Adolescence can be defined as the period in life when most of a person's biological, cognitive, psychological, and social characteristics are changing in an interrelated manner from what is considered childlike to what is considered adultlike (Lerner & Spanier, 1980). When most of one's characteristics are in this state of change one is an adolescent.
Adolescence requires adjustments to changes in the self, family, peer group, and institutions. There are individual differences in the timing, speed, and outcomes of these transitions, changes caused by variation in the timing of connections among biological, psychological, and societal factors, and not merely one of these factors acting alone (Brooks-Gunn & Petersen, 1983; Lerner, 2002). A major source of diversity in development is the systemic relations adolescents have with people and institutions in their context (Bandura, 1964; Block, 1971; Douvan & Adelson, 1966; Lerner, 2002; Offer, 1969).
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