PS276 Chapter Notes - Chapter 13: Peer Pressure, Antisocial Personality Disorder, Internalizing Disorder

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10 Aug 2016
Lesson 12: Psychosocial Problems in Adolescence (Ch. 13)
General Principles About Problems in Adolescence
Most problems reflect transitory experimentation
oRates of occasional experimentation far exceed rates of enduring problems
oE.g. majority will experiment with alcohol but not become alcoholic/do
something against the law but not have criminal careers
Not all problems begin in adolescence
oMost adolescents with recurrent problems with law had problems at home
and school from early age during periods of development
oProblem displayed during adolescence doesn’t mean it is a problem of
Most problems do not persist into adulthood
oMany problems relatively transitory and resolved by beginning of adulthood,
with few long-term repercussions
oThose with problem behaviour persisting into adulthood likely to have had
problematic childhood/adolescence
Problems during adolescence are not caused by adolescence
oProblem behaviour during adolescence almost never direct consequence of
normative changes of adolescence itself
oNo scientific support that “raging hormones” and inherent need to rebel
against authority cause deviant behaviour
Psychosocial Problems: Their Nature and Covariation
Substance abuse: misuse of alcohol or other drugs to degree that causes problems
in individual’s life
Externalizing disorders: psychosocial problems manifested in turning symptoms
outward, as in aggression or delinquency/antisocial behaviour
Internalizing disorders: psychosocial problems manifested in turning symptoms
inward, as in depression or anxiety
Substance abuse accompanies externalizing or internalizing disorder (comorbid)
Comorbidity of Externalizing Problems
Problem Behaviour Syndrome
Covariation among various types of externalizing disorders believed to result from
underlying trait of unconventionality, both in personality and social environment
Unconventional individuals are tolerant of deviance, not highly connected to
educational/religious institutions, and very liberal in views
Unconventional environments = large number of unconventional individuals
Predisposition toward deviance may be inherited; biological differences in arousal,
sensation seeking, fearlessness; behaviour as adaptive response to hostile childhood
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Problem Clusters
Alternative view suggesting different types of deviance have different origins,
though involvement in one behaviour may lead to involvement in another
oProblem behaviours cluster not because of common underlying trait like
unconventionality, but because involvement in problematic activities leads to
involvement in others
Externalizing problems in childhood  academic difficulties in adolescence 
internalizing problems in adulthood (cascading effect)
Social Control Theory
Theory of delinquency that links deviance with absence of bonds to society’s main
Problem behaviour caused from underlying weakness in individual’s attachment to
Leads to development of unconventional attitudes, membership to unconventional
peer groups, or involvement in problem behaviours
Explains why problems cluster and are more prevalent among poor, inner-city
minority youth
Comorbidity of Internalizing Problems
Comorbidity of internalizing disorders tend to have in common subjective state of
distress, e.g. depressed adolescent more likely to experience anxiety, panic
Negative emotionality: presumed underlying cause of internalizing disorders,
characterized by high levels of subjective stress
Anhedonic: having difficulty experiencing positive emotions
Believed to have both biological and environmental origins
Substance Use and Abuse
Prevalence of Substance Use and Abuse
Drugs and the Adolescent Brain
Drugs more likely to be addictive during adolescence than early adulthood due to
plasticity of brain
Changes in limbic system taking place during adolescence affects receptors for
dopamine (neurotransmitter regulates pleasure/reward)
Dopamine receptors receive molecules of addictive drugs in same way when in
presence of actual dopamine
Adolescents also don’t feel negative consequences of drinking as profoundly as
adults, and feel positive effects of alcohol more intensely than adults
Hippocampus (responsible for memory and impulse control) most vulnerable to
harmful effects of alcohol
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Ethnic Differences in Substance Use
White adolescents more likely to use drugs/alcohol than minority youth, especially
Black and Asian
Rates of drug use among Hispanics comparable to Whites; use among American
Indian adolescents is highest
Foreign-born and less Americanized adolescents use less alcohol, drugs, and tobacco
oSuggests acculturation and becoming “American” teenager means
experimenting with drugs
oRate of drug use among immigrants is half the rate from same ethnic group
born in the US
Does Substance Use Follow a Particular Progression?
Generally experiment with beer and wine before trying cigarettes or hard liquor,
then marijuana, then other illicit drugs
Virtually all users of hard drugs have also tried alcohol, cigarettes, and marijuana
Adolescents who have not experimented with alcohol or marijuana by 20s unlikely
to ever use these gateway drugs or any other drugs
Different developmental trajectories of alcohol, tobacco, and drug use:
oNonusers: rarely experimented with substances
oAlcohol experimenters: tried alcohol in early adolescence but did not try other
drugs and did not increase drinking over time
oLow escalators: began using substances in early adolescence and increased
use slowly but steadily over time
oEarly starters: showed very high substance use in early adolescence and
escalated gradually over time; smoke/drink frequently by end of HS
oLate starters: used substances infrequently during early adolescence but
increased use rapidly during high school
oHigh escalators: moderate use in early adolescence, escalated rapidly
between early and middle adolescence, and continued use throughout HS
Cause and Consequences of Substance Use and Abuse
Users, Abusers, and Abstainers
Experimenters and abstainers score higher on measures of psychological
adjustment than frequent users
Moderate alcohol use during adolescence does not have long-term effects, though
cigarette use does due to highly addictive effects of nicotine
Alcohol and marijuana use normative among adolescents in contemporary society
and typically used in social settings  better adjusted people participate
Abstainers tend to be overcontrolled and inhibited
Predictors and Consequences of Substance Abuse
Frequent users score lower on psychological adjustment as teens and likely to be
maladjusted as children
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