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Adolescence to Adulthood Aboriginal Bushmen test. Aboriginal bushmen in Australia undergo strenuous survival tests; young tribesmen in Borneo have vine ropes tied around their ankles and then fling themselves earthward from tall tree towers – halting mere inches from the ground.

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adolescence to adulthood aboriginal bushmen test
Adolescence to AdulthoodAboriginal Bushmen test
  • Aboriginal bushmen in Australia undergo strenuous survival tests; young tribesmen in Borneo have vine ropes tied around their ankles and then fling themselves earthward from tall tree towers – halting mere inches from the ground.
  • Bungee jumping is not a new thing!
  • The reason for these “tests” is that adolescence is a period that does not exist for these people. A child reaches puberty and becomes a man or woman. When they pass the tests for maturity, they are given the full rights of an adult.
  • Why?
  • Because often these people marry quickly after puberty and die at a very early age.
industrialization changed everything
Industrialization changed everything!
  • It is the advent of industrialization and its improvements in medicine, quality of life and education that has given “adolescence” a term with meaning.
  • Before that, children worked hard on farms, reached puberty, married, lived hard and died at the ripe old age of 40.
  • With improved health, longer life expectancy and often having both parents working in the early factory systems, there were many children left to fend for themselves until public education was “invented” to help keep the young hooligans off of the streets.
slide3

What we now have is a group of people ranging in age from 12 to 18 who are undergoing physical changes to their bodies as the maturation process crosses the threshold from child to adult.

  • The physical changes cannot happen without both chemical and hormonal changes, both of which also affect temperament, behavior and personality as well.
  • Now take these individuals and put them as a group into an institution (school) where they are together for the most part of each day and ten months of the year.
  • It should not be surprising that this “microcosm” of society should begin to develop its own unspoken rules, behaviors, rites and rituals, groups, or its own “culture”.
defining adolescence
Defining Adolescence
  • The years between childhood and adulthood make up the period of development called adolescence.
  • This period starts at age 11 or 12 and generally is considered over by 18 or 19.
  • Heredity and environment = How much influence do family, parents and peers have? Is this influence transient (temporary) or lasting? Is each equal in influence or are some more powerful than others – or is there a perception of real power that is false?
  • Here’s one to get you started – when does adolescence end (in today’s world)? Consider the various legal drinking ages in North America (18 – 21), voting ages (18 – 21), adult criminal charges (18, but some crimes may charge 14 year olds in adult court) and drivers licensing (14 – 17).
  • Why does one province have one set of ages and a different province a different set? Does that mean that there are physical differences between the adolescents in each province or is there a difference in how adolescents are perceived?
physical changes
Physical Changes
  • Throughout adolescence, the most startling developments are physical. Sudden changes take place in sexual maturation and physical growth.
  • Changes in height and weight are dramatic and troublesome.
  • The biggest problem, however, is that while these changes in physiology remove from adolescents the label child, they are not yet adults.
  • They may feel for a while that they are “nowhere,” neither adult nor child.
physical growth
Physical Growth
  • During adolescence, the body is moving upward and outward rapidly in what is called the growth spurt.
  • When growth spurts occur, development is not orderly.
  • Arms and hands may grow at a different rate from legs, for instance, while other parts of the body develop at yet another rate.  
  • Growth spurts come earlier for girls than boys, but for both sexes, early adolescence is the time of maximum physical development. Between the ages of nine and 12, girls may grow as much as three inches taller in one year.
  • For boys, this growth occurs between 11 and 15, when they may gain as much as four inches in height in a year.
  • The exact time when this growth will occur for any individual, male or female, is unpredictable.
sexual development
Sexual Development
  • Puberty, or the period of sexual maturation, is a notable feature of adolescence.
  • Hormones, chemicals that control body growth, emotional responses, and physical changes, are responsible for sexual maturation. Several hormones are extremely active in adolescence.
  • The pituitary gland secretes growth hormone and increases the production of other glands of other hormones.
  • Two systems under the pituitary’s control are the adrenal glands and the gonads or sex glands. Adrenaline from the adrenal glands and sex hormones from the gonads work with the pituitary to bring about sexual maturation.
  • The impact of hormones on an adolescent’s emotional state is not clear-cut.
  • It is true that the adolescents generally are moodier than adults, but so are children, and children are not being bombarded with all these chemicals.
  • The many intense changes taking place in adolescence probably have as much to do with emotional response as the hormones themselves. In any case, emotional ups and downs are more evidence early on and largely disappear by late adolescence.
rates of maturation
Rates of Maturation
  • Differences between boys and girls in the level of physical maturation are greatest and most obvious in early adolescence.
  • By age 14, most girls have matured fairly completely, while most boys lag behind by two to three years.
  • This difference between the sexes creates problems in relating to one another, especially where dating and dancing are involved.
  • Most males are still shorter than females their own age, making the situation even more awkward.
  • When girls start dating, many go out with older boys, largely because of these differences.
  • By middle adolescence, the maturity gap between the sexes has narrowed considerably, and for most, by late adolescence it has disappeared altogether.
slide9

Besides overall gender differences in the rate and timing of physical maturation, individual differences exist as well.

  • Small differences do not have much impact on the individual. When physical development occurs substantially earlier or later than average, however, there are psychological effects as well.
  • The particular kinds of effects that occur depend on two factors: (1) whether the adolescent is an early maturer (one and half years or more ahead of the average) or a late maturer (one and a half years behind the average) and(2) whether the individual is male or female.
  • Early maturation is more of an advantage for boys than girls.
  • Boys who develop ahead of schedule have higher self-esteem and feel better about how they look.
  • Early maturing girls feel awkward about being different from their friends.
  • They are more self-conscious and dissatisfied with their weight and general appearance.
slide10

Development that starts later than average is worse for boys than girls.

  • Boys who are late maturers, like early maturing girls, feel awkward about their bodies.
  • They are more self-conscious, less self-confident, and express greater dissatisfaction with their overall appearance than other adolescent males.
  • Late maturing girls, however, do not seem to suffer many negative effects.
  • Generally, they have high self esteem and are satisfied with their physical appearance.
  • They also have the advantage of being similar to boys their own age in height and overall maturation.
  • While pluses or minuses are created when maturation occurs later or earlier than average, their greatest impact is felt during adolescence itself.
  • For most early or late maturers, neither the problems nor the advantages last into adult life.
weight too much or too little
Weight: Too Much or Too Little?
  • Along with rapid growth and sexual maturation come fluctuations in weight.
  • Concern about weight is a common problem for adolescents.
  • Being underweight or overweight can result from hormonal imbalances, physical changes, psychological difficulties, genetics, or some combination of these factors.
  • For instance, some males try to compensate for a temporary “string-bean look” by eating too much. In addition, food can act as a sedative to relieve loneliness. Around issues of weight, patience is probably called for, as difficult as that may be.
  • Physical changes are drastic during adolescence, but people in their early 20s are the leanest of all age groups.
weight and body image
Weight and body image
  • Weight and body image are more often problems for females than for males.
  • Society places more importance on physical appearance for women than for men.
  • The “ideal beauty,” that unrealistic picture of what the perfect woman should look like, has become thinner and thinner over the years.
  • As two psychologists have noted, in the 1950s, a typical winner of “Miss Sweden” title was give feet seven inches tall and weighed 151 pounds.
  • Many years later, that title-winner was five feet nine inches tall and weighed only 109 pounds. A height-to-weight ratio like that borders on being seriously hazardous to one’s health.
eating disorders
Eating Disorders
  • The damage done by social pressure to conform to such an impossible ideal is hard to overstate.
  • At a minimum, t makes most women dissatisfied with their appearance.
  • As many as three-quarters of North American women think they are “fat” or at least should lose a few pounds.
  • In reality, no more than one-fourth are even slightly overweight.
  • At a more troublesome level, such social pressure can result in constant unhealthful dieting.
  • The evidence is clear that being somewhat overweight is nowhere as risky as the attempt to become too thin.
  • Also, excessive dieting can lead to eating disorders, conditions in which the person is unable to correctly read the body’s signals about its nutritional needs and eats (or refuses to eat) for the wrong reasons. Whatever the specific disorder may be, the person is obsessed with food.
1 bulimia nervosa
1. Bulimia nervosa
  • In the condition known as bulimia nervosa, people go on binges, eating large amounts of rich, calorie-laden foods.
  • They then try to keep the food from causing any weight gain by either forcing themselves to vomit or taking excessive does of laxatives.
  • Thus, bulimia is sometimes called the binge-and-purgesyndrome.
  • As you might suspect, such people often develop problems in their digestive systems. Another side effect is severe irritation of the mouth and throat as well as erosion of tooth enamel from all that stomach acid.
  • Most bulimics are adolescent or young-adult females, however, as many as 15 to 20 percent are young men.
  • Males who become bulimic often are trying to maintain or qualify for a particular weight class in athletic competition.
  • The motivation for females, though, is usually that same old sad story – they are trying to achieve an “ideal” weight that is unrealistic.
  • Their self-esteem depends so much on how they look that they sacrifice their health in the quest for unreachable perfection.
2 anorexia nervosa
2. Anorexia nervosa
  • An even more serious eating disorder is anorexia nervosa.
  • In anorexia, the person basically has stopped eating and is at least 25% underweight.
  • This condition is physically harmful, even potential fatal, because food intake decreases to the point of starvation. Nearly every system of the body can be damaged by the effects of anorexia.
  • An additional problem is that as the body adjusts to an extremely low food intake, it becomes unable to handle nourishment except in very, very small amounts.
  • Such people usually have to be fed intravenously to keep them alive.
  • Their body images have become so distorted thateven when they are little more than skeletons, they still see themselves as fat.
psychological issues
Psychological Issues
  • One of the hardest issues to deal with is trying to find an identity.
  • Until adolescence, there is no pressure to find out about yourself. Now it becomes necessary to try out different roles to see which ones fit.
  • The problem is made worse in our society because the adolescent is normally not expected to take on adult responsibilities but, at the same time, is expected to show more maturity and a sense of commitment.
  • Other societies, especially primitive ones, handle the transition from childhood to adulthood more simply.
  • This transition is made through some kind of initiation, or rite of passage, meaning that a change in status is recognized by a formal ritual.
  • Adulthood rituals often involve cutting oneself, being decorated in some specific way, or drinking a foul-tasting potion as part of an elaborate ceremony.
  • After the ceremony is over, the whole community is aware of the person’s official adult status.
  • However, in North America, forming groups and achieving a sense of identity are two crucial psychological issues during adolescence.
conformity
Conformity
  • Because adolescents are left to fend for themselves socially, they create small “exclusive” groups, which are used as a form of self-protection and so that they don’t have to cope with the world all alone.
  • When adolescents identify themselves as belonging to a particular group, they take on its dress code, use its slang, and engage in the group’s “approved” activities. All these behaviors add to a sense of belonging.
  • They also help separate adolescents from adults, sometimes by shocking the adults. Thus, adolescents may shave their heads, color it purple, wear deliberately scuffed boots, or leave the laces untied – whatever happens to be in style at any given time.
  • Fairly large groups with loose rules and relatively changeable membership are called crowds. Crowds usually have shared interests, and the members dress similarly, but their structure is looser than more clearly differentiated groups.
  • Both the clique and the gang are very tightly knit, have a limited membership, and strict rules for admission and proper behavior.
  • Major differences between the two are that cliques are usually based on common school-related interests, such as athletics or other types of activities. Gangs, on the other hand, have a rebellious or antisocial outlook and are based on out-of-school activities.
  • The need to conform to the group in dress and language is strongest in early adolescence, between ages 11 and 14. Toward the end of middle adolescence, around age 16, it has begun a sharp decline. This rapid decline continues through late adolescence so that rigid conformity has almost disappeared at age 18.
group identity
Group Identity
  • An expert in personality development, Erik Erickson, saw this support from social groups as necessary for exploring individual identity.
  • Others have expanded on his idea by referring to early adolescence as a time of group identity versus alienation.
  • In other words, an adolescent who fails to get a sense of belonging by identifying with a group will feel like a foreigner, alienated from others of his or her age. This adolescent will also have more trouble forming a sense of individual identity toward the end of middle adolescence and through late adolescence.
individual identity and erik erikson
Individual Identity and Erik Erikson
  • Personal background often plays a key role in determining what a person emphasizes in both personal and professional life.
  • Such was the case with personality theorist Erik Erikson. He never met his Danish biological father, who deserted his mother before Erikson was born; he never even knew his name.
  • His mother was Jewish and married a Jewish physician named Homburger when Erikson was a very small boy. For years, Erickson thought Dr. Homburger was his biological father, and until he was an adult, he used that last name.
  • To protect young Erik from being confused and hurt, his mother and stepmother decided not to tell him about his father’s abandonment.
  • From a fairly young age, however, Erik felt that something wasn’t right. For instance, his mother and stepfather were rather small, with dark hair and eyes, but he was tall, blond, and blue-eyed – obviously Scandinavian.
  • He also felt out of place with his schoolmates.
  • Those who were Jewish did not accept him because of his physical appearance. Those who were Christian considered him Jewish because of his parents’ religious beliefs.
slide20

From childhood on, he was confused about his own identity, unsure where he fit in the scheme of things.

  • Eventually he learned the truth about his father, which added to his feelings of insecurity.
  • When he graduated from high school, he had no idea what to do or be.
  • For several years, he wandered around Europe as an artist, paining and sketching, but with no real goals.
  • In fact, he as 25 before he decided what he wanted to do with his life.
  • It was then that he met Anna Freud, Sigmund Freud’s daughter, and began to study psychoanalysis and child development.
  • As if to free himself completely from his crisis of identity, he took Erikson as his last name.
  • Due to Erikson’s circumstances at birth and to his experiences in childhood and adolescence through young adulthood, his sense of self was poorly defined. It took many years and a lot of trial and error before he understood who he was and knew which roads he wished to travel.
erikson s views on adolescence
Erikson’s views on Adolescence
  • It should come as no surprise, then, that Erik Erikson emphasized the importance of forming an individual identity in his theory of personality and development.
  • According to his theory, from approximately age 12 until at least the end of the teenage years, accurately defining the “self” is our major psychological task.
  • Belonging to a group is the first step. The next step is seeing how you are different from that group, how you are a unique person.
  • Developing a sense of yourself as an individual means achieving identity. Never reaching this goal results in identity confusion – uncertainty about who you are and what direction you should take.
  • For Erickson, adolescence represents a crossroads, a time of upheaval, of selecting from many possibilities the ones that fit. This is not easy to do.
  • As a result, adolescence is not an easy time. Too many decisions are forced on the adolescent too quickly.
  • He or she must not only define the self and learn how to relate to the other sex but also make plans about occupations to pursue. Because these decisions have long-range consequences, they create a lot of anxiety and insecurity.
slide23

It is natural for youth to flounder around, going back and forth before completing this task. Most adolescents experiment with a variety of roles, discarding one to try out another.

  • In their search, some will identify with a public figure, perhaps an actor, actress, or rock star, taking on his or her mannerisms and style of dress, at least for a while.
  • Delaying the usual commitments of adulthood to find one’s identity is called a moratorium (meaning a period of “time out”).
  • In our society, this means that adolescents can engage in behaviors that are not allowed for adults.
  • An example is that teenagers are not expected to marry, start a family, or support themselves.
  • On the hand, think of how your community would react to a group of adults who dressed like teenagers and rove around the local hamburger place hanging out the car windows, shouting and waving at people they know.
  • Moratorium is definitely reserved for adolescence.
slide24

Because achieving an identity takes so long, some youths try to make decisions about their identity too soon.

  • By not giving themselves enough time to sort everything out, they decide on an identity that doesn’t really fit. Such adolescents may end up living a life that is not right for them.
  • They may also marry the wrong person. During adolescence, falling in love is part of the identity process.
  • Adolescents help confirm their own identity by gaining someone else’s acceptance. As far as Erikson is concerned, real love between two people cannot exist until each knows who he or she is.
  • Gaining a sense of identity carries with it a number of specific characteristics. The first is developing a clear and unique definition of self, plus acceptance of that self-concept. Other characteristics are a commitment to goals and values, active planning or working toward these goals, and confidence in the future, in the ability to achieve these goals.
  • When people have a sense of identity, they also have an understanding of fidelity. Fidelity is Erikson’s term for being faithful for one’s ideals and values as well as being loyal to others we care about even if they don’t always live up to our expectations.