years? To explore whether psychosocial maturity and subjective age influence career aspirations, Jane E. Benson of the Sociology and Anthropology Department at Colgate University in New York recently led a study assessing the maturity of young adults ranging in age from 18 to 22.

Benson evaluated the participants for educational achievement and career position when they reached their late twenties and found that psychosocial age does indeed matter. Specifically, Benson found that the participants with the highest levels of psychosocial maturity and subjective age adapted to the school-to-work transition better than any other group. Those with the lowest maturity and subjective age, although they tended to stay in school the longest, also had positive outcomes. Despite the fact they began their careers later, they developed at paces that suited them and gained the education necessary to successfully obtain good jobs.

Those with high subjective age and low psychosocial age were ill-prepared to handle the shift from school to work. These participants, referred to as pseudo-adults in this study, had the lowest levels of career attainment. They were less equipped to make the choices necessary to move from college or high school into the work world. Pseudo-maturity can also decrease academic performance and self-esteem. Overall, Benson believes that children who see themselves as adults, or those who are forced into taking on adult responsibilities, should be wary of jumping into the adult world before they are psychologically ready. “While psychosocial maturity is particularly important among those who are on a faster track to self-defined adulthood, it is less consequential for those who exhibited younger subjective ages,” she added.

Benson, Janel E., Monica Kirkpatrick Johnson, and Glen H. Elder, Jr. The implications of adult identity for educational and work attainment in young adulthood. Developmental Psychology 48.6 (2012): 1752-758. Print.

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  • Daniella

    November 29th, 2012 at 3:23 PM

    I graduated but was never on the same page as my peers.I guess I was just not ready for the job world,to take on the adult responsibilities so to speak.But having forced myself into it I realized what had happened.Struggled on the job and quit soon after.I did a few vocational courses after that.Hobbies kept me busy too and soon I felt a change.I felt I was ready.And indeed I was.Landed a fairly good job and am doing pretty well currently.

    I guess some of us just need some more time than others but in the end what matters is whether you are able to do what you take up.And whether you are really ready.So don’t force yourself into something because you have to,but enter only if you are ready to.It is bound to produce better results and a satisfying feeling that is unmatched.

  • Olivia

    November 30th, 2012 at 3:57 AM

    makes me think twice about allowing my daughter who wants to finish high school early, letting her do that

    not sure that doing this at an earlier age will necessarily get her ahead in life

  • reggie

    November 30th, 2012 at 6:28 AM

    you can always tell when a person is not mentally prepared to take up some responsibility.most people label such people as irresponsible or someone who does not know the ways of life.that is just so wrong!it can take longer for some people to go down the path of adult responsibility but that does not mean they will achieve any less!late bloomers can be great people too.I was one and I am extremely happy with what I have achieved so far.

  • Jay

    November 30th, 2012 at 7:19 AM

    Ugh! It is so hard as a parent to watch a child go through being old enough to be an adult but not mature enough to handle it. My son didn’t really reach adult maturity until he was in his 40’s. Up until that point, he bounced around from one low paying job to another, constantly called and asked us for money, and ended up filing bankruptcy. He also got married to a girl he had a one night stand and got pregnant with. They ended up divorced after having a second child. Now, however, I can say that he is doing very well. He started late on the career track, so he’ll never be the top dog. But, he does have a few people working under him now and doesn’t depend on us financially anymore. He has a steady girlfriend and now seems to be ready to fill his adult rolls.

  • E.D.

    November 30th, 2012 at 7:21 AM

    I was one of those who knew exactly what I wanted to do and did it right out of high school. I graduated from college in three years, got married, and had a baby at 24. Still married to the same girl, still doing my chosen career path. I guess when you’re ready, you’re ready!

  • Ivan

    November 30th, 2012 at 5:40 PM

    While I do understand that every teenager matures at a different age and actually turns into an adult at different times,is it possible to change that?Is there any possibility of ensuring you mature at a fairly early age so that you are not left behind?I guess that could help a lot of people who know they are not matured enough for their age but would want to acquire the capability to!

  • julia

    December 1st, 2012 at 2:04 AM

    there’s such a fierce battle to grow up fast now,it just surprises me.yes,every generation has wanted to grow up fast but its more than ever before now.

    when we’re young we want to grow up fast.and when we have we wish to go back to the good old days of childhood.guess we are just not happy with what we have and always desire something else.

  • solomon

    December 3rd, 2012 at 10:56 AM

    so glad that we were allowed to actually be kids
    kids today don’t have that luxury
    they are constantly being hustled from one stage to the next
    never really being given the chance to sit back and enjoy life like we of an older generation were allowed to do

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