Adjustment of Adolescents: Cross-Cultural Similarities and Differences

Adjustment of Adolescents: Cross-Cultural Similarities and Differences

Adjustment of Adolescents: Cross-Cultural Similarities and Differences

Adjustment of Adolescents: Cross-Cultural Similarities and Differences

Synopsis

Based on original research carried out from Phoenix to Hong Kong, Adjustment of Adolescents examines adolescent adjustment to school, family and friends across seven cultures. Ruth and William Scott focus on social influences from family, friends and culture as they impinge on the adolescent's coping mechanisms, and examine the adolescent's personality, attitudinal, demographic and family characteristics. The authors also provide valuable insights into the methodologies of cross-cultural study.

Excerpt

One of the major challenges facing those living in technologically advanced societies is the need to adjust to various, and sometimes conflicting, social systems such as the family, friendship networks, work or school groups, and various traditional groups including the church which are oriented toward preserving cultural norms. At adolescence, the conflict among the demands of several groups is likely to be particularly acute, as increasingly autonomous children struggle to gain freedom from parents, to meet teachers’ demands for academic performance, to make and maintain friendships, and to find a place for themselves in society. For the most part, the family and the school are allied in their expectation of increasing social maturity through internalizing adult values. In contrast, the adolescent peer group may exert pressures antagonistic to these adult institutions, perhaps because children want more control over their own lives and judge the peer group to be more similar to themselves, and therefore more sympathetic to their interests, than the adult-dominated social order (Bronfenbrenner, 1970; Coleman, 1961).

What effect do these various demands have on the adolescent? Can we predict adolescents’ adjustment to their various areas of concern, which in this book include academic matters, interpersonal concerns and family relations? Do different judges (the self, parents, teachers, peers) evaluate the success of adjustment similarly? Are factors contributing to a successful adjustment in one situation, say the family, the same as those in another area? Finally, do these associations of adjustment generalize across cultures? These are the questions addressed in this book. Data have been collected on the adjustment of adolescents in seven different cultures. The general model posits that environmental conditions result in the individual adopting coping styles that subsequently shape his or her adjustment. In this chapter we will discuss the theoretical rationale for the model and the definitions of the environmental conditions, coping styles and adjustment outcomes, along with the previous work on which they are based.

Before we do this, a number of distinctive features about this broad gauge, cross-cultural research warrant discussion. First, this book proposes a psychologically integrated, as opposed to a compartmentalized, approach. Second, it

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