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Chapter 9

Chapter 9 Reading Notes.pdf

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Diane Glebe

READING NOTES Chapter 9: AUTONOMY Autonomy as anAdolescent Issue • Autonomy is associated with “the terrible twos” - a stage of development where they begin to explore their surroundings on their own and assert their desire to do as they please • Puberty and the Development ofAutonomy ◦ Anna Freud suggests that the physical changes or early adolescence trigger changes in the young person's emotional relationships at home ▪ They turn away from their parents and toward their peers for emotional support • Cognitive Change and the Development ofAutonomy ◦ Part of being autonomous involves being able to make independent decisions ▪ When they turn to others for advice, they often receive conflicting opinions • Social Roles and the Development ofAutonomy ◦ Becoming involved in new roles and taking on new responsibilities place the adolescent in situations that require and stimulate the development of independent decision making ▪ e.g.) Having a job or drivers license • Three Types ofAutonomy ◦ Emotional autonomy is that aspect of independence related to changes in the individual's close relationships, especially with parents ▪ Feeling independent ◦ Behavioural autonomy is the capacity to make independent decisions and follow through on them ▪ Acting independently ◦ Cognitive autonomy involves having independent values, opinions, and beliefs ▪ Thinking independently The Development of EmotionalAutonomy • By the end of adolescence, individuals are far less dependent on their parents ◦ They generally do not rush to their parents when upset, worried, or in need of assistance ◦ They do not see their parents as all-knowing or all-powerful ◦ They often have a great deal of emotional energy wrapped up in relationships outside of the family Emotional Autonomy and Detachment • Psychoanalytic Theory and Detachment ◦ Freud argued that physical changes of puberty cause disruption and conflict inside the family system because intrapsychic conflicts that have been repressed since early childhood are reawakened by sexual impulses ▪ As a consequence of tension among family membrs, early adolescents are driven to emotionally separate themselves from their parents and turn their emotional energies to relationships with peers • Psychoanalytic theorists call this process of separation detachment because to them it appears as the adolescent is attempting to sever the attachments that have been formed during infancy and strengthened through childhood ◦ Freud views this process as accompanying storm and stress inside the family • Research on Detachment ◦ Major studies have shown that most families get along quite well during the adolescence years ▪ Although they may bicker, there is no evidence that bickering diminishes the closeness between them in any lasting way ◦ Emotional autonomy during adolescence involves a transition, not a breaking off, of family relationships Emotional Autonomy and Individuation • In contrast to the psychoanalytic perspective, it is suggested that adolescence should be looked at in terms of the adolescent's developing sense of individuation ◦ The progressive sharpening of an individual's sense of being an autonomous, independent person ◦ It entails relinquishing childish dependencies on parents in favour of a more mature, more responsible, and less dependent relationship Research on Emotional Autonomy • De-Idealization ◦ De-idealization is the beginning, not the end, of a long process that gradually leads adolescents to adopt more realistic views of their parents ◦ Seeing one's parents as people appears later in adolescents' relations with their fathers than their mothers ▪ Because fathers seem to interact less often with their adolescents in ways that permit them to be seen as individuals • The Importance of Maintaining the Connection ◦ Adolescents who become emotionally autonomous, but also feel distant or detached from their parents, score poorly on measures of psychological adjustment ▪ Reported increases in alcohol use over time ◦ Adolescents who demonstrate the same degree of emotional autonomy, but who still feel close and attachers to their parents, are psychologically healthier than their peers ▪ Reported declines in alcohol use over time • What Triggers Individuation? ◦ Two different models have been suggested: ▪ 1.According to researchers, puberty is the main catalyst • Changes in physical appearance provoke changes in the way adolescents are viewed – which may provoke changes in the parent-child interaction ▪ 2. Others believe that individuation is stimulated by their social-cognitive development • The development of emotional autonomy in adolescence may be provoked by young people's development of more sophisticated understandings of themselves and their parents ◦ As children, they accept parent's views of them as accurate, but as they develop more differentiated self-conceptions, they come to see that their parents' view is one of many and not entirely accurate ◦ Writers have suggested that as adolescents de-idealize their parents, they may begin to feel both more autonomous and more insecure – what researchers termed a “double-edged sword” Emotional Autonomy and Parenting Practices • Autonomous adolescents report that they are close to their parents, enjoy doing things with their families, have few conflicts with their mothers and fathers, feel free to turn to them for advice, and say they'd like to be like their parents • During college, students who live away from home report more affection for their parents, better communication, and higher levels of satisfaction in the relationship • Adolescents whose parents are emotionally close to the point of being overprotective – parents who use a lot of psychological control – may have difficulty individuation from them ◦ This may lead to anxiety, depression and diminished competence • Individuation in the Context of Closeness ◦ Emotional autonomy develops best under conditions that encourage both individuation and emotional closeness ◦ Astudy on the interaction between parents and adolescents: ▪ Coding for two behaviours: • “Enabling” ◦ Parents accept their adolescent and at the same time help the teenager to develop and state his ideas through questions, explanations, and the tolerance of differences of opinion • “Constraining” ◦ Have difficulty accepting their child's individuality and react to expressions of independent thinking with remarks that are distracting, judgemental, or devaluing ▪ Results: • Adolescents whose parents used enabling are likely to develop in healthy ways ◦ They score higher on measures of identity development and psychosocial competence • Adolescents who grow up in families that inhibit individuation are more likely to display behavioural problems such as poor impulse control • EmotionalAutonomy and Parenting Style ◦ Independence, responsibility, and self-esteem are all fostered by parents who are authoritative (friendly, fair, firm) ▪ The give-and-take that is found in authoritative families is well suited to the healthy development of emotional autonomy ◦ In authoritarian households, where rules are enforced and seldom explained to the child, adjusting to adolescence is more difficult ▪ Authoritarian parents may see the child's increasing emotional independence as rebellious or disrespectful ◦ In both indulgent and indifferent families, permissively reared teenagers often turn to their peers for advice and emotional support ▪ Parents fail to provide sufficient guidance for their children and as a result, the youngsters do not acquire adequate standards for behaviour The Development of BehaviouralAutonomy Changes in Decision-Making Abilities • Improvements in Decision-MakingAbilities ◦ Adolescents become more likely to consider both the risks and benefits, as well as weigh the long-term consequences of their choices ◦ These improvements appear to be due to two separate, but related developments: ▪ First, there is a decline over the course of adolescence in the extent to which decisions are influenced by their potential to produce an immediate reward • Adolescents are more likely drawn to potential benefits, as they mature, there is a balance between rewards and costs • Some of the heightened “reward sensitivity” might not be conscious ▪ Second, influence on decision making concerns individuals' ability to control their impulses • Regions of the brain important for self-regulation are still developing in adolescence and early adulthood • Legal Decision Making ◦ Adolescents are less likely than adults to think about the long-term implications of their decisions, more likely to focus on the immediate consequences, and less able to understand the ways in which other people's positions might bias their interests When Do Adolescents Make Decisions As Well As Adults? • Adifficulty in making decisions about where to daw lines between adolescents and adults is that mature decision making is the product of both ◦ Cognitive abilities ◦ Psychosocial factors ▪ These develop along different timetables ▪ They may think like adults but behave much more immaturely Changes in Susceptibility to Influence • The Influence of Parents and Peers ◦ Studies that contrast parents' and peers' influences indicate that in some situations, peers' opinions are more influential, but that in other situations, parents' opinions are more powerful ▪ Adolescents conform to their peers' opinions when it comes to short-term, day- to-day, and social matters • e.g.) Styles of dress, tastes in music, choices among leisure activities ▪ When it comes to long-term questions concerning educational or occupational plans, or issues concerning values, religious beliefs or ethics, teenagers are primarily influenced by their parents • Responding to Peer Pressure ◦ In an experiment, participants were asked to type letters as they read on the screen but not to touch theALT key as the computer would crash ▪ The computer was already set up to crash, regardless if theALT key was touched or not ▪ When asked why they had touched theALT key, significantly more young adolescents than young adults confessed to hitting theALT key, even when they actually had not ◦ One reason that adolescents are more susceptible to peer influence during this time is because of their heightened orientation toward the peer group ◦ The heightened conformity to peer pressure during early adolescence may be a sign of a sort of emotional “way station” between becoming emotionally autonomous from parents and becoming a genuinely autonomous person
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