Posted by & filed under Child Development, Depression, Development of the Self, Human Development, Social Influence, Student Success, The Self.

Description: Often when we are looking at what is going on at certain points in human developmental trajectories, we make assumptions. We assume that something that most individuals at that particular age or stage are doing is normative. Normative technically just means most frequent but additional meaning is usually included with term. We frequently assume that if a pattern of behavior or a certain activity is normative that it is also normal and perhaps even a pre-requisite or essential part of positive development. Simply put, we assume people who do what most people their age or stage are doing are developing normally and people who do not engage in that normative behavior are atypical and potentially at risk for sub-optimal developmental outcomes. OK, with that intro in mind, consider dating among teenagers. Dating is considered to be a normative part of teenage development and to contribute importantly to identity development, social skill development emotional growth, and social understanding. No argument so far, right? Ok, so what about teens that do not participate in dating? Think about what you would hypothesize regarding their development and standing relative to and within their peer group. Once you have your hypotheses in mind have a read through the article linked below which describes a study looking at this very question.

Source: Teens who don’t date are less depressed and have better social skills, Science News, ScienceDaily.

Date: September 6, 2019

Photo Credit: Monkey Business Images/Getty Images

Article Link:  

So, what do you make of the study? Beyond the general findings (which were quite interesting) what did you think of the various data sources utilized? Do teacher ratings provide us with a clear perspective of social standing (it could, I am just not sure)?  A major take-away from this study, I think, is that we should reflect from time to time on the assumptions we make, especially in developmental studies, when we look at common behavior and call it normative and mean that it is part of how best to deal with the developmental issues at play in that moment.

Questions for Discussion:

  1. What did the research project discussed in the linked article find?
  2. What did the results of the research suggest regarding the developmental issues at play through the teen years?
  3. What are other normative developmental observations that might be worth looking at the other side of a little more closely?

References (Read Further):

Brooke Douglas, Pamela Orpinas. Social Misfit or Normal Development? Students Who Do Not Date. Journal of School Health, 2019; DOI: 10.1111/josh.12818 (full article link not available, sorry).

La Greca, A. M., & Harrison, H. M. (2005). Adolescent peer relations, friendships, and romantic relationships: Do they predict social anxiety and depression?. Journal of clinical child and adolescent psychology, 34(1), 49-61.

Scott, S. (2006). The medicalisation of shyness: from social misfits to social fitness. Sociology of Health & Illness, 28(2), 133-153.

Granic, I., Dishion, T. J., Hollenstein, T., & Patterson, G. R. (2003). The family ecology of adolescence: A dynamic systems perspective on normative development. Blackwell handbook of adolescence, 60-91.