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time of life from onset of puberty to full adulthood. The exact period of adolescence, which varies from person to person, falls approximately between the ages 12 and 20 and encompasses both physiological and psychological changes. Physiological changes lead to sexual maturity and usually occur during the first several years of the period. This process of physical changes is known as puberty, and it generally takes place in girls between the ages of 8 and 14, and boys between the ages of 9 and 16. In puberty, the pituitary gland increases its production of gonadotropins, which in turn stimulate the production of predominantly estrogen in girls, and predominantly testosterone in boys. Estrogen and testosterone are responsible for breast development, hair growth on the face and body, and deepening voice. These physical changes signal a range of psychological changes, which manifest themselves throughout adolescence, varying significantly from person to person and from one culture to another. Psychological changes generally include questioning of identity and achievement of an appropriate sex role; movement toward personal independence; and social changes in which, for a time, the most important factor is peer group relations. Adolescence in Western societies tends to be a period of rebellion against adult authority figures, often parents or school officials, in the search for personal identity. Many psychologists regard adolescence as a byproduct of social pressures specific to given societies, not as a unique period of biological turmoil. In fact, the classification of a period of life as "adolescence" is a relatively recent development in many Western societies, one that is not recognized as a distinct phase of life in many other cultures.


See T. Hine, The Rise and Fall of the American Teenager (1999).


the stage in the LIFE COURSE between childhood and adulthood marked by the beginnings of adult sexuality but coming before full adult status or final detachment from the FAMILY OF ORIGIN OR ORIENTATION.

In simple societies the passage from childhood to adulthood is often marked by rites de passage (see RITUAL), or by the provision of young mens (and less often young women's) AGE SETS. However, it is within modern societies, with their distinctive emphasis on YOUTH CULTURE, fostered by the MASS MEDIA OF COMMUNICATION, that adolescence has achieved a particular importance. In these societies, in contrast to more TRADITIONAL SOCIETIES, adolescents must choose their CAREERS and sexual partners as well as their general LIFESTYLE. Thus adolescence, the time of educational examinations and entry into work, is also a stage in the life cycle which is associated with individual experimentation in sexual and leisure behaviour. It may also be a time for questioning received values, and of rebellion against parental patterns of behaviour (see also GENERATION). The search for independence, and the heightened sense of self-awareness and uncertainty about SELF, can also lead to psychological crisis and psychological disturbance. See also YOUTH UNEMPLOYMENT, DELINQUENCY.


Stage in the cycle of erosion following youth and preceding maturity.
The period of life from puberty to maturity.


novel of young love. [Am. Lit.: Booth Tarkington Seventeen in Magill I, 882]
References in periodicals archive ?
Physical inactivity during adolescence may later result in obesity during adulthood.
In a nutshell: Fourth installment in ``Potter'' series plugs its way through dense source material, offers proof that adolescence is far more frightening than anything a dark lord can offer.
Assessing the effects of age, sex, and shared environment on the genetic aetiology of depression in childhood and adolescence.
But a new study out this month finds girls who eat cereal during adolescence are less likely to gain weight as they grow up.
While these problems in adolescence have been recognized throughout human history, the critical questions remain: Are the changes based in biology?
Roni Weinstein focuses on Jewish youth in Italian Renaissance cities, noting that a shared experience of adolescence transcended even a deep cultural divide.
Unfortunately, this life exists well off the radar screens of most gay men who live in urban ghettos, trapped in a perpetual state of adolescence, Here in West Hollywood, if you're not in your 20s, you talk about them incessantly and dress like you still are.
In Adolescence: A Guide For Parents, they point out that adolescence is kicking in earlier and that recognising the three different stages is vital for any parent who wants to get out in one piece.
The nature of preteen friendships can play a key role in determining whether or not a child will engage in sexual activity early in adolescence, an Ohio State University, Columbus, study suggests.
Research also has shown that adolescence is a time when remarkable changes are taking place in the brain.
It is not unusual for children reaching adolescence to change in ways psychological as well as physical.
Despite convincing literature to the contrary, the notions of `transition shock' and the `storm and stress' of adolescence persist in views on primary-secondary school transfer.