How Decision Making Influences Maturity

By , Randolph, NJ

When forced into a difficult, life-changing decision, people grow emotionally, socially, and intellectually mature due to the possible loss and/or gain from the results of the decision and how it affects that person. Adolescence is the primary time for youth’s development of maturity so it is essential that adolescents experience difficult decisions. It can be difficult to resolve a conflict when considering mistakes and other people that may be affected which is why one matures so much by resolving conflict. Relationships may change status during the decision-making process but this allows for new experiences and fewer reflections. In the novel If I Stay by Gayle Forman and other modern sources, the authors use traumatic events and difficult situations to force social and emotional maturity upon characters in demanding situations. 


Forman and modern sources explore how certain decisions and their results impact one’s development of maturity. This is caused by the impact that certain decisions have on an individual’s self-esteem. Because adolescence is such an important period for the development of maturity, Oguzhan Colakkadioglu and S. Sonay Gucray wrote an article “The Effect of Conflict Theory Based Theory Decision-Making Skill Training Psycho-Educational Group Experience on Decision Making Styles of Adolescents” exhibiting their experiment on several ninth graders that helped decide if training with the decision-making process allowed for easier decision making and if decision making boosted self-esteem. The results showed that making positive decisions boosted the self-esteem of most students while making negative decisions hindered their self-esteem which ultimately resulted in them having further difficulties in making decisions throughout their future. Also, the outcome of the experiment revealed that the more experience that one has with obstacles that require resolutions in the childhood period increases that person’s ability to make more efficient decisions in the future. Colakkadioglu and Gucray wrote, “In decision-making, self-esteem is an individual’s self-evaluation of his/her own decision-making perception in a situation necessitating decision making” (Colakkadioglu and Gucray 672). Throughout this text, the two authors are attempting to portray the importance of self-esteem and how making decisions affects it. This study relates to the novel because Forman put Mia in a demanding situation that required her to make an efficient choice. Mia was forced to make multiple decisions throughout the novel which affected her overall maturity. She struggles with the conflicts between playing the cello and having a relationship with Adam. Ultimately, she had to choose to live and be with Adam while attending Julliard without most of her family or to die and give up Adam along with her love of playing the cello but in return she does not have to live in a world without both of her parents and her brother. During the process of resolving her conflicts, Mia’s self-esteem varies as she benefits and suffers from her choices. Forman writes, “How am I supposed to decide this? How can I possibly stay without Mom and Dad? How can I leave without Teddy? Or Adam?” (Forman 88). Mia experiences frequent unfortunate conflicts but also fortunate conflicts that allow her to grow in maturity throughout the novel which relates to the modern source because the study shows that being in frequent conflicting situations allow for easier resolution.   


Both Forman’s novel and modern sources demonstrate how understanding one’s judgement and who will be affected by one’s judgement impacts maturity. The article “Interpersonal Conflict during Adolescence” by Brett Laursen and W. Andrew Collins focuses on how the increased amount of conflict resolutions and decisions that are required to be made increase a person’s confidence in themselves. This allows for the strengthening of relationships with close family and close friends. Throughout the text, multiple terms relating to different types of conflict are defined which results in how maturity and emotional state along with social state can be strengthened or weakened by different resolutions to conflict. Results to this article show that it is common for the resolution of conflicts to cause two people to rely more heavily on each other, resulting in a much stronger relationship. Laursen and Collins wrote, “Psychoanalytic, sociobiological, and cognitive-developmental accounts stress age-related differences and minimize the contribution of relationships and contexts; variation in conflict behavior is considered to be the result of individual maturation” (Laursen and Collins 197). This text emphasizes the importance of experiencing difficult decisions at a young age and how different situations with varying issues allow for advanced development in maturity. Forman’s novel relates to this because Mia envisions individual relationships being strengthened with either choice she makes throughout her ultimate conflict of staying or going but she also fears losing some relationships at either end of the conflict. Throughout the novel as Mia is searching for answers that would guide her towards the right choice, she is able to see the people around her and understand who they are and what their personalities are even more than she did before. Forman wrote, “I’m trying to summon the courage to do what I have to do and Adam will complicate things” (Forman 194). This quotes shows that not only will Mia strengthen her relationships through her resolutions but she may also weaken them as people make things more difficult for her to make hard choices. This results in social maturity for Mia because she has to decide who is most important to her. Both pieces of text illustrate how social maturity develops when important people are involved in the decision-making process.


The development of maturity due to the fear of loss resulting from the resolution of a decision is demonstrated in both Forman’s novel and other modern sources. “The Effect of Emotional State on Waiting in Decision Making” by Ya-Chung Sun and Shih-Chia Wu illustrates how most people commonly choose to wait in making decisions when given the option based on the fear of losing something or someone consequently. The overall mood of one person greatly affects the speed and efficiency of their decision-making process. This article presents a study that was held to determine how the emotional state impacts decision making and the results show that the majority of people will not choose a resolution immediately. Sun and Wu wrote, “People may not take immediate action when making crucial decisions, especially when they are not sure how to trade off one attribute against another, or how to predict the pleasure or pain of future consequences” (Sun and Wu 592). This quote shows that when someone fears the risk of losing someone or something close to them, they delay their decision in order to elongate the time that they have before facing any possible consequences. This relates to the novel because Mia fears having a loss, resulting in her delaying her choice of staying or leaving. If she chooses to stay, she loses her parents and her brother but if she chooses to leave, she loses Adam, her grandparents, and anyone alive who loves her. This increases Mia’s maturity on an emotional level because she becomes more prepared for the consequences or rewards that result in her decision. Forman wrote, “Why can’t someone else decide this for me? Why can’t I get a death proxy?” (Forman 180). This quote represents the fear that Mia has for making the wrong decision that may affect her relationship with the people that she loves. Social an emotional maturity is gained when people that one loves are involved due to the risk that deciding certain decisions brings.


Gayle Forman’s novel If I Stay and other modern sources review the development of maturity and how the decision-making process promotes it on a social and emotional level. Many people experience this and are unaware that they are growing in maturity based on everyday decisions that they make. While there are many positive aspects of this concept, negative aspects are present too based on the fear of loss and frequent consequences that any decision has to offer. The presence of demanding situations ultimately benefit or burden the developing maturity of adolescents.






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