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Is there a better way to measure or test maturity (mental or physical) than age?

As a minor, this question comes up every now and again. I'm sure many of you have been restricted by your age, but thought you were more than mature enough to do whatever it was. I think age has been used far too long as a measurement of maturity. Sometimes the age limit is too low and for others too high. Since we all mature at different rates, why would time be used as the measure of maturity? I sort of aimed this question toward neuroscientists (or anyone else studying the brain) to see if there was already a device that measured maturity or if it wasn't even possible.

Feel free to post relevant examples and of course ideas of how we can either test or measure a person's maturity (mental or physical) better.

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  • Jul 5 2013: Very important question. Relevant to the idea of voting--should only people who are mature be allowed to vote? Anyway, the possibility that one's reputation could include a ranking for maturity is intriguing. How could it be assessed? I suggest one imagine a tree of one's beliefs. Over time, these trees will grow more complex, each belief is overwritten in turn by other beliefs; beliefs cluster and form more vague but "profound" implications, etc. Generally this will happen as one ages, so in general old people will be more "mature" than younger ones. But this can certainly happen in some young people, in whose minds beliefs tend to overwrite themselves more rapidly. Converse is, if one still has one's first set of beliefs ("political correctness"), as for someone who still has their baby teeth, they seem unlikely to be mature. Of course, I may be mistaking maturity with wisdom, but I think you implied that connection.

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