Tuesday, June 17, 2008

How "Adult" are You? The Test of Adultness

Dr. Robert Epstein is someone who "gets it". Formally the editor in chief of Psychology Today, he has now developed a test to determine how adult an individual is that "measures 14 different competencies that appear to define adult functioning in modern society." This test is revolutionary in that it is not just designed just for adults, but anyone competent enough to take it from the very young to the very old. His research, that is, from this test has blown away the myth that the adolescent brain is any way different than the adult brain in life competence.

You can take the Test for Adultness yourself for free at: Howadultareyou.com, and see how you score.

Some adults might be surprised how competent they really are at being an adult, as there is little difference between how the average 13 year old scores and how the average 30 or 40 year old scores. In fact, some 13 year olds are more competent, according to the test.

He argues that because of this "adults generally underestimate the abilities of our teens." This underestimation is manifested in how adults isolate, infantilize, and restrain "young people" from putting their natural abilities to use, particularly in a time period of life he describes as being the "peak" of creativity and productivity. And that because of this, so many teens are turning to recreational drugs, risky sexual behavior, and suicide as a means of coping with this social expectation.

What's more, his book, "The Case Against Adolescence," describes the importance of moving away from this social bigotry regarding age (ageism, pathologized childhood, adult-centrism, as well as the youth bias...etc) , to a society that recognizes an individual's competence, not their age. If we really want the best for young people, we can't treat them like infants, and this includes children as well. We have to treat them like human beings. "Adolescence" doesn't allow us to do that, so therefore it must be abolished.

There comes a time when the parental urge to "protect" has to be rendered silent by the human urge to set free. Now is the time.

Epstein is also a proponent of the apprentice/guild oriented society, and writes that "adolescence" is simply an invention of the industrial age, where the educational system of "12 year" schooling served a purpose that is no longer relevant in the modern information age. In this he believes any discipline, be it a trade or a professional field, should develop its own guild structure for instructing young people in the field, if high school is not serving their motivations and interests to the fullest. There are no doubt reams of statistics to show that, for the most part, it no longer does.


  1. Thank you sir. I'm looking forward to reading your book now. I happened to catch you speaking on the show "The Agenda" recently, and found your research fascinating, mirroring many of my own opinions on this issue. Thank you for commenting here, and good luck.