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Discuss research into relationships in adolescence

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Discuss research into relationships in adolescence Some would argue that adolescence is a period of stress, such as Smith and Crawford (1960) who found that over 60% of high school students had had suicidal thoughts. Assuming that this is the case, then adolescents need emotional support, particularly from their peers and parents. However, since conflict between children and their parents is more likely to occur during adolescence (Santrock, 2001), peers may be a better alternative, since they offer social support without the commitment that comes with parents (Blos, 1967). In fact, it could be that such relationships with peers are necessary for healthy development. Supporting this view, Kirschler et al. (1991) found that those who had good peer relationships during adolescence also had good relationships in adulthood, and Steinberg and Silverberg (1986) found that the formation of peer relationships is a necessary step in breaking away from one's parents and gaining autonomy. However, this may not be entirely accurate, as it may be that parents still play an important role throughout adolescence: although adolescence may be a time of finding an identity and gaining independence, parents may still be there to offer support in times of stress (Steinberg, 1990). ...read more.


As a result, we think about ourselves and our future identities more, and as this is a new way of thinking, it may appear quite daunting at first. Research evidence supports this, for example, Coleman (1961) found that cliques in adolescence provide a sense of identity separate from one's parents, and simply being in the clique and around other similar people gives a higher sense of self-esteem. This is especially significant, as as many as 90% of adolescents identify as belonging to a peer group, as found in a study of Italian 16-18 year olds. However, in contrast with this explanation, it has been found by Dasen (1994) that only a third of adults obtain formal operational thought, so it may not be a sufficient explanation of why adolescents feel the need to gain a sense of identity. It has even been argued that adolescence is a 'creation of the 20th century' and is, in reality, not stressful at all, indicating that the reasons for developing different types of relationships are different. ...read more.


Conversely, conflict with parents and refuge in peers may be overexaggerated ideas. Durkin (1997) suggest that it is important to bear in mind that conflicts occur between and individuals who share a house, and that conflict is a part of social life. Discord may lead to negotiation over rights and not necessarily relationship breakdown, and this may be the phenomenon seen in adolescent relationship behaviour. In support of this, a study of adolescent girls found that most of them said that the person they felt closest to was their mother, and minor quarrels often occurred but as an attempt to change the power balance between the two rather than a separation (Apter, 1990). But, this study was carried out with a relatively small sample size of 130 people, all of whom were from the USA and Britain, so the results may not be easily generalised to other populations; but it is nevertheless a demonstration of the principle mentioned above. ...read more.

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