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time between the first onrush of hormones and full adult physical development.

Puberty lasts

three to five years
Many more years are required to achieve psychosocial maturity.


girl's first menstrual period, signaling that she has begun ovulation
Pregnancy is biologically possible
ovulation and menstruation are often irregular for years after menarche.


boy's first ejaculation of sperm
Erections can occur as early as infancy, but ejaculation signals sperm production.


organic chemical substance that is produced by one body tissue and conveyed via the bloodstream to another to affect some physiological function.

hormones influence

thoughts, urges, emotions, and behavior

Pituitary gland

gland in the brain that responds to a signal from the hypothalamus by producing many hormones, including those that regulate growth and control other glands, among them the adrenal and sex glands.

Adrenal glands

Two glands, located above the kidneys, that produce hormones (including the "stress hormones" epinephrine [adrenaline] and norepinephrine).

HPA (hypothalamus-pituitary-adrenal) axis-

The sequence of a chain reaction of hormone production, originating in the hypothalamus and moving to the pituitary and then to the adrenal glands.


The paired sex glands (ovaries in females, testicles in males). The gonads produce hormones and gametes.


A sex hormone, considered the chief estrogen. Females produce more estradiol than males do.


A sex hormone, the best known of the androgens (male hormones). Secreted in far greater amounts by males than by females

Puberty Begins

Age 11 or 12 is the most likely age of visible onset.

The rise in hormone levels that signals puberty

normal in those as young as age 8 or as old as age 14.

Precocious puberty (sexual development before age 8)

occurs about once in 5,000 children, for unknown reasons.

About two-thirds of the variation in age of puberty

is genetic

Genes on the sex chromosomes

have a marked effect on age of puberty

Children who have a relatively large proportion of body fat

experience puberty sooner than do their thin contemporaries


A hormone that affects appetite and is believed to be involved in the onset of puberty. Leptin levels increase during childhood and peak at around age 12

chronic malnutrition

delays puberty.

secular trend

Data on puberty over the centuries reveals a dramatic example of a long-term statistical increase or decrease

Each generation has experienced puberty a few weeks earlier, and has grown a centimeter or so taller, than did the preceding one.

The secular trend has stopped in developed nations.

Early-maturing girls

lower self-esteem, more depression, and poorer body image than later-maturing girls.

Early-maturing boys

more aggressive, lawbreaking, and alcohol-abusing than later-maturing boys.

Slow developing boys

more anxious, depressed, and afraid of sex.

Nutritional deficiencies result from

food choices that young adolescents are allowed, even enticed, to make.

Many adolescents are deficient in

necessary vitamins or minerals

Deficiencies of iron, calcium, zinc, and other minerals may be even more problematic during adolescence

than vitamin deficiencies, since minerals are needed for bone and muscle growth.

Body image

A person's idea of how his or her body looks

Another reason for poor nutrition is anxiety about

body image

Girls diet partly because boys tend to prefer to date

thin girls.

Boys want to look taller and stronger

a concern that increases from ages 12 to 17, partly because girls value well-developed muscles in males.

anorexia nervosa-

An eating disorder characterized by self-starvation. Affected individuals voluntarily under eat and often over exercise, depriving their vital organs of nutrition. Anorexia can be fatal

bulimia nervosa-

An eating disorder characterized by binge eating and subsequent purging, usually by induced vomiting and/or use of laxatives.

Growth spurt

The relatively sudden and rapid physical growth that occurs during puberty.

Each body part increases in size on a schedule:

A weight increase usually precedes a height increase, and growth of the limbs precedes growth of the torso.
-A height spurt follows the increase in body fat, and then a muscle spurt occurs.

Primary sex characteristics

parts of the body that are directly involved in reproduction, including the vagina, uterus, ovaries, testicles, and penis.

Secondary sex characteristics

Physical traits that are not directly involved in reproduction but that indicate sexual maturity, such as a man's beard and a woman's breasts.

Other manifestations of the sexual hormones

Fantasizing, flirting, handholding, staring, displaying, and touching all reflect gender, availability, and culture.

Hormones trigger

thoughts and emotions, and the social context shapes thoughts

Compared to 100 years ago, adolescent sexual development is more hazardous, for five reasons:

Earlier puberty and weaker social taboos mean teens have sexual experiences at younger ages. Early sex correlates with depression and drug abuse.
2. Most contemporary teenage mothers have no husbands to help them, whereas many teenage mothers a century ago were married
3. Raising a child has become more complex and expensive.
4. Mothers of teenagers are often employed and therefore less available as caregivers for their teenager's child.
5. Sexually transmitted infections are more widespread and dangerous.

Teenage births in the past 50 years

have decreased markedly.

sexually transmitted infection (STI)

A disease spread by sexual contact, including syphilis, gonorrhea, genital herpes, chlamydia, and HIV.

child sexual abuse

Any erotic activity that arouses an adult and excites, shames, or confuses a child, whether or not the victim protests and whether or not genital contact is involved.

The limbic system (fear, emotional impulses)

matures before the prefrontal cortex (planning ahead, emotional regulation).
That means the instinctual and emotional areas develop before the reflective ones do.

When emotions are intense, especially when one is with peers,

the logical part of the brain shuts down.

When stress, arousal, passion, sensory bombardment, drug intoxication, or deprivation is extreme

the adolescent brain is overtaken by impulses that might shame adults.

Several aspects of adolescent brain development are positive:

increased mylenation, which decreases reaction time

Several aspects of adolescent brain development are positive:

enhanced dopamine activity, promoting pleasurable experiences

Several aspects of adolescent brain development are positive:

synaptic growth enhances moral development and openness to new experiences and ideas

adolescent egocentrism

A characteristic of adolescent thinking that leads young people (ages 10 to 14) to focus on themselves to the exclusion of others.

personal fable

An aspect of adolescent egocentrism characterized by an adolescent's belief that his or her thoughts, feelings, or experiences are unique, more wonderful or awful than anyone else's.

invincibility fable

An adolescent's egocentric conviction that he or she cannot be overcome or even harmed by anything that might defeat a normal mortal, such as unprotected sex, drug abuse, or high-speed driving.

imaginary audience

The other people who, in an adolescent's egocentric belief, are watching and taking note of his or her appearance, ideas, and behavior. This belief makes many teenagers self-conscious

Formal Operational Thought

In Piaget's theory, the fourth and final stage of cognitive development, characterized by more systematic logic and the ability to think about abstract ideas.

Hypothetical thought

Reasoning that includes propositions and possibilities that may not reflect reality.

Deductive reasoning

Reasoning from a general statement, premise, or principle, through logical steps, to figure out (deduce) specifics. (Sometimes called top-down reasoning.)

Inductive reasoning

Reasoning from one or more specific experiences or facts to a general conclusion; may be less cognitively advanced than deduction. (Sometimes called bottom-up reasoning.)

Intuitive, Emotional Thought

Adolescents find it much easier and quicker to forget about logic and follow their impulses.

Dual-process model

The notion that two networks exist within the human brain, one for emotional and one for analytical processing of stimuli.

Intuitive thought

Thought that arises from an emotion or a hunch, beyond rational explanation, and is influenced by past experiences and cultural assumptions.

Analytic thought

Thought that results from analysis, such as a systematic ranking of pros and cons, risks and consequences, possibilities and facts. Analytic thought depends on logic and rationality.

Secondary education

The period after primary education (elementary or grade school) and before tertiary education (college). It usually occurs from about age 12 to age 18, although the age range varies somewhat by school and by nation.

Middle School

A school for children in the grades between elementary and high school. Middle school usually begins with grade 5 or 6 and ends with grade 8.

Digital divide-

The gap between students who have access to computers and those who do not, often a gap between rich and poor. In the United States and most developed nations, this gap has now been bridged due to the prevalence of computers in schools.
The Internet and other forms of electronic technology can accelerate learning, but what they have to teach may not always be beneficial.

Adolescent cognitive growth benefits from shared experiences and opinions.

Often communication via the Internet bolsters fragile self-esteem.

Adolescents sometimes share personal information online

without thinking about the possible consequences.


Bullying that occurs via Internet insults and rumors, texting, anonymous phone calls, and video embarrassment.


Some fear that the anonymity provided by electronic technology brings out the worst in people.
One expert on bullying believes that cyberbullying is similar to other forms, new in mode but not in intent or degree of harm.

The transition from one school to another often impairs a young person's ability to function and learn.

Changing schools just when the growth spurt is occurring and sexual characteristics are developing is bound to create stress.

The first year in any new school (middle school, high school, or college) correlates with

increased bullying, decreased achievement, depression, and eating disorders.

high schools promote students'

analytic ability

an increasing number of high school students are enrolled in classes that are designed to be more rigorous

and that require them to pass externally scored exams.
-greater number of requirements that all students must fulfill in order to receive an academic diploma.

high-stakes test

An evaluation that is critical in determining success or failure.
A single test that determines whether a student will graduate or be promoted is a highstakes test.

one result of pushing almost all high school students to pursue an academic curriculum

is that more are prepared for college.
-Another result is that more students drop out of high school.

Identity versus Role Confusion:

Erikson's term for the fifth stage of development, in which the person tries to figure out "Who am I?" but is confused as to which of many possible roles to adopt.


A consistent definition of one's self as a unique individual, in terms of roles, attitudes, beliefs, and aspirations.

Identity achievement:

Erikson's term for the attainment of identity, or the point at which a person understands who he or she is as a unique individual, in accord with past experiences and future plans.

Role confusion (identity diffusion):

A situation in which an adolescent does not seem to know or care what his or her identity is.


Erikson's term for premature identity formation, which occurs when an adolescent adopts parents' or society's roles and values wholesale, without questioning or analysis.

Four Areas of Identity Achievement

Religious Identity, Gender Identity, Political/Ethnic Identity, Vocational identity

Gender identity:

A person's acceptance of the roles and behaviors that society associates with the biological categories of male and female.

Sexual orientation:

A term that refers to whether a person is sexually and romantically attracted to others of the same sex, the opposite sex, or both sexes.

Vocational identity:

Rarely achieved until age 25

Vocational identity why not acheived until 25:

Few teenagers can find meaningful work.
It takes years to acquire the skills needed for many careers (premature to select a vocation at age 16).
Most jobs are unlike those of a generation ago, so it is unwise for youth to foreclose on a vocation.
Most new jobs are in the service or knowledge sectors of the economy. To be employable, adolescents spend years mastering literacy, logic, technology and human relations.

Conflicts with Parents

Parent-adolescent conflict typically peaks in early adolescence and is more a sign of attachment than of distance


Petty, peevish arguing, usually repeated and ongoing


Although teenagers may act as if they no longer need their parents, neglect can be very destructive.


Do parents and teens talk openly with one another?


Do they rely on one another?


How emotionally close are they?


Do parents encourage or limit adolescent autonomy?

Adolescents are more dependent on their parents if

they are female and/or from a minority ethnic group. (Emotional dependency)
-This can be either repressive or healthy, depending on the culture and the specific circumstances.

Parental monitoring:

Parents' ongoing awareness of what their children are doing, where, and with whom.

Parental monitoring:

Positive consequences when part of a warm, supportive relationship

Parental monitoring:

Negative when overly restrictive and controlling

Parental monitoring:

Worst: Psychological control - a disciplinary technique in which parents make a child feel guilty and impose gratefulness by threatening to withdraw love and support


A group of adolescents made up of close friends who are loyal to one another while excluding outsiders.


A larger group of adolescents who have something in common but who are not necessarily friends.

Peer pressure

Encouragement to conform to one's friends or contemporaries in behavior, dress, and attitude; usually considered a negative force, as when adolescent peers encourage one another to defy adult authority.


Teenagers select friends whose values and interests they share, abandoning friends who follow other paths.


Peers facilitate both destructive and constructive behaviors in one another.
Makes it easier to do both the wrong thing ("Let's all skip school") and the right thing ("Let's study together").
Helps individuals do things that they would be unlikely to do on their own.

Deviancy training

Destructive peer support in which one person shows another how to rebel against authority or social norms.

Sequence of male-female relationships during childhood and adolescence

Groups of friends, exclusively one sex or the other
A loose association of girls and boys, with public interactions within a crowd
Small mixed-sex groups of the advanced members of the crowd
Formation of couples, with private intimacies


First romances appear in high school and rarely last more than a year.
Girls claim a steady partner more often than boys do.
Breakups and unreciprocated crushes are common.
Adolescents are crushed by rejection and sometimes contemplate revenge or suicide.


Many do not acknowledge their sexual orientation.
National and peer cultures often make the homosexual young person feel ashamed.
Many gay youth date members of the other sex to hide their true orientation.
Past cohorts of gay youth had higher rates of clinical depression, drug abuse, and suicide than did their heterosexual peers.
True number of homosexual, heterosexual, bisexual, or asexual youth is unknown.

Adolescent sexual behavior is strongly influenced by


Specifics of peer education depend on the group

All members of a clique may be virgins, or all may be sexually active.

"Virginity pledge"

in church-based crowds. If a group considers itself a select minority, then virginity.

Only about half of U.S. adolescent couples discuss issues such as

pregnancy and STIs and many are unable to come to a shared conclusion based on accurate information.

Parents often underestimate their adolescent's need for information.

Many parents know little about their adolescents' sexual activity and wait to talk about sex until their child is already in a romantic relationship.

Gender and age

most significant correlates of parent-child conversations.
Parents are more likely to talk about sex to daughters than to sons and to older adolescents (over 15) than to younger ones.

Parents tend to underestimate adolescents' capacity

to engage in responsible sex.

Proper condom use is higher among

adolescents than among adults

1998: U.S. government decided to spend about $1 billion over 10 years to promote abstinence-only sex education in public schools

Abstinence-only curriculum had little effect

The most effective programs

begin before high school
include assignments that require parent-child communication
focus on behavior (not just on conveying information)
provide medical referrals on request
last for years

In 2007, more than half of all U.S. teenagers

had sexual intercourse by age 16.

The rate of teenage pregnancy in the United States

has declined dramatically since 1960
-Higher than in any other developed nation because of American teenagers use less contraception.
-86% of new teenage mothers are unmarried
-About 20% of teenage couples use the pill and condoms, to prevent both pregnancy and infection.

Self-esteem for boys and girls

dips at puberty
Signs of depression are common
36% of girls and 21% of boys experienced depressed symptoms within the past year

Clinical depression

Feelings of hopelessness, lethargy, and worthlessness that last two weeks or more

Gender Differences

20% of female and 10% of male teenagers experience clinical depression.
Cause for the gender disparity may be biological, psychological, or social.


Repeatedly thinking and talking about past experiences; can contribute to depression and is more common in girls.

Suicidal ideation:

Thinking about suicide, usually with some serious emotional and intellectual or cognitive overtones.
Adolescent suicidal ideation is common, completed suicides are not.
Adolescents are less likely to kill themselves than adults are.

Misconceptions about adolescent suicide rates

The suicide rate for adolescents, low as it is, is higher than it was in the early 1960.
Statistics on "youth" often include emerging adults, whose suicide rates are higher than those of adolescents.
Adolescent suicides capture media attention.
Suicide attempts are relatively common in adolescence.

Cluster suicides

Several suicides committed by members of a group within a brief period of time.


Any potentially lethal action against the self that does not result in death.
Parasuicide is common, completed suicide is not.

Increased anger during puberty is normal

but most adolescents express their anger in acceptable ways

Steady aggression

throughout childhood and adolescence (7%) is warning sign.

Juvenile delinquent

A person under the age of 18 who breaks the law

Life-course-persistent offender

A person whose criminal activity typically begins in early adolescence and continues throughout life; a career criminal

Adolescence-limited offender

A person whose criminal activity stops by age 21

Drug use becomes widespread from age

10 to 25 and then decreases

Drug use before age 18

is the best predictor of later drug use

Nations have markedly different rates of adolescent drug use,

even nations with common boundaries.
-These variations are partly due to differing laws the world over.

Drug use among adolescents has decreased in the U.S. since


Adolescent culture may have a greater effect on drug-taking behavior than

laws do.

Most adolescents in the U.S. have experimented with drug use

and say that they could find illegal drugs if they tried.

Most U.S. adolescents are not regular drug users

and about 20% never use any drugs.

Adolescent boys generally

use more drugs

Gender differences are reinforced

by social constructions about proper male and female behavior (e.g., "If I don't smoke, I'm not a real man").


Slows down growth (impairs digestion, nutrition, and appetite)
Reduces the appetite
Causes protein and vitamin deficiencies caused
Can damage developing hearts, lungs, brains, and reproductive systems


Most frequently abused drug among North American teenagers
Heavy drinking may permanently impair memory and self-control by damaging the hippocampus and the prefrontal cortex.
Alcohol allows momentary denial of problems when problems get worse because they have been ignored, more alcohol is needed
Denial can have serious consequences.


Adolescents who regularly smoke marijuana are more likely to drop out of school, become teenage parents, and be unemployed.
Marijuana affects memory, language proficiency, and motivation.

Drug use is progressive

and the first use usually occurs as part of a social gathering.

Few adolescent drug users are addicts

but occasional drug use can lead to addiction.

The younger a person is when beginning drug use

the more likely addiction will occur.

Occasional drug use excites the limbic system and interferes with the prefrontal cortex

drug users are more emotional and less reflective.

Generational forgetting

The idea that each new generation forgets what the previous generation learned. As used here, the term refers to knowledge about the harm drugs can do.

Project DARE

Drug Abuse Resistance Education
Features adults (usually police officers) telling
students about the dangers of drugs
DARE has no impact on later drug use

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