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abstinence-only programs
Sex education programs that teach that abstinence is the only way to avoid pregnancy and the risk of sexually transmitted diseases.
academic tracking
The assignment of students to one of several courses of study in high school on the basis of criteria such as academic interests and goals, past achievement, and ability.
Allowing gifted adolescents to advance beyond their grade level at a faster than normal rate.
Piaget’s term for the process by which cognitive structures are altered to fit new events or experiences.
A socialization process by which members of a minority adopt the customs of the dominant group, while maintaining a separate cultural identity.
achieved ethnic identity
A stage in ethnic identity formation in which one has a clear sense of one’s ethnicity that reflects feelings of belonging and emotional identification.
A period in life that begins with biological maturation, during which individuals are expected to accomplish certain developmental tasks, and that ends when they achieve a self-sufficient state of adulthood as defined by society.
adolescence-limited antisocial behavior
Problem behavior that originates in adolescence and drops out in early adulthood.
adrenal androgens
Hormones produced by the adrenal glands, which initiate the initial stage of puberty.
The initial phase of puberty, which involves activity of the adrenal androgens.
adult status hypothesis
An explanation for the effects of asynchronous development that attributes the result of timing to the status that awaits adolescents of either sex when they become adults.
affective disorders
Disorders whose primary symptoms reflect a disturbance of mood, such as depression.
age changes
Biological and experiential changes that accompany aging, irrespective of cultural or historical context.
An aspect of mature functioning characterized in independent cultures by asserting one’s thoughts and feelings, and in interdependent cultures by self-restraint and maintaining harmonious relationships.
Acquired immune deficiency syndrome: a sexually transmitted disease resulting from a virus that attacks the immune system; can also be transmitted through contaminated blood transfusions or from an infected pregnant woman to her fetus.
A drug that functions as a central nervous system depressant.
Indifference where devotion or attachment formerly existed; estrangement.
Male sex hormones.
A personality in which there are both masculine and feminine attributes.
An eating disorder characterized by severely limiting the intake of food; more common in females.
Menstrual cycles that do not include the release of an egg.
anterior pituitary
A center within the brain that produces hormones that act on the gonads.
Rogoff’s term suggesting that thinking is an activity that is shared with others, guiding practical action.
archival research
The use of existing data, such as public records, to provide answers to research questions.
artistic personality types
In Holland’s typology of vocational interests, individuals who prefer work requiring imagination and creativity, for example, a graphic artist or poet.
Piaget’s term for the process by which new events and experiences are adjusted to fit existing cognitive structures.
Differences in the timing of pubertal changes within an adolescent or from one adolescent to the next.
attributional error
An overestimation of the importance of dispositional stressors or an underestimation of the importance of situational ones.
attributional retraining
A career counseling technique that focuses on individuals’ explanations for anticipated career-related successes or failures.
authoritarian parenting
Parents who stress obedience, respect for authority, and traditional values.
authoritative parenting
Parents who stress self-reliance and independence, establish clear standards for behavior and give reasons when disciplining.
The ability to perform highly practiced cognitive operations without conscious attention.
The state of being self-governing and responsible for one’s actions.
average adolescents
Adolescents who are moderately popular with their classmates and moderately disliked as well.


Distortion of the effect of a variable due to research design or researcher expectations.
bicultural identity
The process by which minority adolescents identify themselves with respect to the two cultures to which they belong.
Sexual attraction toward individuals of both sexes.
body image
An individual’s satisfaction or dissatisfaction with the image of their body.
body mass index (BMI)
One’s weight in pounds divided by the square of one’s height in inches times 703 ({weight in pounds/(height in inches)2} × 703). Since body fatness varies with age and sex, percentiles for BMI are specific to age and gender.
An eating disorder characterized by bingeing (excessive or compulsive eating) and then purging (ridding the body of food, such as self-induced vomiting); more common in females.
Repeated aggressive behaviors or remarks occurring over an extended period of time that the victim finds difficult to defend against.


carefree diffusion
The resolution of the psychosocial crisis by neither exploring nor committing oneself to life options primarily due to enjoyment of one’s present circumstances.
castration anxiety
In Freudian theory, a young boy’s fear of being castrated by his father as punishment for the boy’s sexual attraction to his mother.
cell proliferation
The overproduction of neurons and their interconnections.
The opening to the uterus.
child labor
Work done by children and adolescents prior to reaching the minimum age for work, that is harmful in one way or another.
child labor laws
Laws that specify minimum ages for various types of work.
A sexually transmitted disease, caused by a bacterium, that can affect the reproductive tract, possibly leading to pelvic inflammatory disease.
The changing impact of the various environmental systems (micro-, meso-, exo-, macro) at different historical periods.
Surgical removal of the prepuce (or foreskin) covering the glans of the penis.
classification variable
A variable, such as age, that cannot be manipulated by randomly assigning participants to levels of the variable.
The gradual decline in functioning of the reproductive organs in middle age.
A peer group made up of one’s best friends, usually including no more than five or six members.
That part of the external genitals in females that is the primary source of sexual stimulation.
cognitive restructuring
A counseling technique that confronts individuals with their irrational beliefs.
cohort differences
Experiential differences between groups of people born at different periods in time; these differences can be confounded with age changes.
cohort group
People born during the same historical period or undergoing the same historical influences.
collective efficacy
The willingness of neighbors to intervene in situations that might threaten the well-being of others.
collectivistic cultures
Cultures that encourage a sense of self in terms of one’s rules or status vis-à-vis others.
commitment in relativism
The third of Perry’s three forms of thought: committing oneself to a point of view from which one can derive meaning.
The process of committing oneself to a definite course of action in achieving an identity.
The interrelatedness and co-occurrence of several problem behaviors.
comprehensive sex education programs
Sex education programs that teach abstinence as a preferred approach and educate students concerning effective methods of contraception.
compulsory education laws
Legislation making school attendance mandatory for children and adolescents until they graduate or reach a minimum age.
computer-assisted instruction (CAI)
The use of computers to provide instruction as well as to monitor student progress provides flexibility that helps students continue their education, even when their schedules are erratic.
conflict resolution training
Programs designed to teach students to view conflict as a problem to be solved mutually, with a win-win outcome.
The tendency to go along with the norms and standards of one’s group.
The presence of additional factors other than the variable of interest that can account for observed differences.
A quality of family interactions reflecting openness to and respect for others’ opinions.
The realization that something remains the same despite changes in its appearance.
constructive controversy
A technique using controversy to stimulate solutions to problems by having students alternately argue their own and the opposing side of a conflict.
constructive knowledge
The third of Belenky and associates’ three forms of thought: an awareness that knowledge is constructed; the ability to examine one’s beliefs.
constructive perspective
The view that perception is an active, constructive process in which individuals interpret and give meaning to their experiences.
contextual perspective
The view that development is influenced by one’s ethnicity and culture.
controversial adolescents
Adolescents frequently mentioned by classmates as someone they least like and by others as a best friend.
conventional personality types
In Holland’s typology of vocational interests, individuals who prefer highly structured environments and well-defined tasks.
conventional reasoning
Kohlberg’s second level of moral reasoning, in which moral thinking is guided by internalized social standards.
cooperative learning
Placing students of different ability levels together in small working groups.
Strategies for managing stressful situations that tax personal resources.
correlational research
A procedure in which subjects are assigned to groups on the basis of preexisting characteristics.
cortical gray matter
Regions within the brain consisting of cell bodies, dendrites, and primarily unmyelinated axons.
cross-sectional design
A research design in which several age cohorts are compared at a single time of measurement.
A peer group formed from several cliques of the same age group.
An idealized fantasy about another person that is rarely reciprocated.
The values, beliefs, and customs that are shared by a group of people and passed from one generation to the next.
culture-fair test
A measure of intelligence that minimizes cultural bias by using materials or requiring skills not likely to be more familiar to one culture over another.


A social activity that typically begins in mid-adolescence.
decline stage
Super’s fifth stage of vocational development, in which one retires.
deductive reasoning
Reasoning from the general to the particular.
degrees of freedom
The number of scores in a set that are free to vary given certain constraints, such as a known mean.
The degree to which parents expect adolescents to act responsibly, and supervise and monitor their activities.
dependent variable
The measure used to determine the effect of the independent variable in an experiment.
An affective disorder that may take a number of forms, all of which are characterized by a disturbance of mood.
developing countries
Countries that have only recently begun to adopt modern technology, social forms, and means of production. Such countries were previously termed “third world” countries.
developmental tasks
Age-related norms that reflect social expectations for normal development.
dialectical thinking
Reasoning that questions the premises on which it is based when tests of the premises are not supported.
differentiated instruction
Flexible classroom structure providing multiple formats for gaining information.
A process by which one distinguishes or perceives differences not previously recognized.
diffuse/avoidant oriented
A style of information processing characterized by procrastinating and avoiding decisions.
direct instruction
Instruction directed toward the mastery of basic skills; all students are involved in the same activities at any given time.
disengaged parenting
Parents who provide little support or supervision.
double-blind controls
A research procedure in which neither the researcher nor the participants know which individuals have been assigned to which experimental conditions.
drug dependence
Physical dependence on a substance, such that one develops a tolerance and experiences withdrawal when use is discontinued; also known as drug addiction.
dualistic thinking
The first of Perry’s three forms of thought: the belief that truth is independent of one’s frame of reference.


early adolescence
That period of adolescence between the ages of about 11 to 15, marked by the onset of puberty, changing gender roles, more autonomous relationships with parents, and more mature relationships with peers.
early maturation
Pubertal maturation occurring earlier in adolescents than the norm for their sex.
The failure to realize that one’s perspective is not shared by others.
Electra complex
A Freudian concept in which the young girl is sexually attracted to her father and regards her mother as her rival.
emerging adulthood
A period between adolescence and adulthood characterized by demographic unpredictability and increased opportunity for identity exploration.
emotion-focused coping
Attempts to reduce stress by minimizing its emotional impact, for example, denials, wishful thinking.
emotional transmission
The transmission of emotions from one person to another within a family.
The process by which information is transferred from one form to another in memory.
Acquiring the norms of one’s social group.
Concentrated attention, necessary for the performance of complex activities.
Providing gifted adolescents with additional opportunities and experiences.
enterprising personality types
In Holland’s typology of vocational interests, individuals who prefer work involving interpersonal skills and assertiveness, such as management, law, or sales.
environmental model
A set of assumptions in which the environment is taken to be the primary determinant of psychological development.
Piaget’s term for the process of balancing assimilation and accommodation that is responsible for the growth of thought.
Unexplained and unsystematic variability.
establishment stage
Super’s third stage of vocational development, in which one settles into one’s work.
A sex hormone present in higher levels in females than in males; it contributes to breast development, distribution of body fat, and regulation of the menstrual cycle.
Female sex hormones.
ethic of care
Psychologist Carol Gilligan’s description of a morality based on responsiveness to and care for others.
ethnic identity
An awareness of belonging to an ethnic group that shapes one’s thoughts, feelings, and behavior.
ethnic identity search
An intermediate stage in ethnic identity formation involving exploration of the meaning of one’s ethnicity.
The cultural group to which an individual belongs.
executive functions
Mental activities, such as decision making, evaluating, and planning, that are regulated by the prefrontal cortex.
Contexts occurring at the level of the community, such as types of schools and housing.
A research procedure in which participants are randomly assigned to groups that are then treated differently.
exploration stage
Super’s second stage of vocational development, in which one begins to make choices related to one’s future work.
The process of exploring possibilities and life options in achieving an identity.
external validity
The extent to which a research study’s conclusions can be generalized to other populations and contexts.
externalizing problems
Behaviors that directly harm others.


fantasy stage
Ginzburg’s first stage of vocational development, characterized by focus on highly visible aspects of vocations and no assessment of personal qualifications.
female genital mutilation (FGM)
The World Health Organization recognizes several forms of FGM, the most severe of which involves cutting out the entire clitoris, along with sewing shut most of the outer labia.
The experience of becoming totally absorbed in a challenging activity.
follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH)
A gonadotropic hormone produced by the anterior pituitary that acts on the gonads.
full-service schools
Schools that provide a variety of health and social services to students and their families in collaboration with the community.


gateway hypothesis
The assumption that drug use progresses through stages in which the use of one type of drug provides a pathway to the use of other drugs.
gender differences
Culturally determined differences in masculinity and femininity.
gender stereotypes
The cultural expectations concerning behaviors that are appropriate for each sex.
The cultural and psychological contributions to being female or male.
genital herpes
A sexually transmitted disease characterized by recurring outbreaks of itching or burning blisters; caused by a virus that remains dormant in the body.
genital warts
A sexually transmitted disease caused by the human papillomavirus.
Description of students who place above a predetermined cutoff point on intelligence scales or who demonstrate special talents in diverse areas.
The part of the clitoris or penis that is most sensitive to stimulation.
The process by which expanding international trade, communication, and travel erases national and geographical boundaries.
GnRH pulse generator
Cells within the hypothalamus that pulse out bursts of GnRH.
The second stage of puberty, regulated by the neuroendocrine system.
gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH)
A hormone released by the hypothalamus and involved in regulating the timing of pubertal events.
The sex glands; the ovaries in females and the testes in males.
A sexually transmitted disease caused by a bacterium.
A process by which preadolescents establish group norms.
group identity
A psychosocial task of early adolescence that entails the resolution of issues related to affiliation and belonging.
growth spurt
A period of rapid growth that often occurs during puberty.
growth stage
Super’s first stage of vocational development characterized more by discovery about oneself than about vocations.


Decreased responsiveness to a stimulus with repeated exposure to it.
Sexual attraction toward individuals of the other sex.
history effect
Any event extraneous to a research project that can affect the results and jeopardize the internal validity of the research.
Human immunodeficiency virus: a virus attacking the immune system, leading to AIDS (acquired immune deficiency syndrome).
Sexual attraction toward individuals of the same sex.
Chemical messengers that are secreted directly into the bloodstream and regulated by the endocrine system.
A fold of skin partially covering the opening to the vagina.
A center within the brain that governs hormonal activity and regulatory activities such as eating, drinking, and body temperature.


ideal self-image
The individual’s idealized image of the self, including anticipated as well as actual ways of being.
identity achievement
The resolution of the psychosocial crisis of identity by exploring life options and then committing oneself to personally defined goals.
identity diffusion
The resolution of the psychosocial crisis without the experience of crisis or commitment over identity issues.
identity foreclosure
The resolution of the psychosocial crisis of identity through the assumption of traditional, conventional, or parentally chosen goals and values without the experience of crisis or conflict over identity issues.
identity statuses
Resolutions to identity that differ in commitment and exploration of life options.
The part of one’s personality of which one is aware and is able to see as a meaningful and coherent whole.
imaginary audience
The experience of being the focus of attention that emerges with adolescents’ ability to think about thinking in others and their confusion of the concerns of others with their own preoccupation with themselves.
independent variable
The variable that is manipulated in an experiment, by randomly assigning participants to different levels of the variable.
index offenses
Actions that are criminal at any age, for example, homicide and burglary.
individualistic cultures
Cultures that encourage a sense of self as independent, self-sufficient, and autonomous.
A quality of family interactions reflecting the ability to express one’s ideas and say how one differs from others.
The process of distinguishing one’s attitudes and beliefs from those of one’s parents.
inductive reasoning
Reasoning from the particular to the general.
indulgent parenting
Parents who are warm and supportive but provide little supervision.
information oriented
A style of information processing characterized by actively searching for and evaluating information.
information processing
An approach to cognition that focuses on the processes by which information is encoded, retrieved, and utilized.
A readiness to initiate action, characteristic of self-motivated individuals.
The ability to profit from experience and adapt to one’s surroundings; measured by intelligence tests.
internal validity
The extent to which a research study unambiguously answers the questions it was designed to address.
internalizing problems
Behaviors that are harmful to the adolescent who engages in them.
The ability to share oneself with another, characterized by self-disclosure and mutuality.
intrinsic motivation
Motivation derived from the pleasure one experiences in an activity.
investigative personality types
In Holland’s typology of vocational interests, individuals who prefer work requiring intellectual curiosity, for example, a scientist or mathematician.
Adolescents who have few friends, either within a clique or outside it, and who have few links to other adolescents in the social network.


jigsaw classroom
A classroom organized into small, ethnically balanced working groups in which each student contributes a different part of the lesson.
junior high school
A secondary school that typically includes the seventh through the ninth grades.
juvenile delinquency
Illegal actions committed by a minor.


A substance secreted by cells in the hypothalamus that activates the gene GPR54, triggering the pulse generator.
knowledge-acquisition components
Cognitive mechanisms—for instance, perception and memory retrieval—that, under the direction of metacomponents, acquire new information as needed.


late adolescence
The period of adolescence between the ages of about 16 to 19 that is organized around the central task of achieving an identity, in which adolescents integrate their sexuality into their relationships, prepare for a vocation, and fashion a personal set of beliefs.
late maturation
Pubertal maturation occurring later in adolescents than the norm for their sex.
learning disability
Difficulty with academic tasks that is not due to emotional or sensory problems and presumably reflects neurological dysfunction.
learning styles
Students’ preferences concerning various aspects of the learning situation, for example, working individually or in groups, getting information by reading or listening to a class presentation.
A hormone secreted by fat cells that may play a role in menarche.
Adolescents who have friends in several cliques but do not themselves belong to any particular clique.
life span perspective
The view that development is characterized by continuity as well as change throughout life.
life-course persistent antisocial behavior
Problem behavior that originates in childhood and persists into adulthood.
limbic system
An area of the brain located beneath the cortex that is involved in processing social and emotional information and evaluating rewards.
longitudinal design
A research design in which a single cohort group is followed over time, tested at several times of measurement.
low-income families
Families with incomes no greater than twice the federal poverty level.
luteinizing hormone (LH)
A gonadotropic hormone produced by the anterior pituitary that acts on the gonads.


The underlying social and political climate at the level of society.
Keeping learning-disabled students in regular classrooms.
maintenance stage
Super’s fourth stage of vocational development, in which one maintains one’s occupational skills and position.
major depressive disorder
A period of severe depression requiring hospitalization or other treatment.
male generic language
Use of the pronoun “he” to refer to an individual of either sex, and use of words such as “man” or “mankind” to refer to all people.
Instances of harm to children or adolescents that are nonaccidental and avoidable; they can be due to either abuse or neglect.
A mild hallucinogen from the plant Cannabis sativa; the primary psychoactive substance is THC (tetrahydrocannabinol).
masked depression
Depression that manifests itself in ways other than depressed mood, for example, agitation, or the inability to sleep.
A potential confound resulting from systematic changes over time that are not due to the treatment being studied.
maturational deviance hypothesis
An explanation for the effects of asynchronous development that attributes the effects of timing to changing adolescents’ status relative to their peers.
The occurrence of a girl’s first menstrual period.
Cessation of menstrual period in middle age.
Social contexts involving interactions of several microsystems, such as when parents meet teachers.
A statistical procedure for reaching conclusions regarding an area of research by combining the findings from multiple studies.
Awareness of one’s thinking, cognitive abilities, and style.
Higher-order cognitive functions that select and monitor lower-order cognitive functions, for example, metacomponents are employed to determine which performance components are required to perform a task.
One’s immediate social contexts, involving firsthand experiences, such as interactions at home or in the classroom.
middle school
A secondary school that includes the fifth or sixth through the eighth grades.
A social group, distinguished by physical or cultural characteristics, that often receives differential treatment.
A set of assumptions about reality in general and human nature in particular from which theories proceed.
moral domain
A form of social understanding concerned with welfare, justice, and rights.
The development of standards of right and wrong.
The experience of conflict over the issues of identity formation prior to the establishment of firm goals or long-term commitments.
multiple intelligences
The view that intelligence is comprised of a number of different capacities, each relevant to a different domain—for instance, music, linguistics, mathematics, interpersonal relations. One’s ability in each domain is not necessarily highly correlated with ability in other domains.
Moving back and forth from one task to another.
The formation of a fatty sheath surrounding a nerve fiber (axon), which increases the speed of neural conduction.
An increase in muscular tension.


naturalistic observation
The observation and recording of participants’ behavior in their natural setting.
neglected adolescents
Adolescents who are rarely mentioned by their classmates as someone they most like or as someone they least like.
neuroendocrine system
The system of the body that includes the glands that produce hormones and those parts of the nervous system that activate, inhibit, and control hormone production.
The psychoactive substance in cigarettes that is both a stimulant and a depressant.
nocturnal emission
A spontaneous ejaculation of seminal fluid during sleep; sometimes called a wet dream.
normative oriented
A style of information processing characterized by reliance on social norms and the expectations of relatives and friends.


Oedipus complex
A Freudian concept in which the young boy is sexually attracted to his mother, and regards his father as his rival.
organismic model
A set of assumptions in which the unfolding of genetically organized processes is taken to be the primary determinant of psychological development.
organized activities
Leisure activities organized by adults that adolescents choose to engage in.
outer labia
The outer folds of skin surrounding the opening of the vagina and the clitoris.
Structures within the female reproductive system flanking the uterus that house the immature eggs and produce female sex hormones.
Adolescents who are anxious and inhibited, frequently resulting in internalizing problems.
Individuals are considered to be overweight when their weight is at or above the 95th percentile for their body mass index.
ovum (plural ova)
The female sex cell, also called the egg; the male equivalent is sperm.


parental involvement
The involvement of parents in classroom instruction, homework, school governance, and community service.
parental monitoring
A practice in which parents monitor their children’s behavior when they are not physically present to supervise their activities.
A reversal in the parent-child relationship in which the burden of caring for the parent’s needs is assumed by the adolescent.
peer group
A group of individuals of the same age; a social group that regulates the pace of socialization.
peer pressure
Experienced pressure to think and act like one’s friends.
performance components
Cognitive mechanisms, selected by metacomponents, that operate directly on the information to be processed.
performance-ability orientation
A motivational pattern in which students focus on their own performance, using it as a way to assess their ability.
personal domain
A form of social understanding concerned with activities involving personal choice and prerogative.
personal effectiveness
Perceiving oneself as effective and in control of a situation.
personal fable
The feeling of being special; thought to derive from the imaginary audience.
physical aggression
Aggressive actions involving physical contact, such as pushing or hitting.
poor families
Families with incomes below the federal poverty level.
Adolescents nominated by their classmates as those they most like.
The entire group of individuals in which an investigator is interested.
possible selves
Life options that adolescents imagine for themselves; some are positive, or hoped-for, and others are feared, or negative, possibilities.
postconventional reasoning
Kohlberg’s third level of moral reasoning, in which moral thinking is guided by self-derived principles.
practical intelligence
To be distinguished from “academic intelligence” or intelligence measured by IQ tests, practical intelligence requires the individual, rather than a teacher or an examiner, to define the problem to be solved and decide what constitutes a solution.
preconventional reasoning
Kohlberg’s first level of moral reasoning, characterized by the absence of internalized standards.
prefrontal cortex
Region of the cortex located behind the forehead involved in abstract thought.
A thin skin covering the glans of the clitoris or penis.
primary sex characteristics
Differences between females and males in the reproductive system that develop during puberty.
problem-focused coping
Attempts to reduce stress by changing a stressful situation.
procedural knowledge
The second of Belenky and associates’ three forms of thought: independent thought that is nonetheless limited to a single frame of reference.
A sex hormone present in higher levels in females than in males; it contributes to regulation of the menstrual cycle.
prosocial behaviors
Positive behaviors such as cooperativeness, kindness, and trustworthiness.
A drug that alters mood.
psychometric approach
An approach that focuses on the measurement of individual differences in abilities contributing to intelligence.
Growth processes, including the skeletal growth spurt and maturation of the reproductive system, that begin in early adolescence and transform children into physically and sexually mature adults.
pubic lice
Parasitic insects that are usually transmitted sexually; sometimes called “crabs.”


quasi-experimental research
A research design in which participants are not randomly assigned to conditions, but in which preexisting groups are used, introducing possible confounding.


random assignment
The assignment of participants to groups in such a way that each participant has an equal chance of being assigned to any condition.
random error
Unexplained and unsystematic variability.
realistic personality types
In Holland’s typology of vocational interests, individuals who prefer situations that are explicitly defined and require few interpersonal skills, for example, a mechanic or computer programmer.
realistic stage
Ginzburg’s third stage of vocational development, characterized by exploration of and commitment to a vocational path.
reciprocal determinism
The two-way influence between person and environment; not only does the environment influence behavior but behavior changes the environment.
Any event that when contingent on a behavior increases the probability of that behavior occurring again.
rejected adolescents
Adolescents frequently mentioned by classmates as someone they least like and rarely mentioned as someone they most like.
relational aggression
Aggression achieved by manipulating relationships, such as by excluding someone from a group or spreading rumors.
relativistic thinking
The second of Perry’s three forms of thought: awareness of more than one frame of reference by which ideas can be evaluated.
religious identity
An awareness of belonging to a religious group.
Characterized by attitudes and social skills that enable individuals to function in a variety of settings.
The degree to which parents are sensitive, supportive and involved.
role clarity
Clear understanding among family members concerning the nature and responsibilities of each person’s role.


A subgroup drawn from the population that is the subject of the research.
The Scholastic Aptitude Test, the most widely used college entrance exam.
scientific method
A method of inquiry in which conclusions are verified empirically by checking them against observations; a methodology for making observations that will support or refute hypotheses.
secondary education
Middle schools, junior high schools, and high schools.
secondary sex characteristics
Differences between females and males in the reproductive system that develop during puberty.
secular trend
The earlier onset of puberty, faster growth, and larger size reached by adolescents today than in the past.
The individual’s awareness of the self as a person; a theory about the self that explains personal experience.
The individual’s overall positive or negative evaluation of herself or himself.
self-handicapping strategies
The adoption of behaviors to account for poor performance in lieu of ability.
Self-stimulation of the genitals (commonly called masturbation).
A process by which adolescents understand and define themselves through an intimate sharing of thoughts and feelings.
sequential design
A research design in which several age cohort groups are compared at several times of measurement; essentially, a number of longitudinal studies, each starting with a different age group.
service learning programs
Comprehensive education programs that include a community service component, requiring students to do volunteer work.
sex differences
Biological and physiological differences distinguishing the sexes.
sexual orientation
The attraction individuals feel for members of the same and/or the other sex.
sexual scripts
Learned expectations derived from cultural roles and gender stereotypes that guide behavior in sexual situations.
sexual-minority youth
Adolescents whose sexual orientation is not exclusively heterosexual.
sexually transmitted disease (STD)
An infection that is spread through sexual contact.
The part of the clitoris or penis that becomes erect during sexual stimulation.
social cognition
The ability to assume another’s perspective and coordinate this with one’s own.
social competence
Skills enabling individuals to accurately assess social situations and respond adaptively.
social conventional domain
A form of social understanding concerned with the rules and traditions governing social interactions within a group.
social personality types
In Holland’s typology of vocational interests, individuals who prefer work involving them with people, such as counseling or teaching.
social preference
An index of popularity measuring how much an adolescent is liked by others.
social prestige
An index of popularity measuring how much an adolescent is looked up to by others.
social skills training
A component of social-cognitive intervention programs.
social-cognitive intervention
An intervention program based on social-cognitive learning principles.
special education classes
Classes for learning-disabled students that are tailored to the needs of each student.
special education consultant
A consultant who meets with teachers to discuss ways to meet the needs of learning-disabled students who are mainstreamed.
speed of processing
The rate at which a cognitive operation (e.g., encoding, decoding, retrieval) or a combination of these can be performed.
The male sex cell; the female equivalent is the ovum.
A boy’s first ejaculation of seminal fluid.
stage termination hypothesis
An explanation for the effects of early maturation that acknowledges not having as much time as needed to complete the developmental tasks of middle childhood.
statistical regression
A potential confound in quasi-experimental research in which extreme pretest scores drift toward the mean of the posttest distribution.
status offenses
Actions that are illegal when engaged in by minors but legal for adults, for example, truancy and drinking alcohol.
STEM courses
Courses in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics that often provide a gateway to higher level jobs.
stereotype threat
The perceived risk of confirming a negative stereotype.
Activities that organize cognition so as to improve performance, such as repeating a phone number or categorizing a list of things to be remembered.
The body’s response to an event that requires adapting to changes brought about by that event.
structured voluntary activities
Activities that are intrinsically motivating and challenging that build skills and foster initiative.
subject mortality
In longitudinal studies, the loss of participants over time.
subjective knowledge
The first of Belenky and associates’ three forms of thought: a covert examination of issues while maintaining a surface conformity to traditional ideas.
The aspect of the personality in Freudian theory that represents the internalized standards and values of society.
synaptic pruning
The selective elimination of brain cells (neurons) and their connections.
A sexually transmitted disease, caused by a bacterium, that can also be transmitted through blood transfusions or from a pregnant woman to her fetus; progresses over several stages.
system of juvenile justice
Legislation instituting separate legal proceedings for juveniles and adults.


task-mastery orientation
A motivational pattern in which students focus on the task they are learning and work to increase their mastery and competence.
temporal arc
The time required for the completion of a project during which skill develops through successive evaluation and adjustment of performance; contributes to initiative.
tentative stage
Ginzburg’s second stage of vocational development, in which vocational choice is directed more by interests than capacities.
test of significance
A statistical procedure for determining whether group differences are due to random error or can be attributed to the variable being studied.
Structures within the male reproductive system contained in the scrotum that produce sperm and male sex hormones.
testing effect
Knowledge and skills acquired by taking similar tests over the course of a research study; a potential source of confounding.
A sex hormone present in higher levels in males than in females.
A set of testable statements derived from the assumptions of a model.
time of measurement differences
Differences due to social conditions, currents of opinion, and historical events that can affect observations in longitudinal research; such differences are confounded with age changes.
traditional cultures
Cultures that have maintained their values and practices over long periods. These cultures often find themselves in conflict with other traditional or more rapidly changing cultures or with internal pressures for change.


Adolescents who have difficulty inhibiting and controlling their behavior, frequently resulting in externalizing problems.
unexamined ethnic identity
An initial stage in ethnic identity formation that involves a lack of awareness of the issues related to one’s ethnicity and a simple internalization of the values of the dominant culture.
A muscular enclosure at the top of the vagina that holds the fetus during pregnancy.


The muscular tube in females leading from the labia at its opening to the uterus.
An accumulation of blood in the vessels serving the erogenous zones (areas of the body that are particularly sensitive to sexual arousal).


An intelligence scale for adolescents and adults.
white matter
Brain areas containing myelinated pathways.
An intelligence scale for children and adolescents up to 16 years of age.
work experience
Receiving academic credit for work done on a job.
working memory
A brief memory that holds information for less than a minute while further processing occurs.


zone of proximal development
Vygotsky’s term for the range of skills which individuals must possess in order to profit from exposure to those who are more skilled.