ADOLESCENT AND ADULT STANDARDS OF NORMATIVE FUNCTIONING IN ADOLESCENTS
COHEN, SUSAN Z.
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Theoretical and clinical descriptions of adolescent behavior have emphasized the painful and tumultuous nature of this development stage. While recent theories of adolescence advocate a less troubled view of these years, little attention has been paid to identifying and describing the behavior of normative teenagers. Earlier views evaluated adolescent behavior from the adult perspective.;For the present study 9th and 11th grade students in a large urban public high school provided the evaluative criteria for their perceptions of normative functioning in adolescents. These were contrasted with the criteria of their teachers. Both 9th and 11th grade students were included in the study in order to explore whether there is an age difference for standards of normative functioning in adolescents.;A questionnaire consisting of 18 vignettes, each followed by three questions assessing Typicality, Identification, and Adjustment, was distributed to all subjects. Each of the questions was answered on a one to five scale. The questionnaire was constructed based upon six adjectives that emerged from a pilot study. Each adjective was used to describe an adolescent in a hypothetical situation. The situations were written to occur across three different settings, At Home, In School and With Peers. This was done in order to see if the setting influences the subject's evaluation of normative functioning.;The questionnaire was written in both a female and a male form, with approximately one half of the subjects receiving a same sex form and one half receiving an opposite sex form.;Findings indicate that the population under examination does not have different standards of normative functioning for female and male adolescents but that female and male subjects do make some different judgments about normative functioning in adolescents.;Also, the setting of an emotional experience affects a subject's judgment about normative functioning in adolescents. In addition, there are some developmental shifts in adolescents' standards.;Most outstanding is the evidence that adults perceive adolescents as more troubled than adolescents perceive themselves to be. This may be the core of the "generation gap" and highlights ways to approach a narrowing of that gap.
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