Adolescence Stage of Development: Definition & Explanation

An error occurred trying to load this video.

Try refreshing the page, or contact customer support.

Coming up next: What Is Adolescence? - Definition, Stages & Characteristics

You're on a roll. Keep up the good work!

Take Quiz Watch Next Lesson
 Replay
Your next lesson will play in 10 seconds
  • 0:00 Adolescence
  • 1:04 Physical Development
  • 1:34 Cognitive Development
  • 2:34 Socio-Emotional Development
  • 3:45 Lesson Summary
Add to Add to Add to

Want to watch this again later?

Log in or sign up to add this lesson to a Custom Course.

Login or Sign up

Timeline
Autoplay
Autoplay
Speed

Recommended Lessons and Courses for You

Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Chris Clause
In this lesson, you will learn about the key aspects that define the stage of human development known as adolescence. Following the lesson, you will have the opportunity to test your new knowledge by taking a short quiz.

Adolescence

Human growth and development is characterized by several distinct and unique stages beginning with conception and ending at death. Like all stages of human development, adolescence is an important stage. In this lesson, we will focus on the biological, cognitive, and socio-emotional aspects of adolescence, which make it unique and distinguishable from the other stages of human development.

For most humans, adolescence begins around age 10 to 12 and concludes somewhere between 18 to 21 years of age. It is important to remember that age alone does not signify the beginning and end of adolescence, but rather achieving key developmental milestones indicates when a particular stage of development has begun or concluded.

While a variety of changes are taking place during adolescence, these changes can, for the most part, be classified within three major categories:

  • Physical
  • Cognitive
  • and Socio-emotional aspects

Physical Development

The onset of puberty marks the beginning of the significant physical changes that occur within the developmental stage of adolescence. Puberty encourages rapid physical growth and is triggered by the increased production of two hormones:

  • Testosterone in males
  • and Estradiol in females

By the end of adolescence the body has, for the most part, undergone the changes needed to result in a fully functioning adult being including physical maturity and sexual development in both genders.

Cognitive Development

As the body changes and grows during adolescence, the brain undergoes significant changes as well. Specifically, certain areas of the brain grow and develop independent of one another during adolescence. Recent brain imaging studies have shown that the amygdala, which is influential in emotional regulation, develops earlier in adolescence, and the cortex, which is influential in thinking and decision-making, occurs later in adolescence.

Renowned developmental psychologist, Jean Piaget, posited that the hallmark of adolescence, from a cognitive perspective, is the ability to engage in formal operational thinking. In general, formal operational thinking involves the ability to understand abstract concepts and the ability to make predictions about future events. In the eyes of cognitive developmental psychologists, the ability to perform functions requiring formal operational thinking, such as developing theories and solving abstract problems, marks the transition into adolescence.

To unlock this lesson you must be a Study.com Member.
Create your account

Register to view this lesson

Are you a student or a teacher?

Unlock Your Education

See for yourself why 30 million people use Study.com

Become a Study.com member and start learning now.
Become a Member  Back
What teachers are saying about Study.com
Try it risk-free for 30 days

Earning College Credit

Did you know… We have over 160 college courses that prepare you to earn credit by exam that is accepted by over 1,500 colleges and universities. You can test out of the first two years of college and save thousands off your degree. Anyone can earn credit-by-exam regardless of age or education level.

To learn more, visit our Earning Credit Page

Transferring credit to the school of your choice

Not sure what college you want to attend yet? Study.com has thousands of articles about every imaginable degree, area of study and career path that can help you find the school that's right for you.

Create an account to start this course today
Try it risk-free for 30 days!
Create An Account
Support