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Development of Adolescence as a Life Stage
G. Stanley Hall first identified adolescence as new life stage in 1904.
“Storm and Stress”- intense moodiness, emotional sensitivity, and risk-taking tendencies
When life was shorter, people went from childhood directly to work.
During the depression, there was no work; to keep older children out of trouble President Roosevelt made school mandatory until 18.
Adolescence did not become a distinct stage of life in the United States until the 1930s.

Piaget and the Teenage Mind
Piaget proposed that the teen mind is entering into formal operational thought:

abstract reasoning: Unlike younger children, many teenagers can talk about ideas and concepts.
the ability to think logically and reason hypothetically: They can also think about hypothetical possibilities – “what if” questions.
The ability to think like scientists: They can think systematically and conduct or understand scientific experiments.

Concrete vs. Formal Operations
An example of concrete operations. (video)

An example of formal operations. (video)
Formal Operational Thought
How does formal operational thought apply to real life?
High school students can appreciate poetry and metaphor in literature.
They can join the debate team and argue for something they do not personally believe.
They can comprehend chemistry experiments.

However, most adolescents (and adults) never reach formal operations.
Kohlberg’s Stages of Moral Reasoning
Kohlberg used Piaget’s theory of cognitive development to study moral development.
He theorized that we would reason about moral decisions differently based on our cognitive abilities.
Kohlberg interviewed people and asked them to respond to moral dilemmas like this one:
A woman is near death from cancer. One drug might save her. The druggist was charging...ten times what the drug cost him to make. The...husband, Heinz, went to everyone he knew to borrow the money, but he could only get together half of what it cost. [He] asked...druggist to sell it cheaper or let him pay later. But the druggist said NO! Heinz broke into the man’s store to steal the drug...Should he have done that? Why?
Kohlberg’s Stages of Moral Reasoning
Kohlberg’s three levels of moral reasoning:

Preconventional morality
The lowest level - considers punishments and rewards

Conventional level
Considers rules and social norms

Postconventional level
Considers their own moral guide apart from society’s
Kohlberg’s Theory of Moral Development
People pass through stages in the kind of reasoning they use to make moral judgments, primarily based on cognitive characteristics.

INTERNALIZATION is key to the theory: developmental change from behavior that is externally controlled to behavior that is internally controlled

Kohlberg’s Stages of Moral Reasoning
Preconventional Morality (stages 1 & 2) –
Children seek to avoid punishment or attain rewards, sometimes through equal exchange.

No internalization – behavior is controlled externally.
Kohlberg’s Stages of Moral Reasoning
Conventional Morality (stages 3 & 4) –
People try to please significant others, or be good, responsible members of society. “Right” is what others say it is.

Partial internalization – the rules or standards of behavior have been internalized, but their source is still external.
Kohlberg’s Stages of Moral Reasoning
Postconventional Morality (stages 5 & 6) --
Universal moral principles are invoked and considered broader than a particular society. Kohlberg sees justice as the highest principle.

Complete internalization – people act according to conscience.

Kohlberg’s Stages
Criticisms of Kohlberg’s Theory
Kohlberg's theory is a good account of moral judgment but not adequate at predicting moral behavior.
The theory is based on data from boys, and may be inadequate in describing the moral development of girls.

Moral Development in Girls
Carol Gilligan says:

The way boys and girls are raised in our own society leads to differences in moral reasoning.

Kohlberg's theory is inadequate and places girls' moral reasoning at a lower level than boys‘ reasoning. This is because of the female emphasis on interpersonal relationships and responsibility.
Moral Development in Girls
Justice perspective vs. care perspective

Boys view morality primarily in terms of justice and fairness. “What is the right thing to do?”

Girls see morality in terms of responsibility and compassion toward individuals and a willingness to sacrifice for relationships. “Who will have to suffer?”

Moral Development in Girls
Gilligan sees morality in girls developing in 3 stages:
Morality as individual survival - -where females concentrate on what is practical and best for them.
Morality as self-sacrifice -- where females think they must sacrifice their own wishes to what others want.
Morality as equality -- women come to see hurting anyone as immoral, including themselves.
Elkind and the Teenage Mind
Elkind hypothesized that their new cognitive abilities enable adolescents to see that adults are imperfect and rules are arbitrary. He thought that this realization leads to the anger, anxiety, and rebellion that we often see in teens.

He also thought that noticing others’ flaws made teens more anxious about their own flaws.
Elkind and the Teenage Mind
Elkind hypothesized the existence of Adolescent Egocentrism:
They think that an imaginary audience is watching them at all times. They begin to think their actions are at the center of everyone's thoughts.
Another component of adolescent egocentrism is the personal fable: the belief that their own lives are special and unique.
Nobody else has the problems they have.
Nobody understands them.
Nothing can hurt them.
Teenage Hormones
Hormones released during puberty
Sensitize the regions of the cortex involving emotions
Teenagers are unusually alert to social cues
Adolescents show more amygdala (emotion center) activity than adults
Yet, they have less activity in the frontal lobes (nonemotional judgment center)
While adolescents can think rationally in nonemotional situations, their attention is captivated by arousing interpersonal stimuli.
Emotional Reasoning
The ability to reason abstractly is correlated with heightened social anxiety and self-consciousness.
It appears that teenagers who are most able to think abstractly use that ability to dwell on how they appear to others, making them more self-conscious.
Combined with heightened physiological sensitivity to emotional/social cues, this may make adolescents even more emotionally sensitive.
Adolescents also easily attune emotionally to one fact and then ignore all the other facts, often causing poor logic and bad decision making.
Emotional Intensity
Experience-sampling research shows that adolescents do in fact experience more intense emotions than adults.
However, even those with the most dramatic mood swings are just as well adjusted as those who are on a more even keel emotionally.
Most adolescents are confident, energetic, and hopeful about the future.
Being highly emotional does not correlate to being emotionally disturbed.
Only 1 in 4 teens feels unhappy with their life.
However, every serious psychological disorder has its age of onset in the late teens or early twenties.
Depression is one of the highest teen pathologies.
Teens as Risk Takers
Risk taking is a basic feature of teenage life.
1 in 5 uses marijuana
1 in 4 smokes cigarettes
1 in 4 are binge drinkers
66% of teens report they have committed at least one illegal act.
For many teens, there is a thrill in doing something knowingly illegal and not getting caught - rebellion.
Their personal fable tells them that others get hurt or caught. They won’t personally get hurt or caught.
The Downhill Pathway
At-risk teens tend to have:
Emotional problems early in life
Externalizing problems
Aggressive behavior
Which gravitates towards others who are aggressive
Leading to gangs of aggressive youths
Reinforcing the aggressive behavior
Reporting their goal in life is “just having fun” correlates with delinquent acts.

The Downhill Pathway
At-risk teens tend to have poor family relationships.
They show insecure family attachments.
They feel disconnected from parents.
An especially potent indicator of later troubles
A study showed that high levels of family conflict during 7th grade was related to involvement with undesirable peer groups in 8th grade, and hence to more serious trouble in high school.
Parents must provide limits, but also respect independence.
The Downhill Pathway
It is important to distinguish between:
Adolescence-limited turmoil, which is specific to teens and does not persist into adult life, and

Life-course difficulties, which are antisocial behaviors that persist into adult life.
Thriving Adolescence
Which teens thrive?
Close family relationships developed early in life
Prosocial friends to emulate
Academic success
Strong schools
Developing passion for something that society prizes
A strong religious faith and commitment
The Downhill Pathway
The Adolescent-Environment Fit
Don’t punish adolescents as if they were adults.
They are mentally not equivalent to adults.
Adolescents are perfect candidates for rehabilitation.
Our prisons are oriented toward retribution.
Limit adolescents’ access to dangerous activities.
Raise the age for driving alone.
Decrease access to alcohol and cigarettes.
Capitalize on adolescent strengths.
They love to commune with others.
Structure their free time to use their energy and idealism for constructive purposes.

The Adolescent-Environment Fit

Youth development programs such as church groups, sports groups, 4-H, etc. build:

Unfortunately, these programs are voluntary, and the majority of those who volunteer don’t usually need this structure.
The Adolescent-Environment Fit
Change school systems to accommodate teens.
Traditional instruction produces boredom.
Instead we need to:
Improve autonomy-supporting activities.
Encourage independent thinking.
Create caring connections with teachers.
Give courses that relate to their lives.
Perform more service learning classes.
Relate school hours to adolescent biological clocks.
Hormones keep teens up late and require 10 hours of sleep.
Start school later and go longer.
End the school day with youth centered activities.
Adolescent Relationships
Teenagers need independence from their families.
They substitute peer relationships for their family.
Disconnecting from the family:
Teens’ most uplifting times are family moments.
Yet, negative emotions outweigh positives 10 to 1.
Most arguments occur over little things.
Many arguments are over the timetable to freedom.
What age should the rules change?
Conflicts are worse in the middle of the puberty years, subsiding as teens establish a new relationship with their parents.
Adolescent Relationships
Connecting to other groups:
Cliques - intimate groups of approximately 6 members
Crowds – less intimate larger groups

We gravitate toward crowds that fit our interests.
Crowds are found in large schools more than small ones.

Adolescent Relationships
Types of crowds include:
Brains, popular kids, troublemakers, Goths, jocks
Jocks appear to be a typically North American creation.
The others seem to appear in many affluent nations.
Jocks and popular kids are the highest-status crowds, and this effect grows through high school.
Brains are happier in elementary school, but lose status through high school.
Feelings of Depression in Late Elementary and High School
Bad Crowds
Deviancy Training: socialization of a young teen into delinquency through conversations centered on performing antisocial acts
The leader of the bad crowd is the most antisocial member.
The leader sets the standard for the others.
This draws the less antisocial into more antisocial activities.
In bad crowds:
Those with hostile attributional biases find others that validate them.
Their biases are reinforced by the others in the group.
One-upmanship pushes the entire group toward ever- increasing antisocial activities.
Bad Crowds
In middle-class settings, kids with emotional problems gravitate toward gangs.
However, in low SES conditions, there may be few jocks or brains to hang out with, and peer groups can become delinquent and turn into gangs.
Gangs provide the members with status, protection, and income (through criminal activities).
Gangs turn time-limited adolescent turmoil into life-course criminal careers.
Elimination of Adolescence
In many areas of the world adolescence is eliminated for some young people.
One million children are forced into the sex trade every year. Some of them are street children, some are sold by their parents.
Hundreds of thousands are forced to be child soldiers. The main combatants in poor regions of the globe are teenage boys. Many are abducted and coerced in to fighting as young as age 10.