How most adolescents think and reason


Describe two ways that brain development typically contributes to changes in thinking and behavior as individuals progress through adolescence (448-451). Provide two specific examples of how most adolescents think and reason (pp. 485-493).

Because of the “Dramatic transformations” that occur during adolescence in the prefrontal cortex and the limbic brain regions, feelings of “fear and anger” emerge in the adolescent (p. 448). These fears and angry responses are due to the growth of testosterone (in the amygdale); and the author explains that this change explains the “increased aggressiveness and irritability” that boys experience during this portion of their development (448).

A second way in which the changes in the brain contribute to adolescents behaviors is in cognitive functioning. Because the systems that regulate emotional behavior and sexuality are evolving and growing, cognitive functioning is a work in progress, so to speak. Sleep may be irregular in adolescents, and a lack of judgment and foresight can be explained by the fact that the limbic system is still being developed and because the adolescent has not yet had good coordination between the limbic system and the prefrontal cortex (449).

Two specific examples as to how most adolescents think and reason based on brain development: a) Teenagers tend to “misread the feelings of others” because their frontal cortex is not yet fully developed; and moreover, teens react “strongly” and tend to react with “gut” feelings because the emotional region of their brains are not “fully connected” with the frontal region of their brains (449); and b) common behaviors among adolescents include “risk-taking” and “independence-seeking” and both are a result of “neuronal changes” in the brain (451). The risk-taking can include “impulsive actions” that can lead to experimentation with alcohol and drugs because they are motivated to try “new experiences” (451).

TWO: Two specific examples of how adolescents think and reason (485-493). ANSWER for TWO: [NOTE: these pages were not included in the pdf attached to this assignment]

THREE: Using three reasons, explain why it is true that identity formation takes greater importance during adolescence than at other times. One, when a person is going through adolescence, they are able to see the difference between how they really are (“actual self”) and what they could become (“possible self”) (514). Why does this matter? Younger children are not capable of seeing what they might be able to become one day, but adolescents can often project what their “possible self” (their imagined identity) can be; and by being motivated to improve they believe they may get there (514). Two, gender plays a huge role in identity formation; on page 515 Polly started Jr. high as a tomboy but soon saw that girls her age were putting on makeup her identity was out of sync with the other girls and hence she withdrew from social activities. And three, identity confusion (and identity diffusion) can occur because adolescents do experience “self-doubt”; and also, ethnic adolescents have an even more complicated sense of identity as they wonder where and how they fit in with the mainstream culture.

FOUR: Describe 3 causes of stress or changes in relationships adolescents experience; what factors may promote or inhibit their coping abilities? One, parents can be a source of stress for adolescents; parents try to help adolescents avoid risky behaviors (like drugs) but in the process if parents intrude on a teen’s privacy, anger results. Coping with a parents’ violent punishment might include involvement with drugs and problems in school. Two, if parents insist on punishing their adolescents using physical tools (spanking, slapping), there is going to be a negative change in that relationship because adolescents will likely reject authority, have lower self-esteem, or fight back by yelling at and insulting parents (525). And three, adolescents count on friends to be good listeners (of their private thoughts and experiences) but when a friend talks behind the back of an adolescent (breaking the bond of privacy between the two) the stress is noticeable on the person who feels betrayed (531). Coping with this situation is difficult for an adolescent who may suffer heartache, may be jealous and be plagued with a feeling of “despair” (531).

Works Cited

Chapter 14. Physical Development and Health in Adolescence

Chapter 16. Social and Emotional Development in Adolescence

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