Glossary

adolescent egocentrism: a characteristic of adolescent thinking that leads young people (ages 10-13) to focus on themselves to the exclusion of others (according to David Elkind)

analytic thought: thought that results from analysis, such as a systematic ranking of pros and cons, risks and consequences, possibilities, and facts. Analytic thought depends on logic and rationality

behavioral decision-making theory: proposes that adolescents and adults both weigh the potential rewards and consequences of an action. However, research has shown that adolescents seem to give more weight to rewards, particularly social rewards than do adults

constructivist perspective: based on the work of Piaget, a quantitative, stage-theory approach. This view hypothesizes that adolescents’ cognitive improvement is relatively sudden and drastic, as adolescents learn by acting on their environment and they actively construct knowledge

deductive reasoning: reasoning from a general statement, premise, or principle, though logical steps to figure out (deduce) specifics. Also called top-down processing

divided attention: the ability to pay attention to two or more stimuli at the same time; this ability improves during adolescence

dual process model/dual processing: the notion that two networks exist within the human brain, one for emotional processing of stimuli and one for analytic reasoning

formal operational thought: the fourth and final stage of Piaget’s theory of cognitive development, characterized by more systematic logical thinking and by the ability to understand and systematically manipulate abstract concepts

hypothetical thought: reasoning that includes propositions and possibilities that may not reflect reality

imaginary audience: the other people who, in an adolescent’s egocentric belief, are watching and taking note of his or her appearance, ideas, and behavior. This belief makes many adolescents very self-conscious

information-processing perspective: derives from the study of artificial intelligence and explains cognitive development in terms of the growth of specific components of the overall process of thinking

intuitive thought: thoughts that arise from an emotion or a hunch, beyond rational explanation, and is influenced by past experiences and cultural assumptions

invincibility fable: an adolescent’s egocentric conviction that he or she cannot be overcome or even harmed by anything that might defeat a normal mortal, such as unprotected sex, drug abuse, or high-speed driving

metacognition: refers to “thinking about thinking” and it is relevant in social cognition and results in increased introspection, self-consciousness, and intellectualization during adolescence

mnemonic devices: mental strategies to help learn and remember information more efficiently; improves during adolescence

personal fable: an aspect of adolescent egocentrism characterized by an adolescent’s belief that his or her thoughts, feelings, and experiences are unique, more wonderful, or more awful than anyone else’s

relativistic thinking: thinking that understands the relative, or situational, nature of circumstances

selective attention: the process by which one focuses on one stimulus while tuning out another; this ability improves during adolescence

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