What are the consequences of early, on-time, and late puberty for girls and boys? Are they the same or different? How does the internal model of experience play a role?
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- What are the consequences of early, on-time, and late puberty for girls and boys? Are they the same or different?
Timing of puberty is one factor that determines a girl or boy’s adjustment psychologically to the process of puberty. However, it depends on several other individual and environmental factors as well, including gender, ethnicity, simultaneous occurrence of other stressors and adjustment in middle childhood (Weichold, Silbereisen & Schmitt-Rodermund, 2003, cited in Zembar & Blume, 2009). Early puberty (aka precocious or premature puberty) is often just a variation of normal puberty, although, in a few cases, there may be a medical reason for early puberty (Family doctor.org, 2006).
The early-maturation or early-timing hypothesis identifies early maturation as the best predictor of adjustment to puberty (Brooks-Gunn, Petersen, & Eichorn, 1985; Caspi & Moffitt, 1991, cited in Zembar & Blume, 2009). Specifically, girls who mature early have the most difficulty adjusting to pubertal change because early physical changes are not accompanied by similar cognitive, social, and emotional changes. Thus early-maturing females are ill equipped to cope with the different expectations placed on them. There is evidence to support this theory. For example, researchers have found that when compared to same-aged peers, early-maturing girls experience significantly higher levels of psychological distress and are more vulnerable to prior psychological problems, deviant peer pressures, and fathers’ hostile feelings (Ge, Conger, & Elder, 1996, cited in Zembar & Blume, 2009). For example, research …
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