Motivation and emotion/Textbook/Emotion/Adolescence

From Wikiversity
Jump to navigation Jump to search

Emotion in Adolescents[edit source]

Epiphany-bookmarks.svg This page is part of the Motivation and emotion textbook. See also: Guidelines.
Progress-1000.svg Completion status: this resource is considered to be complete.

Introduction[edit | edit source]

"Storm and Stress" (Hall, 1904).

Emotional responses during adolescence are felt with increase intensity and can have a great impact on the individual’s psychological wellbeing (Elkind & Bowen, 1979). The definition of adolescent emotion is difficult to pinpoint however this chapter will present you with different components that influence adolescent emotion and give you ample opportunity to stop and reflect on your own experiences. Before we begin think back to when you were going through the emotional ride that is adolescence. Do you remember this period of your life as emotionally positive, negative or neutral - or a combination of these?

Emotion[edit | edit source]

Definition[edit | edit source]

Emotion is difficult to in a simplistic manner. Emotions are a multidimensional aspect of human life and have many components that lead to every day outputs. Emotions are often described as feelings, however, they are much more. Emotions are complex and are made up of much more than a passing mood of either positive or negative (Powell, 1984). Emotions may be purposive, biological, and subjective to circumstances or as a result of social surroundings (Izard, 1993). Emotional responses or occurrences happen to people as a contrast to being actively initiated by an individual (Powell, 1984).

Adolescent definition[edit | edit source]

The definition of adolescence is almost as hard to find a consensus on as emotion. For ease of definition adolescence can be describes as the period that occurs between childhood and adulthood. In this period an individual encounters may self realisations and transitionary occurrences (Hall,1904) It was during this stage of development that G. Stanley Hall theorised that risky behaviour, mood alterations and conflict with parents was likely to occur with increased frequency.


Talk to a friend and ask for their definition of emotion. See how their definition varies to yours and if the definition of emotion is difficult to pinpoint. As a discussion point which type of emotion (purposive, biological, subjective or social) do you think is exhibited most often?

Types of Emotion[edit | edit source]

Primary Emotions[edit | edit source]

Primary emotions are those that we feel as an immediate reaction to a stimulus. These emotions are not consciously thought about and are a result of instincts (Parrott, 2001). For example, when we are told that our pet has died we feel sadness. Examples of primary emotions include fear, sadness, happiness and anger. Theoretically speaking there is not a great deal of consensus when it comes to the how many emotions a human encompasses, however, it can be narrowed down to at least two (Solomon,1980) to around ten (Izard, 1993).

Secondary learned emotions[edit | edit source]

Secondary emotions are those that occur after an individual has encountered a primary emotion or as a result of a string of emotional analysis. Learned emotions are those that arise out of social interactions or situations. These emotions include shame, guilt and envy (Macmillan, 1994.) These types of emotions are encountered during adolescence as it is a time in which peer interaction and independence starts to become highly valued.

Examples of primary, secondary and tertiary emotions that are experienced by individuals (Parrott, 2001)

  1. Who coined the phrase ‘Storm and Stress’?
  2. What is a primary emotion?
  3. What is secondary emotion?
  4. Why do learned emotions appear with greater frequency in the adolescent time period?

Emotional Intelligence[edit | edit source]

Emotional intelligence is an important component that aids in the way emotions are expressed and interpreted. The way in which an individual processes emotions affects the way that they interact in their relationships (Goleman, 1997). Emotional Intelligence is defined as the way we exhibit, interpret and understand emotions. Although it is theorised that during childhood emotional development occurs adolescence is where the more complex issues and challenges arise. Equipped with the knowledge accumulated in childhood an adolescent begins to navigate their way through new territory. Emotional intelligence has many versions that identify sub sections. We will now examine some of those that Goleman identified as prevalent in adolescence:

Self awareness[edit | edit source]

This is the trait that allows individuals to recognise and identify their own emotions. It allows individuals to use their emotions to make decisions and understand how their actions will impact on others. This is an emotional development that is particularly important in adolescence. This trait allows the adolescent to be aware of their own emotions and repercussions of their actions. This trait can eventually be used as a skill to aide in relating to others and increase social interaction capabilities.

Self management[edit | edit source]

This trait allows an individual to identify correct emotional responses in regards to situational changes. This trait is important to adolescents as it allows the identification of correct emotional outputs. Adolescents can use this situational awareness as a foundation for all future interactions and as a way to achieve optimal relationships. It has been theorised that this trait enables alteration of emotional output to achieve desired results (Marriage & Cummins, 2004).

Understanding emotion[edit | edit source]

This trait allows individuals to interpret and identify the subtle differences in emotions felt within one ’s self and those that are elicited by others. It allows for a greater depth in relationships and a meaningful understanding of emotional exchange. This is important for adolescence as it is the developmental stage where they test relationships and encounter a spectrum of emotions in different contexts. Understanding emotions will allow attention and motivation that enhances relationships of individuals and groups (Lewis & Haviland, 2000).

Managing emotions[edit | edit source]

This aspect enables individuals to control emotional responses of both themselves and others to achieve desired responses. This is important for adolescents as it gives them an opportunity to regulate and steer emotional responses and allows greater control. When an adolescent becomes able to manage the emotions of self and others it will lead to positive effects in all roles and aspects of their life (Hartel, Zerbe & Ashkanasy, 2005).

Emotions prominent in adolescents[edit | edit source]

Emotions during this stage of psychological development can aide in the development of self concept and advance social understanding, but can also cause a great deal of psychological stress and harm. This section will concentrate on four aspects of adolescent emotion that are easily relatable to most individuals.

Self consciousness[edit | edit source]

Adolescence is a time when individuals go through a heightened period of self consciousness (Elkind & Bowen, 1979). During puberty an individual’s body goes through many growth stages and as such new developments must be accepted and embraced. The acceptance of new physical appearances is often not easy for adolescent individuals who view their new phase as awkward or not easily adapted to. The emotion of self consciousness is one that drives many additional emotions including romantic emotions, depression and stress. An individual’s self concept is extremely important and is related to many other components of emotion and psychological wellbeing. Adolescents who experience the emotion of self consciousness are more likely to internalise failures and experiences which in turn increases the emotion (Garber, Weiss, & Shanley, 1993).

Discussion stop

Have you ever felt particularly self conscious? Think of one experience that may have made you feel particularly self conscious. Was there anything about this situation that elicited this emotion? Do you think that you would now have the same emotional reaction as you did then?

Romantic feelings[edit | edit source]

The adolescent time period is one that most of us can look back on and think of our first memory of romantic emotion. Memories that may spring to mind while reminiscing over your first experience of romantic emotions could be the first flutter of your heart, first kiss or first sexual encounter. Many of the most powerful feelings that an adolescent will encounter are those that are as a result of attachment formation. Attachment formation is interpreted as falling in love and the maintenance of the attachment is known as being in love (Bowlby, 1980). It has been suggested that romantic emotions that are felt during adolescence are important to emerging and establishing the self concept as they are interconnected in emotional intensity and variability (Connolly & Konarski, 1994). Studies have shown that by mid to late adolescence most individuals have experienced the emotion of love (Feiring, 1996). It is suggested that in early adolescence the emotion of love is closely related to friendship as it allows adolescence an opportunity to practice forms of disclosure with someone they already feel comfortable with (Brown, 1999). As adolescence progresses there is a greater importance placed on closeness, compatibility and companionship (Furman & Wehner, 1994). Below is a short saying about what adolescent females should look for in a prospective partner and encompasses the short, sweet simplicities that is a first love.

"Find a guy who calls you beautiful instead of hot, who calls you back when you hang up on him, who will lie under the stars and listen to your heartbeat, or will stay awake just to watch you sleep... wait for the boy who kisses your forehead, who wants to show you off to the world when you are in sweats, who holds your hand in front of his friends, who thinks you’re just as pretty without makeup on. One who is constantly reminding you of how much he cares and how lucky he is to have YOU... The one who turns to his friends and says, that’s her... "

(Author unknown)

Depression[edit | edit source]

Adolescence has been identified as a peak period in which individuals are at risk of developing depression and encountering the negative effects that are associated with depressive disorders (Lewinsohn, Joiner, & Rohde, 2001). Depression is more than just feelings of sadness and when left untreated can contribute to acts of self harm, self sabotage and suicide (Beyond Blue). Evidence that suggests an association between depressive symptoms exhibited in adolescence and the quality of intimate relationships has been presented by various studies (Gotlib, Lewinsohn, & Seeley, 1998). Depression during adolescence may arise from many avenues just as it can throughout the lifespan, however, a prevalent theme behind the emotion of depression in adolescence is bullying. Bullying is listed as the number one cause of adolescent depression and is one that causes emotions to be overwhelming and at times unmanageable (Beyond Blue).

Stop and Reflect

The below checklist can be found on the Beyond Blue Website. This website has a wealth of information and sources of help for all individuals that may be suffering or know someone that may be suffering from depression. Take the survey below. Think of the following:

  • Does this sound like you?
  • Can you imagine based on your experiences of heightened emotion during adolescence what ticking yes to the below boxes would feel like?
Case Study - Pheobe Prince

Phoebe Prince was born in 1994 and committed suicide in 2010. Phoebe had previously suffered from periods of depression when she encountered sever bullying at school. Following Phoebe’s depression she was moved to a different school where the teaching staff were made aware of her condition and that she was susceptible to bullying. Following a short relationship with two male members of the student body Phoebe was relentlessly bullied by fellow class mates until she hung herself in the stairwell of her home. Phoebe’s death was a tragedy and resulted in an unnecessary loss of life, six teenagers charged with various breaches of the law and a tightening around anti-bullying legislation. (The Sydney Morning Herald, 2010)

Are you depressed?[edit | edit source]

To view checklists of depression please check out the link below:

For more information on adolescent depression please view the link below:

Stress[edit | edit source]

Stress is an emotion that is a recurrent theme throughout the developmental stages of our life. Teenage years are no exception and many individuals remember adolescence as some of the most stressful years of their lives with social, school and body image pressures listed as high stress points (Buchanan & Holmbeck, 1998). It has been suggested that adolescence may be a stage where heightened stress is expected and therefore encountered. From childhood we are told that the teen years are some of the most fun but also most stressful years of our lives. We are told that puberty brings awkwardness and the result of our schooling could determine the opportunities that we are presented in life. This notion may lead us to notice situations or behavioural cues that are consistent with evoking the emotion of stress and ignoring those that are inconsistent with such emotional cues (Fiske & Taylor, 1991). Stress can also be particularly useful as a tool. The emotional trigger of stress within an individual can signify an imbalance and activate self preservation and as such act as a motivator (Nurmi, 2004). For example, how many times have you left an assignment until the night before its due date to start? The assignment was given with an ample time frame and normally there are plenty of opportunities in the weeks before hand to seek help and clarification from staff. The answer to this question is usually ‘I work better when I am stressed’. Stress can be the emotional trigger that allows people to commit to a task or focus on an objective.

Summary[edit | edit source]

Emotions are complex and are made up of much more than a passing mood of either positive or negative (Powell, 1984). During adolescence emotion is experienced with increased intensity and can have a greater impact on the individual’s psychological wellbeing (Elkind & Bowen, 1979). The intensity of emotion felt within this time period can place an individual at risk of many psychological problems (Beyond Blue). Emotions during this time period enable individuals to develop a sense of emotional control and variability (Connolly & Konarski, 1994).

References[edit | edit source]

Bowlby, J. (1980). Attachment and loss. Loss depression and sadness, New York Basic Books, volume 3.

Brown, B., Feiring, C., & Furman, W. (1999). Missing the love boat: Why researchers have shied away from adolescent romance. Cambridge University oppress, Cambridge, 1-18.

Buchanan, C. M., & Holmbeck, G. N. (1998). Measuring beliefs about adolescent personality and behaviour. Journal of Youth and Adolescence, 27, 607–627.

Connolly, J., & Konarski, R. (1994). Peer self concept in adolescence: Analysis of factor structure and of associations with peer experience. Journal of research on Adolescence, 4, 385-403.

Elkind, D., & Bowen. R. (1979). Imaginary audience behaviour in children and adolescents. Developmetilal Psychology, 5(1), 38-44.

Feiring, C. (1996). Concepts of romance in fifteen year old adolescents. Journal of research on adolescence, 6, 181-200.

Fiske, S., & Taylor, S. (1991). Social cognition. McGraw-Hill, New York.

Furman, W., & Wehner, E. (1994). Romantic views: Toward a theory of adolescent romantic relationships. Thousand Oaks, California, 168-195.

Garber, J., Weiss, B., & Shanley, N. (1993). Cognitions, depressive symptoms, and development in adolescents. Journal of abnormal psychology, 102, 47-57.

Goleman, D. (1997). Emotional intelligence: Why it can matter more than IQ. Bantam Books, New York.

Gotlib, I., Lewinsohn, P., & Seeley, J. (1998). Consequences of depression during adolescence: Marital status and marital functioning in early adulthood. Journal of abnormal psychology, 107, 686-690.

Hartel, C., Zerbe, W., & Ashkanasy, N. (2000). Organisational behaviour: An emotions perspective. Emotions in organisational behaviour, 1-8.

Izard, C. (1993). Four systems for emotional activation: Cognitive and noncognitive processes. Psychological Review, 100, 68-90.

Lewinson, P., Joiner. T., & Rohde, P. (2001). Evaluation of cognitive diathesis-stress models in predicting major depressive disorder in adolescents. Journal of abnormal psychology, 110(2), 203-215.

Lewis, M., & Havilan-Jones, J. (2000). Handbook of emotions. Guilford, New York, 2nd Edition.

Marriage, K., & Cummins, R. (2004). Subjective quality life and self-esteem in children: The role of primary and secondary control in coping with everyday stress. Social indicators research, 66, 107-122.

Nurmi, J. (2004). Socialization and self-development: Channelling, selection, adjustment, and reflection. Wiley, New York, 85-124.

Parrott, W. (2001), Emotions in Social Psychology, Psychology Press, Philadelphia.

Powell, B. (1994). The Complete Guide to Your Child's Emotional Health. Macmillan, New York.

The Sydney Morning Herald. (2010). Revenge of the Mean Girls: bullied Phoebe's 'tortuous' last day. SMH, March 31, 2010.