Psychology, Department of


Date of this Version

June 1995


Published in PATHWAYS THROUGH ADOLESCENCE: Individual Development in Relation to Social Contexts, Edited by Lisa J. Crockett & Ann C. Crouter, LAWRENCE ERLBAUM ASSOCIATES, 1995. Copyright © 1995 Lawrence Erlbaum Assoc. Used by permission.


Given the connection between adolescent behavior and future well-being, it is important to understand the choices that adolescents make and how patterns of behavior evolve and are maintained during this period. The premise of this volume is that we can describe the behavior patterns young people develop in adolescence, and piece together the decisions that shape their paths through adolescence and into adulthood. Moreover, we can begin to identify the dynamic processes that affect adolescents7 life choices, the emergence of behavior patterns, and the development of lifestyles. This volume seeks to address three questions. How can developmental pathways in adolescence be most usefully conceptualized? What sets of influences combine to shape adolescents' pathways? What implications do our answers to these two questions have for research and policy? In this introductory chapter, we provide a brief overview of adolescence as a formative phase in the life course. We then offer an initial conceptualization of developmental paths in adolescence, and describe the contributions of "person" and "context" in shaping them. These observations set the stage for the chapters that follow.