What are the Mental Characteristics of Adolescence?

In adolescence the individual is so transformed that he wears but inwardly he seethes with revolt and pent up anger which sometimes leads him to run away not only from school but even from the home a new and unrecognized look. Mental charges in this period of life find their best expression in the works of poets as they depict the mental states of young men and women. Adolescence exhibits the following mental characteristics generally:

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1. Development of Mental Abilities

In adolescence the individual’s nervous system becomes stronger with the result that his mental activities show greater tenacity and system. Ability to think, to solve problems, to differentiate and evaluate are some of the more prominent characteristics and abilities that he exhibits.


2. Sexual Development

From the psychological viewpoint, the most significant characteristic of the period of adolescence is sexual development. According to Dr. Jones, the repressed sexual force of infancy, that continued latent through the period of childhood, once again wakens and the individual passes through various stages of sexual development.

The truth of the matter is, that even if it not the only tendency, sexual tendency is undoubtedly the most prominent and stable tendency to be found in adolescence Hence, to disregard it is to make a fatal mistake as it is the most harmful form of negligence conceivable.

The development in this sphere is so rapid that his entire personality appears to be colored by it. Sexual development in adolescence finds its expression in attraction towards strangers, rather than towards parents as in the case infancy.


It announces its presence even in such small activities as the young boy’s anxiety and nervousness, biting of fingernails, putting a pencil in one’s mouth, tying knots in handkerchiefs, etc. Both physical and mental teachings in this age can use the sexual tendency as an important force.

3. Hero Worship

Generally speaking, adolescence evinces a strong tendency towards hero worship, though the criterion of heroism is not the same in all children. Possession of any quality that attracts an individual child the most is sufficient qualification for a man or woman to become its ideal.

While one child may regard a wrestler as hero, another may profess allegiance to a scientist, yet another may be devoted to film personality or a political leader.


In schools some teachers impress their students considerably with the result that they come to be tenderly and affectionately regarded by them, also being imitated by the tender children.

Sometimes, this hero worship turns to love. It is not till considerably later that the young man turns his thoughts to his own heroic qualities, when he begins praising them. The tendency to hero worship can be turned to good account by inculcating a proper character and personality in the child’s mind.

4. Religious Feeling

Many adolescents become positively and deeply religious in this period of their lives. One can often observe them loving God in some one image, talking to him, sacrificing them to him and praying to him.

India is particularly productive of such specimens since, for one, the religious tendency is deeply ingrained in the people’s mind, and for another, in Indian society young boys and girls meet great leaders and famous personalities on very rare occasions.

While religious tendency protects the young inexperienced child from many bad habits, it sometimes helps in making him somewhat impractical. Teachers can help to create a healthy attitude towards religion.

5. Extroversion

In this period, the child once again regains his extrovert flamboyancy, taking deep interest in his surroundings and other individuals, their activities and conflicts. In school, too, he likes to take part in all kinds of activities. And it is a matter of joy with him if he can spend the larger part of his time in the company of these friends. Various individuals become engaged in programmes of social service and welfare.

In this manner does the adolescent announce the interest that he takes in the real world? This interest can be usefully exploited to ingrain, in him such useful qualities as self- dependence, self-determination cooperation, discipline, honesty and the quality of maintaining good relations with others or developing the social instinct. This is the age in which the foundations of good citizenship can be deeply laid.

6. Gregarious Instinct

Adolescents are always acutely desirous of being among their friends, of praising them and of improving their relation with them. Often, they form definite groups in which each adolescent has his specific status and a role to suit him. This status and role plays an important part in determining his status and role in adult life.

7. Lack of Stability and Adjustment

It has been pointed out earlier, too, that in his adolescence the growing individual is at the threshold of his life, although he is rarely if ever considered an adult by his serious. From the psychological point of view, he takes himself seriously enough not to consider himself a child and likes to be treated as an adult. Evidently, he shows considerable instability and lack of adjustment.

His adaptation, to his environment is upset by such small considerations as the growth of pimples on his face or the presence of other small physical deformities. In fact, it is a stage in which he learns to lead adult life in every sphere and direction. Hence, the presence and continual development of problems is only natural. And these problems are susceptible to ready solutions if the seniors are prepared to extend their sympathetic cooperation and guidance.

8. Excessive Imagination

Although the adolescent is as much in this world as any other living being, yet he is prone to much imaginary flights into the world of fancy. The smallest thing can persuade him to temporarily abandon the world of reality and turn to the imaginary world.

Such excessive imagination manifests itself in the strong tendency towards daydreaming, but some gifted children express their creative and aesthetic imagination through literature, music and painting, besides other arts

9. Excessive Sentimentality

The adolescent is very sentimental and emotionally unstable, although at this age his mind is fairly well- developed.

Of the many feelings that drive him, the strongest are the desire to win praise and self-respect, any injury to or repression of them leading to serious malformations and even open rebellion. Sentimentality can be turned to good use in developing culture qualities in the adolescent.

10. Personal Interests

In adolescence, as the individual develops both in mind and body, his interests vary. Progressively the boys and girls develop the interests of their adult counterparts.

Girls show this development in such interests as the use of various cosmetics, efforts at appearing very beautiful, reading or taking interests in romantic novels, love stories, dramas or poems, participating in music, art and acting programmes etc.

Boys manifest their approaching adulthood in the form of various active games, running around, doing acts to valor, developing a vocation that they are to pursue in their adult life. Both boys and girls task constant interest in their addled life. Both boys and girls like to mix with the other sex and maturing it to fruition through conversation, intimacy, letters and romance

11. Development of the Mind

In adolescence, the mind develops rapidly. The cells of the nervous system increase rapidly and the chemical composition of the nerves also undergoes a change. In this way, the mind and the nervous system rapidly mature. In this period along with physical and mental development, practice helps to develop mental abilities.

Linguistic ability also registers improvement during this period. In his adolescence the child develops the vocabulary that he possesses. His vocabulary reveals general intelligence. Mental development, too reaches its apex in adolescence.

Despite the inevitable individual differences that are invariably present, mental maturity achieves its completion normally by the age of twenty. Practice or experience contributes considerably to this maturation.

Normally, the individual’s intelligence continues on the same level or, on other words, even in different ages the intelligence quotient of an individual remains more or less the same.

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