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Egocentrism, perspective-taking, & identity development in emerging adulthood

ProQuest Dissertations and Theses, 2011
Dissertation
Author: Michelle Burden Leslie
Abstract:
The current study assessed the cognitive and social coordination abilities among 18 to 25 years olds during a period of life that has been described in industrialized societies as "emerging adulthood", not quite adolescence and yet not quite adulthood. Generally speaking, it was hypothesized that higher levels of formal operational ability and identity development would predict lower levels of egocentric thought and higher levels of perspective-taking ability, and that these relations would be explained by the extent to which one had achieved various criteria for adulthood. Two of the three hypotheses were partially supported. Formal Reasoning and Identity Status were not significantly related to the measurement of Egocentrism; however, Identity Status was predictive of scores for Personal Fable; and, both Formal Reasoning and Identity Status were significantly related in predicting Perspective Taking scores. Thus, although there were changes in level of functioning across these various indices, these changes did not mark a distinct developmental period among this sample of 18 to 25 year olds. Thus, there was no evidence supporting a meditational model in which Emerging Adulthood was interactive between the predictive variables and the outcome variables. Future research might benefit from improving our understanding of the complicated relations between these various development constructs, in particular how heightened personal fable ideation and perspective taking skills may relate to other aspects of functioning.

11 TABLE OF CONTENTS Acknowledgements iii Abstract v List of Tables vi I. Introduction 1 II. Literature Review 6 Theories Pertaining to the Transition to Adulthood 6 Piaget's Theory of Cognitive Development 7 Formal Operations in Adolescence 9 Limitations of Piaget's Theory & Controversy in Formal Operations 11 Formal Operations & Egocentrism 19 Erikson's Theory of Identity Formation 25 Marcia and Identity Status 28 Unrecognized State of Life: There Lies a Stage Between 32 Adolescence Adulthood? The Theory of Emerging Adulthood 36 Emerging Adulthood is Distinct from Adolescence 38 Demographics 38 Identity Explorations during Emerging Adulthood 39 Subject Perceptions of Adulthood 40 Emerging Adulthood: Empirical Research 42 Criticism and Alternatives 45 Emerging adulthood: A distinct developmental stage? 45 Summary 47 III. Statement of the Problem 48 Variables 53 Hypotheses 54 IV. Method 55 Participants 55 Measures 55 Procedure 69 V. Results 70 Demographics 70 Descriptive Statistics 71 Preliminary Analyses 78 Hypothesis Testing 83 VI. Discussion 100 References 115

iii ACKNOWLEDGMENTS I dedicate this dissertation to my father, Byron, whose support, strength, and encouragement inspires me to always do my best and keep smiling along the way. His immense love and passion for my life has been a tremendous benefit to me through all the difficult times in life, as well as the times of celebration. Also, I thank my mom, Cammy and my grandmother, Mia who, early on, always demonstrated the incredible value of an education. I also would not be where I am today if it were not for the additional support of my step-dad, Dale, who has always been so excited about every activity I have pursued in life, from sports to student council to academics. Thank you also to my sisters, Brittany and Caylan, who have always believed in me and have cheered me along the way. I want to also thank my Auntie Karin for all the love and fun she provided to our family. She is truly missed and her spirit is with us every day. Thank you also to Aunt Kitty, Uncle Jim, Ryan, Jamie, and Kasey for all the wonderful family memories over the years. I look forward to many more joyous times together. Thank you to Oren for his support and encouragement over the last three years, as well as for challenging my life in new and important ways for which I am eternally grateful. I would also like to thank some of my closest friends. I want to thank Nandita for her undying support, wisdom, and emotional intelligence. I admire her in so many ways and will miss her when she moves back to India. 1 am forever grateful to April, who also has been with me on this journey for over a decade and has always reflected back to me my strength during difficult times. I would also like to thank Iris for her support and for all of our cherished times together since 2000, including the many memories in Germany, Ireland, India, and Thailand. Thank you also to Michelle Relyea

iv for her continued excitement about my personal and professional accomplishments. It has also been my great fortune to have the incredible support and friendships of both Nadya and Mariam, who I have had the pleasure of knowing for several years now. I am also grateful for the immense support and encouragement from Kristan, Michelle Nivert, and Rozanna, as well as the other members of the SGI Strawberry Fields District, whose enthusiasm for life despite its challenges is contagious. Thank you also to Abbey, whose desire to always seek truth continues to inspire me. I would also like to thank Dr. Dave Asomaning, who has taught me more about leadership and spirituality than I ever imagined possible in such a short time. I know this knowledge will help me in all the work I do toward enriching the lives of others. Thank you Helen Krackow for the years of patience and for being a wonderful source of learning and healing. Also, thank you to the staff at Interfaith Medical Center, in particular my wonderful clinical and testing supervisors, Drs. Weisberg, Brown, Pernod, Degen, Kaplan, and Ferguson. It has also been a pleasure being on this journey with my fellow interns, Kristina, Pam, and Jade. Thank you for all of the support and laughter. Finally, I wish to thank the members of my dissertation committee, Drs. Gary Kose, Nicholas Papouchis, and Gary Fireman. Thank you for all of the support and guidance throughout the duration of this project. Your excitement for this project from its inception and support in seeing it through has been encouraging. Thank you for your helpful comments, patience, and dedication. It has been a pleasure focusing on aspects of developmental psychology, an additional interest of mine important to the field of clinical psychology. Thank you to each of you for your expertise in this area.

V ABSTRACT The current study assessed the cognitive and social coordination abilities among 18 to 25 years olds during a period of life that has been described in industrialized societies as "emerging adulthood", not quite adolescence and yet not quite adulthood. Generally speaking, it was hypothesized that higher levels of formal operational ability and identity development would predict lower levels of egocentric thought and higher levels of perspective-taking ability, and that these relations would be explained by the extent to which one had achieved various criteria for adulthood. Two of the three hypotheses were partially supported. Formal Reasoning and Identity Status were not significantly related to the measurement of Egocentrism; however, Identity Status was predictive of scores for Personal Fable; and, both Formal Reasoning and Identity Status were significantly related in predicting Perspective Taking scores. Thus, although there were changes in level of functioning across these various indices, these changes did not mark a distinct developmental period among this sample of 18 to 25 year olds. Thus, there was no evidence supporting a meditational model in which Emerging Adulthood was interactive between the predictive variables and the outcome variables. Future research might benefit from improving our understanding of the complicated relations between these various development constructs, in particular how heightened personal fable ideation and perspective taking skills may relate to other aspects of functioning.

VI LIST OF TABLES Table 1 Demographic Characteristics of the Sample 56 Table 2 Formal Operational Reasoning Percentages 72 Table 3 Ranges, Means, and Standard Deviations of Study Variables 74 Table 4 Means and Standard Deviations for Perspective Taking (Rel-Q) 76 Subscales Variables Table 5 Descriptive Statistics for Outcome Variable: Egocentrism, Personal Fable, 79 and Perspective Taking Table 6 Descriptive Statistics and Test for Normal Distribution of Emerging 80 Adulthood (Achieved Criteria for Adulthood Scale) Table 7 Correlations between Personal Fable, Egocentrism, and Perspective 81 Taking and Age Education and Gender Table 8 Correlations between Emerging Adulthood and Age, Education, and 82 Gender Table 9 Descriptive Statistics for Predictor Variables Formal Operational 84 Reasoning and Identity Status Table 10 Correlations between Outcome Variables Formal Operational 85 Reasoning and Identity Status with Demographic Information Table 11 Bivariate Correlations between the Predictor Variables: Age, Formal 86 Operational Reasoning, and Identity Status and the Outcome Variables (Egocentrism, Personal Fable, and Perspective Taking) Table 12 Beta Weights, Standard Error, and Standardized Beta Weights for 88 Predicting Personal Fable Table 13 Beta Weights, Standard Error, and Standardized Beta Weights for 89 Predicting Perspective Taking Table 14 Zero Order Correlations between Emerging Adulthood and Formal 91 Reasoning and Identity Status Table 15 Beta Weights, Standard Error, and Standardized Beta Weights for 93 Predicting Formal Reasoning from Emerging Adulthood. Table 16 Beta Weights, Standard Error, and Standardized Beta Weights for 95 Predicting Identity Status from Emerging Adulthood Table 17 Zero Order Correlations between Emerging Adulthood and Personal 97 Fable and Perspective Taking

1 Chapter I. Introduction Although the majority of past research has focused on the attainment of certain developmental skills in adolescence, current research indicates that many of these developmental achievements are not typically reached by even the end of high school and may actually extend into the early twenties. As a result of these findings, a shift has been made in the literature that now recognizes a distinct developmental period between the ages of 18 and 25, unlike adolescence and adulthood, whereby extensive independent role exploration occurs (Arnett, 1998; Rindfuss, 1991). Jeffery Arnett (2000) called this developmental theory of the third decade of life, emerging adulthood, post-adolescence and pre-young adulthood. Arnett (2000) argues that it is the changes in industrialized societies over the last 50 years that have altered the nature of development in the late teens and early twenties. Although this shifting period of life has been identified by other names by earlier developmental theorists (Erikson, 1950, 1968; Keniston, 1971; Levinson, 1978), most recently it has been referred to as emerging adulthood (Arnett, 1998,2000). According to Arnett (2000), the period of emerging adulthood is unique in terms of demographics, the degree of identity explorations, and subjective perceptions of adulthood. From 1960 to 1996, the median age of marriage has risen from 20 to 25 years for women and from 22 to 27 years for men (U.S. Bureau of the Census, 1998). Similarly, the median age of first childbirth is on the rise, as are the numbers of young people enrolled in postsecondary education and pursuing graduate degrees (Arnett, 2000). The proportion of young Americans obtaining higher education after high school has

2 increased sharply from 14% in 1940 to over 60% by the mid-1990s (Arnett & Taber, 1994; Bianchi & Spain, 1996). As a result of these demographic shifts in America (Arnett, 2000) and other industrialized societies (Chisholm & Hurrelmann, 1995; Noble, Cover, & Yanagishita, 1996), the late teens and twenties are now being conceptualized in a new light. Although traditional societal expectations for 18 to 25 year olds included that they be seriously preparing for entry into adult life (Arnett, 1994, 1998), there is now significantly less pressure on youth to immediately commit to certain life choices. With such delays into the mid-to-late twenties among Americans, a great majority of find themselves taking their time to test out various opportunities (Arnett, 2001a). Emerging adulthood provides a useful theory of development for the late teens through the twenties while challenging other contemporary developmental models that still apply the Eriksonian paradigm of psychosocial moratorium with this age group. From an Eriksonian perspective (Erikson, 1950, 1968), the recent shifts in the postponement of marriage and parenthood until the mid to late twenties, suggests that identity exploration now continues into a period of prolonged adolescence. Unfortunately, conceptualizing this period as merely prolonged adolescence has hindered efforts to critically examine developmental aspects of the transition to adulthood (Arnett, 2000). For example, it has been the norm to study college students by grouping them into inconsistent categories of "late adolescents," "young adults," and simply "adults" (Arnett, 2000). Arnett (2002) maintained that the majority of Americans in their late teens to early twenties have a subjective sense that they have left adolescence but have not yet completely entered young adulthood (Arnett, 1994, 1997, 1998). Thus, categorizing them into groups that are not reflective of their actual experiences in current times is

3 seriously undermining research efforts aimed to improve our understanding of development. Arnett's (2002) new theory of development for this age group, emerging adulthood, differed from other theories in that the third decade of life represents a theoretically and empirically distinct developmental stage that does not simply reflect extensions of other life stages. As Arnett (2000) pointed out, in contrast to past decades and different cultures, the transition into adulthood is no longer a brief period of transition in industrialized countries. Thus, applying outdated theories of development to the current generation is faulty (Arnett, 2007). Arnett (2000) advances his view of this life period suggesting that the teens to early twenties is a unique developmental period defined by profound change and exploration of various life directions (Arnett, 2000; Rindfuss, 1991). Although Arnett (2000) has acknowledged traditional developmental perspectives, including those of Erikson (1950, 1968), Levinson (1978), and Keniston (1971), for having contributed to his theoretical understanding of emerging adulthood, he has not adequately explored the relationship between the stage of emerging adulthood and traditional developmental milestones of the transition to adulthood. For example, Arnett (2000) provided some empirical support for this period being distinct from adolescence and young adulthood, but empirical evidence regarding developmental achievements during emerging adulthood has been lacking. Such studies might greatly advance or challenge Arnett's (2000) model. In particular, little is known about the cognitive and perspective-taking abilities known to foster identity and satisfying relationships at this stage of development. This gap in the literature has been surprising given that a major component of emerging adulthood is that this is the period of life that

4 provides the greatest opportunity for identity exploration, particularly in the areas of love, work, and worldviews (Arnett, 2000). The proposed study examined among a population of emerging adults, links between cognitive developmental constructs tapping adolescent egocentrism (i.e., personal fable and imaginary audience) and measures of social coordination skills. Previous studies have provided initial support and speculation concerning the relationship between these variables among children and adolescents (e.g., Burack et al., 2006; Mendelsohn & Straker, 1999; Selman, 1980). The ability to form satisfying relationships and to interact cooperatively in the pursuit of both personal and interpersonal goals is an increasingly complex developmental task throughout development, especially when considering the current societal shifts affecting today's youth. Given a new appreciation for emerging adulthood as a distinct period of life for young people in industrialized societies with their increasing opportunity for change and identity exploration, it seemed likely that certain developmental tasks that have been studied among adolescents play a role in this older group of 18 to 25 year olds. The following chapter will begin with a review of the theoretical approaches that helped shape our understanding of cognitive development in part leading up to Arnett's theory of emerging adulthood. The chapter will then discuss support of Arnett's model and present the current available research on emerging adulthood. Next, criticisms of Arnett's theory will be presented, as well as new directions for future research. A review of the literature on egocentrism, perspective-taking, and identity development, as well as gender differences in these processes, and the relationship of this literature to psychological maturation and emerging adulthood will then follow. The importance of

5 perspective-taking skills to aspects of one's relationship with others will also be discussed and the appropriate literature presented. Finally, the need for the present study will be discussed in the context of the reviewed literature.

6 Chapter II. Literature Review Theories Pertaining to the Transition to Adulthood As depicted in the literature, periods of transition consist of both behavioral and psychological change (Cowan, 1991). For example, adolescence is defined as a challenging period of life in which a number of changes occur as the individual achieves success in integrating various aspects of personality (Arnett, 2002a, 2002b). In addition, the transition to adulthood has been identified as a crucial period in human development for the crystallization of psychosocial characteristics that persist across the lifespan (Arnett, 2000; Mortimer, 1992; Teachman, Polonko, & Leigh, 1987). Young people describe this time as a period like no other that lays the foundation for their futures across various domains, including work, education, and love (Barnett, Gareis, James, & Steele, 2003; Cohen, Kasen, Chen, Hartmark, & Gordon, 2003). Unfortunately, due to the lack of an appropriate theoretical framework for the study of this third decade of life, relatively few studies have explored the nature of changes during this developmental period (Arnett, 2000; O'Connor, Allen, Bell, & Hauser, 1996), One approach to studying maturational changes during the period to which Arnett (2000) referred to as emerging adulthood is to examine how they are linked to a continuum of change beginning in childhood and continuing throughout the lifespan. Traditionally, cognitive abilities and perspective-taking skills are thought to develop through early childhood and into adolescence (Piaget 1932, 1965; Erikson, 1950; Kohlberg, 1984). While some theorists, such as Piaget (1965), were interested primarily in the transitions of childhood and youth, others, such as Erikson (1963), viewed the life

7 span as a series of transitions consisting of continuous life stages covering all of life. In reviewing the work of these theorists and others, it is suggested that different psychological functions and capabilities may be conceptually important for the transition to adulthood during the third decade of life. The contributing work of various theorists will be discussed as well as how they might contribute to our current understanding of Arnett's (2000) theory of emerging adulthood and the internal, psychological changes that foster mature social competence. To date, the extant literature on emerging adulthood has predominately focused on external changes. Piaget's Theory of Cognitive Development Swiss biologist and psychologist Jean Piaget (1972) developed the most influential theory of cognitive development from infancy through adolescence (Arnett; 2007; Elkind, 2001). Piaget sought to better understand the process by which children make sense of the world around them. His observations convinced him that children of different ages think differently (Piaget, 1972). For example, the very young two-year-old seems to have no understanding of perspectives other than his or her own (Piaget, 1972). However, with their heightened intellectual abilities, children become more equipped at anticipating and pondering how things might look from the point of view of another (Piaget, 1972). Given that nearly all types of social interaction require that we think of others, having the ability to take the perspective of another seems like an important variable for successful relationships. However, this skill is not easily achieved and must be acquired through development. Drawing from his own research and his work with Barbel Inhelder, Piaget sought to describe and document this course of development for perspective taking (Inhelder &

8 Piaget, 1958). Prior to their work together, Piaget (1926) demonstrated that before 7 or 8 years of age, children largely communicate with the use of egocentric speech, do not consider the viewpoint of the listener, and fail to include important information in their narrative. Piaget and Inhelder (1956) later designed a study in which children between the ages of 4 and 11 had to guess what a doll might see from various perspectives around a three mountain model (Piaget & Inhelder, 1958). Their findings indicated that younger children made a variety of errors suggestive of poor perspective-taking skills, and that with increasing age, children became more skilled at predicting details of an observer's view that was different from their own (Piaget & Inhelder, 1956). Piaget's observations of children culminated in the development of a four-stage model of how the mind processes new information (Piaget & Inhelder, 1956; Piaget, 1932, 1972). Thus, Piaget's model is a model of how children think, not merely the content of their thinking. As with all stage theories, Piaget's theory of cognitive development maintains that children progress through specific and distinct stages that are progressively more advanced as their intellect and ability to see relationships matures (Arnett, 2007). The four stages are in fixed order though the age range can vary from child to child. The timing of transitions from stage to stage is influenced primarily by biological maturation, and secondarily by environmental stimulation (Piaget, 1972; Piaget & Inhelder, 1969). During the sensorimotor stage (birth to 2 years old), the infant builds an understanding of himself or herself and his or her general functioning through interactions with the environment. The infant is thus able to differentiate between the self and other. The preoperational stage (ages 2 to 7) involves concrete classification of objects without an ability to conceptualize abstractly. During this period, the child is

9 egocentric, in looking only from one's own point of view, which implies an inability to differentiate between their own point of view and that of another. Here egocentrism is not meant to refer to selfishness or a lack of knowledge of others but rather a limitation in reasoning or in differentiating between what is subjective and objective. Next, with the period of concrete operations (ages 7 to 11), the child begins to think abstractly and conceptualize. As a result, children become more adept at using mental operations and now focus on what can be experienced and manipulated in the physical environment (Flavell, Miller, & Miller, 1993). However, children in this stage have difficulty applying their reasoning to situations and problems that involve systematic thinking about possibilities and hypotheses (Arnett, 2007). Finally, Piaget maintains that during formal operations (beginning at ages 11 to 15 and reaching completion at ages 15 to 20) cognition is fully developed and thus the individual no longer demands concrete objects to make rational judgments. Instead, according to Piaget's stage theory, deductive and hypothetical reasoning is now possible and the capacity for abstract thinking closely matches that of an adult. Formal Operations in Adolescence According to Piaget (1972), the stage of formal operations is most pertinent to cognitive development in what has been traditionally considered adolescence. Whereas during concrete operations children perform simple tasks that demand logical and systematic thinking, formal operations allows "adolescents" to reason about complex tasks and problems involving multiple variables (Keating, 1990; 2004). In order to test whether a child has progressed from concrete to formal operations, Piaget used a task known as the pendulum problem (Inhelder & Piaget, 1958). Essentially, children and

10 adolescents are shown a pendulum (i.e., a weight hanging from a string that swings). They are then asked to figure out what determines the speed at which the pendulum swings back and forth (e.g., the heaviness of the weight, the length of the string, the height from which the weight is dropped, or the force with which it is dropped). The formal operational thinker cannot only find the right answer to a problem such as this but also can explain why it is the correct answer (Arnett, 2007). With their cognitive advances, in using the various weights and lengths of string, the formal operational thinker is able to think such things as "well, it could be weight and so let me try changing the weight while leaving everything else the same. No, that is not correct since it is the same speed. Let's see if I change the length. Alright, so it goes faster with a shorter string and if I try height or force there is no change. So, it's the length since only the length makes the difference." As such, the formal operational thinker is using the kind of hypothetical thinking involved in a scientific experiment and is able to change one variable while holding the others constant. In other words, the reasoning of adolescents involves their new ability to apply propositional logic (i.e., the principles of logic to abstract and social reasoning) using systematic strategies (e.g., holding all but 1 variable constant; systematically testing all possibilities). Piaget (1972) discussed three characteristics of formal operational thought among adolescents, including abstract, idealistic, and logical thinking. In terms of abstract thinking, Piaget (1972) maintains that adolescents think more abstractly than children and develop into formal operational thinkers that, for example, can solve abstract algebraic equations. In terms of idealistic thinking, adolescents often think about what is possible and their ideal characteristics of themselves, others, and the world. Their logical

11 thinking, involves their beginning to think more like scientists, devising plans to solve problems, and systematically testing out solutions. Piaget (1972) coined the term "hypothetical-deductive reasoning" to define the capacity for this kind of thinking, which is at the heart of Piaget's concept of formal operations. Various elements of what Piaget originally called "formal operational reasoning" (Piaget & Inhelder, 1969) have been frequently discussed in the developmental literature (Byrnes, 1988). These elements include: generating or envisioning alternatives, evaluating alternatives, engaging in perspective-taking, and reasoning about chance and probability (Gordon, 1990). For example, Gordon (1990) discussed the role of formal operational thinking in adolescent decision-making, particularly as it relates to pregnancy and contraception. She provided examples of statements made by teenage mothers that underscore the deleterious difficulties some adolescents face in understanding the implications of their decisions (Gordon, 1990). She pointed out that only a few studies (e.g., Cobliner, 1974) have explored the relationship of cognitive processes to decision making about sexuality and parenthood and that the majority of these studies examine these outcomes as a function of age as opposed to cognitive-developmental level (Lewis, 1987). Instead of focusing on age predominately as an influential factor, researchers need to more thoroughly understand where various developmental age groups are in terms of their cognitive-developmental level, and in turn use these indices to best understand and explain their decisions and behaviors. Limitations of Piaget's Theory & Controversy in Formal Operations Are formal operations universal? Piaget's theory of formal operations is the part of his theory that has been critiqued the most and has been found to require the most

12 changes, more than his original formulations about development at younger ages (Keating, 2004; Lee & Freire, 2003). In particular, Piaget's theory is limited in that there are individual differences in the attainment of formal operations and the cultural basis of adolescent cognitive development (Arnett, 2007). One review suggested that by 8th grade, only about one third of adolescents can be said to have reached formal operations (Strahan, 1983). Substantial research has indicated that in adolescence and even in adulthood, a wide range of individual differences exists in the extent to which people use formal operations (Lee & Freire, 2003; Overton & Byrnes, 1991). On tests of formal operations, roughly 40-60% of teens and adults do not use them (Keating, 2004; Lawson & Wollman, 2003). Some proposed reasons for this variation are that using formal operations requires effort, varies with formal education and cultural norms, and considerable within person variability exists (Keating, 2004). Some adolescents and adults use formal operations over a wide range of situations; whereas others use it selectively, particularly for problems and situations in which they have the most experience and knowledge (Flavell et al., 1993). Taken together, these results suggest that the concept of formal operations is inadequate for describing how most people— adolescents as well as adults—solve practical problems and draw causal interferences in their daily lives (Keating, 2004; Kuhn, 1992, 1999; Lave, 1988). Given the current developmental shifts in industrialized societies (Arnett, 2002a), it would be interesting to examine among a population of 18 to 25-year-olds, who are in a unique period of major transition, the extent of their formal operational thinking and how it may relate, if at all, to other developmental achievements as well as aspects of their social functioning.

13 One measure that has been used in the literature to measure formal operations is the Logical Reasoning Test (LRT; Burney, 1974). This un-timed test is a paper-and- pencil task that categorizes the cognitive complexity of the individual as concrete, transitional, or formal (Burney, 1974). This task contains 21 items that measure abstract reasoning, inductive logic, and deductive logic (Taylor, 1998). A score of 14 or more correct is indicative of formal operational reasoning, 8 to 13 correct indicates transitional reasoning, and seven or fewer correct indicates concrete functioning or lower (Burney, 1974; Taylor, 1998). The development of the LRT test was based on the original questions created by Piaget and his colleagues. Taylor (1998) has discussed how more recent research in neo-Piagetian theory has provided new interpretations on classical Piagetian concepts and developmental changes. In particular, complete cognitive development in adulthood does not appear to be as universal as may have been thought in past studies and discussions. The literature now suggests that some mature adults do not appear to develop the full range of cognitive complexity seen with formal and post-formal operational thought (Taylor, 1998). As a result of these new suggestions, Taylor (1998) sought to explore differences in executive functioning between adults who do and do not show formal operational thought, as measured by the Logical Reasoning Test developed by Burney (1974). The main purpose of Taylor's study (1998) was to examine how "adults" with different degrees of cognitive complexity, as measured by LRT performance, compared across a set of measures intended to reflect executive functioning. The norms of this data were what was of interest to the current study. Drawing from a sample of college female (47%) and male (53%) students (mean age = 22.49 years), who were predominately

14 Caucasian (86%), the mean score on the LRT in his sample was 14.71, with a range of 2 to 20 (SD = 3.21). These findings demonstrate that many of these "adults" had not yet reached high levels of formal operational thought. Taylor's (1998) findings indicate that 63% of the students tested reached the cut-off score of 14, indicating the capacity for formal operational thought. The current study examined the implications of these developmental changes, or lack there of, particularly how formal operational thought relates to identity development and perspective-taking abilities. In another study that used the LRT, Yalcin and Karakas (2008) sought to examine meta-systems of cognition and their development, and the pattern of relationships between types of information processing, executive functions, mental ability, and level of cognitive development, as measured by the LRT. Their sample consisted of 80 Turkish children (39 female and 41 male) aged between 8 and 14 years. There were 11 children in 2nd grade (13.8%), 9 in 3rd grade (11.3%), 12 children each in 4th, 5th, 6th, and 7th grades (15%), and 12 children in 8th grade (15%). Considering that 11-12 years of age marks the beginning of the abstract operation stage, Yalcin & Karakus (2008) conducted separate analyses for children younger than 11 years and for those older than 11 years. The first group consisted of 40 children (17 female, 23 male) aged 8-11 years old. The second group included 40 children (22 female, 18 male) aged 11-14 years old). Independent sample t-tests demonstrated no gender differences in terms of LRT functioning. However, a significant relationship between age and LRT score (r =0.47, P <0.01) was observed such that the level of cognitive development increased with age. The authors also concluded from their findings that cognitive abilities develop from childhood to adolescence and stabilize during the young adulthood period. Such an

Full document contains 144 pages
Abstract: The current study assessed the cognitive and social coordination abilities among 18 to 25 years olds during a period of life that has been described in industrialized societies as "emerging adulthood", not quite adolescence and yet not quite adulthood. Generally speaking, it was hypothesized that higher levels of formal operational ability and identity development would predict lower levels of egocentric thought and higher levels of perspective-taking ability, and that these relations would be explained by the extent to which one had achieved various criteria for adulthood. Two of the three hypotheses were partially supported. Formal Reasoning and Identity Status were not significantly related to the measurement of Egocentrism; however, Identity Status was predictive of scores for Personal Fable; and, both Formal Reasoning and Identity Status were significantly related in predicting Perspective Taking scores. Thus, although there were changes in level of functioning across these various indices, these changes did not mark a distinct developmental period among this sample of 18 to 25 year olds. Thus, there was no evidence supporting a meditational model in which Emerging Adulthood was interactive between the predictive variables and the outcome variables. Future research might benefit from improving our understanding of the complicated relations between these various development constructs, in particular how heightened personal fable ideation and perspective taking skills may relate to other aspects of functioning.