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Adolescence Notes

Psychology Notes > Developmental Psychology (2nd year) Notes

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Adolescence
ADOLESCENCE
= period of transition between childhood and adulthood  'identity crisis'identity crisis'
Biologically = marked by onset of puberty  becoming sexually mature
Socially = increasing independence from parents

HISTORICAL VIEW
Freud:
Psychosexual stage: during childhood child has to go through turmoil of repressing unacceptable sexual stages
These conflicts are reawakened in puberty

Hall, 1904:
A time of 'identity crisis'storm and stress'
3 aspects:

1. Conflict with parents

2. Mood disruptions

3. Risky behaviour
Broadly these hold true, although more recent research emphasises:
 Individual differences  'identity crisis'storm and stress' more likely in adolescence than at other ages, but not all adolescents experience it
 Cross-cultural diff  'identity crisis'storm and stress' appears lower in traditional, non-W cultures)
ERIK ERIKSON:
Argued that Freud stressed innate impulses too much  focused on cultural influences
Psychosocial stages of development
Adolescence = most decisive period in formation of adult personality
During development = each stage has its own normative crisis (specific conflict)
Puberty as a period of 'identity crisis'identity crisis'  identity vs role confusion conflict
 Primary social interaction with peers, culminating friendship
 Psychological moratorium (freeze/panic) from adult commitments
 Identity crisis
 Consolidation of resolutions of previous 4 stages into coherent sense of self

1. Physical growth

2. Sexual maturation

3. Integrating our ideas of ourselves and about what other think of us
A time when we form our self-image
The task is to 'identity crisis'resolve the crisis of our basic ego identity'
BUT Erikson's views were observational Adolescence
Why might identity change through this time?
 Physical changes  affects body image
 Vocational choices
Epsin et al., 1990:
Content analysis of letters from a girl to a teacher over adolescence 13-18y/o: identity was the main theme

The identity crisis according to Marcia, 1966
Adolescent 'identity crisis'identity crisis'
Better understood as the extent to which one has both explored and committed to an identity, eg in:
 Politics
 Occupation
 Religion
 Intimate relationships
 Friendships
 Gender roles
Crisis leads to commitment to one of the alternatives
Interview technique to assess identity status
Someone in freeze/panic stage = going through crisis
Someone who has achieved identity has been through the crisis  consolidated identity
= supports Erikson's processes

Meilman, 1979:
Identity achievement may go on well into adulthood
Correlation with other variables:
Persons with freeze/panic are more likely to change their academic plans
Students in identity achievement have more cultural interests and express more interest in expressive writing
Identity crisis related family background
Those in panic stage = more distant or critical relationships
Issues with identity crisis theory:

1. Do not experience crisis status in different topic areas at the same time, eg jobs, religion etc

2. Crisis can occur throughout adult life

3. Identity changes may be gradual

CONFLICTS WITH PARENTS
Conflicts with parents can actually be exaggerated Adolescence
Galambos & Almedia, 1992:
Parents and adolescents agrees there was a decrease with age in conflicts over chores, appearance,
politeness
BUT increase in finance conflicts
Smetana & Gaines, 1999:
11-14y/o
Most frequent conflicts = choice of activities, chores, issues of interpersonal rels eg friend choice
Conflicts = matters of 'identity crisis'social convention'
Parents want their children to help as they work hard so the load should be shared
Adolescents view these conflicts as issues of personal autonomy  want to make their own decisions rather than being told what to do

MOOD DISRUPTION: Increased psychological problems in adolescence
Arnett, 1999: mood disruption is another factor  adolescent issues
Larson & Ham, 1993:
10-14y/o carried a pager with them for 1 week and recorded their emotional affect after randomised signals 12-14y/o experience sig more negative affect than 10-12y/o  related to life events connected with family, school and peers
Isle of Wight study: Rutter et al, 1976
All 14-15y/o on the island 1/6 parents reported arguments with children about when/where they went out/ choice of activities 1/3 parents said they disapproved of their child's clothing/hair
Most parents disapproved of their children's friends
More of the teenagers reported arguments with parents
Only 1/3 criticised their parents
Small % expressed rejection of their parents
 average adolescent is not in a state of crisis and severe conflict with parents
 9% did reject fathers  such difficulties greater in those with behave/psych disorders  conflict and communication difficulties 3x more common
Mood disruption: 1/5 adolescents reported feeling miserable/depressed BUT ½ were diagnosed with misery  inner turmoil characterises adolescence
BUT compared to other ages with a disorder, there was only a modest peak in adolescence  adolescence turmoil is true, but should not be over-estimated

Increase in SZ and depression in adolescence (Rutter et al., 1976; Costello et al., 2003; Green et al., 2004)
which can be exacerbated by environmental factors, eg cannabis use (Nelson et al., 2005; Arseneault et al.,
2002) Adolescence
Increased emotional distance from parents (Steinberg, 1987, 1988)
Increased risk-taking (Arnett & Balle-Jensen, 1993)

PHYSICAL AND HORMONAL CHANGES
Reproductive organs Become fully functional and enlarged/sensitive
Hair growth
Skin changes
Sweat glands  acne
Growth spurt 9cm a year increase in F
10cm a year increase in M
Changes linked to hormonal changes:
 Hypothalamus = key role controls action of the Pituitary Gland which produces hormones
Hypothalamus = thermostat  shuts down when high levels of sex hormones
 Sex hormones produced by adrenal cortex and gonads (ovaries/testes)

Terasawa & Fernandez, 2001:
Gradual increases in LHRH amount and frequency of release before and during puberty
 Increased LHRH in Hyp, which controls activity of
 Pituitary gland, which stimulates
 Adrenal cortex and gonads (testes and ovaries), which produce
 Sex hormones (androgen, T, estrogen, progesterone)
Development of primary and secondary sexual charac
But not feedback loops (above)
Variations in Physical Maturation Rate:
Genetic variation
Tanner, 1962:
2 random girls will differ in menarche by 19months 2 sisters will vary 13months
Identical twins vary less than 3 months
Environmental factors Undernourishment/malnutrition = slows growth and puberty onset
Social classes in LEDCs vary in 1 year in menarche age  less marked in MEDCs where most young people get adequate nourishment

Theories concerning pubertal timing:
Relative fatness Frisch, 1988:
theory
Girls require adequate fat supplies to enter the E-demanding process

Energetic theory
Psychosocial

F athletes who have little fat reserves temp stop periods
Lee et al., 2007: BMI scores and rate of increase from 36m/o predicted puberty onset
Ong et al., 2007: supported Lee BUT also found early age of menarche in mother predicts daughters' age
 complex gene-environment interaction
Poor nutrition = slower growth = delayed periods
Belsky et al., 1991:

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