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Chapter 11:

Physical and Cognitive


Development in Adolescence
IN THIS CHAPTER

• Physical Changes

• Adolescent Sexuality

• Adolescent Health

• Changes in Thinking and Memory

• Schooling
LEARNING OBJECTIVES

11.1 How do the brains and other body systems of


adolescents differ from those of younger children?
11.2 What are the major milestones of puberty?
11.3 What are the consequences of early, “on time,” and late
puberty for boys and girls?
11.4 What are the patterns of adolescent sexual behavior in
the United States?
11.5 Which teenaged girls are most likely to get pregnant?
11.6 What are some causes that have been proposed to
explain homosexuality?
11.7 How does sensation seeking affect risky behavior in
adolescents?
11.8 What patterns of drug, alcohol, and tobacco use have
been found among adolescents in the United States?
LEARNING OBJECTIVES (con’t)

11.9 What are the characteristics and causes of eating disorders?


11.10 Which adolescents are at greatest risk of depression and
suicide?
11.11 What are the characteristics of thought in Piaget’s formal
operational stage?
11.12 What are some major research findings regarding the
formal operational stage?
11.13 What kinds of advances in information-processing
capabilities occur during adolescence?
11.14 How do changes in students’ goals contribute to the
transition to secondary school?
11.15 What gender and ethnic differences in science and math
achievement have researchers found?
11.16 What variables predict the likelihood of dropping out of high
school?
ADOLESCENCE
PHYSICAL CHANGES
Other Body Systems: Growth Spurts

First Growth Spurt Second Growth Spurt


 Cephalocaudal/  Muscle fibers
proximodistal  Heart and lung
patterns  Body fat levels
 Joint  Gender
development differences
 Gender
differences
PHYSICAL CHANGES
The Brain

There are two major growth spurts in the


teenage years.
• 13–15 years
• Largely related to parts of the brain that control
spatial perceptions and motor functions
• Cerebral cortex becomes thicker; neuronal
pathways become more efficient; more energy
produced
• 15+ years
• Changes in prefrontal cortex responsible for
executive processing
PHYSICAL CHANGES
The Brain Frontal lobe

• The prefrontal cortex


matures rapidly during
adolescence and
contributes to advances
in executive processing.
Prefrontal cortex
• The second adolescent
brain growth spurt
begins around age 17
and continues into early
adulthood; the frontal
lobes and the cerebral
cortex are the focus of
development.
PHYSICAL CHANGES
The Skeletal System

Growth
patterns

Gender
Joint
differences
development
PHYSICAL CHANGES
The Muscular System

What do you know about …?


• Growth patterns
• Gender differences
PHYSICAL CHANGES
The Heart and Lungs

What do you know about …?


• Growth patterns
• Gender differences
PHYSICAL CHANGES
Milestones of Puberty

Puberty: changes needed for reproductive maturity


• Endocrine glands
• Pituitary gland
Pituitary
gland signals
adrenal gland

Other
growth Androgen
hormones produced
produced Milestones
of Puberty

Pituitary
Testosterone hormones
stimulate
and estradiol growth of
produced ovaries or
testes
PHYSICAL CHANGES
Endocrine and Reproductive Systems: Overview

• Thyroid gland
• Adrenal androgen
• Gender differences
MAJOR HORMONES THAT CONTRIBUTE TO
PHYSICAL GROWTH AND DEVELOPMENT
PHYSICAL CHANGES
Sexual Development in Girls: Secular Trend

Menarche: first menstruation


• Occurs two years after the beginning of other
visible signs of puberty
• Pregnancy can occur after menarche.
PHYSICAL CHANGES
Endocrine and Reproductive Systems:
Sex Characteristics
Primary Sex Characteristics
• Growth of testes and penis
• Growth of ovaries, uterus, and vagina
Secondary Sex Characteristics
• Breast development
• Changing voice pitch
• Beard growth
• Body hair
PHYSICAL CHANGES
Sexual Development in Girls: Secular Trend

Secular trend: timing of menarche


• Lowering of the age of menarche by four months
per decade
• Due mainly to changes in diet and lifestyle
PHYSICAL CHANGES
Sexual Development in Boys
• Sperm production begins
between ages 12 and 14.
• First ejaculation about
age 13 or 14
• Genital development and
BOYS pubic hair development
precede the end of the
growth spurt.
• Development of beard
and voice changes occur
near the end of the
sequence.
PHYSICAL CHANGES
Sexual Development in Girls
• Heredity and behavioral
factors influence
hormonal secretions.
• If major body changes
occur before age 11 or
GIRLS 12, girls have
consistently more
negative views of their
own bodies.
• Social context
influences change.
PHYSICAL CHANGES
Sexual Behavior: Overview

• Boys are more sexually active than girls.


• Reports of sexual intercourse vary across ethnic
groups.
• The rate of teen sexual behavior has declined
substantially over the last three decades.
PHYSICAL CHANGES
Sexual Behavior: Early Sexuality

Social Factors
Sexual Activity among High School Students
PHYSICAL CHANGES
Prevalence of Sexual Behavior

Age of Sexual Activity Initiation


1988 (15–19 years) 2008 (15–19 years)
60% Males 43% Males
51% Females 42% Females
Sexually Active Students
Females Males
19 percent 9th grade 24 percent 9th grade
51 percent 12th grade 44 percent 12th grade
What do these data tell us?
PHYSICAL CHANGES
Sexual Behavior

Characteristics of Girls Who Are Sexually Active


• Early menarche
• Low interest in school and school activities
• Early dating
• History of sexual abuse
PHYSICAL CHANGES
Sexual Behavior: Moral Beliefs

Activities and moral beliefs influence lower


sexual activity among teens who:
• Believe premarital sex is wrong
• Attend religious services
• Participate in school activities
• Do not use alcohol
PHYSICAL CHANGES
Sexual Behavior and Education

• Among sexually active students, 90 percent


report contraceptive use.
• Despite school units, teens show ignorance of
STDs.
• Abstinence and contraceptive education are still
controversial in many schools.
ADOLESCENT SEXUALITY
Adolescent Pregnancy

• Higher in the U.S. than in many other


industrialized countries
• Far more frequent among older adolescents
• The relative frequency of teens who are
unmarried has increased, but teen birth rates
have dropped overall.
ADOLESCENT SEXUALITY
Sexual Minority Youth

Kinsey Scale
• Exclusive heterosexuality
• Exclusive homosexuality
• Bisexuality
Transgendered Teens
• Transsexualism
• Sex reassignment
CRISIS INTERVENTION FOR THE PREGNANT
TEEN
Crisis Intervention Model
• Initial phase: the teen feels anxiety and
confusion; a trusted adult provides gentle
confrontation
• Escalation phase: the teen feels overwhelmed in
daily functions; helping without nagging
• Redefinition: goal identification; emotional
support and guidance
• Dysfunctional phase: failure to redefine/denial
Reflection
1. In which crisis phase was Brianna when she
visited the school clinic?
2. Think about how the crisis phases might be
manifested in a different kind of crisis. For
instance, what phase-related behaviors might be
shown by a teenager who has been arrested for
underage drinking?
PHYSICAL CHANGES
Adolescent Pregnancy

Ethnic Differences in Teens Who Marry


• African Americans
• Hispanic Americans
• Caucasian Americans
PHYSICAL CHANGES
Adolescent Pregnancy

Factors in Teen Pregnancy


• Onset age of sexual activity
• Poverty and family influence
• Less school success
• Less contraception use
PHYSICAL CHANGES
Adolescent Pregnancy

What happens when teens get pregnant?

Myth Reality
PHYSICAL CHANGES
Adolescent Pregnancy: Children of Teen Mothers

Negative Outcomes Positive Possibilities


• Achieve  Negative effects can
developmental be mitigated by
milestones more support from girl’s
slowly when infants own parents
• Grow up in poverty  Staying in school and
social programs
positively help both
child and mother
PHYSICAL CHANGES
Sexual Minority Youth

Gay, Lesbian, and Bisexual Adolescents


• The realization begins in middle school.
• Few accept their homosexuality during
adolescence.
Cause
• Prenatal hormone patterns may be a causal
factor in homosexuality.
• Twin studies suggest a biological basis.
PHYSICAL CHANGES
Transgendered Teens

Transgender teen: the psychological gender differs


from the biological sex
• Higher rates of depression and suicide
• Cause is debated
ADOLESCENT HEALTH
Sensation Seeking

Sensation seeking: the desire to experience


increased levels of arousal (through risky behavior)
• Gain peer acceptance and autonomy from
parents
• Response to popular media’s messages
• Brain growth
ADOLESCENT HEALTH
Drugs, Alcohol, and Tobacco Use

• Teen use of drugs down but still a significant


problem.
• Alcohol use is prevalent.
• Sensation seeking is related to increased use of
alcohol and drugs.
ILLICIT DRUG USE TRENDS AMONG
TEENAGERS
TRUE OR FALSE

The decline in teen use of illicit drugs is due to an


increased and better understanding of
consequences.
ADOLESCENT HEALTH
Drugs, Alcohol, and Tobacco

Tobacco Use
• Fewer teens are regular smokers today than
were a generation ago.
• Teens who are more likely to smoke are
influenced by smoking peers.
ADOLESCENT HEALTH
Body Image and Eating Disorders

Eating disorder: mental disorder in which eating


behavior goes beyond everyday experiences with
trying to lose weight
• Anorexia nervosa
• Bulimia nervosa
STOP AND THINK!

What contributes to or causes eating disorders?


ADOLESCENT HEALTH
Depression and Suicide

Incidence
• Depression
• Suicide
Causes or Contributing Factors
• Depression
• Suicide
Consequences
• Depression
• Suicide
CHANGES IN THINKING AND MEMORY
Piaget’s Formal Operational Thought

Formal operational stage: reasoning logically


about abstract concepts

Key elements
FORMAL OPERATIONAL THINKING
AND EVERYDAY
Lewis and colleagues asked students in 8th
through 12th grades to respond to dilemmas that
involved a person facing a difficult decision.
• Mentioning future possibilities: 42 percent of 12th
graders and 11 percent of 8th graders
• Younger children failed to use formal operational
thinking effectively.
Is this because of immature brain development or
lack of practice? What do you think?
Critical Analysis
1. How do the characteristics of adolescent thinking
come into play when teenagers have to come up
with ways of coping with teachers whom they don’t
like or of raising a failing grade?
2. To what extent does teens’ limited ability to use
formal operational thinking in everyday contexts
explain findings about the ineffectiveness of sex
education programs that you read about earlier in
the chapter?
CHANGES IN THINKING AND MEMORY
Direct Tests of Piaget’s Views

Tasks
• Complex reasoning tasks
• Metaphors
• Decision making

Education levels influence use of formal


operational thought.
WITHIN-STAGE DEVELOPMENT IN FORMAL
OPERATIONS

Figure 11.4 Within-Stage Development in Formal Operations


CHANGES IN THINKING AND MEMORY
Advances in Information Processing

Task Improvement with Age


• Metacognition
• Metamemory
• Strategy use increase
• Text learning
STOP AND THINK!

Research findings show that achievement declines


after students enter high school.

Why do you think such declines may occur?


SCHOOLING
Transition to Secondary School

Is the goal the goal?


• Middle school
 Task goals: based on personal standards and
the desire to become more competent
 Ability goals: define success in competitive
terms
SCHOOLING
Middle School: Ability Grouping

Emphasis on Ability Grouping


• Students may change their beliefs about
individual abilities.
 High achievers
 Low achievers
SCHOOLING
Middle School: School Climate

Perception of School Climate


• Successful intervention strategies
 Mentor
 Homeroom teacher
 Student teams
 Parental involvement
SCHOOLING
High School Success

• The early days of high school set a pattern.


• Activity participation helps develop psychological
attributes.
SCHOOLING
Gender, Ethnicity, and Science and Math
Achievement
 Girls are at risk for achievement losses in the
transition to high school.
 The gender gap widest among the most
intellectually talented students.
 Girls suffer in sciences not offering hands-on
activities.
 Girls are often discouraged from taking
courses in science.
SCHOOLING
Gender, Ethnicity, and Science and Math
Achievement
• The gender gap widens in math.
• Ethnic variations exist.
SCHOOLING
Dropping Out of High School

Links
• Ethnicity, peer group, low value on completion,
history of academic failure
Profiles
• Quiet, disengaged, low-achieving, and poorly
adjusted students are at high risk.
Consequences
• Unemployment, lower wages, depression, and
increased criminal activity
REACHING HIGH SCHOOL DROPOUTS
YouthBuild USA: a program that provides dropouts
with marketable skills tailored to communities
• Examples of YouthBuild/Boston goals
• Learning marketable skills in construction-
related areas
• Working toward GED or high school diploma
• Working on community-related construction
projects
• Impressive success with youth who have been
incarcerated
You Decide
Decide which of these two statements you most
agree with and think about how you would defend
your position:
1. Since a large proportion of students drop out of
them, programs such as YouthBuild USA appear
to be a waste of taxpayers’ money.
2. The public should support programs such as
YouthBuild USA because they may save money
in the long run by preventing high school
dropouts from ending up on the welfare rolls.