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Social and Personality Development in Adolescence
Chapter 12
Robert S. Feldman
Identity: Asking "Who Am I?"
Self consciousness takes center stage

More like adults intellectually, aware of need to establish themselves as adults

More like adults physically, acutely aware of their own bodies
Self Concept: What Am I Like?
View broadens
One's own assessment of who they are
Others' views
More organized and coherent
View multiple aspects of self simultaneously and coherently
View psych. traits as abstractions, not concrete entities

Self-esteem: How Do I Like Myself?
Increasingly accurate in understanding self (self-concept), may or may not have higher self-esteem

Gender – early in adolescence, girls lower self-esteem

SES – higher SES related to higher S-E

Influences on Self-Esteem
Traditional research
Prejudice is incorporated into minority adolescents' self-concepts

Recent research
African-American adolescents have same levels of self-esteem as Caucasians
Strong racial identity is related to higher self-esteem levels

Joint influence of race and gender (“ethgender”)
Findings indicate that:
African-American and Hispanic males had highest self-esteem
Asian and Native American females had lowest levels

Identity Formation: Change or Crisis?
Identity Development

Identity Formation: Crisis or Change?
Identity = appropriate identity that sets foundation for future psychosocial development
Confusion = sense of self is “diffuse,” with adoption of socially unacceptable roles
Internal and social pressure to find identity

Erikson: Identity vs. Confusion
Psychological moratorium
Experimentation period
Probably no lasting, negative psychological affects
Some benefits

Identity Formation: Gender Differences
Reliance on peers to help define identity and learn to form relationships is link with next stage (intimacy versus isolation)
Males more likely to proceed through stages in order, developing stable identity before committing to an intimate relationship with another person
Females reverse order, seeking intimate relationships and then defining their identities through these relationships
Limitations of Erikson’s Theory
Male identity development used as the standard—identity first, then intimacy
Based on male-oriented concepts of individuality
Gilligan: women may develop identity through relationships
Updating Erikson
Marcia’s Approach to Identity Development
Crisis (exploration) & commitment (choice)


Identity, Race and Ethnicity
Cultural assimilation model (“melting pot”)—lowers self-esteem of minorities
Pluralistic society model (“tossed salad”)

Bicultural identity (“middle ground”), healthiest for teens
Bicultural Identity in the US
Psychological Difficulties in Adolescence
>25% depressed mood
3% major depression
depressed parent
death of loved one
lonely, rejected, unpopular

Gender Differences in Depression
Higher incidence among girls than boys

Stress more pronounced for girls due to many, sometimes conflicting demands of traditional female gender role

Little evidence of hormonal role

Adolescent Suicide
Incidence: tripled in last 30 years, 3rd most common cause of death
200 attempts for every suicide
More girls attempt, more boys succeed
Boys use more violent methods

Adolescent Suicide
Other factors in adolescent suicide:

Family conflicts

History of abuse and/or neglect

Drug and alcohol abuse

What contributes most to the increased suicide rate among US adolescents today?
A Call for Help
Warning Signs
Direct or indirect talk
School difficulties
Writing a will
Changes in eating habits
General depression
Dramatic behavior changes
Preoccupation with death

Family Ties: Changing Relations with Relations
Parental views questioned

Role shifts because of quest for autonomy

Cultural factors play a role in degree of autonomy achieved & responsibilities teens feel toward family
The Quest for Autonomy
Adolescents increasingly seek autonomy, independence and a sense of control
Primary developmental task
Grows gradually over course of adolescence
Consists of changes in relational symmetry, move to more shared power (egalitarian relationship)

The Myth of the Generation Gap

Social, political, and religious issues (same)

Dress, music, friends (different)

Difference in values and attitudes between teens is greater than the difference between parent and teen.

Relationships with Peers: The Importance of Belonging
Peer relationships
Critical during adolescence
Provide opportunity for social comparison and information
Reference group: a group of people with whom one compares oneself.

Cliques and Crowds: Belonging to a Group
Cliques (2-12 people w/frequent interaction)
Crowds (larger groups, less interaction)
Stereotypes: jocks, brains, druggies
Segregated by gender in early adolescence, increasingly mixed
Developmental Diversity
Race Segregation:
The Great Divide of Adolescence
Adolescents of different ethnicities and races interact very little
Decline begins in elementary school

Why does this occur?

Popularity and Rejection
Adolescent social world is complex
High status categories
Popular adolescents, most liked
Controversial adolescents, liked by some & disliked by others
Low status categories
Rejected adolescents, disliked
Neglected adolescents, neither liked nor disliked

What is it that determines status in high school?
Juvenile Delinquency: Crimes of Adolescence
Who are they?
raised with little parental supervision or discipline, have not been appropriately socialized
Tend to be aggressive early, rejected by peers, ADHD, may have low IQ

Know and subscribe to norms of society
Fairly normal psychologically
Minor crimes, usually with a group

What are the functions of dating?
Pattern of courtship that lead to marriage
Way to learn to establish intimacy
Mechanism to provide entertainment and prestige
Resource to develop a sense of one’s own identity
Dating and the Development of Psychological Intimacy
Dating in early and middle adolescence not very successful at facilitating intimacy, tends to be superficial
True intimacy becomes more common during later adolescence.

Premarital Sex
In past, gender-related double standard for premarital sexual activity

Today premarital intercourse is viewed as permissible for both men and women if it occurs in the context of long-term, committed, or loving relationship

Significant cultural and subcultural variation about premarital sex
Sexual Orientation: Heterosexuality, Homosexuality, and Bisexuality
Sexual orientation questions occur at adolescence
Vast majority are heterosexual
25% boys & 10% girls have had a same-sex encounter
Fewer become exclusively homosexual (about 4-10%)
What Determines Sexual Orientation?
Genetic and biological factor
Twin studies
Hormones may be factor
Family and peers?

Teenage Pregnancies
What contributes to the decline in teenage pregnancy?
New initiatives have raised awareness among teenagers of the risks of unprotected sex

The rates of sexual intercourse among teenagers has declined

The use of condoms and other forms of contraception has increased

Substitutes for sexual intercourse may be more prevalent
Does “Just Say No” Work?
Study of 12,000 teens:
88% did have premarital sex
But start was delayed average of 18 months

What factors may be involved in success or lack of success of such programs?