Physical, Cognitive And Psychological Development Of Adolescence

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Table of contents

  1. Physical development
  2. Cognitive development
  3. Psychosocial development

Physical development

Physical development contributes a major part in overall adolescent development. During this development there are many different milestones adolescents will reach which can greatly impact (them). All adolescents develop differently and accordingly to their own body’s timetable which can be a source of discomfort and difficulty that can lead to self-consciousness regarding personal maturity (American Addiction Centers, 2015). One of the first physical milestone changes for both boys and girls alike is a growth spurt. For girls this growth spirt usually occurs between the ages of 10-13 and for boys slightly later between 12-15 when they will usually overtake and become taller than their female peers (Boundless, 2017). During this time adolescents can often feel awkward and uncoordinated as these rapid changes in height and unproportional growth can make their bodies feel unfamiliar.

Besides the growth spurt and significant changes in height adolescents will also experience large changes is body composition and shape (Healthwise Staff, 2018). For males this involves muscle mass greatly increasing and developing far faster than before because on increased amounts of hormones such as testosterone in their systems. During this development males’ shoulders broaden and taper more towards the waste forming the familiar triangular frame. For female adolescents this stage of development also involves increases in muscle mass but also additional body fat increases. This extra fat is deposited on the hips, buttocks and chest to transform girls’ straight lines square bodies into the recognisable hour glass shape of older females (American Addiction Centers, 2015).

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During these big changes in development it is common for teens to fell uncomfortable and lack self-confidence. In the case of female changes often adolescents are no emotionally prepared for the increased sexual admiration of their changing bodies (American Addiction Centers, 2015). Whereas, adolescent males are less likely to experience this because physical competence in admired and respected in males. Overall physical development plays a massive part in adolescent development as it is when teens begin to mature and display recognisable adult features.

Cognitive development

Cognitive development is the growth of an adolescence ability to think and reason. According to Piaget’s Cognitive development theory, during adolescent teens enter the formal operations stage of cognition (Cherry, 2019). This stage of development consists of increases in logic as well as the ability to understand abstract ideas and use deductive reasoning.

As adolescents begin to experience these increases in abilities and reach new cognitive milestones they are able to better understand the world around them and think about the future (Stanford Children’s Health, 2019). Increases in the ability to reason enable teens to begin making educated guesses and differentiate fiction from fact. Along with this adolescence also begin to better understand the consequences their actions will have today, tomorrow and in the future (Ginsburg, 2018). These developmental milestones allow adolescence to begin to imagine and solve hypothetical situations and create future goals which they can working towards. These milestones allow adolesces to begin to make important career decisions, apply their ideologies to complex situations and ideas and develop their own identities (Morin, 2014).

The development of an adolescent’s identity though their cognitive development links directly to the identity vs role confusion psychosocial development stage (Cherry, 2019). This is because teens can often find it confusing how they are supposed to reach the future goals and careers they are now thinking about and often question “who am I?” (Ginsburg, 2018). FINISH THIS SUM UP

Psychosocial development

As teens progress into adolescence, they embark on a process of finding out who they are, passing though many milestones along the way. Developmental psychologist Erik Erikson suggests as adolescents enter this process, they also enter what he calls the firth stage of psychosocial development, identity vs role confusion (McLeod, 2018). During this identity vs role confusion stage adolescence experience many exciting changes such as growth in relationships regarding parents, peers and romantic partners alike as well as changing views and overall comfort with their body image (Rupp, 2019). However, there are also risk factors such as how teens overcome identity confusion and foreclosure (

James Marcia is another well knows developmental psychologist who built on Erikson’s original theory identifying four different ways teens work though the identity crisis milestones: Identity confusion, foreclosure, moratorium and identity achievement (Learning Theories, 2019). Identity confusion is often one of the first hurdles, it revolves around a teens impeded abilities to form close relationships and their involvement in meaningful activities, which can lead to social withdrawal. The second, foreclosure is when adolescence adopt their peers values and social norms to attempt to avoid confusion. The stage of moratorium occurs in the later teen years giving adolescents a break from identity confusion as they begin to enter the workforce or tertiary education ( This signifies adolescents are properly developing though these milestone stages and moving towards identity achievement. Once an adolescent has been though the psychosocial milestone stages they will have accomplished independence, body image, relationships and identity (Learning Theories, 2019).

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Physical, Cognitive And Psychological Development Of Adolescence. (2021, September 03). Edubirdie. Retrieved June 12, 2024, from
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