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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 4 2013: Really? the MMPI! If this is true it is a bit upsetting not only attached to the IQ test. You should research the MMPI test if you want to know the blinding truth. Put your sun glasses on, you will need them!
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    Jul 3 2013: The only way I know the observe how people react to situatoins. Every now and then you just have to put people to the test and see where they are at.

    Low tech answer but accurate.
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      Jul 3 2013: Exactly :) Conduct a Q and A afterwards where you find out why they reacted the way they did and what thought processes were involved. There comes a time where you end up thinking beyond the immediate consequence (i.e. "because I didn't want to get in trouble") and really think about the long term effects of a decision and allow your mind to travel down several paths resulting in different outcomes. This kind of thinking only develops after an individual has experienced enough to be able to accurately predict different results for one scenario.
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        Jul 5 2013: Thanks Frank and Ang! That is sort of along the lines of what I was thinking of for testing maturity. I think we could use their reactions and thought processes to more correctly restrict or free people's access to various things from R-rated films to alcohol and drugs.
  • 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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    Jul 5 2013: Sir,

    First of all, let me make it clear that I am not an expert in anything and I do no claim authority over anything.
    Words are nothing in themselves, they are just "mental traffic".
    Words point to something beyond themselves, mainly to an action or deed.
    The word "eating" has no meaning without putting something in your mouth, chewing and swallowing.
    Meaning is the present action that takes place.
    The question is: does meaning arise from past memory, or is it discovered in the present context?
    The word may be the same, but the meaning is different, contextually, you're right.
    There is no meaning in anything apart from what you bring to it.
    When you are absorbed into an activity, do you care for the meaning?
    Of course not! Time and thought disappears, and even the sense of self.
    And thought as self-consciousness as well.
    Try skydiving and see what happens to thought.
    You do not have "time to think", there is an immediacy and urgency to pay attention to what you are doing, else you die.
    Feeling lost is the prerequisite to living, not lost without bearing, or mindless, but lost without direction as brought in by thought.
    Even if meaning is "fixed for communication", if I did something that you have never done, would you be able to understand the meaning?
    And even if you do that yourself, the meaning would be unique to you.
    So words may be fixed, but the experience behind it is not.
    Signals are sent to the brain not necessarily by thought.
    When a car comes your way at speed, you do not have to think what to do.
    You instinctively get out of the way.
    Thought has its place, but when it is worshiped, it becomes a disease.
    You can be free of thought, as in not under its spell. You can use thought, but you can also switch it off.
    If not, there is a problem, don't you see?
    Now, do animals think and talk as much as we do?
    Yet they too live, at their level.
    Life does not depend on thought.
    It manifests in many forms that do not employ thinking.
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      Jul 5 2013: Dear Johnny, do you know Atman in sanskrit means 'self'?
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        Jul 5 2013: Soham, Shivo Ham.
        Nisargadatta Maharaj and Ramana Maharishi as well as Jiddhu Krishnamurti are my teachers
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    Jul 4 2013: Is there a particular situation or case that brings your question to mind that could focus the discussion?
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      Jul 5 2013: Sure! There's plenty! Anything that has an age restriction can be used as a situation. R-rated movies, X-rated movies, alcohol, drugs, who can eat off the children's menu, when are you considered senior, all deal with this discussion. You can focus on just one of these that seems more interesting or bring up your own. I didn't really have one in mind, when I posed the question.
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        Jul 5 2013: So, for example, the determination of whether one cannot drive anymore is made not on the basis of advanced age but rather on the basis of a driving test.

        Senior rates various places like restaurants is not meant to be related to maturity. Neither is offering a children's meal.

        What are you thinking about alcohol? That there would be individual testing case by case to project the likely effects on health and safety over time on particular individuals based on family history and genetic make-up of alcohol consumption starting then? At the liquor store or elsewhere?
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    Jul 4 2013: Sir, first of all, what do you mean by maturity? What is your definition of maturity? Because whatever your definition is, it will have its' opposite, immaturity.
    Or do you mean, what is it to be a responsible citizen of this world? Is responsibility, by any chance, a sign of maturity?
    What does it mean to be responsible, not in word, but in deed?
    And without self-knowledge, how can the deed be responsible, when we feel lost into the maize of words and definitions?
    Without definitions, what is the meaning of anything? Or is the meaning being eternally discovered in the present context? Rather than remembered.
    The context changes and so the meaning has to change. When the meaning is fixed, it conflicts with the contextual setting. But you bring meaning into it - why? Do you feel lost without meaning?
    To discover the real meaning, one must observe. Observing is discovering. New and fresh. In that, there is meaning.
    But the meaning is left behind once it serves its purpose, not carried forth.
    Only a free mind can observe and discover meaning, and the mind must be free of thought.
    Can you do that?
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      Jul 5 2013: Wow! Thanks for the questions! I attempted to define maturity a couple comments down. I think responsibility does come in to play for maturity, but is not the same as maturity. All the following questions seem to be a little out of my arena haha a little too metaphysical for me. I'll try to answer some of the questions to the best of my abilities. Meaning must be fixed for communication. That is the purpose (in my opinion) of meaning. Of course meaning changes with context (happy while coming to an epiphany is much different than happy while spending time with friends), but the meaning is generally the same and can be discussed with this mutually agreed on meaning. I do feel lost without meaning in several senses. If I believed life had no meaning, it'd be hard for me to live. If words didn't have meaning, it'd be hard for me to communicate or even think. You're last question about whether I can be free of thought is a resounding yes, with one kicker, not while I'm alive. I cannot be free of thought while living. Signals have to be sent to my muscles and organs (I think, not much of a biology person) for them to function and they must come from my brain (again not a biologist in any usage, not even sarcastically). What would your responses be to the quesitons you brought up?
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    Jul 4 2013: Yep. I do it with math. My daughter and her best bud ask if he could stay over ... he stayed in the boys room. I thought he was getting a little old and had concerns. I ask him what is 36-24-36. He got a funny look on his face and finally said 96. He got to stay.

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      Jul 5 2013: Hahahahaha thanks for the story Bob! Guess he doesn't like Sir Mix-A-Lot ("maybe if she's five three").
  • Jul 4 2013: you must define your notion of mental the most SIMPLISTIC and ABBREVIATED manner.
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      Jul 5 2013: Challenge accepted! hahaha

      I will define maturity without trying to lead you in any direction (definitely not the right way or the way that I may in ten years, but currently and for the sake of the question), as the state of being sufficiently developed. I purposely left my definition fairly open and ambiguous, so you can reply with what you think sufficient means and what is the development for (could vary for various (repetitive but w/e) situations).
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      Jul 5 2013: Thanks for the comment!

      I just searched Rajyog meditation and found only Raja yoga and Rajyoga meditation. I'm assuming they're the same thing. I like many things I've read about it. I like the self-realization and how very intrinsic the course (?) is. I'm not sure if I think maturity deals with understanding a deity/deities. Also, it's interesting you point out one particular university in one country that you believe is the only one that can give you all the realization and knowledge you need to know to be mature. But with this meditation or any meditation, I think as long as you truly think about what makes you you and seek to understand yourself, you are on the mature section on my list.
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    Jul 4 2013: Yes. There is. A person is MENTALLY mature only when she sees the end of her journey and starts preparing for the exit. There is nothing much philosophic about it. And yes it is subjective.
    By this standard, a person can be mature hours before death, can die immature or be mature at any biological age. When I see some person who is preparing for exit, I see her as mature. She might not be preparing still. So my rating of her maturity and her own can be different.
    This is something like relative frame of reference.
    PHYSICAL maturity can be arbitrarily defined. Most societies think a person is mature enough to bring a crook to power at the physical age of 18.
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      Jul 5 2013: Thanks for the comment!

      I don't currently believe in the afterlife. So when you brought up the idea that mental maturity is only gained when you "see the end of your journey" (which I don't really know what that means... self-actualization, knowing when you're going to die?) and you "prepare for the exit" (how would one prepare?), I was fairly skeptical. I don't see how the afterlife affects my maturity at all in this life. I'm also assuming you believe in an afterlife, unless you mean preparing as in getting a coffin for yourself. I'm sorry if I'm not communicating well, but I truly am stumped by your comment; could you explain a little more just to make sure I can fully appreciate your idea (which by the way does sound intriguing)?
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        Jul 5 2013: Clarification as requested.
        I don't believe in afterlife either. However, I believe in an exit from life in the form of death thereby severing all ties that I have with the environment in the form of a user of the resources.
        Though we do not have any control over the situation, place, culture, time and society into which we are born (entry in the source-sink cycle), I do believe that we can control or program the circumstances under which our lives come to an end (except for accidental death). I also believe that just like a life needs to be lived with dignity, it should cease with grace. Since I believe this, I feel it is important for us to see the point in life when the social and contributory meaning of life has ended. You can think of it as a 2nd retirement or Jane Fonda's third act with a different spin.
        From that point on one should prepare oneself for imminent death with mindfulness.
        I think one is mature when meets this point in life.
        The mature life is a life of withdrawal and leaving space for the young and new. Understandably, the test of maturity is in accepting and honoring the Natural inevitability. I think I shall celebrate it in frugality and spiritual contemplation when I am mature.
        Hope this helps.
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    Jul 4 2013: Kal, let me add....

    You say you are a minor. Okay, how old are you ? Along with how big or tall are you ? Sometimes we are just not physically big enough and need to think of something. Other times when dealing with a minor / teenager we get teenage decisions. Besides, how will you ever know what is right until you did a few wrong things. To put it simply...You need a few screw-ups under your belt before people really begin to listen. I assure you, there are no 18 year old generals in the army. It takes time.
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      Jul 5 2013: I'm not going to say specifics over the internet (capt.?), but I will say that I am in high school and am above average height wise. I agree with you that we need to somehow experience situations and failures, but I think, for me at least, knowing a friend's (or whoever's) screw-ups or even observing on TV a situation play out can give me maturity. I agree that it takes time, but the main reason I posted this question is because it takes different amounts for time for different people.

      Thanks again for the comment!
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    Jul 3 2013: This article's sections on markers is worth reading, given your interests here:

    Executive function, which includes the judgment to make various kinds of decisions, is correlated with age and does not tend to reach typical adult levels until mid-twenties, as I remember.

    As you pursue your question, you might want to look at whether there are specific instruments for measuring executive function or aspects of executive function.
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      Jul 3 2013: "Adolescents navigate a web of conflicting values and selves in order to emerge as 'the person one has come to be' and 'the person society expects one to become'."

      End of story. I have no fear in showing my youth.
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      Jul 5 2013: Thanks for the website! I should have done some research on my own haha
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    Jul 3 2013: What about social maturity? I'm lacking there for sure :)

    It's learned, maturity is learned from our peers around us at a crunching moment of time in our lives. I'd say within a span of 5-6 years of body and mind development.