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.


The choices that adolescents make about peer relations, risky behavior, investment in school, and income-producing activities set the stage for subsequent development in later adolescence and into adulthood. Moreover, at the aggregate level, these choices have tremendous implications for the quality of life in such key social contexts as families, schools, neighborhoods, and communities. Thus, the pathways that young people follow through adolescence and beyond affect us all. Adolescents' choices, however, are not made in a vacuum; these social contexts provide opportunities--or obstacles--that influence the probability that adolescents will choose certain pathways and not others. Therefore, understanding these critical choices, and the ways in which they affect and are affected by social contexts, is of great importance both for developmental research and scholarship and for the creation of effective programs and policies focused on youth.