The Importance of Puberty for Adolescent Development: Conceptualization and Measurement

Sheri A. Berenbaum, Adriene M. Beltz, Robin Corley

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

99 Scopus citations


How and why are teenagers different from children and adults? A key question concerns the ways in which pubertal development shapes psychological changes in adolescence directly through changes to the brain and indirectly through the social environment.Empirical work linking pubertal development to adolescent psychological function draws from several different perspectives, often with varying approaches and a focus on different outcomes and mechanisms. The main themes concern effects of atypical pubertal timing on behavior problems during adolescence, effects of pubertal status (and associated hormones) on normative changes in behaviors that can facilitate or hinder development (especially risk-taking, social reorientation, and stress responsivity), and the role of puberty in triggering psychopathology in vulnerable individuals. There is also interest in understanding the ways in which changes in the brain reflect pubertal processes and underlie psychological development in adolescence.In this chapter, we consider the ways that puberty might affect adolescent psychological development, and why this is of importance to developmentalists. We describe the processes of pubertal development; summarize what is known about pubertal influences on adolescent development; consider the assumptions that underlie most work and the methodological issues that affect the interpretation of results; and propose research directions to help understand paths from puberty to behavior. Throughout, we emphasize the importance of pubertal change in all aspects of psychological development, and the ways in which puberty represents an opportunity to study the interplay of biological and social influences.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationAdvances in Child Development and Behavior
PublisherAcademic Press Inc.
Number of pages40
StatePublished - 2015

Publication series

NameAdvances in Child Development and Behavior
ISSN (Print)0065-2407

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Behavioral Neuroscience


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