Psychology of Adolescence
Haverford Psychology 214a
(Revised 12/12/05)
Fall, 2005
Doug Davis
Department of Psychology
Haverford College
Phone: 896-1236
Sharpless 410
Tuesday/Thursday 8:30-10

NITLE Moodle RAS Moodle

But when you look at yourself in the mirror, I hope you see yourself. Not one of the myths. Not a failed man - a person who can never succeed because success is basically defined as being male - and not a failed goddess, a person desperately trying to hide herself in the dummy Woman, the image of men's desires and fears. I hope you look away from those myths and into your own eyes, and see your own strength. You're going to need it. I hope you don't try to take your strength from men, or from a man. Secondhand experience breaks down a block from the car lot. I hope you'll take and make your own soul; that you'll feel your life for yourself pain by pain and joy by joy; that you'll feed your life, eat, "eat as you go" - you who nourish, be nourished! If being a cog in the machine or a puppet manipulated by others isn't what you want, you can find out what you want, your needs, desires, truths, powers, by accepting your own experience as a woman, as this woman, this body, this person, your hungry self. On the maps drawn by men there is an immense white area, terra incognita, where most women live. That country is all yours to explore, to inhabit, to describe.
Ursula LeGuin, “The Mother Tongue” (Bryn Mawr Commencement, 1986)

An introduction to the psychology of adolescence, with emphasis on personality development and socio-cultural issues in the period from puberty to adulthood. Pre-requisite: Haverford Psychology 105g or equivalent or consent. Topics include: theoretical discussions of adolescence by psychologists, psychoanalysts, anthropologists and sociologists; personal and literary accounts of adolescent experience; social science studies of youth in the USA; and cross-cultural studies of the transition from childhood to adulthood. Electronic reserve readings will be linked to this page from Haverford's internal server, for copyright reasons. NOTE: the bold links below are especially worthy of your attention.

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  • August 30: Class overview (for shoppers): Adolescence defined, Freud introduced.

Course overview lecture, and intro to Freud (part 2)

A Glossary of Freudian terminology

Psychodynamic Theory: Freud in Adolescence

Freud, S. (1926). Psychoanalysis: Freudian school. Encyclopedia Britannica, 13th Edition.

  • September 1: Review of Erik Erikson's "epigenetic" theory
  • September 29: The Harvard Adolescence Project: Zawiya

Course Themes

Psychodynamic personality theory and the definition of adolescence

Cognitive and emotional growth in adolescence
Moral reasoning and ethical behavior
Sex and gender
Drugs and deviance
Youth and media
Culture and adolescence:
Morocco and elsewhere
”al-Musharaka”: a discussion board at the Rabat American School



The Library Resource Page for the Spring, 2005, Final Project


  • Sells, Michael. Excerpts From Approaching the Qur'an: The Early Revelations. © 1999 White Cloud Press. NITLE.
  • Schwartz, John. Silicon Dreams: Real Life and Virtual Life Intersect As Technology Affects the Way We Think and Live. Washington Post, May 17, 2000.
  • Sommers, Christina Hoff. (2000). The war against boys. The Atlantic Monthly, May 2000.
  • Steinberg, Laurence, & Morris, Amanda Sheffield. (2001). Adolescent Development. Annual Review of Psychology 2001, 52: 83-110.
  • Sullivan, H.S. (1953) The interpersonal theory of psychiatry. New York: Norton. Chapters 15-17. 
  • Sullivan, H.S. The Juvenile Era. In The Interpersonal Theory of Psychiatry. (pp. 227-296)
  • Triandis, H.C., 7 Suh, E.M.(2002). Cultural Influences on Personality. Annual Review of Psychology. 53:133-160.
  • Wolf, J, Kupperman, C, & Munoz, M. (1997). Self-Presentation in IRC. draft based on a Haverford College Psychology Thesis.
  • Woolf, Virginia. (1929). A Room of One's Own. [excerpt]. Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, Inc.

Tuesday, August 30, 2005: A note on grading. To receive a grade of 3.0 in this course you should do the following:

  • attend all classes, unless you have sent me an e-mail explaining why you have to miss one,
  • complete several short writing assignments on time (unless I have discussed the matter with you ahead of time) and of adequate quality (I will usually be willing to let you re-draft a short paper in light of my comments),
  • contribute to a cross-cultural discussion I am planning with youth in Morocco, and perhaps elsewhere, using Internet tools, and
  • complete in consultation with me a final project in which you

summarize some aspect of adolescence theory or research clearly,

relate that theory are finding to some example of your own (a vignette from an interview, a blog you've been following, a portrayal of some aspect of adolescence in the media), and

offer your own suggestions about some way in which our understanding of adolescence might be changed in light of your discussion

Failure to meet these standards occasionally results in grades in the 2.x range.  Many students do better, and grades of 3.3 and 3.7 are common.  Grades of 4.0 are not.

9/16/05: Writing assignment 1: P214: pick a Kohlberg dilemma that "speaks" to you, i.e., one that you find intriguing or disturbing, or the answering of some of the questions about which you find unexpectedly difficult.  Describe this experience.  Can some aspect of your reaction to answering this dilemma be described or understood in terms of some aspect of Erikson's writing about adolescent identity?  Is there some sense in which different ways of thinking or "roles" from a previous Eriksonian stage are at play as you try to answer these questions?  Finally, relate your sense of what is involved in answering the questions related to the Kohlberg dilemma you have selected to Carol Gilligan's discussion of the interplay of "care" and "justice" in the moral thinking of youth.  I imagine each of these parts to be completed in about a single-spaced page (450-500 words), so the total would be something under 1500 words.
I want this experience to make you feel that you are getting something out of the concepts developed by Erikson and Gilligan.  If you don't feel this way, or if you're really quite puzzled how these concepts might relate to your experience with the dilemma, let's talk about it.  You're welcome to e-mail me or to schedule an appointment almost any day.


11/1/05: The P214 Identity Project: Reread Erikson's "Identity crisis" in perspective in light of the recent NITLE discussion of the film “Le Grand Voyage."  Note how the father's and the son's identity issues contrast and complement each other (what Erikson calls the "cog-wheeling of the life cycles").  Using the linked bibliographic and media resources, construct an explanation or interpretation of the psychological situation of the son in light of the educational, interpersonal, socioeconomic, ethnic, and religious factors that are the most salient in his case.  At that point you may do one of two things:

  • write your own essay treating Reda as an example of a broader problem for youth in his situation, or
  • find a new example of your own and develop an explanation along the same broad lines outlined above.

Your setting up of this argument in light of Erikson's theory and the other relevant sources you have selected from the NITLE web site and elsewhere should be completed in roughly 5 double spaced pages (1250 words), and your explanation for how the example you have selected turns out -- what balance among the conflicting personal issues in place seems to have been achieved, and how these are likely to play out in up-coming life stages -- should be completed in another five pages (i.e., a total of roughly 2500 words).  If you choose to write about a different example than the one treated in the film, I suggest you focus on one of the topics we will be covering in the next five weeks: youth and media, substance use, sexuality, cyberspace.  A one-page outline of the project you propose is due Friday, November 18; a full draft of your paper is due Friday, December 2; and your final paper is due Tuesday, December 13.  I strongly suggest that you speak with me about your paper before the one-page outline is due.

This assignment reflects my own conviction that problems of "identity," broadly defined (cf. Gregg, 2005) are once again of crucial importance in the larger world beyond psychology 214 and the academic study of "adolescence."  I hope that this paper will allow you to focus on a specific example that touches some of these broader concerns of our time. We’ll be discussing a variety of examples in class these next few weeks – music, substance use, sexuality, cyberspace – and any might suggest an example.