At the recent American Association for the Advancement of Science annual meeting, psychiatrist Professor Beatriz Luna claimed that, in the western world, true adulthood does not begin until 25.

Professor Luna believes that adulthood begins when certain adolescent desires of sensation seeking and risk taking are overridden by the need for stability and reliability, usually triggered by taking on a lot of responsibilities. In teenagers, the pre-frontal cortex, which controls adult-like reason and planning, is trumped by the hormone dopamine, which triggers feelings of happiness when taking risks.

She believes that contemporary young adults putting off responsibilities such as marriage, a career or parenthood delays the transition to adulthood, encouraging the brain to stay in a state of adolescence. HSPS and Human Sciences applicants might consider both the social causes and effects of such a change, while History students might compare the different responsibilities faced by teenagers today versus previous societies.

Commentators have in recent years noticed a shift towards irresponsibility in the behaviour of young adults, and have dubbed the trend ‘kidulthood’.  Another result of this delayed adulthood is a tendency for young adults to ignore their parents and do whatever they want to do.

English students might look at ideas of coming of age in literature, in the Bildungsroman genre, and consider literary perceptions of the transition into adulthood, alongside these scientific claims.

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