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The Developing Person Through Childhood and Adolescence by Kathleen Stassen Berger. Seventh Edition. Chapter 16. Adolescence: Psychosocial Development. Slides prepared by Kate Byerwalter, Ph.D., Grand Rapids Community College . Self and Identity.

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adolescence psychosocial development

The Developing Person Through Childhood and Adolescence

by Kathleen Stassen Berger

Seventh Edition

Chapter 16

Adolescence: Psychosocial Development

Slides prepared by Kate Byerwalter, Ph.D., Grand Rapids Community College

self and identity
Self and Identity
  • Erikson’s fifth stage of psychosocial development is identify vs. diffusion. It involves the question, “Who am I?”


multiple selves
Possible selves: various intellectual fantasies about what the future might bring if one or another course of action is chosen

False self: set of behaviors that is adopted by a person to combat rejection, to please others, or to try out as a possible self

Multiple Selves
paths to identity
Paths to Identity
  • Identity achievement: knowing who one is as a unique person, accepting some cultural values and rejecting others
    • This allows a person to have strong convictions, but to remain open to alternate ideas and opinions.
paths to identity cont
Paths to Identity (cont.)
  • Identity diffusion: a lack of values, traits or commitments
  • Foreclosure: adopting preset roles and values, without questioning
    • Foreclosure may lead to prejudice, narrow-mindedness.
paths to identity cont6
Paths to Identity (cont.)
  • Moratorium: a pause in identify formation, in which alternatives are explored
    • This is an important step towards identity!
  • Negative identity: a rebellious, defiant identity, taken on to anger adults
make it real identity
Make it Real: Identity

On paper, place yourself in an identity status for each of the following arenas:

  • Religion
  • Ethnic identity
  • Sexual orientation
  • Politics
  • Career
  • Education
religious identity
Religious Identity
  • Many adolescents take longer than age 18 to achieve religious identity. Struggling with questions is an important part of the commitment.
    • Example: The Amish encourage adolescents to go into the “real world” temporarily.
gender identity
Gender Identity
  • Gender identity is the degree to which people see themselves as masculine or feminine.
  • This includes genderroles (duties), and sexualorientation (towards same or opposite sex, or both).
ethnic identity
Ethnic Identity
  • Ethnicidentity involves identification with a particular ethnicity through values, diet, gender roles, language, clothing, etc.
  • The process of ethnic identity may be especially intense for immigrant adolescents.
make it real vocation and identity
Make it Real: Vocation and Identity
  • What are some of the advantages and disadvantages of working during adolescence?
  • How much of a connection do you see between the types of jobs had during high school, and those you have or will have in adulthood?
vocation and identity
Vocation and Identity
  • Research has found that working during adolescence impedes identity formation, family relationships, academic achievement, and career success.
  • Also, the types of jobs don’t tend to teach skills for later vocations.
support from adults
Support from Adults
  • The “generation gap” between adults and teens is not wide when it comes to core beliefs and values.
  • However, each generation does view interactions from his/her own perspective (generational stake).
generational stake an example
Generational Stake: An Example
  • A young Indian American girl wanted the freedom and independence of cutting her hair. Her elders considered hair an essential part of being a “good Indian girl.”


make it real what s your prediction
Make it Real:What’s your prediction?
  • At what age would you suppose parent-child conflict to be greatest?
  • What are parent-child conflicts about?
  • What does parent-child conflict a signal?
parent child conflict
Parent-Child Conflict


parent child conflict cont
Parent-Child Conflict (cont.)
  • Is greatest during child’s tween years (10−13)
  • Is greatest between mothers and daughters
  • Usually involves repeated, pettyarguments about clothes, cleanliness, etc.
  • Represents a teens desire for independence
culture and family
Culture and Family
  • Some have argued that adolescent rebellion is a product of Westernculture.
  • Parent-child conflict occurs later in adolescence for Asian and Latino teens, and hardly at all for teens in China.
aspects of parent teen relationships
Aspects of Parent-Teen Relationships
  • Communication
  • Support
  • Connectedness
  • Control


parental monitoring
Parental Monitoring
  • Parentalmonitoring involves ongoing awareness of what a teen is doing, where, and with whom.
  • It detersdelinquency.
make it real parental monitoring
Make it real: Parental Monitoring
  • Is it possible to have too much monitoring? What would be the result?
peer relationships
Peer Relationships
  • Peer pressure: social pressure to conform to one’s contemporaries
  • Peer pressure can be positive or negative.
  • It rises during early adolescence, peaking around age 14 years of age.
peer friendships
Peer Friendships
  • Selection: peers choose one another
    • Example: Drug users hang out with drug users, high achievers with high achievers.
  • Facilitation: peers encourage one another to do things they wouldn’t do alone
peer group for immigrant teens
Peer Group for Immigrant Teens
  • Conflict arises when the culture of friends of an immigrant teen differs considerably than the parents’ culture.
  • The teen wants to “fit in” with both peers and family!
adolescent interactions
Adolescent Interactions
  • The following sequence occurs for adolescent interactions (timing varies):
    • Groups of friends of one sex only
    • Loose association of “boy” and “girl” group
    • Small mixed-sex groups
    • Pairing of couples
  • Teens with a homosexual orientation rarely tell anyone until at least age 17 years of age.
  • They may experience denial or repression of their sexual urges before finding their sexual identity.
teenage sexual activity
Teenage Sexual Activity
  • Teens are by nature sexual beings.
  • The question becomes what one does with that sexuality during adolescence.


parental guidance about sex
Parental Guidance About Sex
  • Question: Do you know any teen who has had a serious talk with his/her parents about sex?
  • Often parents avoid the issue. But proper guidance can influence teens in a positive manner.
make it real sex education
Make it Real: Sex Education
  • Did your school have some type of sex education program?
  • If yes, at what age did it begin? What were the topics?
  • Do you think schools should teach sex education?
sex education in school
Sex Education in School
  • In the U.S., almost all adults (90% or more) think high schools should teach sex education, including contraception.
  • The concern is that talking about sex will lead teens to have sex. However, a report by the Surgeon General suggests this is not the case.
sex education cont
Sex Education (cont.)
  • Research suggests that the most effective sex education programs:
    • Are multi-faceted
    • Precede sexual activity by a year or more
    • Advocate for abstinence but also teach about contraceptives
peer influence on sex
Peer Influence on Sex
  • Friends influence each other in both positive and negative ways.
    • Examples: A “virginity pledge” among friends is positive. Pressure to “gain respect” by having sex is a negative.
media as a sex educator
Media as a Sex Educator
  • TV and movies are FULL of sexuality, but offer little knowledge about sex.
  • Using the Internet to find facts too often brings up pornography sites instead.
trends in adolescent sexuality
Trends in Adolescent Sexuality
  • Premaritalsex has increased.
  • Sexual interactions are more varied (e.g., oral sex).
  • Teenbirths are decreasing worldwide.
  • The use of protection has increased.
trends in adolescent sexuality cont
Trends in Adolescent Sexuality (cont.)
  • U.S. teens have more babies than teens in other countries, due to lower contraceptive use, and fewer abortions.
  • In the U.S., teens with lower education tend to have sex and babies at earlier ages.
self esteem during adolescence
Self-Esteem During Adolescence
  • Self-esteem tends to decline between 6 to 18 years for many children.
  • Clinical depression: an overwhelming, enduring feeling of sadness and hopelessness.
  • The rate of depression doubles at puberty to about 15%, affecting 1 in 5 teen girls and 1 in 10 teen boys in the U.S.
make it real depression
Make it Real: Depression
  • WHY do you think depression becomes more prevalent during adolescence?
  • WHY do girls seem especially at risk?
  • Suicidal ideation (thinking about suicide) is actually quite common during adolescence (e.g., 21% of girls).
  • The actual suiciderate is lower among teens under age 20 than adults.
more facts on suicide
More Facts on Suicide
  • The suicide rate among teens in North America and Europe has doubled since 1960.
  • Worldwide, parasuicide (attempt) is higher for females and completed suicide is higher for males.
factors influencing suicide
Factors Influencing Suicide
  • Availability of lethalmeans (guns)
  • Lack of parental supervision
  • Use of alcohol and other drugs
  • Gender
  • Cultural attitudes
more destruction
More Destruction
  • Many teens, especially boys, show bouts of anger and destruction during adolescence.
  • Question: Should this rebellion be considered a “normal” part of adolescence?


breaking the law
Breaking the Law
  • Delinquency is more frequent in adolescence than at other ages.
  • Worldwide, arrestrates increase between 12-16 years, declining slowly after that.
  • Arrest rate for violentcrimes is twice as high for teens as adults.
breaking the law cont
Breaking the Law (cont.)
  • Almost all teens have broken a minorlaw (e.g., curfew, speeding, truancy, etc.).
  • Males are arrested 3 times as often as females; ethnicdifferences exist in arrestrates (but not in self-reports of illegal acts).
committing crimes will it last
Committing Crimes: Will it last?
  • Adolescence-limited offender: a person whose crimes end by age 21 years
  • Life-course persistent offender: a person whose crimes continue as an adult
possible roots of life course offenders
Possible Roots of Life-Course Offenders
  • Antisocial as a child
  • Parentalneglect or abuse
  • Braindamage
  • Early sex and druguse
  • Littleparticipationinschool activities
intervention for offenders
Intervention for Offenders
  • Therapeutic foster care: foster families trained to teach anger management, school achievement, self-care
    • This reduces later arrests by more than half.
    • It is costly in the short run, but saves money in prison, jail costs in the long run.
depression and self destruction
Depression and Self-Destruction

Adolescents can feel:

despondent and depressed, overwhelmed by the world and their own inadequacies, or

on top of the world, destined for great accomplishment

the usual dip
General trend in mood is more downward than upward

Among boys, athletic self-confidence is especially likely to dip in adolescence

Self-esteem drops at around age 12

The Usual Dip
the usual dip cont
Adolescents who lack support from family, friends, or school are more vulnerable to the self-esteem dip.

Loss of self-esteem may push them toward depression.

The Usual Dip (cont.)
mood disorders in adolescence
Mood Disorders in Adolescence

Warning signs

Not eating, sleeping, talking, or moving in normal rhythm

Strong feelings of despair or elation not based on reality

Suicidal ideation

Thinking about suicide is common among adolescents

adolescent suicide
Adolescent Suicide

Five reasons for erroneous belief that suicide is an adolescent problem

Rate is triple the rate of 40 years ago

Adolescents lumped together with young adults as one statistical category

Adolescent suicide is shocking and grabs attention

Social prejudice considers teenagers as problems

Suicide attempts are more common in adolescence

Parasuicide = deliberate act of self-destruction that does not end in death

Parasuicide and suicide depend on five factors

Availability of lethal means, especially guns

Parental supervision

Alcohol and other drugs


Attitudes of the culture

Parasuicide and Prevention

rebellion and destructiveness
Rebellion and Destructiveness

Internalizing problems = emotional problems that are manifested inward, when troubled individuals inflict harm on themselves

Externalizing problems = emotional problems that are manifested outward, when people “act out,” injuring others, defying authority, or destroying property

More common among boys

Acting out may signify trouble in three ways

Externalizing actions may prove harmful to the actor

Externalizing behavior often harms others

For a significant minority, externalizing disorders signal the need for intervention

Rebellion and Destructiveness (cont.)

breaking the law64
Delinquency is one indication of the emotional stress adolescents feel.

Worldwide, arrests are more likely in the adolescent years; ages 12-16 are the peak.

Breaking the Law
Incidence: how often a behavior occurs

Prevalence: how widespread a behavior is

Adolescent males are 3 times more likely to be arrested than females.

African Americans are 3 times as likely to be arrested as European Americans, who are 3 times more likely to be arrested than Asian Americans.

Incidence and Prevalence

Adolescent limited offender: person who becomes law abiding as an adult

Life-course persistent offender: juvenile delinquent who continues patterns of lawbreaking throughout life

Crime Prevention