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PSYC 3480 (140)


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York University
PSYC 3480
Noreen Stuckless

Chapter 4 – During puberty a young girl experiences the physical changes that lead to sexual maturity – adolescence refers to the psychological changes that occur during puberty; adolescence is the transition phase between childhood and adulthood – menarche: the beginning of menstruation – adolescents usually find themselves caught between childhood and adulthood PUBERTYAND MENSTRUATION Puberty – most girls enter puberty between the ages of 9 and 13; the average age at menarche is 12 – Black and Latina girls in U.S reach menarche somewhat earlier than EuropeanAmerican girls – European girls tend to reach menarche earlier thanAsianAmerican girls – menarche is seldom depicted in television programs or films – young women who can communicate with a trusted adult often feel more comfortable about menstruation – at around 10 to 11 years of age, they experience a transformation in their secondary sex characteristics, which are features of the body related to reproduction but not directly involved in it; these characteristics include breast development and pubic hair – during puberty, young women also accumulate body fat through hips and thighs – young women in NorthAmerican often resent this fat because our culture emphasizes slender bodies BiologicalAspects of Menstrual Cycle – the average women menstruates about 450 times during her life – The hypothalamus, a structure in the brain, is crucial in menstruation because it monitors the body's level of estrogen during the monthly cycle – when estrogen levels are low, the hypothalamus signals the pituitary gland, which produces two important hormones: follicle stimulating hormone and luteinizing hormone Four hormones contribute to the menstrual cycle 1) Follicle stimulating hormones acts on the follicles (or egg holders) within the ovaries, making them produce estrogen and and progesterone 2) Luteinizing hormone is necessary for the development of an ovum (or egg) 3) Estrogen, primarily produced by the ovaries, stimulates the development of the endometrium, which is the lining of the uterus 4) Progesterone, also primarily produced by the ovaries, regulates the system. When the level of luteinizing hormone is high enough, progesterone stops the release of that hormone – two ovaries, which are about the size of walnuts, contain the follicles that hold the ova, or eggs, and producthestrogen and progesterone – on about the 14 day of the menstrual cycle, one of the eggs breaks out of it's follicle: ovulation – the egg moves from an ovary into the fallopian tube and then into the uterus, the organ in which the fetus develops – if the egg is fertilized and implanted in the endometrium lining of the uterus, the endometrium can then serve as a nourishing location for this egg to mature during pregnancy – if the egg is not fertilized, the egg disintegrates on its way out of the uterus, and the endometrium is shed as menstrual flow – the most important concept to remember is that the brain structures, hormones, internal reproductive organs are carefully coordinated to regulate the menstrual cycle – they operate according to a feedback loop : when the level of a particular hormone is too low, a structure in the brain is signalled, and the chain of events repeats itself, producing more of that hormone – later when the level of a hormone is too high, a signal to a structure in the brain begins a chain of events that decreases that hormone – the endometrium is sloughed off and passes through the vagina as the menstrual flow, the low level of estrogen signal the hypothalamus, causing a new cycle to begin – this complex set of interactions first encourages the production of an egg, next leads to the menstrual flow if no fertilized egg is implanted, then begins another cycle Menstrual Pain – menstrual pain or dysmenorrhea, typically refers to painful cramps in the abdomen. It may also include nausea, dizziness, fatigue and pain in the lower back – dysmenorrhea is not the same as prementsrual syndrome – estimates of menstrual pain is 50 to 75% for high school and college age women – the contractions of the uterus that cause menstrual pain are encouraged by prostaglandins – prostaglandins are substances that the body produces in high concentrations just before menstruation, and they can cause severe cramps – highly anxious women report having more menstrual pain than less anxious women – menstrual pain is probably caused by a combination of physiological and psychological factors The Controversial Premenstrual Syndrome – Premenstrual syndrome (PMS) is the name given to the cyclical set of symptoms that may occur a few days before menstruating – one reason that PMS is controversial is that researchers do not agree on its definition – PMS has as many as 200 different symptoms – another reason it is controversial is that some experts argue that all menstruating women experience it; this claim is unfair because it suggests that all women are at the mercy of biological factors such as,their “raging hormones” – an alternative view argues that PMS is a myth that our culture created – Apparently a small percentage of women (5-10%) have significant symptoms that are related to their menstrual cycle Mood Swings – much of the research that supposedly supports the concept of PMS is actually plagued by biases – the popular media often discuss PMS and negative moods – women may recall their moods, as being more negative premenstrually than they actually were – Classic study by Hardie asked 83 menstruating women who were university employees to keep records in a booklet each day for 10 weeks, recording moods, crying, laughter, stress, ect, after 10 weeks the women completed questionnaire about women's health issues – operational definition: a women's mood during the premenstrual phase needs to be more depressed and emotional than during other parts of her menstrual cycle – no one of the women met this criteria; the women who believed they had PMS did not have more negative emotions premenstrually than did the women who reported no PMS – the psychological-cultural explanation for PMS argues that our current culture clearly accepts PMS as an established fact, even though it cannot be systematically documented – with this kind of cultural endorsement, women believe that PMS is normal – Joan Christler surveyed female college students and found that they tended to think that most women had more sever symptoms than they themselves experienced, this perception therefore allows women to believe that PMS is a genuine problem for other women – unfortunately this concept of PMS encourages people to think that many women are out of control for several days each month – Hormonal factors may indeed cause premenstrual problems in a small percentage of women. However, two other factors are more important: psychological factors and cultural factors Positive Reactions to the Menstrual Cycle – Joan Christler noticed that the menstruation questionnaire only focused on negative aspects of menstruation, so they developed the Menstrual Joy questionnaire – women typically rated their level of arousal relatively positively when they late completed a different questionnaire about menstrual symptoms – compared to women who had not initially encouraged to think about the positive side of menstruation, these women were more likely to report feelings of well-being and excitement, as well as bursts of energy – research in the U.S and Canada confirms that many women have some positive responses to menstruation – some women feel that menstruation reaffirms their positive feelings of being female – many women greet their menstrual period with joy because it means they are not pregnant – we need to emphasize that menstrual cramps and other problems will not disappear if you simply adopt a more positive attitude, however, the issues may be easier to deal with if you know their cause CulturalAttitudes towards Menstruation – people's stereotypes about women often differ from a women's actual cognitive skills and women's characteristics – cultural attitudes about menstruation often differ from women's actual experiences – come cultures have a taboo against contact with menstruating women – Creek Indians in Oklahoma do not allow menstruating women to use the same plates or utensils as other tribe members – many similar menstrual practices reflect a belief in female pollution and the devaluation of women – Most EuropeanAmericans have negative attitudes towards menstruating women – in one study, participants were told they would be working with a female participant on a problem solving task with a female, by “mistake” either a hair clip or wrapped tampon fell out of the girls bag, the real participants were asked to evaluate this female, females rated the women as being less competent if her handbag contained the tampon – Aida Hurtado's study of Latina adolescents, 55% of young women had never talked with either parent about menstruation – Jessica Oksman examined 36 issues of Seventeen and Mademoiselle and found that 46 advertisements emphasized that menstruation is something secretive, only 1 had a positive message SELF CONCEPTAND IDENTITY DURINGADOLESCENCE – a person's identity is his or her self rating of personal characteristics in the physical, psychological and social dimensions Self Esteem – self esteem is a measure of how much you like and value yourself – meta-analysis provides a statistical method for integrating numerous studies on a single topis, researcher first locate all the appropriate studies on the topic, then perform a statistical analysis that combines the results from all these studies – two important meta analytic studies have been conducted on gender comparisons of self esteem – each examined more than 200 different gender comparisons – both studies concluded that the average male scores are slightly- but significantly- higher than average female scores – gender differences are minimal in childhood, early adolescence, and later adulthood, gender differences are somewhat larger during later adulthood – the gender differences in self esteem are relatively larger for EuropeanAmericans, but relatively small for Blacks – Major and colleagues found that gender differences are relatively large among low class and upper class participants, when these researchers examined students from upper-class, well educated families, the gender differences were very small are somewhat similar in their self esteem Body Image and PhysicalAttractiveness – physical attractiveness is more important for preschool girls than for preschool boys – 11 year old girls are more likely than 11 year old boys to spend time thinking about their physical appearance – the emphasis on female attractiveness is exaggerate during adolescence – young women are likely to receive the message that they must be slender – young women who are overweight are the target of numerous negative comments – North American women are so concerned about being slender that they develop eating disorders – young Black women are less likely to emphasize thinness, but the results are not consistent – the media encourage this emphasis on beauty and slenderness, and young women are very well aware of this message – research shows that women are less satisfied with their bodies if they have been looking at fashion magazines, rather than magazines showing normal sized women – women of colour are especially likely to comment that women who look like themselves are missing from the fashion magazines – Black women often appear- in degrading roles- in hip hop and rap music videos – young women's general self concepts are often shaped by whether they believe they are attractive – researcher have found that physical appearance is the strongest predictor of self worth in adolescent females – for males, athletic competence is a stronger predictor of self worth – researchers have discovered that girls who participate in athletics can often escape the dominant images presented to adolescent females – young female athletes have higher self esteem than young women who are not athletes – about 3 million high school females play competition sports each year Feminist Identity – feminism: the principle that values women's experiences and ideas; om addition feminism emphasizes that women and men should be socially, economically, and legally equal – most of the research about feminist values and identity has surveyed college students in late adolescence] – in both the U.S and Canada many people are likely to say that they support feminist ideas such as gender equality, however, they are less likely to claim a feminist social identity by saying “Yes, I am a feminist” – people who support feminist beliefs are more likely than other people to have complex view of themselves – people who have a feminist social identity are also more likely to be very knowledgable about feminism – females are more likely than males to consider themselves feminists – people who are not gender stereotyped are more likely to consider themselves feminists – Bronstein (2
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