Psychology Dictionary of Arguments

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Upton I 126
Adolescence/Psychological theories/Upton: Traditionally, adolescence has been depicted as a tumultuous period, full of chaos and confusion caused by the ‘raging hormones’ brought about by puberty (Hall, 1904)(1). Indeed, (…) adolescence involves major physical transitions that include growth spurts, sexual maturation, hormonal changes and neurological development, in particular in the frontal lobes, an area of the brain linked to impulse control. It has also been argued that, for adolescents in Western cultures, there is a disjunction between biology and society that has the potential to create a difficult transitional period: even when adolescents are physically mature enough to perform adult functions such as work and childbearing, they lack not only the psychological maturity, but also the social status and financial resources to perform those functions responsibly. This is because of the extended dependency brought about by social conventions such as the school-leaving age. >Adolescence/Anna Freud, >Adolescence/Margaret Mead.
The debate about storm and stress in adolescents is frequently mentioned in the literature (e.g., Arnett, 1999)(2); however, it seems that very few developmental psychologists still support this view.
The consensus is that most of us negotiate adolescence with few serious personal or social problems. Coleman (1978)(3) proposed a focal theory of adolescence, which suggests that each of the many personal and social issues that have to be dealt with in adolescence come to the teenager’s attention at different times.
However, it is important to recognize that those children who do have an emotional time in adolescence usually have some pre-existing
Upton I 127
emotional problem (Graham and Rutter, 1985(4); White et al.. 1990)(5). Likewise, delinquent teenagers are likely to have had behavioural problems as children (Bates. 2003)(6). All of which perhaps points to adolescence intensifying existing predispositions, not creating new ones.



1. Hall, GS (1904) Adolescence: Its psychology and its relations to physiology, anthropology, sociology, sex, crime, religion and education. New York: Appleton.
2. Arnett. JJ (1999) Adolescent storm and stress reconsidered. American Psychologist, 54: 317-26.
3. Coleman. IC (1978) Current contradictions in adolescent theory. Journal of Youth and Adolescence,7: 1-11.
4. Graham, P and Rutter, M(1985) Adolescent disorders, in Rutter, M and Hersov, L (eds) Child
And Adolescent Psychiatry: Modern approaches (4th edu). Oxford: Blackwell Scientific.
5. White, J, Moffit, T, Earls, F. Robins. L and Silva, P (1990) How early can we tell? Predictors of childhood conduct disorder and adolescent delinquency. Criminology, 28:507-27.
6. Bates. JE (2003) Temperamental unadaptabiity and later internalizing problems as moderated by mothers’ restrictive control. Paper presented at the meeting for the Society for Research in Child Development, Tampa, FL.

Further reading: For traditional ways of adolescence:
Arnett, J (1999) Adolescent storm and stress, reconsidered. American Psychologist, 54: 317-26. Available online at http://uncenglishmat.weeb1y.com/uploads/1/4/3/4/1434319/arnett.pdf. (Access date 7/17/2019).

For links between neurological structures, brain function and cognitive skills:
Casey, BJ, Giedd, JN and Thomas, KM (2000) Structural and functional brain development and its relation to cognitive development. Biological Psychology, 54,241—57. Available online at www.medinfo.hacettepe.edu.tr/tebad/umut_docs/interests/fmr/aging/
MAIN_structural_fonctional.pdf. (Access date 7/17/2019).


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Explanation of symbols: Roman numerals indicate the source, arabic numerals indicate the page number. The corresponding books are indicated on the right hand side. ((s)…): Comment by the sender of the contribution.
The note [Author1]Vs[Author2] or [Author]Vs[term] is an addition from the Dictionary of Arguments. If a German edition is specified, the page numbers refer to this edition.
Psychological Theories
Upton I
Penney Upton
Developmental Psychology 2011


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