The Adolescent in Thought: My, My, How “Formal” The growing intellectual capabilities of teens change the way they approach the world. Cognitive changes influence how they view themselves, family, and friends, and how they deal with broader social and moral values.
The Adolescent in Thought: My, My, How “Formal” Piaget’s Stage of Formal Operations: –Is characterized by the capacity for flexible, reversible operations concerning abstract ideas and concepts, such as symbols, statements, and theories. Hypothetical Thinking: –The ability to think beyond the immediate; to project into the future and contemplate various outcomes –Teens can foresee many possibilities for themselves and engage in utopian thinking (envisioning an ideal world). Sophisticated Use of Symbols: –Formal-operational thought allows grasp of geometry and allows manipulation of symbols to work in theoretical realms of physics, math, etc. –It also allows the understanding, appreciation, and generation of metaphors, a sophisticated use of speech where words or phrases ordinarily meaning one thing are applied to another.
The Adolescent in Thought: My, My, How “Formal” Reevaluation of Piaget’s Theory –Research does strongly support his view that the capacity to reason deductively does not emerge until adolescence. –But, formal-operational thought is not a universal step in cognitive development. It may be a function of technological cultures. And may occur later than thought, if at all. Some research suggests formal-operational thought is found among only 40-60% of 1st year college students. Some individuals may do well on one formal-operational task and not on another. Adolescents also may not show formal-operational thought if they are unfamiliar with a task.
The Adolescent in Thought: My, My, How “Formal” Adolescent Egocentrism: Center Stage –Egocentrism is not only evident at preschool age, it makes a come-back during adolescence. –It is a somewhat different type at this stage of development in that teens can now comprehend the ideas of others, but have difficulty sorting out the things that concern others from the things that concern them.
The Adolescent in Thought: My, My, How “Formal” Adolescent Egocentrism: Center Stage, cont. –The Imaginary Audience: Is one aspect of adolescent egocentrism: the belief that others around us are as concerned with our thoughts and behaviors as we are Teens may fantasize about being famous, etc. and place themselves “on stage” for an imaginary audience’s constant review This may account for teens preoccupation with appearance and desire for privacy. Some believe it is a response to increased social scrutiny and is more a social anxiety than a cognitive development.
The Adolescent in Thought: My, My, How “Formal” Sex Differences in Cognitive Abilities –Males and females do not differ noticeably in overall intelligence, but beginning in childhood sex differences appear in certain cognitive abilities. Verbal Ability Visual-Spatial Ability Mathematical Ability
The Adolescent in Thought: My, My, How “Formal” Sex Differences in Cognitive Abilities, cont. –Verbal Ability: Includes many language skills: reading,spelling, grammar, oral comprehension, and word fluency As a group, females surpass males in verbal ability. Girls acquire language faster than boys; they talk sooner and have larger vocabularies. Parents talk more to infant girls and this early advantage may influence their verbal skills and further their abilities in this area. Boys in the U.S. are more likely to be dyslexic and have other reading problems. Reading has cultural differences; some cultures view it as feminine, masculine, or gender neutral. –The U.S. and Canada stereotype reading as feminine. –Nigeria and England see it as masculine. –Children seem to excel according to their cultural expectations.
The Adolescent in Thought: My, My, How “Formal” Sex Differences in Cognitive Abilities, cont. –Visual-Spatial Ability: Is the ability to visualize objects or shapes and to mentally manipulate and rotate them Boys begin to outperform girls in these skills by 8-9 years of age with differences persisting into adult years. The most noticeable difference involves mental rotation tasks (imagining how things will look if they are rotated in space). Theories of why: –Genetic Theory: sex-linked recessive genes of the X chromosome (has not been supported by research) –Biological Influence: prenatal androgens have been linked to better performance on arithmetic tasks among 4-6 yr old girls –Some women perform better on visual-spatial tasks when estrogen levels are low and better on language tasks when it is high –Evolutionary Theory: it may be related to the tendency to create and defend a territory or “home range” seen in the male of the species –Environmental Theory: gender stereotyping provides more opportunity for boys in visual-spatial skills
Figure 15.1 – Examples of Tests Used to Measure Visual-Spatial Ability
The Adolescent in Thought: My, My, How “Formal” Sex Differences in Cognitive Abilities, cont. –Mathematical Ability: Most Americans have different expectations for boys and girls that reflect stereotyping of girls as inferior to boys in mathematical abilities. However overall research indicates there are no sex differences in the performance of these skills. There is evidence of slightly greater male variability in scores but causes remain unexplained. Although there are more males with high scores and low scores, the average scores between males and females do not differ. In spite of continued stereotyping, more women are entering and succeeding in previously predominately male careers requiring high degrees of mathematical skill.
Table 15.1 – Women as a Percentage of College Students Receiving Bachelor’s Degrees in the Sciences and Engineering Sources: Cox & Alm (2005); National Center for Educational Statistics (NCES, 2007b).
Figure 15.2 – Women Flood Professions Once Populated Almost Exclusively by Men
The Adolescent in Judgment: Moral Development The Postconventional Level –A period during which moral judgments are derived from personal values, not from conventional standards or authority figures –This level has two stages: Stage 5: –Recognition that laws stem from agreed-on procedures; many rights have great value and should not be violated unless there are exceptional circumstances –It also notes that if everyone in need broke the law, the legal system and the social contract would be destroyed. Stage 6: –Relies on supposed universal ethical principles valuing human life, individual dignity, justice, and reciprocity (the understanding that all actions have mutual effects making people interdependent)
The Adolescent in Judgment: Moral Development Moral Behavior and Moral Reasoning –Many studies have found positive relationships between moral cognitive development and moral behavior. –Individuals at Stage 2 cheat, steal, and engage in other problem behaviors more often than peers whose moral reasoning is at higher stages. –Adolescents with higher levels of moral reasoning are more likely to exhibit moral behavior, including altruism.
The Adolescent in Judgment: Moral Development Cross-Cultural Differences in Moral Development –Cultural background is a powerful shaper of moral reasoning. –Potsconventional reasoning is more likely to be found in urban cultural groups and in middle-class populations but is rarely seen in traditional folk cultures. It is all but absent in teens in villages in Mexico, Taiwan, Turkey, and the Bahamas. Hindu Indians are more likely to show a caring orientation in making moral judgments. Americans more often demonstrate a justice orientation.
The Adolescent in Judgment: Moral Development Sex Differences in Moral Development, cont. –Other research argues sex difference patterns are reflections of socialization patterns. Girls are socialized to focus on needs of others and to forego simplistic judgments of right and wrong. Boys are socialized into making judgments based on logic. –Most agree that females are more likely to show caring orientations and males are more likely to assume justice orientations. –The dispute remains as to whether this difference means girls reason at lower levels than boys.
The Adolescent in Judgment: Moral Development Evaluation of Kohlberg’s Theory –May underestimate the influence of social, cultural, and educational institutions –Postconventional thinking is rare in developing societies and uncommon in the U.S. –Stage 6 is based on acceptance of supposed universal ethical principles: freedom, justice, equality, tolerance, integrity, and reverence for human life –They have high appeal for most American adolescents who are raised to idealize such principles. –But a worldview of 21st century events finds many of those principles are not universally accepted or admired. –Therefore, they may reflect Western cultural influences more than the cognitive development of children. –Kohlberg eventually dropped Stage 6 in recognition of these problems.
The Adolescent in School Making the Transition from Elementary School, cont. –Students experience several issues: All this occurs at the same time they are experiencing the early stages of puberty. They may find a more restrictive environment at a time they begin to seek more autonomy. They have dropped status from the “top dog” to the “bottom dog.” They often experience a decline in grades and participation in school activities; also a drop in self-esteem and an increase in psychological distress
The Adolescent in School Making the Transition from Elementary School, cont. –Sex differences: Transition seems to be more difficult for girls than boys. The difference may be that girls are more likely to be undergoing puberty and its added challenges; several life changes at once make it more difficult to adjust They may be more likely to gain the attention of boys in higher grades, whereas younger boys are not as likely to be of much interest to the older girls. –Easing the stress: Students who are in greater control of their lives tend to do better with the transition. Schools can help by creating a more intimate, caring environment. “Bridge Programs” during summer helps to introduce students to the new school culture and strengthen their academic skills.
The Adolescent in School Dropping Out, cont. –Who Drops Out: States use different report systems making it difficult to track students, and most do not track those who quit after 8th grade. Overall from age 18-24, 15% of males and 12% of females have dropped out of high school. Rates vary from one ethnic and SES group to another: –African Americans are highest at 7.3% –Latino/a Americans (of any race) at 5% –European Americans at 2.8% –Students from lower SES backgrounds and older students are more likely to drop out. –When income levels are held constant, racial and ethnic differences in drop out rates are reduced.
The Adolescent in School Dropping Out, cont. –Who Drops Out: Early predictors and risk factors: –Excessive absences and reading below grade level are two of the earliest and strongest predictors of drop out. –Other risk factors include low grades, poor problem-solving ability, low self-esteem, problems with teachers, dissatisfaction with school, substance abuse, being old for one’s grade level, and being male. –Teens who adopt adult roles early, especially marrying or becoming a parent are also at high risk for drop out. –Students from low-income households, large urban areas, and the West and South are at great risk –But not all dropouts come from lower SES; middle-class youth who are bored, alienated, or strongly pressured to succeed are also at risk
Table 15.3 – Dropout Rates and Distribution of 15- through 24-Year- Olds Who Dropped Out of Grades 10–12, According to Various Background Characteristics
The Adolescent in School Dropping Out, cont. –Preventing Dropping Out: Many programs have been developed to prevent school dropout. Successful programs share these common characteristics: –Early preschool interventions, such as Head Start –Identification and monitoring of high-risk students throughout the school years –Small class size, individualized instruction, and counseling –Vocational components that link learning and community work experiences –Involvement of families or community organizations –Positive school climate –Clear and reasonable educational goals; student accountability for behavior and motivational systems that involve penalties and rewards Unfortunately, most intervention efforts are not usually introduced until students are on the verge of dropping out, when it’s probably too late
The Adolescent at Work: Career Development and Work Experience Career Development –Deciding one’s life vocation is one of the most important choices we make. –Adolescents may not be practical at first but become increasingly more realistic and conventional as they mature and gain experience. –As a teenager, the kind of work one wants to do becomes more firmly established or crystallized, but a particular occupation may not be chosen until the college years or afterward. –There are more than 20,000 occupations found in The Dictionary of Occupational Titles (compiled by the U.S. Dept. of Labor). –But most young people choose from a relatively small range based on their personalities, experiences, and opportunities. –Many fall into jobs that are offered to them or follow career paths of their parents or other role models in their lives.
The Adolescent at Work: Career Development and Work Experience Career Development, cont. –Holland’s Career Typology: (RIASEC method) Uses the approach of matching personality types with careers to predict success in a career Holland’s method uses a Vocational Preference Inventory that matches various careers with six personality types: –Realistic –Investigative –Artistic –Social –Enterprising –Conventional Many people combine several of these vocational styles.
The Adolescent at Work: Career Development and Work Experience Adolescents in the Workforce –Prevalence of Adolescent Employment: Life experiences help shape vocational development. Holding a job is a common life experience among American teenagers. –1/2 of High School Sophomores; 2/3 Juniors; 3/4 Seniors Boys and girls are equally likely to be employed, but boys work more hours. Millions of teens between age 14-18 are legally employed; another 2-3 million work illegally –Many are paid in cash so employers can avoid paying taxes. –Many are under age (14 except for farm work). –Others work too many hours, late on school nights, or at hazardous jobs.
The Adolescent at Work: Career Development and Work Experience Adolescents in the Workforce –Prevalence of Adolescent Employment: Ethnic and SES differences: –European American are 2 times more likely to be employed than teens from ethnic minority groups. –Teens from poor households are more likely to work to help support the family but work longer hours than middle-class teens. –Currently teen employment is becoming more common among middle-class families. –Which may be attributed to proximity of middle-class families to suburban shopping malls that are fertile sources of jobs for teenagers
The Adolescent at Work: Career Development and Work Experience Pros and Cons of Adolescent Employment –Pros: Working teens develop a sense of responsibility, self- reliance, and discipline. They learn to appreciate the value of money and education. Acquire positive work habits and values And have the opportunity to learn more about their career aspirations
The Adolescent at Work: Career Development and Work Experience Pros and Cons of Adolescent Employment, con’t. –Cons: The meaning of work for teens (at least middle-income teens) seems to have changed. Most of these teens do not work to help support families or put money away for college like their lower-income counterparts do. Middle-class teens use their earnings for personal purchases, such as clothing, entertainment, and car payments. Most work in jobs with low pay, high turnover, little authority, and little chance for advancement. They typically perform simple, repetitive tasks not requiring special skills. Students working 11-13 hrs per week have lower grades, higher rates of drug and alcohol abuse, more delinquency problems, lower self-esteem, and higher levels of psychological problems. Students working longer hours are monitored less by parents.