Adolescent self and socio-emotional development

Topics: Developmental psychology, Adolescence, Identity Pages: 8 (2915 words) Published: May 4, 2015
Adolescent self and socio-emotional development

Socio-emotional processes are defined by John Santrock in Adolescence as ‘the changes in an individuals personality, relationships with others and social contexts’ (Santrock, 2010, p. 15). During socio-emotional development, changes occur in relationships and personality within social contexts the individual exists in; Adolescents are experiencing and discovering their identity and the experience of emotions and finding meaning within the adolescent social world. This period of development occurs during a persons adolescence, which is the stage of transition from childhood to adulthood. This period should not be considered a singular period, but has 3 phases in which the adolescent is growing and experiencing different physical and emotional functions. Based on an understanding on Erik Eriksons theory of socio-emotional development and identity versus identity confusion (Erikson, 1968), I will be identifying and discussing 3 particular socio-emotional issues seen within adolescence. I will be using the case study of a 15 year old boy (Wurf, 2012), to highlight these issues and to examine the subjects development. The issues that were most prominent throughout the case study, were the self, relationships and identity . Due to the interrelated nature of these issues, the three elements will be used to examine how the subject within the case study reflects on himself, his peers and his family. Through this examination, the three definite stages of adolescence will be highlighted, and through further research, trends of particular behaviours will be discussed to further understand the socio-emotional process as well as defining each stage. This will be evaluated under a social cognitive lens, where socio-emotional issues will be conceptualised and reasoned in light of the social world. The knowledge gained through this research, and the examination of the case study will be applied to an educational context in how an understanding of socio-emotional development aids in effective teaching and learning.

Erik Erikson's theory of human development includes eight stages of development, which consists of ‘unique development tasks, that confronts individuals with a crisis that must be resolved’ (Santrock, 2010, p. 28). The fifth stage within Erikson's theory is the adolescence stage in which individuals explore roles within society and arrive at a positive path which is their identity. The crisis, which must be resolved within the stage, is of individuals finding their identity and it is within this process that socio-emotional development occurs. Identity confusion occurs when the individual is unable to arrive at an identity that fits their idealised view of themselves. The individual may ask themselves such questions as: ‘who am I?’, and ‘what am I about?’ in order to find their identity. Within the case study, the individual does highlight some elements of identity confusion but overall there is an assertion of discovered identity.

Identity is a multifaceted concept that is often hard to define. Identity should be viewed as a jigsaw puzzle, in which each piece represents a portrait based on the individuals decisions. An identity can be an “internalized positional designation” (Stryker, 1980, p. 60), for each of the different positions or role relationships the person holds within society. Our identity is based on who we are, what we do, or what we are involved in but changes depending on the social setting or context.

One might answer the question “who are you?” entirely differently in different circumstances. For example, depending on the context, I might answer “an American,” “a professor,” “a son-in-law,” “a taxpayer,” “a Democrat.” In some situations I might even give my social security number. By this simple definition, then, it is trivial that one might have multiple identities, understood simply as answers to the question “who are you?”, since how you answer...

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Erikson, E. (1968). Identity: Youth in crisis. New York: Norton.
Fearon, J. (1999). WHAT IS IDENTITY (AS WE NOW USE THE WORD)? Unpublished Manuscript Stanford University , 1-43.
Hemmings, B., & Ruepert, A. (2012). EED441 Study Guide. In Construction of Adolescence and their Educational Implications (pp. 1-110). Wagga Wagga, NSW: Charles Sturt University.
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Santrock, J. (2010). Adolescence (Vol. 13). New York.
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Wurf, G. (2012). EED441 Subject Outline- Constructions of Adolescence and their Educational Implications. Charles Sturt University.
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