Friday, 30 March 2012

The Effects of Peers on Adolescent Development

Blos compared the uniformism of the American middle-class youth, based on the overriding shift to peers, with a much lower tendency to seek out and identify with extra parental adults compared to European youth. The question is now whether such comparisons are still possible taking into account current similarities in the
situation of the European and American youths. In young adolescents the needs are primarily narcissistic as they look for complete affirmation that can be received from idealized peers and which provides the support for their decreased self-respect. Such relationships are quasi-relationships created in a self-created milieu. Due to inevitable depreciation of idealized figures, the attachment is temporarily transferred to other groups or again to family. The adolescents with more psychopathology either join the group with great difficulties, or they abandon it for good. They can attach themselves to pseudo-groups in which some stereotypic behaviors, such as drug abuse, delinquency and fighting with other groups, give the feeling of belonging to the group and identity without intimacy. This orientation toward peers accompanies a specific phase of development. The premature formation of peer groups is most frequently the result of deprivation and family disorganization, which were typical for poor urban families, but with increased number of separations and divorces it appears also among the youth of other social classes.

During middle adolescence when the young person becomes more self-assured with respect to his/her body and impulses, the relationships with peer groups are gradually yell. The groups become mirrors for body image, social monitors and arbitrators of behavior. Only gradually the observation of peers becomes more realistic and they are perceived as separate, different and imperfect persons whose friendship still counts. By this the capacity for intimacy also gradually evolves. Current research does not provide evidence that peer groups considerably draw away young persons from their family values related to wider problems, such as political, religious or life goals, although they certainly affect the outward appearance and inclinations of adolescents in respect to popular culture. However, the influence of peer groups on behavior, particularly problematic behavior, can affect the development.

The negative effect of peers represents a higher risk for adolescents from weaker families or early maturing girls. The group can also affect positively the adolescent development during middle and especially late adolescence through its social support. At this age the peer relationships can alleviate negative parental or other influences.

No comments:

Post a Comment