8 julio, 2024

Psychosocial changes in adolescents: what they are, types, characteristics

What are the psychosocial changes in adolescents?

The psychosocial changes in adolescents They are all the variations produced in the way of thinking, the emotional world and the way of relating to society of people when they enter puberty.

Due to the physical and psychological development produced at this stage, it is one of the moments in life in which the most changes take place in all senses. For this reason, many adolescents may feel confused or frightened by the new experiences they are living.

For this reason, many psychologists have tried to identify all the situations that adolescents commonly go through. In this way, young people can better understand what is happening to them; that way, they don’t feel so helpless or so confused.

One of the main scholars of the different phases of psychosocial development was Erikson. Therefore, many of the ideas in this article are based on his work. Next we will see what are the main psychosocial changes that occur in adolescents.

Types of psychosocial changes

In general, all the changes produced from puberty are divided into three types: cognitive, emotional and social.

1. Cognitive changes

Adolescence is the time of a person’s development in which the last of the cognitive stages described by Piaget is reached: the stage of formal operations. At this point, the young person acquires some mental capacities that definitely separate him from the children.

The first of these is the ability to reason abstractly. From about the age of twelve, adolescents are able to reflect effectively on elements that are not in the here and now. This capacity hardly exists before this age, and it is one of the most important for adult life.

On the other hand, adolescents are also beginning to be able to use logic more accurately. Until this moment, children are carried away more by their emotions than by their reasoning. However, after puberty, their cognitive abilities increase dramatically.

Lastly, adolescents are also beginning to be able to use skills such as deduction. Due to the conjunction of these three new capacities, they begin to be interested in aspects such as morality, ethics or their role in the world. This is also related to their social development.

2. Emotional changes

Due to several factors such as the new hormones that invade the adolescent’s body and the changes that occur in their lifestyle, young people experience a wide variety of emotions that they did not feel as markedly as children. This is probably the most difficult aspect of this stage.

Next we will see some of the most important emotional changes of adolescence.

variable mood

Teenagers can have very extreme mood swings in very short periods of time. For example, it is common for a young person to be in high spirits at the beginning of the day, depressed at lunchtime, and simply pensive before going to bed.

On the other hand, adolescents can also go through entire periods in which one emotion is the one that predominates.

In the modern world, there are more and more cases of depression among the youngest; some, like those who adopt an «emo» aesthetic, do so to show precisely the strength of these feelings.


Children are fundamentally selfish. Therefore, it is very difficult for them to understand and interpret the emotions of others. Starting in adolescence, however, most people develop some capacity for empathy.

This allows us to put ourselves in the place of others more easily. Thus, most adolescents are able to understand the effects of their actions on others much more effectively than children.


Due to all the changes that occur in their lives, and the lack of a clear role to follow, most adolescents share a constant feeling of insecurity. This leads them to act in a way that avoids being judged by others.

Thus, many of the social changes produced in adolescence can be fundamentally explained by this emotion. Fortunately, as the youngster matures and gains more experience, insecurity tends to disappear in most cases.

3. Social changes

Finally, adolescents experience a series of changes related to their role in the world and the way they interact with others. Next we will see the most important ones.


Before adolescence, children never worry about who they are or who they want to become. However, once puberty begins, almost all young people begin to question their own identity.

At this time, the adolescent can try to find himself in various ways. For example, trying new experiences, or assuming the hallmarks of an urban tribe with which he identifies. In general, these behaviors will be temporary, and should not be a problem.


During infancy, children are almost completely dependent on parents to do everything. On the contrary, when they reach adolescence, they try to separate themselves more and more from their care and become more autonomous people.

This can translate into all kinds of behaviors, such as challenging the rules, going against it, or abruptly cutting off communication with parents.

However, it is a normal part of adolescent development, so we should only be concerned if the search for independence poses a danger to the young person.

sexual identity

During adolescence, one of the most important changes is the one that has to do with sex and intimate relationships. During this stage, young people begin to experience a series of very powerful emotions, which lead them to change their interests and ways of acting.

In the case of heterosexual adolescents, they will begin to feel interested in the opposite sex and try to make their first approaches towards them.

Homosexuals, on the other hand, will have to face their own challenges in this regard, usually suffering a certain identity crisis when they see that their tastes do not conform to those of most people their age.

In general, all adolescents regardless of their sexual orientation need some kind of guidance on how to channel their new sexual and emotional impulses. In case of not receiving it, frustration and discouragement will normally occur.


Many are the changes produced during adolescence. Here we have seen some of the most important.

However, if you or someone in your family needs help with the new emotions that this stage entails, do not hesitate to contact a psychology professional. They can help you overcome all kinds of problems related to this topic.

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