Adolescent Psychological Development: Rationality, Morality, and Identity

Adolescent Psychological Development: Rationality, Morality, and Identity

Adolescent Psychological Development: Rationality, Morality, and Identity

Adolescent Psychological Development: Rationality, Morality, and Identity


This advanced text presents a constructivist approach to the development of rationality, morality, and identity in adolescence and early adulthood. It provides a review, long overdue in the developmental literature of post-Piagetian approaches to adolescent cognition, examining classic theories and current research in these three domains. In addition, it highlights the capacity of constructivist theorizing to address issues of human diversity and the implications of a constructivist perspective for secondary education. Accessible even to students with no background in psychology, this book will also be of interest to scholars who study the development of rationality, morality, and/or identity, especially those who are concerned with the interrelations among these domains and with theoretical questions concerning the nature of psychological development beyond childhood.


The study of adolescence is a huge and rapidly growing field. New theories and research appear in countless books and journals in fields such as psychology, sociology, education, and law. Interdisciplinary journals devoted to adolescence include Adolescence, Journal of Adolescent Research, Journal of Early Adolescence, Journal of Research on Adolescence, Youth and Society, Journal of Youth and Adolescence, and Journal of Youth Studies. The Society for Research on Adolescence was formed in 1984, published its first newsletter in 1985, and has been sponsoring biennial conferences since 1986.

Although the scope and diversity of work on adolescence is exciting and encouraging, it also presents a daunting prospect for students who wish an introduction to the field. The usual solution to this problem is to begin with a textbook. Compared to direct immersion in the scholarly literature, textbooks have the advantage of providing relatively broad and systematic coverage.

Associated with this advantage, however, are two disadvantages. First, because the textbook writer is attempting to cover a wide variety of research areas and theoretical perspectives, it is inevitable that the treatment of each must be relatively brief and superficial. Second, because the textbook writer is attempting to be objective and dispassionate, there is a tendency for textbooks to limit their critical analysis to perfunctory accounts of the methodological limitations of particular studies and the strengths and weaknesses of various theories. Textbooks typically avoid taking strong stands on controversial issues and are thus rather bland and disengaged. They may, therefore, fail to convey to students the intellectual excitement of the original scholarly literature.

This volume is like a text in that it is intended to address much of the scholarly literature on adolescence. It differs from most texts, however, in three major respects. First, I emphasize depth over breadth. My intent is to . . .

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