Physical, Psychosocial, Cognitive and Personality Changes during Adolescence

Journal of adolescent and family health, 2015 defined adolescence as the dynamic and critical period in which occurs in the years between the onset of puberty and the establishment of social independent. The definitions of adolescence are varies depending on the context used, for instance World Health Organization, 2004 define adolescent as the individual between 10- 19 years. Adolescence has three categories which are early (10- 14 years), adolescence (13 or 14- 18 years) and late adolescence (15- 19 years), both categories of adolescence characterized by development of physical and sexual maturation, cognitive, personality, moral and psychosocial at different ages due to the environment exposures, medication, science and technology, involvement of peers and other factors which are similar (Unicef, 2011).
In the stage of adolescence there a number of changes and characteristics occur which are physical, psychosocial, cognitive, personality and moral as explained below;
Physical Characteristics of adolescence involve physical growth or body maturation. According to Stang & Story, 2005 physical characteristics are described as follows;
Changes in body image, due to the fact that during this stage body fat levels decrease among males, dropping to an average of 12% and body composition changes more significantly among females in which most of them experience 120% increase, for example, some of female’s shoulders are slander while hips become broader and rounded, male’s shoulders develop broader and stronger shoulders while their hips remain slander.
Developing sexual awareness. This is due to sexual maturity for boys and girls which goes together with occurrence menarche, development of breasts for females and sperm ache, the degree of testicular and penile development for males.
Physical vulnerability resulting from poor health or dietary habits or engaging in risky behaviors. This is because during this stage boys and girls they tend to be over confident in practicing different actions like sexual experimentation which takes them into danger of sexual transmitted infections (STI’s), drug use and eating disorders for example, taking a little amount of food to maintain the body size for females.
Body changes that may cause awkwardness. For example, change in voice whereby mostly girl’s voice become shrill and for boys it becomes squeaky and mature, also growth of hair in the armpit. Restlessness and fatigue due to hormonal changes. Testosterone hormone for males responsible for development of facial, pubic and muscle development which stimulates the production of sperms. Estrogen and postesterone for females responsible for the development of breasts and curvier shape.

Psychosocial development as it was stated by Erick Erikson on the stages of psychosocial development where he explained the influence of society and impact of social experience across a person lifespan and psychological connection from childhood to adulthood in the fifth stage of psychosocial theory of development which is Identity versus Confusion, where adolescents are finding answers of the question like, who am I? who I want to become? and where am I going? (Crain,2011). Psychosocial characteristics of adolescents are as follow;
Increasing of the relationship with peers while reducing closeness with parents, since at this age they are looking for social acceptance and conformity where most of adolescents are involve with peers who have some age and interests as them, for example, interest in music, fashion, and academics issues. (Brown, 1990),
Development of extra-curricular activities, this is most influenced by the role models and heroes they admire like actors, actress, models, musician or football players where by sometimes they may not even match with their skills and ability to do so, due to that adolescence they might forsake their identity by coping what their models do.
Creating their own ideology and philosophy which guide their behaviors and the choices they made, most of the adolescents are positively influenced by spiritual and cultural values since are more curios for the meaning of many things, by understanding the meaning they began to develop moral judgement and values and creating their own ideas and philosophy.
Body image become mostly important during adolescence due to physical changes occurred like sexual maturity and body growth, adolescent they start to be more concerned with fashion and style so as to get social acceptance, (Gross,1987).
Cognitive development of adolescent is highly explained in the theory of Jean Piaget the stage of formal operation in which adolescents expand and develop in reasoning and thinking ideas that are hypothetical and abstract, also develop in the main cognitive processes and social cognition. The following are the cognitive characteristics of adolescent;
Adolescents become egocentric, they always argue to convince others what they think is right and wrong. For instance, when someone believe that arsenal is bad in sport, he or she will use different weaknesses of arsenal in playing in order to convince others to accept his or her ideas.
Improving of memory ability, during adolescence the working memory continue to develop which helps in expanding their accumulation of new ideas while at the same time making them less efficient at storing specific information on which they are focusing
Increasing ability to creativity, during adolescence a person begin to see different alternatives in solving one problem. Apart from solving problem also they start to create different things on what they believe are attractive to others for example, poems, idioms and artificial equipment.
Develop in moral judgement, during adolescence adolescents start to think about consequences of different decisions they made and questioning authority and social standards. Adolescents reason at conventional level and others in post conventional level (Bucher & Manning, 2010)
Develop in language, adolescents start to use long sentence, slangs, and complex grammar when talking to their peers. They regularly change the meaning of words in opposite way like “you look beautiful” this sound positive but for them mean in opposite way, they do all of that for funny, bond with a particular mob or identify themselves as adolescents.
Begin to make up decision on what they like. For example, on what sports to participate, which group of friends to join, what career they feel is suitable to them, what parental rules they feel should be changed and the reasons behind their feelings.
Personality development refers to long standing traits and patterns that propel individual to consistently think, feel, and behave in specific ways. Our personality is what makes us unique individual because each individual as character and manner in which he or she interacts with other individuals in the world around them (Rothbart & Ahadi, 2000). The following are the personality characteristics of adolescence as identified by Verial D, 2015;
Seek for independence, in this period most of adolescents want to do things on their own rather than depending to their parents. They want to make decisions on their own and keep privacy of their things. Parents will usually find their teen’s goals and dreams diverging from their own.
Perfectionism, most of the adolescents strive for perfection on everything such as school activities. They are intention is to impress others or getting high standards on themselves, most of the teen on this age feel disappointed, stressed and anxiety when they do not reach their goals.
Develop intimate relationship with opposite sex, most of the adolescents become more romantic and intimate due to the high rate of flood of hormones flowing that pushes them to engage in romantic encounters and others start engaging in sexual activities in order to satisfy their needs.
Mood swing, most of the adolescents expressed this kind of behaviour as the result of the stress. emotion can change any time from happiness to sadness accompanied with some strange actions such as shouting, slamming doors and crying. Also changes on interest, eating habit, sleeping and ability to concentrate.
Risk taking, most of the adolescents are risk takers and prefer engaging on risk activities like play with dangerous things like fire. In this period of adolescence adolescents become weak in understanding the connection between their actions and possible negative outcomes.
Moral development refers to the process through which children develop proper attitudes and behaviours toward other people in society, based on social and culture norms, rules and roles. In this adolescents choose to live their lives according to a set of principles that govern their decisions about right and wrong.
Moral development is highly explained in the theory of moral development of Lawrence Kohlberg. The following are the moral characteristics of adolescents;
Rebelliousness, during this period most of the adolescents engaging on rebellious behaviours such as question their parent authority, argue more or break household rules at this period parent must be more careful to their children because they may engage in unhealthy and unsafe activities like stealing.
Increase ability to think that rules and regulations are created by people and they can be changed. Due to this increasing ability they start to questions the rules created by the parents at home, teachers in schools, authority in the society and other traditional institutions.
Start to view the world as unjust and unfair to the traumatic experiences they face during childhood period such as physical, emotion, and sexual abuse; the death of a close family member, friend or witness some senseless violence at home or school environment. Also due to that adolescence views adults are the people who makes immoral decisions which disregards others welfare which makes them to develop believes and attitude contrary to the society norms (Coles & Robert, 1997)
Be at risk in the development of moral and ethical choices and behaviours, depends on the influences of domestics and religious for moral and ethical development, explore the moral and ethical circumstance that are met in the curriculum, in media and in daily interaction with their family members and peer groups
Adolescents look at the motives behind actions rather than consequences of actions.

Bergener J. J. (1983). Human development. USA, Collier Macmillan.
Brown, B.B, (1990). Peer Groups and Peer Culture. Harvard University Press. Cambridge.
Bucher, K & Manning L (2010). Developmental characteristics during adolescence. Pearson Allyn Bacon Prentice Hall
Colen & Robert (1987). The moral intelligence of children: how to raise a moral child. Random House. New York.
Crain, W. (2011). Theories of Development: Concept and Application. (6th ed). Personal education Inc. Upper Saddle River, NJ.
Gross, F. L, (1987). Introducing Erik Erikson; An Invitation to His Thinking. University Press of America. Lanham, USA.
Jersild A. T. (1951). Self-understanding in Childhood and Adolescence. USA, American Psychologist
Omari, I.M. & Mkumbo, K.A.K (2006) adolescence and school learning. In I.M. Omari (Ed.), Educational psychology for teachers. Dar es salaam, Tanzania: Dar es salaam University press
Stang J. & Story M. (2005). Guidelines for adolescent nutrition service
Verial, D (2015). Personality characteristics in Teenagers. Leaf group limited.


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