Login
Copyright

Postformal Thought in Cognitive Development

An error occurred trying to load this video.

Try refreshing the page, or contact customer support.

Coming up next: Levinson's Stages of Adult Development Theory

You're on a roll. Keep up the good work!

Take Quiz Watch Next Lesson
 Replay
Your next lesson will play in 10 seconds
  • 0:01 Postformal Thought
  • 1:18 Relativistic Thinking
  • 2:29 Dialectical Reasoning
  • 4:48 Lesson Summary
Add to Add to Add to

Want to watch this again later?

Log in or sign up to add this lesson to a Custom Course.

Login or Sign up

Timeline
Autoplay
Autoplay
Create an account to start this course today
Try it free for 5 days!
Create An Account

Recommended Lessons and Courses for You

Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Natalie Boyd

Natalie is a teacher and holds an MA in English Education and is in progress on her PhD in psychology.

How do people continue to develop in adulthood? Watch this lesson to discover how adults develop cognitively, including how they become postformal thinkers, and what relativistic thinking and dialectical reasoning involve.

Postformal Thought

Juliet just graduated college and is starting her first full-time job. She's excited, but also a little nervous. Not only does this job require all sorts of skills, she is also nervous because she's never had to work in a large corporation like this. It seems like everyone has their own views about things, and nobody agrees! Juliet is in the part of life known as early adulthood, which covers the period between adolescence and middle age, or approximately 20 to 40 years old.

For many years, psychologists believed that by the time you became an adult, you were fully developed. Especially when it came to cognition, or thought processes, people believed that there was really no more growing left to do. However, a growing number of psychologists now recognize that there are still new developments in cognition, even in early adulthood. These are collectively known as postformal thought, which has to do with understanding that contradictions exist in the world around us. Let's look closer at two hallmarks of postformal thought: relativistic thinking and dialectical reasoning.

Relativistic Thinking

One of the things that Juliet is finding difficult about her new job is that much of her job requires her to navigate complex social situations. One of her bosses is in constant disagreement with her other boss, and they use her as a go-between, which means that she has to persuade both parties that the other side is valid.

Relativistic thinking involves understanding that things are not always black and white, but relative. Think about a topic like the energy crisis. There's not a simple solution to this problem, and neither the proponents of natural gas nor the supporters of solar energy are wrong. They both have valid points.

Juliet's bosses disagree on everything. Sometimes, she agrees with one of her bosses, and other times, she agrees with the other boss. But either way, she always has to be able to see and respect the other side so that she can forge a peace between the two. This is the essence of relativistic thinking - being able to understand the other person's point of view, even if it contradicts yours.

Dialectical Reasoning

So Juliet's bosses don't get along, and she has to play peacemaker between them. But Juliet herself is finding some other social areas of her job challenging. For one thing, she's never worked in such a diverse place. She's surrounded by people from all over!

One of the people that she has to work with has a thick Southern accent. When she first met her coworker, Juliet was nervous around him. After all, he's from the South. Juliet's impressions of people from the South weren't good - they were mostly backwards and racist, she believed. They didn't like people who were different races or religions. Just look at all the stuff said and done by people from the South every day!

To unlock this lesson you must be a Study.com Member.
Create your account

Register for a free trial

Are you a student or a teacher?
I am a teacher

Unlock Your Education

See for yourself why 30 million people use Study.com

Become a Study.com member and start learning now.
Become a Member  Back

Earning College Credit

Did you know… We have over 95 college courses that prepare you to earn credit by exam that is accepted by over 2,000 colleges and universities. You can test out of the first two years of college and save thousands off your degree. Anyone can earn credit-by-exam regardless of age or education level.

To learn more, visit our Earning Credit Page

Transferring credit to the school of your choice

Not sure what college you want to attend yet? Study.com has thousands of articles about every imaginable degree, area of study and career path that can help you find the school that's right for you.

Create an account to start this course today
Try it free for 5 days!
Create An Account
Support