Early Adolescence


adolescence, time of life from onset of puberty to full adulthood. The exact period of adolescence, which varies from person to person, falls approximately between the ages 12 and 20 and encompasses both physiological and psychological changes. Physiological changes lead to sexual maturity and usually occur during the first several years of the period. This process of physical changes is known as puberty, and it generally takes place in girls between the ages of 8 and 14, and boys between the ages of 9 and 16. In puberty, the pituitary gland increases its production of gonadotropins, which in turn stimulate the production of predominantly estrogen in girls, and predominantly testosterone in boys. Estrogen and testosterone are responsible for breast development, hair growth on the face and body, and deepening voice. These physical changes signal a range of psychological changes, which manifest themselves throughout adolescence, varying significantly from person to person and from one culture to another. Psychological changes generally include questioning of identity and achievement of an appropriate sex role; movement toward personal independence; and social changes in which, for a time, the most important factor is peer group relations. Adolescence in Western societies tends to be a period of rebellion against adult authority figures, often parents or school officials, in the search for personal identity. Many psychologists regard adolescence as a byproduct of social pressures specific to given societies, not as a unique period of biological turmoil. In fact, the classification of a period of life as "adolescence" is a relatively recent development in many Western societies, one that is not recognized as a distinct phase of life in many other cultures.

See T. Hine, The Rise and Fall of the American Teenager (1999).

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright© 2018, The Columbia University Press.

Early Adolescence: Selected full-text books and articles

Twelve to Sixteen: Early Adolescence By Jerome Kagan; Robert Coles W. W. Norton, 1972
Biological-Psychosocial Interactions in Early Adolescence By Richard M. Lerner; Terryl T. Foch Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, 1987
Transitions through Adolescence: Interpersonal Domains and Context By Julia A. Graber; Jeanne Brooks-Gunn; Anne C. Petersen Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, 1996
Librarian's tip: Chap. 1 "Continuity and Discontinuity across the Transition of Early Adolescence: A Developmental Contextual Perspective" and Chap. 10 "School Transitions in Early Adolescence: What Are We Doing to Our Young People?"
Development during the Transition to Adolescence By Megan R. Gunnar; W. Andrew Collins Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, 1988
Librarian's tip: Chap. 8 "Commentary: Developmental Issues in the Transition to Early Adolescence"
Interpersonal Identity Formation during Early Adolescence By Allison, Barbara N.; Schultz, Jerelyn B Adolescence, Vol. 36, No. 143, Fall 2001
To Dance the Dance: A Symbolic Interactional Exploration of Premarital Sexuality By F. Scott Christopher Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, 2001
Librarian's tip: Chap. 3 "The Sexuality of Early Adolescence" and Chap. 4 "A Theoretical Model of Early Adolescent Sexuality"
Parent-Adolescent Conflict in Early Adolescence By Allison, Barbara N.; Schultz, Jerelyn B Adolescence, Vol. 39, No. 153, Spring 2004
Families, Risk, and Competence By Michael Lewis; Candice Feiring Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, 1998
Librarian's tip: Chap. 3 "Divergent Family Views and School Competence in Early Adolescence"
Looking for a topic idea? Use Questia's Topic Generator
Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed


An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.