PSY_214_chapter_6_notes and web

PSY_214_chapter_6_notes and web - PSY 214 Adolescent...

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PSY 214 – Adolescent Psychology Chapter 6 Notes Chapter 2 provided information about typical physical development during adolescence and chapter 3 did the same thing with respect to typical cognitive development. This chapter describes the main features of typical psychological development during adolescence, that is, how the young person comes to see and understand him or herself. This is a pivotal chapter in the textbook. The search for a personal identity is the main theme of the chapter and it is a topic that draws on everything we’ve studied so far this semester. At the same time, the ideas in this chapter are also ones we will encounter throughout the rest of the semester because the way adolescents view themselves impacts their behavior in profound ways. Adolescents in our individualistic, self-oriented culture must wrestle with 2 key questions: “Who am I?” and “Where do I fit into the world.” These are questions that are never fully answered, even by older adults, but it’s necessary for adolescents to begin finding answers to these key questions. The information on gender roles from the last chapter gets at part of the answers, that is who am I as a man or woman and what’s expected of me in those roles. But the full answers to these questions encompass much more than gender roles. Let’s tackle the question of “Who am I?” first. In early childhood we begin to form pictures of ourselves and these pictures consist of characteristics that we have heard other people use to describe us. This is the beginning of what psychologists call “self-concept” – which is basically the way we would honestly describe ourselves to other people. Young children tend to describe themselves in very simple and concrete ways; “I’m a girl” or “I’m nice” are examples. As children age their self-concepts change as they have more experiences and get more feedback from other people. By the time they are adolescents, because of the changes in their cognitive development, children typically begin to describe themselves in more abstract terms as the example on page 165 demonstrates. They are also able to make a distinction between “actual” and “possible” selves and begin to think about the kind of person they would like, or not like, to be. They can also present a “false self” to people they are trying to impress or mislead. Perhaps one of the reasons adolescents spend so much time in front of mirrors is because they are trying to literally see both their actual and possible selves. Related to self-concept is self-esteem. If self-concept is the picture you have of yourself, self-esteem is the degree to which you like or dislike that picture. As your text points out, self-esteem tends to drop a bit during adolescence (notice the orange line on the chart at the bottom of p. 168) but there is a lot of individual variation. The distinction between baseline and barometric self-esteem is an
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important one. Also important is the role that physical appearance plays in
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PSY_214_chapter_6_notes and web - PSY 214 Adolescent...

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