|dc.description.abstract||Increasingly, there is a tendency to characterize the teenage years as a time of general moral degeneration and deviance. This is unfortunate because the teenage years represent a key developmental period of the typical human lifespan, and from an evolutionary point of view, the actual characteristics that define adolescence represent critical learning opportunities. The increased sensitivity to social influences, identity formation, and social-emotional skills are just a few of such opportunities that require appropriate environments and contexts for optimal, healthy outcomes. Research in the field of adolescent development has not been immune to the negative stereotypes surrounding adolescence, and it is common to see researchers, either implicitly or explicitly, refer to adolescence as a high-risk, anomalous developmental stage that must be controlled, managed, or simply endured until adult-level abilities emerge spontaneously as a result of having survived an intrinsically tumultuous developmental time. More enlightened views of adolescence recognize that all biological adaptations have a cause and a purpose, and that the purpose of adolescence can be discerned from understanding the complex evolutionary history of humans as a group-based, family-based, highly social, sometimes competitive, abstract-thinking species.
Understanding the biological foundations of adolescence is meaningless if one does not also consider how biology and environment interact. In humans, these interactions are highly complex and involve not only immediate physical realities, but also social, cultural, and historical realities that create complex contexts and webs of interactions. Therefore, this textbook seeks to reconcile the biological and neurological foundations of human development with the psychological and sociological mechanisms that formed and continue to influence human developmental trajectories. To this end, we have divided the textbook into three main sections. The first, Foundations of Adolescent Development, introduces the historical science of studying adolescence and the biological foundations of puberty. The second section, Contexts of Adolescent Development, considers the primary contextual factors that influence developmental outcomes during adolescence. These include work and employment, peers, in-school and out-of-school contexts, leisure time, and the family. The final section, Milestones of Adolescent Development, addresses the primary psychological milestones that represent healthy adjustment to adult roles and responsibilities in society. The domains of these milestones include cognition and decision-making; identity, meaning, and purpose, moral development, and sexuality. From an educational point of view, the objective of this textbook is to provide a resource that is capable of fostering advanced conceptual change and learning in the field of adolescent development in order to go beyond stereotypical portrayals of adolescence as a pathological condition. Organized in a manner designed to scaffold increasingly complex ideas, the textbook redefines adolescence a sensitive period of development characterized by phylogenetically derived experience-expectant states and complex interactions of biological, psychological, and social factors. The textbook draws from the latest advances in neuroscience and psychology to construct a practical framework for use in a wide range of academic and professional contexts, and it presents historical as well as contemporary research to accomplish a radical redefining of an often misunderstood and maligned developmental period.||