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Psychology of Adolescence Development Case Study

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Updated: Apr 3rd, 2020


Adolescence is the transitional period of biological and mental development in the human lifecycle. It takes place between puberty and adulthood. The period is narrowly linked with teenage years. However, the physical, mental, and traditional elucidations may start earlier and terminate later than they should.

For instance, puberty is typically linked to adolescence progress. Adolescence starts before the teenage years. Practically, there are no universal standards that guide how adolescents behave. The communal setting where the adolescent is brought up is a major contributor to how they turn out as adults.

This case study originates from an interview conducted on 17-year-old Latino female. It is based on three development processes. These are biological, cognitive, and socio-emotional foundations of human development.

These foundations generate a vivid image of the adolescent’s experiences. Nicole Tomas’ experiences are paralleled to diverse prevailing age-related theories. The strategy allows the examination of the significance of adolescence as a standard stage of development. The approach helps in demystifying a bad perception of adolescents the community has.


Immigration from Latin America to the United States is typically an escape from challenging conditions. However, the advantage is accompanied by a loss of identity. The loss of identity is often distinctive baggage for adolescents. They are often placed into a new cultural setting and life situation during the process of forming an identity. US-born Latino adolescents also face the challenge of adapting to the majority culture. A major source of health issues for Latino adolescents is bicultural stress.

However, not all Latino adolescents experience health issues. Adolescence is associated with stress. It is also a stage when rebellion against norms occurs in the minds of the majority of adults.

However, this is not always the case because the majority of adolescents possess positive self-esteem and relate well with others. They eventually transit into adulthood effectively. The change in attitude and physical changes are triggered by hormones as they transit to adulthood. Amazingly, most adults tend to overlook their own experience as adolescents.

The objective of this case study is to examine the experiences of an adolescent Latino female. The approach will shed light on getting a better comprehension of what some adolescents have to cope within contemporary society. The use of the interview helps in demystifying misconceptions surrounding adolescence. Additionally, the interview helps in examining biological, cognitive, and socio-emotional aspects of Nicole Tomas. The interview will then be related to various theories of development.

Demographic Data

Nicole is a Latino adolescent. She is 17 years old. She is a senior in a high school. Nicole is not an academically outstanding student. She enjoys singing and is in the school choir. She was raised by her father. Her mother died when Nicole and her elder sister were seven and ten years old, respectively. The bond between the sisters is strong.

This is possibly due to the absence of the mother with whom most girls have close relationships. Her father has always been there for them, but he is working most of the time. They only interact for two or three hours daily due to his tight schedule. When he is not working, he ensures he spends quality time with his daughters. This way, he creates a father-daughter bond with them. The relationship between the father and the daughters emerged out of necessity.

Developmental Processes

Biological Development


Nicole was born in a nearby hospital like a normal child. Her childhood was a happy one as her mother was not working; hence was always around her. She has tender memories about her mother who, she states, was very protective. Her father is not any different. Despite the protective nature of both parents, Nicole had to undergo the various developmental changes that normal childhood experiences.

Her father did not exhibit any difficulties in accepting the developmental changes that occurred in Nicole and her sister. He was supportive though he could not openly discuss with them the physical changes they experienced. Instead, he sought the assistance of their aunt, who would openly discuss various issues with them.

Nicole never experienced serious childhood diseases except for normal illnesses, such as chickenpox. However, she admits that she experienced a period of anxiety and distress upon the death of her mother when she was only seven years. The father and her aunt were there to support her psychologically.

Poor health, including obesity, is typically the result of lifestyles that begin in adolescence or when a child experiences poor upbringing (Santrock, 2000). Throughout their lives, the father has always made sure that their health is a precedence. When she caught chickenpox, her father took leave from work to be by her side. Although the aunt was there, he took it as his responsibility to personally take care of her.

Medical practitioners recommend that girls should have had a gynecological examination before they have reached 15 years. The father was aware of this. When Nicole was 14 years, the father arranged with the aunt for her to be taken to a gynecologist. The results were good. The physical development of girls occurred before and during the teenage years. Her puberty had set in when she got her first menstrual period.

The hips were developed, and breasts were formed. Girls are apprehensive about menstrual periods (Santrock, 2000). Nicole was not any different. She noticed that her breasts were developing rapidly. When her first menstrual period occurred, she was scared. She talked to her sister about it. Her sister, having experienced the same, told her that it was normal for a girl. Her aunt was also health-conscious. After Nicole’s 16th birthday, she took her to a gynecologist for pelvic examination and Pap smear.

Nicole’s hobby is riding a bicycle. Riding helps her keep fit. However, when she was 14 years, she was used to overeating and did not want to do any exercises. Her weight increased rapidly. Her peers laughed at her. She cried for hours. Responding to this negative behavior, her father bought her a bike. Such a move enables girls to trust adults (Miller, 1993). Three months of physical exercise helped her regain her confidence as she had lost significant weight. Girls are sensitive about their physical appearance (Benokratis, 1999).


Adolescence is a period of sexual experimentation. Latino adolescents are said to be sexually less active as compared to their African American and White counterparts. Nicole admits that she had a boyfriend by the time she was 15 years. She has had a sexual experience. When her father noticed, he approached her aunt, who in turn talked to her. She says that although she still dates that boy, she stopped having sex with him. This may be denial on her part. Teenagers experience difficulty dealing with their sexuality (Fenwick 1994).

Cognitive Development

Piaget’s theory

Nicole is capable of thinking abstractly, hence she is in Piaget’s formal operational stage. She can think about possibilities, such as how her father would react if he discovered that she might be having sex with her boyfriend. Having been exposed to books at an early age, she can create make-believe situations and possibilities. She is aware that she is not perceived as a typical teenager, which increases her self-esteem. However, she is cautious about what the others think about her and is determined to please those around her.


Adolescents typically show less concern for the others, especially, the underprivileged and the minority. Nicole hates this perception considering that she is Latino. However, her father can provide for her family. She despises the attitude of the society towards not caring for the disadvantaged. She feels that Whites use hate as a fabricated sense of supremacy. During her free time, she volunteers in the nearby children’s home as a way of contributing to society.

Socio-emotional Development


The 5th stage in Erikson’s eight stages of the life cycle occurs in adolescence. This includes identity development. The adolescents are concerned with finding out who they are and where they are headed in life. Nicole appears to have significant knowledge of who she is. She can articulate her family lineage. By interacting with people from diverse races, she has developed a sense of self (Henslin, 1998). She has positive self-esteem. Proper upbringing has contributed to the development of her self-image and self-esteem.

Family Influence

Nicole says that her father involves her and her sister in making decisions. She states that since her 14th birthday, the father demonstrated that he trusted her with decisions while he was away. When he returns, they sit and review the decision to gauge the rationality. The whole family is involved in financial decision-making. This is in concurrence with Fenwick (1994) who feels that this offers them an opportunity for self-expression and reasoning.


The environment is a determinant in the development of an individual (White, 2000). Nicole is aware of the dangers of drugs. She states that when her peers laughed at her weight when she was obsessed with food, she had contemplated using drugs. However, the positive relationship with her family helped her resist the temptation since they supported her.

Nicole also points out that she has a computer that she uses for learning using the Internet. However, she states that the Internet has influenced most of her friends as some watch pornography. She states that she uses her computer to interact with friends on social platforms.


The view of the society on adolescents emerges from personal experiences as it is shaped by the environment, including the media. The developmental changes during adolescence are often viewed negatively. The interview with Nicole reveals that adolescents probably become rebellious due to the treatment they receive from adults.

However, this is a development stage that shapes how the individual will turn out in adulthood. The negative perception of adults regarding adolescents has been prevalent for ages where adolescents are viewed as disorderly, stubborn, and disrespectful. The interview revealed that adolescents are not as bad as they are perceived to be. The knowledge gained is particularly useful for me as I now understand adolescents and the challenges they have to face and deal with.


Benokratis, V. (1999). Marriage and families: Changes, choices and constraints. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall.

Fenwick, E. (1994). Adolescence: The survival guide for parents and teenagers. New York, NY: Dorling Kindersley.

Henslin, J. (1998). Essentials of sociology: A down-to-earth approach. Needham Heights, MA: Allyn and Bacon.

Miller, H. (1993). Theories of development psychology. New York, NY: Freeman and Company.

Santrock, W. (2000). Children. New York, NY: McGraw-Hill.

White, F. (2000). Relationship of family socialization processes to adolescent moral thought. Journal of Social Psychology, 1(1), 1-140.

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