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Chapter 9

PSY310H5 Chapter Notes - Chapter 9: Voting Age, Asian Americans, Premarital Sex


Department
Psychology
Course Code
PSY310H5
Professor
Virginia K Walker
Chapter
9

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Chapter 9: Autonomy
for most adolescents autonomy is:
an important part of becoming an adult, as is establishing a sense of identity
an autonomous person = self-governing person
considered a fundamental developmental task
autonomy/independence
terms often used interchangeably however differ in meaning
independence – individuals capacity to behave on their own
autonomy – not just about acting independent, also involves feeling independent and
thinking for oneself
has emotional, cognitive, behavioural components
autonomy is the (normal) movement away from the dependency that is typical in childhood
(occurs in humans and other mammals – as they go through puberty as well)
autonomy is often confused with rebellion or breaking away from the family
researchers view autonomy as rather gradual, progressive, and relatively undramatic
adolescents need to distance themselves from adults is believed to have an adaptive nature
(evolutionary basis) – reflecting an increase in novelty seeking and exploration that allows
reproduction outside the family
Autonomy as an Adolescent Issue:
autonomy surfaces and resurfaces during the entire life cycle
development of independent behaviour begins long before puberty (that is considered normal)
i.e - Toddlers when they begin to explore their surroundings on their own
autonomy develops throughout childhood and adolescence, however all issues related are not
resolved upon reaching young adulthood
when you're in a position that demands new degree of self-reliance you may question your
ability to function independently (i.e- following a divorce, death of a spouse)
Puberty and the Development of Autonomy:
in some sense puberty drives the adolescent away from exclusive emotional dependence on
the family ( adolescents turn away from their parents and towards their peers for emotional
support)
this is a part of seeking adult independence and may spark their emerging interest in sexual
relationships
Cognitive Change and the Development of Autonomy:
part of being autonomous involves being able to make independent choices
when individuals turn to others for advice they often recieve conflicting advice,
as an adult you are able to see that each individual's perspective influences his or her
advice (i.e – perspective of a professor vs. Perspective of a party student)
requires intellectual abstraction that is not available until adolescence
take other peoples prospective into account, and the use of sophisticated reasoning
Social Roles and the Development of Autonomy
changes in roles and activities raise demanding increase in degree of responsibility and self-
reliance
requires development of independent decision making (i.e – choosing whether to drink or
not, or choosing political beliefs)
THREE TYPES OF AUTONOMY:
1) Emotional Autonomy: refers to emotional independence in relationships with others, especially

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parents
2) Behavioural autonomy: refers to the development of independent decision making abilities
3) Cognitive Autonomy: concerns the development of independent values, opinions, and beliefs
(1)The Development of Emotional Autonomy:
changes in the expression of affection, the distribution of power, and patterns of verbal
interactions
occurs when changes while transformations take place in child's/parents competencies,
concerns, and social roles
by end of adolescence, individual is less emotionally dependent on parent than they were as
child
don't rush to parent when they are emotionally disturbed, or in need of assistance
they do not see their parents as all-knowing
have a great deal of emotional energy in relationships outside family (more attached to
boyfriend/girlfriend than parents)
Emotional Autonomy and Detachment:
Psychoanalytic theory and detachment:
Anna Freud (1958) – argued that physical change of puberty cause substantial disruption
and conflict inside family system
she believed that intraphysic conflicts that have been repressed since early childhood
reawaken at early adolescence by resurgent sexual impulses
this tension is expressed in arguments amongst family members, and certain degree
of tension/discomfort around the house
as a result: adolescents are driven to the process of separation: detachment
Research on Detachment:
studies have not supported Anna's view however
ever major study has shown that most families get along quite well during the adolescent
years of children
contradicts predictions that high levels of adolescent-parent tension are the norm
although they may bicker more than earlier ages of developmental
does mean that closeness between members of family diminishes in any way
most adolescents report becoming closer to parents at late adolescence (i.e- when
moving away to college)
this means that emotional autonomy during adolescence involves a
transformation, not breaking off, or family relationships (without becoming
detached from them)
Emotional Autonomy and Individuation: (alternative to psychoanalytic perspective)
individuation: begins during infancy, and continues into late adolescence
involves a gradual and progressive sharpening of the young persons sense of self as
autonomous, competent, and separate from his/her parents
there has to do with developing sense of identity (how they see themselves)
does not involve stress and turmoil
entails relinquishing childish dependencies on parents
develop more mature, responsible, less dependent relationships
if child is successful, he/she can accept responsibility for choices/actions
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Research on Emotional Autonomy:
studies show development of emotional autonomy is a long process
i.e- one study shows that certain aspects increased with age period (i.e – extent to which
adolescents de-idealized their parents, non-dependency, degree to which individual felt
individuated within relationship with parents)
another study showed that the number of friends that an individual's parents didn't know
increased with age of participant in survey
another study showed that degree of “homesickness” (anxiety/depression experienced by
youngsters) decreased with age at summer camp in boys
de-idealization:
children often place parents on a pedestal
adolescents often knock parents off pedestal
this may be one of the first aspects of emotional autonomy (shedding childish images of
parents)
de-idealization is just the beginning of a long process in which adolescents develop more
realistic view of their parents (15 year old vs. 10 year old adolescent are equally as
emotionally autonomous)
Importance of Maintaining the Connection:
depending on if parent-child relationship is close, the development of emotional autonomy has
different psychological effects on adolescents
i.e – if child feels emotionally detached, and is emotionally autonomous – they score low on
psychological adjustment
- if child feels close and attached to parents, and is emotionally autonomous – they score
high on psychological adjustment
study: young people from all ethnic backgrounds (black, Mexican American, white) showed
increased alcohol use over time if they reported greater feelings of separation
This reminds us of differences between breaking away from ones parents that maintains
emotional closeness (which is healthy)- VS - breaking away from parents (involving alienation,
conflict, hostility)
What triggers Individuation?
Two models suggested:
1) puberty is main catalyst: changes in physical appearance changes how the adolescent is viewed
(by self, and others – including parents)
2) Social-cognitive development (thinking we do about ourselves and our relationships with
others) – may be provoked by development of more sophisticated understanding of self
process of individuation may not be smooth – although thinking that parents are all-knowing
may be inaccurate, it provides emotional comfort
leaving such images can be liberating, however also frightening
therefore, development of emotional autonomy may be associated with feelings of
insecurity, and increased feelings of anxiety and rejection among parents
Emotional Autonomy and Parenting Practices:
healthy individuation and positive mental health are fostered by close, not distant, family
relationships
tense family relationships during adolescence may indicate problems (not positive
development)
Studies showed that the most autonomous adolescents have fewer conflicts with parents,
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