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Cognition and Identity in Adolescent Development Report (Assessment)


There are many reasons why adolescence can be defined as one of the most crucial periods for people. Children have to deal with several changes in their bodies and minds. They realize that this period is the last stage before they become adults and demonstrate rather different attitudes to this fact. Finally, children have several personal needs that depend on early or late maturation and their social cognition. Adolescence is accompanied by abrupt physical changes to the body and brain and the necessity to manage personal sexual interests, develop new relations, and think about personal, academic, and even occupational futures (Perry & Pauletti, 2011).

Girls and boys usually go through different physical changes. Female changes are connected with the development of breast buds, the growth of armpit, leg, and pubic hair, and the beginning of their menstrual periods. Though the average age of menarche is about 12 years, it may also occur at 10 or 16. Much depends on personal maturation characteristics. Boys observe certain differences with the size of their testicles and penis. In addition to the types of hair that grows in girls, boys have to deal with facial and chest hair as well (Dahl & Forbes, 2010). Voice changes take place. Finally, night erections may take place.

Though a human brain undergoes certain changes throughout life, the changes that can be observed during the adolescent period are the most unpredictable and noticeable because of some new thinking skills and the power that has not been possessed earlier.

The changes in brain and body may lead to several effects on adolescent behavior and development. As a rule, the part of the problems (physical) is connected with late or early maturation, and some outcomes (brain development) define social cognition and behavioral changes. Adolescents have to deal with several changes at the same time, and it is expected that certain emotional changes can influence behavior.

For example, children become more sensitive and concerned about the changes that take place with their bodies. They try to compare the results and investigate the bodies of other adolescents. Parental support is not enough, and adolescents try to develop new relations, romantic affairs, and even conflicts to comprehend what powers and opportunities they might have. The question of maturation bothers many young people. Maturation (puberty) may be early or late, and this characteristic depends on a person’s self-esteem and satisfaction with a personal body. Early maturation is usually inherent to girls, who have obesity problems or some hormonal imbalances.

Late maturation may be based on family genetics or wrongly chosen lifestyles. The main problems of early, as well as late, puberty, are depressions, anxiety, eating, and psychological disorders, and stress. Dahl and Forbes (2010) offer to understand the affective changes of an adolescent body and brain with the help of social re-orientation and review the achievements in such a sphere as the neuroscience of adolescence. The changes in social cognition of young children and the structural development of a human brain are observed within the frames of social processing, e.g. outcome expectations, self-evaluation standards, or personal perceptions (Perry & Pauletti, 2011).

Cognitive Development

Many theoretical and practical aspects have to be taken into consideration to comprehend the peculiarities of adolescent development, behavior, and cognition. Jean Piaget is one of the most popular and successful psychologists, who worked in the sphere of child development. His identification of the stages of cognitive development is effective indeed. There are four stages such as sensorimotor, pre-operational, concrete operational, and formal operational (Huitt & Hummel, 2003).

The last stage that is the formal operations stage of cognitive development deals with such periods as adolescence and adulthood. According to Piaget (as cited in Huitt & Hummel, 2003), at this stage, the logical use of symbols that can be related to some abstract concepts is possible to demonstrate the level of intelligence obtained by the youth. In comparison to the concrete operational stage, where children become aware of the environment and the events and try to realize the uniqueness of personal thoughts and feelings but fail to think hypothetically, the formal operations stage proves the possibility of people to think logically and use but not only manipulate the symbols around. The ability to formulate and explain hypotheses is one of the most powerful characteristics of this stage.

There are also many other characteristics of this stage that are connected with all those new abilities gained by individuals. Children realize that their behavior and decisions are not under the control of their parents only. They recognize the power of ethical and moral issues that have to be followed. Young children do not need instructions only. They want to ask for more explanations and clarify the conditions under which they can research people’s needs, demands, and expectations (Wellman, 2011). A person can think abstractly and solve different problems that may require some additional evaluations and analysis.

Besides, the new way of thinking may affect several adolescent academic abilities. For example, Piaget conducted numerous tests to identify how a child’s academic activities could be changed at a particular stage. The conclusions were effective because children proved their abilities to think logically and use abstraction notions to interpret the relations between different things. They can use such symbols from different metaphors and their imagination and give the answers in regards to their dreams, needs, and understanding of reality. Piaget and other researchers consider this period as an ultimate stage of development where thinking abilities turn out to be the most powerful contributions to understanding adolescents’ cognitive and academic approaches individuals may use in their lives.

Identity Development

In addition to several physical and emotional changes among adolescents, certain attention should be paid to such a concept as the development of identity. Many psychologists and researchers develop their theories to underline the importance of identity development in adolescence. The most prominent figures are Erikson, Marcia, and Seltzer.

Erikson introduces eight stages of the life cycle, and one of them the stage of adolescence when identity is compared to role confusion. Before children achieve this stage, their development depends on what can be done to a person regarding personal expectations. Now, it is time to consider the activities and actions that can be done by a person. The key to understanding adolescents’ personality development is the fact that individuals have to struggle to discover their identities through social interactions, existing morals, and norms. The sense of identity is the goal that should be achieved (Beyers & Luyckx, 2016).

A child has to understand that there are roles that have to be performed to re-evaluate the identity and realize what it means to be an individual. According to Erikson, there are sexual and occupational identities that should be considered. Children have to accept all their physical changes and stay loyal to themselves (support the virtue of fidelity).

Marcia’s theory is mainly based on Erikson’s ideas except for the deep attention to the choices and commitments that are developed regarding specific personal and social traits that appear after the separation from parents (Koepke & Denissen, 2012). If Erikson and Piaget refuse the idea of parental participation in the development of a child at the stage under consideration, Marcia suggests allowing parents to participate in their children’s lives when the time to make a career/academic choice comes.

When children develop their identities, they may consider the values and roles of parents as examples that have or have not to be followed. Still, regarding such unstable and unclear roles of parents in children’s lives, psychologists and other advisors have to be very careful while discussing the impact of parental opinions on identity development. On the one hand, it is possible to underline the importance of ethnic, national, and religious principles developed by parents. On the other hand, it is necessary to provide children with a chance to develop their identities regarding their tastes and priorities. In such ambivalent situations, the child’s readiness for developing his/her identity free from parental influence should be considered.

Seltzer is another theorist, who based the model of adolescent identity formation on Erikson’s ideas. The core of this theory is the relations that can be developed with peers. Seltzer offers to understand what role peers may perform in the development of identity. Such concepts as frameworklessness, comparative acts, and peer relations become the main aspects of the Dynamic Functional Interaction that plays an important role in the identity development and help individuals to compare their expectations with the expectations and norms followed by other individuals of the same age.

Identity Crisis

In understanding the necessity of cognitive and identity development, it is also important to underline the possibility of the identity crisis and its impact on adolescent development. According to Erikson, the formation of identity is one of the most crucial steps that can be taken by an individual. However, some problems or misunderstandings may take place at this stage and result in an identity crisis. Identity development is a lifelong process (Nair, James, & Santhosh, 2015) that cannot be controlled by an individual. The situations when exploration of the ideas or intensive analysis is required may bother young people.

For example, Perry and Pauletti (2011) focus on gender differences and underline that the representations of the self concerning gender are a crucial factor that cannot be ignored. However, not all young people can recognize the categories that should be considered. As a result of such failure, individuals should investigate and analyze more than it is necessary. They face a crisis that has to be overcome. Besides, certain ethnic challenges may influence the development of the identity crisis.

There are so many ethnic groups that unite family members and divide peers into categories. Social and cultural norms are numerous, and individuals are at risk of losing the right track of who they want to be and who they have to be. Unhappiness and dissatisfaction are the results of the identity crisis that influences the relations with family, peers, and society. Such evaluation leads to the conclusion that the role of all these groups may be as a reason for as well as an outcome of the identity crisis.

Erikson offers a solution to the identity crisis in the form of role identification. An individual has to understand what kind of group can establish the norms and requirements in the most appropriate for him/her way. Core values have to be identified during this stage of development. Though this task is not easy, it has to be completed until a new stage of life, early adulthood, begins. It is not necessary to use family as the only center of social interactions.

Peers and other members of society can offer their ideas on how to interpret the world around them. The stage of formal operations is the period when it is possible to make choices and evaluate personal interests, abilities, and preferences. Personal identity is something that has to be developed individually. Neither peers, nor society, nor family can restrict choices. Still, these groups can help to identify what kind of a person it is possible to be.

Developmental Problems during Adolescence

Nowadays, it is easy to find several investigations that are conducted to investigate the problems of adolescent development and introduce the solutions on how not only to comprehend the reasons for problems but also to provide adolescents with the required portion of help. Current research offered by Kliewer and Lepore (2014) and Weintraub et al. (2015) introduce a clear picture of what problems may emerge in adolescence as a result of certain physical changes and cognitive abilities that lead to the development of violent behavior and risky sexual behavior. For example, Kliewer and Lepore (2014) discuss the changes in cognitive abilities and the promotion of sleeping disorders as one of the possible reasons for why so many adolescents cannot cope with the amounts of violence in their lives.

The negative changes in parents also predetermine the challenges that have to be overcome by adolescents. In this research, community violence and parental neglect promote problematic adolescent development, and children become unable to cope with all physical and emotional changes that take place at this particular stage. The researchers offer to focus on the importance of appropriate sleep and contribute to cognitive development by improving sleeping outcomes. Weintraub et al. (2015) introduce a new psychological indicator, adolescent perceived social mobility, to improve the environment under which adolescents have to be developed. It means that adolescents, as well as their parents, should have a hope to improve risk behavior in case particular interventions can be applied.

From a psychological perspective, the identified issues can be viewed as a drastic threat to the overall development of an individual. Indeed, the issues identified above imply that, when introduced to a specific environment, one is likely to develop the behavioral patterns that fall under the category of risk behavior. Consequently, the further healthy evolution of the person in question will become impossible unless a proper psychological intervention is suggested. Although the location of the issues that may have affected the patient might not be difficult, the location of the psychological approach that will serve as the basis for the patient to assume the required behavioral patterns.

Regarding the theories developed by Erikson, Marcia, and Seltzer, modern psychologists are free to investigate every situation of an adolescent and introduce the possibilities available. For example, if risky behavior is the result of poor social conditions, then, more attention should be paid to family relations. If family relations are not appropriate and characterized by some mental problems, for example, it is possible to rely on peer groups and develop an identity in regards to social or peer expectations and suggestions.

ADHD can be viewed as a typical behavioral issue that an adolescent is likely to face as a result of hiccups in their development. According to the existing definition, the subject matter can be interpreted as the psychological condition that manifests itself in increased impulsivity rates, inability to focus on a specific issue for the required amount of time, and the lack of control over impulsive behavioral patterns. Being very common in children and adolescents, the issue under analysis implies the use of psychological therapy.

Particularly, it is recommended that the patient should be provided with a specific behavioral model and acknowledge a set of goals to strive for. As a result, gradual changes in the patient’s behavior are expected to be observed.

The importance of evidence-based interventions is not to be underestimated, either. Concerning the issue mentioned above, the use of evidence- and theory-based practice can hardly be overrated as it provides the foundation for the design of a unique intervention strategy. Particularly, the evidence-based approach invites an opportunity to design the intervention strategy that will be based on the unique characteristics of the patient and, therefore, address the entirety of issues that the person in question has. The incorporation of theoretical frameworks into the analysis, in its turn, allows for carrying out the preliminary analysis and identifying the possible routes that can be taken. Once the model of addressing the problem is chosen, the chances for recovery are going to increase significantly.

Reference List

Beyers, W. & Luyckx, K. (2016). Ruminative exploration and reconsideration on commitment as risk factors for suboptimal identity development in adolescence and emerging adulthood. Journal of Adolescence, 47, 169-178. Web.

Dahl, R.E. & Forbes, E.E. (2010). Pubertal development and behavior: Hormonal activation of social and motivational tendencies. Brain and Cognition, 72(1), 66-72. Web.

Huitt, W. & Hummel, J. (2003). . Educational Psychology Interactive. Web.

Kliewer, W. & Lepore, S.J. (2014). Exposure to violence, social cognitive processing, and sleep problems in urban adolescents. Journal of Youth and Adolescence, 44, 507-517.11. Web.

Koepke, S. & Denissen, J.J.A. (2012). Dynamics of identity development and separation – Individuation in parent-child relationships during adolescence and emerging adulthood – A conceptual integration. Developmental Review, 32(1), 67-88. Web.

Nair, K.R., James, J.K., & Santhosh, K.R. (2015). Identity crisis among early adolescents in relations to abusive experiences in the childhood, social support, and parental support. Journal of Psychological Research, 10(1), 165-173. Web.

Perry, D.G. & Pauletti, R.E. (2011). Gender and adolescent development. Journal of Research on Adolescence, 21(1), 61-74. Web.

Weintraub, M.L.R., Fernald, L.C.H., Adler, N., Bertozzi, S., & Syme, S.L. (2015). Perceptions of social mobility: Development of a new psychological indicator associated with adolescents risky behaviors. Frontiers in Public Health, 3, 62. Web.

Wellman, H.M. (2011). Reinvigorating explanations for the study of early cognitive development. Child Development Perspectives, 5(1), 33-38. Web.

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IvyPanda. (2020) 'Cognition and Identity in Adolescent Development'. 15 July.

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