Developmental Psychology Term Paper

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Essay Assignment 2
Rebecca’s Rebellion
1. Describe the changes in physical growth and development that she would have experienced in the past 3-4 years and how these changes could be impacting her current state.
A number of factors have contributed to Rebecca’s current rebellion against her parents, most of them being normal and healthy parts of development. However, it would seem that one aspect of her physical development somewhat strayed from the normative; an issue that, according to several findings in the field of developmental psychology, has had a negative catalyzing effect on her body image, peer-acceptance, relationship with her parents, and overall emotional stability. This umbrella issue is Rebecca’s pubertal timing; specifically, the early onset of it relative to her peers.

As cited in our textbook, from several different studies, “(E)arly-maturing girls were unpopular with -drawn lacking in self-confidence, anxious, and prone to depression, (...) were more involved in deviant behavior (getting drunk, participating in early sexual activity) and achieved less well in school.” This behavioral trend is mostly reflected in Rebecca, who as early as 10-11, hit a growth spurt that made her much taller and leaner, “such a notable growth spurt often signals the coming of menarche within a six month period,” and as early as 12 year old became both sexually attracted to men, and began developing an unhealthy self-image in the form of a perceived weight problem as a result of gained weight in the hips, “another common signal of menarche.” The trend of early onset puberty in caucasian girls has been demonstrated to impact both body-image and self-esteem as a result of their awkward and differing appearance to their peers as well as the hormonal influenced emotional changes that are typical of early adolescence. Often a result of this desire for peer-acceptance, early-onsetters tend to gravitate towards older and more sexually matured individuals who match their stage of pubertal development, and “who often encourage them into activities they are not ready to handle emotionally, including sexual activity, drug and alcohol use, and minor delinquent acts.” Rebecca has engaged in somewhat delinquent behavior from time to time prior to early adolescence, but with the exception of her little ruining the neighbor’s garden stint, she has been completely in accordance with the law, and ultimately respectful of following house rules. However, the influence of this garden-trampling partner in crime is still most likely a contributing factor to Rebecca’s current state of rebellion. Early-onset puberty aside, a desire for distance from one’s parents at this age is a completely normal, evolutionary-based aspect of human development. It is a behavior replicated in primates, as it is ultimately a nature-based mechanism which serves to, “discourage sexual relations between close blood relatives.” Even in our modern American society, such behavior is replicated, albeit in a fundamentally different way; “(A)dolescents in industrialized nations, who are still economically dependent on parents, cannot leave the family. Consequently, a modern substitute seems to have emerged: psychological distancing.” Rebecca’s unique physical development has most likely been a large contributing factor on her current behavior via its effect on her self-image. Though it might be a large part of current state, and perhaps the primary catalyst, it is not the end-all be-all of it so much as its part of a complex mixture with her relationship with us, people her age, and other environment related factors. 2) Describe the stages of cognitive and moral development in this developmental period as theorized by Piaget and Kohlberg. Present evidence (from her developmental history information) for which stage you think Rebecca demonstrates.

Based on her history, it can be readily observed that Rebecca has achieved the final stage of Piaget’s stages of...
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