According to behavioral scientists, an individual development task is one which arises at or about a certain period in the life of an individual, successful achievement of which leads to his happiness and to success with later tasks. Failure leads to unhappiness in the individual, disapproval by the society, and difficulty with later tasks. Adolescents, in particular, have many developmental tasks to achieve--and failure to achieve them can lead to much distress and even anti-social behavior.
One developmental task an adolescent needs to achieve is to establish a self-image. A primary task of early and middle adolescence is to achieve a new and positive sense of self in response to the many changes that occur at that age. The most dramatic are the biological changes and the alternations in physical appearnace that require a change in the body image and in the relevant self-evaluations. At a more global or general level, the adolescent should develop a new acceptance of the self as a person of worth. In addition, adolescence is a time to experiment with possible identities and ultimately to achieve a stable, specific picture of the self.
A second major task of adolescence is to intensify intimate relations with peers and to learn to relate in new ways to members of the opposite sex, so that at a later age the individual will be emotionally prepared to leave his or her family of origin and set up a new family. Several related dependent variables are included: perceived peer popularity with the same and the opposite sex, valuation of peer popularity, dating behavior, participation in extracurricular activities, and perception of others' expectations concerning the opposite sex.
The adolescent has the developmental task of establishing independence. Typically, at the beginning of adolescence, children are physically and emotionally dependent upon their parents, but by the end of adolescence they are capable of leavi...