Sample Psychology Research Paper on cognitive Development in Adolescents on their Perception

Cognitive Development in Adolescents on their Perception

1.0 Introduction

Adolescence refers to transitional age between childhood and adult life. It is therefore a dynamic period in an individual’s life to achieve human development. Adolescence often involves individuals displaying diverse physical, emotional, psychological, social, and cognitive developmental changes. These changes present adolescents with diverse opportunities and challenges impacting their family members, friends, educators, healthcare professionals, and the community at large. These parties are impacted as they also play a crucial role in influencing and laying a foundation for adolescents to develop personalities and gain a sense of identity. Thus, they contribute towards adolescents developing unique personality traits significantly while being sensitive to body, emotional, and psychological changes. Adolescence stage can however lead to significant cognitive developmental challenges. For example, adolescents are vulnerable to alcohol, drug and substance abuse. They are also likely to engage in highly risky sexual behaviors (Clea & Jayne, 2009).  Such challenges impact their emotional, social, behavioral, and cognitive developments adversely. This essay will therefore discuss how adolescence affects development stages among teenagers. It will focus on the adolescents’ perceptions towards family, friends, and school mates while experiencing body changes.

2.0 Perceptions among Adolescents

Perceptions are based or rather influenced by an individual’s beliefs and practices. For example, an individual can believe stable family relations are based on lies and manipulation of feelings in order to reduce and prevent conflicts. This can lead the individual to develop similar social perceptions. As a result, they can adopt and embrace unethical and immoral behavioral patterns. Although such behavioral patterns are not physically harmful, they adversely interfere with the individual’s social, cognitive, emotional, and psychological needs. This is because they strive to fulfill these needs based on false beliefs and unstable foundations likely to lead to destruction of lives (CDCP, 2008).

Adolescents undergo various changes that either alter or interfere with beliefs. As a result, they develop different perceptions towards the various aspects influencing their lives. These aspects include family relations, friendships, and peer relations. Adolescents can develop negative perceptions towards such aspects. Consequently, they can adopt different emotional, cultural, environmental, spiritual, and psychological perceptions as defensive mechanism. This is because their perceptions are also based on false beliefs that adults strive to interfere and control their lives. Thus, the perceptions can lead to delinquency, social isolation, eating disorders, bullying, and weight gain or/and obesity among other factors adversely affecting the maturation process. Thus, parents, friends, peers, and professionals ought to be observational and keen to identify how an adolescent’s perceptions are changing with time. Consequently, they can formulate and implement strategies ensuring an adolescent acquires a sense of identity and self esteem without engaging in delinquent activities based on false perceptions (CDCP, 2008).

3.0 Cognitive Developments and Perceptions among Adolescents

3.1 Physical Development

Adolescence is mainly characterized by noticeable physical changes. This is because they undergo emotional and psychological developments as they acquire a sense of identity. They also begin to notice various bodily changes. For example, girls begin to develop breasts and experience monthly periods while boys break voices and begin to grow beards. Such body changes are accompanied by heightened emotional and psychological needs including sexual desires which are often frightening. Thus, parents, guardians and siblings should be supportive while reassuring the teenagers that such changes are part of the maturation process (David, 2004).

The most complex development among adolescents involves undergoing the process of puberty and sexuality. The process involves interrelated sexual issues and explorations to achieve sexual identity and responsibility as well as self esteem, value, and worthiness. This stage therefore imparts pressure on adolescents especially from peers. This further influences teenagers’ emotional, moral, social, cognitive, and physical developments due to limited thinking capacities while maturing into adulthood through a frightening process. Adolescents often develop skills to cope with such developmental changes. They however fail to recognize ambiguous and complex cognitive developmental changes require tolerance and understanding. As a result, they withdraw socially which affects the relations they maintain with family members, peers, and friends (Harrison & Hefner, 2008).

For example, when girls identify skin imperfections such as acne, they avoid social gatherings and interactions. This translates to spending a lot of time in solitude to avoid ridicule and discrimination from peers.  This can lead to development of eating disorders as they coupled with lack of physical activities hence, weight gain or obesity. This can further lead to low self-esteem and serious health complications such as diabetes and heart disorders. Such changes automatically influence how teenagers relate with their parents, siblings, friends, and peers especially in school. Adolescents often believe the society at large does not understand the changes they are going through. Thus, they become sensitive to remarks and responses they receive from the various relations they maintain with members of the society (Harrison & Hefner, 2008).

This can interfere with their senses of identity, self confidence, worthiness, value, esteem, and human dignity either positively or negatively depending on a teenager’s perceptions. For example, if an adolescent’s perceptions to adolescence are positive, they are able to develop and maintain supportive relations with family and friends. As a result, they are guided and prepared to navigate the developmental stage successfully without experiencing negative and threatening life passages (CDCP, 2008).

3.2 Moral Development

The other main aspect in relation to cognitive development involves moral aspects. Moral developments ensure a human being is able to think, reason, and understand various issues and changes impacting their lives. This prevents human beings from being dramatic, rude, and ill-prepared. It also provides human beings with insights to engage in ethical and legal activities that are universally accepted to avoid social conflicts. This is however challenging during adolescence as teenagers lack thinking capacities to ensure their emotional, physical, and psychological developments are ethical, legal, and socially accepted. For example, teenagers are often involved in arguments with parents and friends or peers with no apparent reason. In various occasions, such arguments lead to fights and social conflicts as well as use of abusive languages. This is highly frustrating to adults while adolescents believe exercising their thinking capacities is an exhilarating experience as they are provided with opportunities to experiment with their newly identified skills (Jacquelynne, Allan & James, 2003).

Essentially, adolescents hardly engage in morally acceptable activities. This is because they are unable to control their emotional and psychological changes and needs as they are often overwhelming to the young and inexperienced minds. Thus, family members and friends should be supportive as they guide adolescents to develop thinking capacities to enhance their moral developments. The society should acknowledge moral development is based on the social relations a teenager maintains with members of the public. Thus, if an adolescent maintains social relations with criminals and peers without ethical responsibilities their moral development stage will be corrupted and adversely affected (Jacquelynne, Allan & James, 2003).

Consequently, they do not develop a moral responsibility to respect their elders. More so, their perceptions with regards to adults are adversely affected. For example, they are likely to jump into startling conclusions despite developing logical thinking capacities as an anxious engagement to either deny or affirm they can be brash and relevant. More so, adolescents lack moral responsibilities as they believe arguments and conflicts are realistic and logic measures to reinforce their beliefs. They fail to differentiate between arguments and intellectual stimulation debates as they are self-centered and supporters of contradictions. This adversely influences their social relations with parents, siblings, peers, and even professionals who they strive to prove wrong due to lack of relevant insights (Jacquelynne, Allan & James, 2003).

3.3 Emotional development

Adolescents can be selfish or self-centered as their new thinking capacities and skills are utilized in finding discrepancies, exceptions, and contradictions. They spend a lot of time and energy finding facts to prove that adults are neither fair nor fully equipped to guide them. Thus, they often spend time questioning and debating an adult’s skills to critically think, reason, and understand how they feel or what they need during the maturation process. This influences their emotional needs further impacting levels of self esteem and sense of identity while identifying gender differences. They often take moral advices and ethical responsibilities as exaggerated opinions that lack verifications and validations to affirm they positively influence the maturation process (Spencer, Harpalani, Cassidy, Jacobs, Donde & Goss, 2006).

Stereotypes also influence adolescents’ maturation process. Adolescents rely on their closely trusted adults and peers especially when making major decisions. Thus, if adolescents believe the parents and siblings either associate or compare their social and physical needs with their peers, they strive to prove them wrong or right. For example, if a teenage boy believes the parents compare his behaviors with his peers involved in delinquency he is likely to adopt the same traits. This can be either to prove the parents right or hurt their feelings as adolescents are selfish and self centered individuals. They however lack emotional strengths to differentiate facts from fiction depending on the behavioral patterns they adopt either to affirm or deny influence of stereotypes on their lives (David, 2004).

For example, if they embrace drug abuse to confirm teenage boys experiment with drugs, they lack the will and capacity to control the habit. Consequently, they develop a dependency relationship with alcohol, drugs, and illegal substances before they acknowledge they are addicted hence in need of help. Drug abuse is often associated with risky sexual behaviors and criminal activities including petty theft and public disorderly. Ultimately, lack of emotional strength can lead an individual to embrace potentially harmful and irrational stereotyped behaviors due to lack of emotional support and guidance from adults. Thus, parents and guardians as well as other adults guiding and supportive adolescents should ensure an open relationship. This will provide an opportunity to discuss their emotional needs and requirements in order to mature into responsible adults who can also guide and support adolescents in the future (Clea & Jayne, 2009).  

3.4 Social development

Social development is based on emotional developments achieved. If a teenager is able to identify their talents and hobbies, they can seek support and guidance from adults as they pursue their personalized social activities. More so, they can develop a sense to differentiate various emotional needs and requirements interfering with their social relations. For example, adolescents acknowledge anger, anxiety, and sadness are emotional needs promoting adults to respond. They can however fail to develop emotional strengths to ensure such emotional needs are individually managed without adversely influencing their social development. This is mainly attributed to various factors influencing social development. Such factors include peer pressure, and family relations as well as media, school and work relations. Peer pressure is the main factor hindering adolescents to undergo stable and healthy maturation process. Peer relations are the association maintained among teenagers. They revolve around the day to day issues they go through as they mature into adults. As a result, these relations lead to peer pressure as adolescents strive to be liked, accepted, and appreciated for being team players rather than individuals with diverse personality traits hence social needs and wants (Spencer, Harpalani, Cassidy, Jacobs, Donde & Goss, 2006).

Peer pressure can also involve members of the group asserting that family ties are not as important as friendship and teamwork among people undergoing similar physical, emotional, and psychological changes.  For example, they can claim alcohol consumption is a socially acceptable behavior. Thus, they develop perceptions that parents and the community at large should not deny them opportunities to engage in alcohol consumption among other drugs and illegal substances. Such social beliefs interfere with adolescents’ physical and social developments as drugs adversely affect their emotional and thinking capacities (Jacquelyn & Mary, 2002).

Consequently, they are likely to develop negative attitudes towards their parents and morally upright peers which can lead to bullying as well as social conflicts and fights. More so, family conflicts due to immoral and unethical activities being undertaken by the adolescents increase which can divide the family unit. Thus, adolescents’ perceptions towards parents, peers, friends, and school are vulnerable to peer pressure. Adults should ensure an adolescent is advised and guided to identify wrong from right hence, adopt and embrace morals supporting an enhancing a positive physical, emotional and psychological maturation process (Spencer, Harpalani, Cassidy, Jacobs, Donde & Goss, 2006).

3.5 Behavioral development

Adolescents are risk takers as they seek to identify and utilize opportunities in order to develop a sense of identity and belonging. They also utilize those opportunities to develop social relations they believe will assist them. For example, they can identify a highly risky opportunity they believe will build or enhance their social skills. The opportunity can however be risky, harmful and dangerous towards the adolescents’ health either physically or psychologically. Parents and guardians are often advised and requested to be keen in order to identify behavioral changes among their teenage children. They are provided with insights affirming a teenager who is naturally a risk taker is likely to engage in delinquent behaviors. These insights include the parents evaluating the teenager’s school performance. This is because when teenagers adopt delinquent behavioral developments they often ignore or assume their school work and duties. This leads to low grades or failure (Steinberg, 2007).

Parents and guardians are also advised to examine teenagers’ emotional and psychological developments. This is because when a delinquent teenager behavioral development leads to drug use and abuse, the individuals’ emotional and mental capacities change. For example, they can develop either anger issues or suffer from anxiety attacks. These changes can further lead to bullying or victimization as well as low self esteem (Ernst, Pine & Hardin, 2006).

Adolescents develop the perception that adults cannot be trusted as they strive to control and manage their needs, wants, interests, and requirements. As a result, this leads to social isolation. Although social isolation can be positive in some cases, it often leads to low self esteem and confidence. Such adolescents are also vulnerable to bullying. Perpetrators of bullying often develop the perception that, their victims have a low self esteem. Thus, they lack the courage to either fight back or report the matter as bullies are intimidating especially though use of threats. Consequently, the teenagers’ school performance is bound to decline. Parents can identify such behavioral changes. Some teenagers especially victims of bullying can also begin wetting their beds as they often live in fear hence, elevated stress and anxiety levels.  Parents should therefore watch out for such behavioral signs. Consequently, they strive to identify the various emotional, mental, and psychological factors leading to such behavioral changes in order to assist and support the teenagers to undergo safe and stable maturation process (Michael, 2010).

Adolescents are also resilient individuals. This can contribute either positively or negatively towards teenagers’ behavioral development. For example, teenagers can be resilient in avoiding peer pressure. This will positively influence the behavioral development process as they will not engage in delinquent behaviors. Conversely, some teenagers can be resilient in ensuring they disregard insightful and knowledge pieces of advice offered by parents, guardians, and responsible adults. For example, a parent can deny a teenager an opportunity to engage in social activities with other peers such as shopping or watching a movie. The resilient teenager however strives to identify opportunities they can take full advantage of in order to disrespect their spite parents (Eshel, Nelson, Blair, Pine & Ernst, 2007).

Such opportunities involve teenagers sneaking out, engaging in illegal and criminal activities, dangerous sexual behaviors, and embracing drug use and abuse. They acknowledge their parents will regards such opportunities as spiteful and malevolence as they are resilient towards disrespecting their parents. Behavioral developments based on teenagers’ perceptions can therefore lead to harmful, unhealthy, and dangerous results. Family members, friends, peers and schoolmates have a role to play to ensure adolescents undergo healthy, safe, and stable behavioral developments. Thus, they should be on the frontline in helping and supporting adolescents to make wise, logic, and healthy decisions without feeling like they are being forced, threatened, or intimidated. Consequently, they can embrace moral, ethical, healthy, and legal opportunities in order to undergo positive and beneficial behavioral developments hence, changing their perceptions and believes (Adele & Elaine, 2005).

3.6 Religion and Spiritual Development

Adolescents are persons who often lack or presume their cultural, religious and spiritual responsibilities. Adolescence should involve teenagers developing their own spiritual identities and outlooks. They however lack sufficient senses of reasoning in order to construct independent views and outlooks allied to cultural, religion, and spirituality. Thus, they require support and guidance from their parents and guardians as well as their spiritual leaders. This process however develops challenges as teenagers develop unknown spiritual needs they are either oblivious to or unable to discuss. Questioning their religion and spiritual outlooks can be helpful. However, it can also lead to rebellion which is characterized with teenagers utilizing their personal freedom opportunities to engage in other activities other than pursue spiritual knowledge (Regnerus & Uecker, 2006).

Some teenagers however continue to practice the same religious and spiritual believes they were brought up with since childhood. This is because they are more familiar to such practices while lacking real reason to question them. There are other adolescents who pursue diverse faiths and spiritual disciplines in quest to find personal meanings to religion. It is however worth noting that, teenagers’ perceptions in relation to religion and spirituality re based on their upbringing. Thus, some teenagers can be even more spiritual and religious than even their parents with deeper beliefs and positive contributions in the family. Conversely, others can put an end to spiritual growth due to lack of moral, cultural, religious, and spiritual guidance, support, and ties. Thus, religious and spiritual developments among adolescents are mainly fueled by their upbringing. However, others are influenced by the urge to be resilient rebellious teenagers disregarding spiritual guidance from parents, friends, and religious leaders (Regnerus & Uecker, 2006).

4.0 Conclusion

Adolescence is therefore a vital developmental stage as it influences and impacts an individual’s physical, emotional, moral, psychological, and social needs or behaviors diversely. The impacts further influence how adolescents develop perceptions in relation to family relation, peer groups, and social responsibilities especially with regards to school work. Adolescents often believe adults dedicate their skills and capacities denying them an opportunity to experiment and experience logic thinking capacity. This is because they fail to acknowledge their thinking capacities are greatly influenced by the process of acquiring cognitive skills. As a result, they develop negative perceptions against parents, elder siblings, older peers, and professionals such as healthcare providers and educators. Consequently, they engage in activities that are not morally upright, ethical, or illegal. This often leads to delinquency. Delinquent behaviors include dropping out of school, drug abuse and addiction, taking part in criminal activities, and lack of sexual knowledge and responsibility. Thus, parents, guardians and other mature members of the community should play the crucial role of advising and guiding adolescents. This is crucial in preventing or reducing the likelihoods of teenagers developing negative perceptions. Consequently, they can acknowledge adolescence is a temporary yet compulsory developmental stage playing a key role in shaping their future adult lives. As a result, they can develop perceptions allied to ethical, legal, moral, and socially acceptable responsibilities.

5.0 References

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Center for Diseases Control and Prevention (CDCP). (2008). Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance-United States, 2007. Morbidity and Mortality Weekly. Washington, Department of Health and Human Services.

Clea, M., & Jayne, B. (2009). The Teen Years Explained: A Guide to Healthy Adolescent Development. John Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.

David, W. (2004). Why do they Act that Way? A Survival Guide to the Adolescent Brain for you and your Teen. Simon and Schuster Publishers.

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Eshel, N., Nelson, E., Blair, J., Pine, D., & Ernst, M. (2007). Neural Substrates of Choice Selection in Adults and Adolescents: Development of the Ventrolateral Prefrontal and Anterior Cingulate Cortices. Nuerospsychologica, 45(1), 1270-1279.

Harrison, K., & Hefner, V. (2008). Body Image and Eating Disorders: The Handbook of Children, Media, and Development. New York, Wiley-Blackwell Publishers.

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Jacquelynne, E., Allan, W., & James, B. (2003). Cognitive Development in Adolescence. Handbook of Psychology.

Michael, C. (2010). Adolescence, 11-21 Years: The Health System Must Adapt to the Needs of Adolescents, and their Needs Reside as Much in Preventive Medicine as they Do in Curative Medicine. Department of Pediatrics, Albert Einstein College of Medicine.

Regnerus, M., & Uecker, J. (2006). Finding Faith, Losing Faith: The Prevalence and Context of Religious Transformations during Adolescence. Review of Religious Research, 47(3), 217-237.

Spencer, B., Harpalani, V., Cassidy, E., Jacobs, Y., Donde, S., & Goss, T. (2006). Understanding Vulnerability and Resilience from a Normative Development Perspective: Implications for Racially and Ethnically Diverse Youth. Developmental Psychopathology Journal.

Steinberg, L. (2007). Risk Taking in Adolescence: New Perspectives from Brain and Behavioral Science. Current Directions in Psychological Science Review, 16(2), 55-59.