Teenagers are known to be moody and reckless, but why? As one of the leading experts in the United States on adolescent behavior and adolescent brain biology, Laurence Steinberg, a developmental psychologist at Temple University in Philadelphia was interviewed in the article below for his insights on adolescent behavior. Studies of adolescent brain development over the past five years are showing that brain systems in charge of impulse control continue to mature into our 20’s. Dr. Steinberg’s lab has been testing people of various ages with computerized risk-taking tests while images of their brain are taken. They are tested alone and then with two friends watching them. Here are their findings:
“For the adults, the presence of friends has no effect. But for adolescents, just having friends nearby doubles the number of risks they take. We’ve found that a certain part of the brain is activated by the presence of peers in adolescents, but not in adults,” said Steinberg.
Dr. Steinberg recently received the Klaus Jacobs Prize and intends to use the $1 million dollar award to extend his work to “teenagers in other cultures so that we can determine whether the patterns are universal. There’s a longstanding debate over how much of adolescent behavior is biological or cultural. Perhaps this award will lead to more answers.”
How can we as educators and parents do a better job helping adolescents navigate the emotional upheaval they experience, as well as model the behaviors we want our students to emulate?
How can we raise awareness among the education community about the need to incorporate lessons on emotional intelligence into the classroom?
How can we better utilize tools that are already available, such as LifeBound’s People Smarts for Teenagers, into the classroom to help middle school and high school students make better decisions and avoid potentially disastrous consequences from high-risk behaviors?
The New York Times
December 1, 2009
A Conversation With Laurence Steinberg
Developmental Psychologist Says Teenagers Are Different
By CLAUDIA DREIFUS
Laurence Steinberg, a developmental psychologist at Temple University in Philadelphia, is one of the leading experts in the United States on adolescent behavior and adolescent brain biology. Dr. Steinberg, 57, has won the $1 million Klaus J. Jacobs Research Prize, which will be awarded to him at a ceremony in early December in Switzerland.
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