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What Is Biosocial Development in Teenagers?

By Matthew Giobbi, Ph.D. ; Updated June 13, 2017

Biosocial developmental theory explores how genetic, chemical and nervous system functions are influenced by the social environment and how social pressures affect the expression of biological processes. Physical, cognitive, personality and social development all share dynamic relationships between biology and environment. Whereas physical and cognitive influences are greatest in the years leading up to adolescence, puberty brings unique considerations regarding personalty and social development.

Biosocial Interaction

The interactionist model does not establish a cause and effect relationship between society and biology, but rather a dynamic relationship between the two. Whereas traditional nature and nurture models viewed biology and environment as discrete factors, know as the "two buckets" model, interactionist theorists view biology and society as an integrated feedback system.

Effects of Childhood on Adolescence

Biosocial interaction is not typically an immediate effect, but rather, a delayed developmental consequence of severe, prolonged exposure. The development in teenage years depends on the developmental conditions from the prenatal period on. Small effects during gestation, such as toxic chemicals or viruses called teratogens, can create significant defects later in development. In this way, much of biosocial development is not immediate, but rather delayed.

Psychosocial Dwarfism

Psychosocial dwarfism is a condition in which adolescents do not reach full, adult physical development due to severe emotional neglect and stress in childhood. Researchers surmise that extreme stress and neglect can inhibit the production or release of growth hormone, resulting in dwarfism. According to Dr. Betty Adelson in her book "Dwarfism: Medical and Psychosocial Aspects of Profound Short Stature," psychosocial dwarfism is a hormone deficiency that manifests during puberty, and it can result from childhood environmental circumstances including neglect.

Society and Menarche

According to Dr. Rose E. Frisch in his book "Female Fertility and the Body Fat Connection," U.S. and European girls' first menstruation, known as menarche, is nearly two years earlier than it was a century ago. Although no conclusive cause has been identified, multiple social factors have been shown to interact with the biological process of puberty. These include high-fat diet, obesity, estrogen-mimicking chemicals found in plastic food containers, growth hormones found in food and overly sexualized media content.

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