Adolescence is a stage full of changes at all levels, although today we will focus on psychological changes. And it is that at this stage of life, important psychological changes occur, especially in terms of cognitive development, and also changes related to personality development .
We talk about the evolution of thought, self -concept , identity and self-esteem during adolescence.
Changes in the structure of thought
The first of the psychological changes in adolescence has to do with their structure of thought.
It is what the Swiss psychologist Jean Piaget already called the period of formal operations. Piaget suggested that intelligence at this stage, called preoperative intelligence, already acquired at the age of seven, progresses towards abstract intelligence at the stage of adolescence .
At this time the adolescent is ready to mature into formal operations, leaving concrete operations behind.
more sophisticated reasoning
To better understand and illustrate this new kind of thinking, let’s take an example.
A teenage girl, instead of suggesting to her mother that she should put on lipstick “because all girls do,” may now argue that because of her maturity, as evidenced by her new abilities and her age, she should be free to make decisions about lipstick, in the same way that you are allowed to make other decisions.
more abstract thinking
This more sophisticated reasoning, which implies causal (cause-effect) and combinational reasoning (which includes different elements), is what characterizes the abstract attitude of adolescent thinking .
Personality and egocentric thinking of the adolescent
In the field of personality, for Piaget, a new form of egocentrism is produced in adolescents , in which the adolescent comes to believe in the omnipotence of his thought, thanks to his new intellectual abilities.
This means that the adolescent believes, with excessive confidence , in the power of his ideas. Thus, he trusts that things can change and come true just by reflecting on their possibility .
All this has to do with an egocentric personality typical of adolescence, which in reality and according to Piaget, exists throughout the entire life cycle.
How does a teenager think? Two psychological phenomena of adolescence
There are two interesting phenomena that also occur in adolescence, on a psychological level, and that psychologist David Elkind studied.
We speak of the “imaginary audience” and the “personal fable.” But what does each of them consist of?
Imaginary audience: all pending oneself
The imaginary audience implies a certain obsession, in the adolescent, with the image that others have of him, and the assumption that everyone is constantly watching him (although this appears unconsciously).
The adolescent becomes very self-aware, constantly performing for an “imaginary audience” (hence the name of the concept).
The public is what he or she creates in his or her mind, a psychological process that cannot yet occur in childhood, due to the immaturity of thought.
For example, the adolescent, let’s say 14 years old, when combing his hair in front of a mirror, will be more concerned with whether his peers will admire him than with his own satisfaction.
Personal fable: I feel unique
The personal fable in adolescents refers to the feeling that they are indestructible and unique. They feel like unique beings, which leads them to the conviction that their opinions and feelings are totally different from those of the rest.
They feel that no one in the world has experienced things as they are experiencing them now . Thus, the phenomenon of the personal fable leads them to think, for example, that no one has loved so deeply, been so badly hurt, or seen the motivations of others as clearly as themselves.
And although most parents are familiar with their regrets and their emotions, because they have lived them too, teenagers feel as if no one in the world has felt the same before, which makes them often feel misunderstood, although parents try to accompany them and help them as best they can.
Psychological changes in adolescent identity
How is identity developed in the adolescent? According to psychologist Marshall Rosenberg, the transition from middle childhood to adolescence is marked by five developmental trends as age progresses:
They conceive of themselves from their emotions and thoughts
First of all, it decreases the tendency to conceive of themselves from the social exterior (that is, from activities, achievements, physical characteristics…), and increases the tendency in the adolescent to conceive from the psychological interior (thoughts , interpersonal feelings, desires and aspirations).
In other words, their self-concept and their identity are gradually based more on what they think and feel, and not so much on what they “have” or “achieve”.
The impact of social relationships on identity
Over time, the tendency to conceive of oneself in terms of interpersonal bonds (that is, through the connection they have with specific people) also decreases, and the tendency to conceive of oneself in terms of feelings and interpersonal relationships (feelings) increases. from one to others and from others to one).
In other words: they conceive of themselves (the self-concept: how they see themselves) based on their relationships (these being reciprocal) and what they feel through them.
More abstract identity
Little by little, his identity is no longer based so much on specific and concrete materials, and is now considered in terms of more abstract and conceptual terms. Check out more interesting only at our FUN Blog.
The tendency to see themselves in a global, simple and undifferentiated way also decreases, to conceive of themselves as complex and differentiated people, with their own individual characteristics.
More logical self-concept
Finally, their self-concept is no longer based on external and arbitrary elements, but is based on more logical, autonomous and evidence-focused ideas.
Psychological changes in adolescence: evolution of self-esteem
On the other hand, and in the more affective field, adolescents experience large fluctuations in their self-esteem (the favorable or unfavorable attitude towards themselves). These oscillations go from feeling like exceptional beings, to placing themselves far below their peers.
In addition, self-esteem at this stage is also highly influenced by the fear of making a fool of yourself, which is very common in adolescents.
That is why adolescence is a stage of “testing”, of trying, investigating and discovering, until finding one’s place and one’s own identity.
“Adolescence is a time of deconstruction and construction, a period in which the past, present and future are united and do not follow the laws of chronology.”
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