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Chapter

Social-Personality Development (PSYC 3450) Chapter Summaries


Department
Psychology
Course Code
PSYC 3450
Professor
Shaina Rosenrot

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Social-Personality Development Chapter
Summaries
Chapter 12: Sexuality during Adulthood and Adolescence
Sexual Behaviour during Infancy and Childhood
Infant Sexuality
Infants (first 2 years of life) discover the pleasures of genital stimulation during infancy
oThis often involves thrusting or rubbing the genital area against an object
oIn some cases the infants have been observed experiencing what appears to be an
orgasm
Masturbation activities are often gratifying
oMany infants of both sexes engage quite naturally in self-pleasuring unless such
behaviour produces strong negative responses from parents or caregivers
Childhood Sexuality
People show considerable variation in their sexual development during childhood, and
diverse influences are involved
It is important to realize that, other than reports from primary caregivers, most of what
we know about childhood sexual behaviour is based on recollections of adults who are
asked to recall their childhood experiences
The inclinations we have as adults toward giving and receiving affection seem to be
related to our early opportunities for warm, pleasurable, contact with significant others,
particularly parents
oThe children who were derived of ‘contact comfort’ during the first months and
years of life can have difficulty establishing intimate relationships later in their
lives
Childhood Masturbation
The rhythmic manipulation of the genitals associated with adult masturbation generally
does not occur until a child reaches the age of 2 ½ or 3 years old
Spotlight on Research: Normative Sexual Behaviour in Children: A Contemporary Sample
William Friedrich and his colleagues interviewed a large sample of mothers regarding
sexual behaviours they had observed in their children (ages 2-12)
A wide range of sexual behaviours were observed at varying levels of frequency
throughout the entire age range of children
oThe most frequently observed sexual behaviour were self-stimulation,

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Masturbation is one of the most common and natural forms of sexual expression during
the childhood years
o16% of mothers observed their 2-5 year olds children masturbating with their
hands
o1/3 of female respondents and 2/3 of males reported having masturbated before
adolescence
Parental reactions to self-pleasuring can be an important influence on developing
sexuality
oMost parents and other primary caregivers in American society tend to discourage
or prohibit such activities
oGreatly magnifying the guilt and anxiety associated with his behaviour
How can adults convey their acceptance of this natural and normal form of self-
exploration?
oNot reacting negatively to the genital fondling that is typical of infants and young
children
oExplaining the potential for pleasure that exists in their genital anatomy
oRespecting their privacy
Children are generally aware of enough of social expectations to maintain a high degree
of privacy in something as emotionally laden and personal as self-pleasuring
Childhood Sex Play
Pre-pubertal children often engage in play that can be viewed as sexual
oTakes place with friends/siblings
oOccurs as early as the age of 2-3 years, but is more likely to take places between
the ages of 4-7
Alfred Kinsey and colleagues noted that 45% of the females and 57% of the males in
their sample reported having these experiences by age 12
The activities ranged from exhibition and inspection of the genitals to stimulating
intercourse
oFor many children the play aspects of interaction are far more significant than any
sexual overtones
Curiosity about the sexual equipment of others, particularly the other sex, is quite normal
Many children in the 5-7 age range begin to act in ways that mirror the predominant
heterosexual marriage script in our society
oIn the practice of playing house
By the time children reach the age of 8-9, there is a pronounced tendency for boys and
girls to begin to play separately, although romantic interest in the other sex may exist at
the same time
oCuriosity about sexual matters remains high
oMany questions about reproduction and sexuality are asked
Most 10-11 year-olds are keenly interested in body changes, involving the genitals and
secondary sex characteristics
These childhood same-sex encounters are transitory, soon replaced by the heterosexual
courting of adolescence

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The Physical Changes of Adolescence
Adolescence is a time of dramatic physiological changes and social-role development
oAges 12-20
oMajor physical changes and changes in behaviour and role expectations
By cross-cultural standards, adolescence in our society is rather extended
oIn many cultures, adult roles are often initiated upon reaching puberty
Puberty: a period of rapid physical changes in early adolescence during which the
reproductive organs mature
oWhen a child is between 8-14 years old, the hypothalamus increases secretions
that cause the literary gland to release large amounts of hormones known as
gonadotropins into the bloodstream
oThese hormones stimulate activity in the gonads, and they are chemically
identical in boys and girls, with different results though
Girls typically enter puberty at age 10-11, whereas boys experience puberty at age 12
Secondary sex characteristics: the physical characteristics other than genital
development that indicate sexual maturity, such as body hair, breasts and deepened voice
The only event of puberty that is clearly different in boys and girls in growth
oBecause estrogen is a much better facilitator of growth hormone secretion by the
pituitary gland than is testosterone, as soon as a girl starts to show pubertal
development, she starts to grow more quickly
oThis begins about 2 years earlier in girls
The internal organs of both sexes undergo further development during puberty
oIn girls the vaginal walls become thicker, and the uterus becomes larger and more
muscular
oVaginal pH changes from alkaline to acidic
oThe first menstrual period is called menarche
oSome adolescents girls experience irregular menstrual cycles for several years
before their periods become regular and predictable
In boys the prostate gland and seminal vesicles increase noticeably in size during puberty
oEjaculation becomes possible
oThe first ejaculation occurs a year after the growth spurt has begun, usually
around age 13
oThe initial appearance of sperm in the ejaculate typically occurs at about age 14
Adolescents are likely to become—at least temporarily—more homo-social, relating
socially primarily with members of the same sex
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