Adolescence: Physical and Cognitive Development
Adolescence is considered the developmental state between childhood and adulthood. It generally refers to the period from ages 12 through 18. (Sprinthall & Collins, 1987). This period of an individual’s life is often starts with puberty. It can also be characterized and associated with psychological, social, and biological changes. Psychologists focus on physiological change, cognitive development, and identity formation when dealing with adolescence. Physiological changes generally occur in adolescence between the ages 9-15. During this period most young adults will undergo what is often referred to as a growth spurt. Changes include, acceleration in the body’s growth rate and the development of pubic/armpit hair. (Sprinthall & Collins, 1987) Girls, generally begin puberty after age 10, reach their peak at age 12, and finish at age 14. Enlargement of breasts is usually the first physical sign of puberty. However, is officially marked by the beginning of menstruation in girls. (Sprinthall & Collins, 1987). This development or growth spurt generally occurs about 2 years later in boys. Therefore there is an awkward period were girls tend to be taller than boys. Puberty in boys generally begins at about age 12, peaks at about age 14, and begins to slow by age 16. This period is marked by the enlargement of the testes, scrotum, and penis. Furthermore, growth of pubic hair and pigmented hair on the legs, arm, and chest takes place during this period as well. Additionally, enlargement of the larynx, causing deepening of the voice is also noted during this period. (Sprinthall & Collins, 1987). Views on cognitive development in adolescents have heavily been influenced by psychologist Jean Piaget. Piaget sees the intellectual capability of adolescents as both “qualitatively and quantitatively superior to that of younger children.” (Sprinthall & Collins, 1987). According to Piaget, the thinking capacity of...
References: Dacey, J. & Travers, J. (2003). Physical and Cognitive Development in Adolescence. Human Development Across the Life Span (pp. 274-287). New York, NY: MacGraw-Hill.
Hauser, Stuart T. (1991). The Family Setting. Adolescents and Their Families (pp. 17-30). New York, NY: Macmillan.
Sprinthall, N. & Collins, W.A. (1987). Adolescence: An Introduction. Development in Adolescence (pp. 110-120). New York, NY: MacGraw-Hill.
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