Developmental Psychology Observation Study

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PSY 2237 Online

Unit 3 Observation Study

For my observation study, I asked my cousin, Grace, if it would be alright with her to observe her oldest child. For the purposes of this paper, I will call her Jamie. Jamie is 17 years old, and will be entering her senior year of high school in the fall. Both of her parents have full-time jobs; her father is a salesman and her mother works as a manager at a hardware store. Economically, they do very well. The household has three newer model cars, one for each parent and one for Jamie to share with her 15 year old brother once he gets his driver’s license. They live in a nice house in a newer developed sub-division. Grace and her husband are both born in the United States with roots all over different parts of Europe. I met Jamie at her home and observed her for about an hour in that setting. Afterwards, we walked to the park near their home to address specific questions I had for her. Lastly, I followed up with Grace to answer additional questions that I wanted her to answer after speaking with Jamie. My choice in doing this observation on someone older was made because I feel that so much has changed since I was 17 and I was curious to gain perspective on how teenagers view the world. I work as a manager and some of my employees are high school aged students, so in a way I was also trying to gain understanding on what motivates this age group.

Jamie is a 17 year old female, who in my opinion looks her age. She doesn’t wear excessive amount of make-up and when I have seen her, her hair is usually pulled back. She dresses in trendy clothes but does not show excessive amounts of skin. Puberty is the time when children develop features and experience bodily changes that lead them into adulthood. Jamie started menstruating around the age of 14, which was later than most of her peers, which is a part of experiencing puberty. Her mother and aunt have larger chests and Jamie has the same features, along with wider hips than when she was younger. Breasts and wide hips are secondary sex characteristics- that means they do not directly affect fertility and are not required for a woman to become pregnant. Jamie has adult features and has not grown in height in the last two to three years. I spoke to Grace about this area because most people are shy to talk about development and puberty. I thought that it would be harmful to my research if I put Jamie in a state where she felt embarrassed or uncomfortable.

Piaget’s theory stated that formal operation thought would be characterized by more systematic logic and the ability to think about abstract ideas (Berger 2010). In the textbook, there is an example that stated:

If dogs are bigger than elephants, and
If mice are bigger than dogs,
Are elephants smaller than mice?

Young children would say no, because they know that elephants are big and cannot picture a mouse being bigger. I read this example to Jamie and she responded as I thought she would- saying that elephants are smaller than mice. It made sense to her because she was able to look at the information presented to her and although it was different from what she knows to be true, she answered based on the information I provided her. She demonstrated her ability to think abstractly.

While observing Jamie in her home, she spent the bulk of the time on her laptop and cell phone. I asked if I could see some of the things that she was doing online. She shared her Facebook page with me and I was able to see some of the things that she has posted recently. One of her posts described a test for which she received a poor grade. It said,”Ugh! I knew I did bad on my bio test, but a D?? OMG, worst day of my life!” This type of irrational belief is what would be described as a personal fable, where the adolescent’s experiences are unique and either more wonderful or awful than anyone else’s (Berger 2010). Jamie knows full well that there...
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