Semantic Structures of World Image as Internal Factors in the Self-Destructive Behavior of Today's Teenagers

By Alekhin, Anatoly N.; Koroleva, Natalya N. et al. | Psychology in Russia, January 1, 2015 | Go to article overview

Semantic Structures of World Image as Internal Factors in the Self-Destructive Behavior of Today's Teenagers


Alekhin, Anatoly N., Koroleva, Natalya N., Ostasheva, Eugeniya I., Psychology in Russia


Introduction

Intense social and economic transformations in the modern world have a significant impact on personality development. The contemporary sociocultural environment, with its diffuse value cues, flexible normalization, and multiple boundaries for acceptable behavior, determines the unique conditions of socialization and the formation of world-image value-semantic bases and identity in adolescence. In fact, at the present time changes in value cues in the subjective reality of each individual, which have qualitatively different definitions in modern society, lead to systemic changes across the spectrum of personality from situational meanings to the highest existential levels of relationships to the phenomena of life and death. Philosophers and sociologists say that we witness how "another person" who feels, thinks, acts in a different way appears; such an "anthropological shift" (Khoruzhiy, 2002) concerns all aspects of individuality in both the somatic and the psychic spheres.

The social, political, economic, and cultural processes of the postindustrial era are inevitably modulating the dynamics and the qualitative features of mental development. The multimedia environment, new forms of games and communication, the completed sexual revolution, and the destruction of traditional discursive practices are realities of the modern world. Russia is not unique in this regard. In Russia these processes are unfolding so rapidly that science often cannot embrace the emerging phenomenon of a "new person" quickly enough. Since the mid1990s, our country has experienced epochal sociocultural changes, the psychological aspects of which have hardly been analyzed and formulated, although there are philosophical, sociological, and cultural studies.

There is evidence of deep ontogenetic transformations. The fundamental difference between the mental organization of today's Russian teenagers in comparison with that of their peers living in the middle of the past century in particular has been described. In his papers D. I. Feldshteyn has identified fundamental changes of the psychic reality of this age group. First and foremost are uneven intellectual development; structural changes in attention and memory processes; an increase in emotional discomfort, alienation, loneliness, self-doubt, and doubts about the future; increasing criticism of adults along with intensive processes of individualization and a search for the meaning of life; changes in value priorities; a growing lack of communication with peers; and retarded development of communicative and social competence and independent decision-making (Feldshteyn, 2010). In their research Prikhozhan and Tolstykh (2011) have revealed a decrease in reflexivity and emotional responsiveness in modern teenagers in comparison with their contemporaries in the middle of the 20th century.

A number of articles note distinct shifts in the value orientations of today's teenagers in comparison with those of their peers in the 1970s to 1990s. The value and life-purpose orientations of today's teenagers are being formed during the transition to a postindustrial information society. The influence of media culture, online communities, and the information environment as a whole on the processes of socialization in adolescence is increasing. Such traits of modern society as the interpenetration of cultures, the coexistence of multiple ideological systems, the diversity and intensity of information and communication flows, the virtualization of society and human consciousness result in the phenomenon of the value-semantic sphere of the personality--the mosaic character of teenagers' value systems. Values are not organized in a hierarchy, are not defined as "significant" or "insignificant." The concepts of morality and of the meaning of life are diffuse. Fundamentally different goals, guidelines, and ideals can have the same value for teenagers without their perceiving an internal conflict. …

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