Coping with Uncertainty: Behavioral and Developmental Perspectives

By David S. Palermo; Center for the Study of Child and Adolescent Development | Go to book overview

8
The Development of Coping Responses During Adolescence: Endocrine and Behavioral Aspects

Anne C. Petersen Elizabeth J. Susman John L. Beard The Pennsylvania State University

The consideration of how individuals cope with uncertainty requires examination of the development of coping responses. Whereas some degree of uncertainty has always been a part of life, there is likely to be age-related variability in the nature and extent of uncertainty experienced by the individual. Furthermore, individual variability is likely to exist in the responses to uncertain situations. An important question, then, is, "What develops?" We could, at one extreme, propose that coping responses are entirely learned. Alternatively, we could propose that all that changes developmentally is the nature of uncertainty that is experienced by the individual, with the coping responses determined by inherited characteristics. Most likely, however, the "truth" lies somewhere between these extremes. The capacity to feel aroused, responsivity to arousal, and behavioral coping repertoires are likely to change through childhood and adolescence. Biological changes in arousability, other developmental changes in cognitive and affective capacity, learning that gives meaning to arousal, and age-related changes in the nature of uncertainty experienced are all likely to affect the responses of an individual to some uncertain circumstances or situation.

We begin with a conceptual frame for biopsychosocial development (see Fig. 8. 1) that considers the development of interacting systems, between individuals and important social contexts as well as between biological and behavioral processes within the individual. Such macrodevelopmental processes may be differentiated from microprocesses involving change in biological-behavioral interactions over brief time periods at a single developmental age or phase. Such microprocesses -- for example, between adrenal hormones and behavior -- may be uniform at all ages or, alternatively, may themselves develop or change with

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