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  1. Adolescence

  2. What is ‘adolescence’? • Adolescence is typically defined as the transitional period between childhood and adulthood – largely Western. • Social construct – not universal – may be culturally specific to some extent.

  3. What is ‘adolescence’? • Not everyone agrees it is a unique period across all cultures • Considerable differences – individually & culturally – in experience of adolescence • Most research on adolescence conducted in western countries • WHO describes adolescence as occurring between 10 & 20 years of age

  4. Adolescence Biological approach • Adolescence can be defined from a purely biological perspective as the period when there is a rapid increase in growth (known as the growth spurt) and the redistribution of muscle tissue and body fat. The pituitary gland acts to increase the amount of sex hormones entering the bloodstream (oestrogen in girls and testosterone in boys). The individual becomes biologically capable of producing and nurturing children.

  5. Adolescence Cognitive approach • From a cognitive developmental perspective, adolescence can be defined as the period when the Piagetian notion of formal operational thought develops. This allows for the consideration of new beliefs and possibilities.

  6. Adolescence Sociocultural approach • Adolescence can also be defined through a political or socially constructed paradigm. The World Health Organization (WHO) defines it as the period between 10 and 20 years of age. However, this does not take into account the varying social roles undertaken in many cultures as a consequence of adolescence.

  7. Adolescence Sociocultural approach • In the West, 18 or 19-year-olds may still be seen as adolescents, but in other cultures, 14-year-olds may be expected to marry and perform adult functions in the community. The culture of the teenager developed in post-World War II America and teenagers quickly became a clearly demarcated group for social researchers.

  8. Adolescence – Physical Changes • Adolescent growth spurt – both genders. • Males: prostate gland and seminal vesicles enlarge in males; growth of pubic – then chest and facial hair. • Females: ovaries enlarge, breasts develop over 3-4 years, first menstruation – menarche

  9. Adolescence – Physical Changes

  10. Physical Change & Development of Identity • According to Davies & Furnham (1986), the average adolescent is sensitive to, and critical of, his/her physical self. • Confronted with cultural standards of beauty in evaluating own body image (via media and social networks). This may produce non-normative shift in the form of dieting practices leading perhaps to eating disorders. • May lead to body image dissatisfaction:the feeling of discrepancy between actual and ideal body image. • Researchers have found body image dissatisfaction to be a strong predictor of depression, exercise dependence, eating disorders & steroid use among young people in the US (Stice and Withenton, 2002)

  11. Physical Change & Development of Identity • Boys body image generally more positive than girls, and boys are much more likely to welcome weight gain. • Simmons and Blyth (1987) – Cultural Ideal Hypothesis - puberty brings boys closer to their ideal body while girls shift further from theirs. A cultural ideal is that male bodies be big & strong while ideal female bodies in Western (and Asian?) culture is slim. • The Cultural Ideal hypothesis predicts that, since the cultural ideal for the female body is being slim, adolescent girls should more likely to to express body dissatisfaction and resort to dieting. Research evidence supports this.

  12. Physical Change & Development of Identity • Caufmann & Steinberg (1996) – girls in western cultures more concerned about appearance and express more worry & concern about how other people will respond to them than in other cultures. If body shape far from dominant cultural ideal of slimness, more likely to develop low self esteem and negative body image. • The objectification theory (Fredrickson and Roberts, 1997) – Western girls are socialised to constantly think of whether their bodies and physical appearance are pleasing to others. May be in a chronic state of anxiety. • Stice and Withenton (2002) – body image dissatisfaction strong predictor of depression in the US

  13. Physical Change & Development of Identity • Croll (2005) -body image is the dynamic perception of one’s body – how it looks, feels, and moves. She found: • 50–88% of adolescent girls feel negatively about their body shape or size. • 49% of teenage girls say they know someone with an eating disorder. • Only 33% of girls say they are at the right weight for their body, while 58% want to lose weight and 9% want to gain weight.

  14. Physical Change & Development of Identity • 66% of females think their current size is too large; 21% of males feel this way. • Over 33% of males think their current size is too small; 10% of women feel this way. • Strikingly, while only 30% of older adolescents consider their current size acceptable to themselves, 85% of females and 95% of males considered their current size socially acceptable for others. • 85% of young women worry ‘a lot’ about how they look and twice as many males as females say they are satisfied with their appearance.

  15. Physical Change & Development of Identity • Croll (2005) argues that puberty for boys brings characteristics typically admired by society – height, speed, broadness, and strength. On the other hand, puberty for girls brings characteristics often perceived as less desirable; girls generally get rounder and have increased body fat. These changes can serve to further enhance dissatisfaction among girls going through puberty. • Brownell and Napolitano (1995) illustrate how the body-image expectations of pre-teens can be distorted with their ‘If Barbie and Ken Were Real’ study. Barbie’s neck would be too long and thin to support the weight of her head, and her upper body proportions would make it difficult for her walk upright. In Ken’s case, his huge barrel chest and enormously thick neck would nearly preclude him from wearing a shirt. Rather bizarrely, Ken would be 7 feet 2 inches tall while Barbie would be 5 feet 2 inches.

  16. Physical Change & Development of Identity • Ferron (1997) used semi-structured interviews from 60 American and 60 French adolescents of equal gender. One theme was body changes during puberty and how they coped. • 75 % of Americans did not believe biological predisposition determined body shape. They believed it was possible to attain the perfect body adhering to rules and if one tried. 80% believed in the effectiveness of specific diets or physical exercise. • Americans more likely to suffer from self-blame and guilt - and adopt unhealthy weight regulating strategies • 75% of Americans girls believed their personal worth depended on looks and would do anything to get close to idealised body image

  17. Physical Change & Development of Identity • Less than 50% of French adolescents believed they could obtain the ‘perfect body’. • 75% of French adolescents believed that physical appearance is biologically determined and could not be extensively modified through willpower or behaviour. • Shows the difference between two Western countries. Results may not be generalised to non-Western countries or contexts • Gathered using self-reported data – not always reliable

  18. Psychological Research into Adolescence • Hall (1904) – earliest theory of adolescence. • Adolescence a time of ‘storm and stress’ – mirrors history of the human race over the past 2000 years. • A result of a reaction to changes in the body • Adolescent rebellion – conflict, rejection of adult values and reckless behaviour - research demonstrates that around 1 in 5 adolescents experience this.

  19. Psychological Research into Adolescence • Erikson’s fifth stage of development • Basic trust vs Mistrust (birth to 18 months) • Autonomy vs Shame and Doubt (18 months – 3 years) • Initiative vs Guilt (3-6 years) • Industry vs Inferiority (6 years – puberty) • Identity vs Identity Confusion (puberty to young adulthood) • Intimacy vs Isolation (young adulthood) • Generativityvs Stagnation (middle adulthood) • Integrity vs Despair (late adulthood)

  20. Psychological Research into Adolescence • The chief task of adolescents is to confront the crisis of Identity vs identity confusion (or Identity vs role confusion) – to become a unique adult with coherent sense of self. The crisis is normal and essential for identity construction • ‘Identity crisis’ – identity forms as adolescents resolve three major issues • Choice of occupation • Adoption of values to live by • Develop a satisfying sexual identity.

  21. Psychological Research into Adolescence Psychosocial Moratorium • The time out period between childhood and adulthood that adolescence provides that allows young people to ‘find themselves’ – search for commitments to which they can be faithful. • Adolescents have ‘premature adulthood thrust upon them’. They lack time for a psychosocial moratorium

  22. Psychological Research into Adolescence Failure to integrate perceptions of the self into a coherent whole results in role confusion. It can affect the following: • Intimacy: a fear of commitment to, or involvement in, close relationships, arises from fear of losing one’s own identity • Time perspective: inability to plan for the future or retain sense of time. Connected with anxieties about change and becoming an adult.

  23. Psychological Research into Adolescence • Industry: difficulty channeling resources in a a realistic way into work, study or both. Difficulty concentrating or become obsessed with a particular activity • Negative identity: engaging in delinquent behaviour (drug taking, risk, suicide). This extreme position is better than isolation (ie negative identity is better than no identity)

  24. Psychological Research into Adolescence Support for Erikson: • Espin (1990) • Longitudinal case study • Analysed letters of a Latin-American Girl to her teacher over 9 years to her teacher (71 letters) between the ages of 13 and 22. • Identity appeared in the early letters, but then declined.

  25. Psychological Research into Adolescence Challenge to Erikson: • Rutter et al (1976) (see your white DevWkbk) • Studied all adolescents on the Isle of Wight aged between 14 and 15 (2,203) • Interviews, questionnaires from parents, teachers and adolescents • Only minority showed signs of conflict. Not in line with predictions. • Large sample, good data – but self reported.

  26. Psychological Research into Adolescence Evaluation of Erikson: • O Connell (1976) performed interviews with married women with children in school. Women reported changes to identity after marriage, childbirth etc. • Identity formation not undertaken in adolescence alone. Could be lifelong project. • Western bias to the theory. Condon (1987) reviewed anthropological evidence on the Inuit of the Canadian Arctic. At puberty, young women began having children. Young men treated as adults when they could build an igloo. Straight from childhood to adulthood – Inuit did not question their identity

  27. Psychological Research into Adolescence • Marcia reformulated much of Erikson’s work to test it empirically. His theories are based around the idea of resolution of crisis and commitment. • Crisis occurs through having to re-evaluate previous choices and values. Commitment occurs after this re-evaluation and the individual taking on a set of roles and ideologies.

  28. Psychological Research into Adolescence • Identity achievement (crisis leading to commitment) – adolescent has made a commitment to an identity – adopted a certain role. A person resolves identity crisis by making own decisions without feeling pressured to do so. • Foreclosure (commitment without crisis) – adolescent have not experienced identity crisis and seem willing to commit to various roles, values or goals for the future.Adloescent is happy and self-assured but has accepted others’ plans for his/her life. Becomes dogmatic when opinions questioned. Obedient. Follows a powerful leader, like a mother/father who accepts no disagreement.

  29. Psychological Research into Adolescence • Moratorium (crisis but no commitment yet) – adolescent is in crisis and looking to make decisions, but has made no commitment to those choices yet. Adolescent struggles with decisions, is lively & self-confident but also anxious & fearful. Is close to a parent but resists authority. • Identity diffusion (no commitment, no crisis) – adolescent has no sense of having choices, has not made – and not willing or attempting to make – a commitment. Adolescent unsure of him/herself – tends to be uncooperative. Parents don’t discuss the future and say its up to the adolescent. Tend to be lonely.

  30. Psychological Research into Adolescence Evaluation of Marcia • Extension of Erickson – attempt to be more robust • Melman (1979) looked at 12-24 year olds. Post 15 years – identity achievers rose. • Marcia used mainly middle class white male American sons and fathers in research – conducted in the 60s and 70s. • Waterman & Waterman (1975) – statuses are dependent on cohort groups (who you look at – emic). Linked to age and culture • Archer (1982) tested statuses in occupational choice, religious values, political values and gender roles. 5% had the SAME status in all for areas. Different stages of identity status in different areas of life • Condon (1988) – Inuit study (cited earlier) – individuals who would be identified as adolescents in the West treated as adults.