Case Study of an Adolescent

In every class that we take in college we have to read textbooks, which are filled with information that is based in research that has taken many years to develop and many hours of hard work. However, we almost never take the time to see how this information applies to us, the people that we know, or the environment that surrounds us. Therefore, if we take the time tot try to prove the information that we read in this class by making a case study, we are going to gain an understanding of why people that make part of our environment behave the way they do.

Throughout this class we have studied human development which is the orderly and patterned changes that occur between conception and death, and fall into three categories: Biosocial, cognitive, and psychosocial. So in order to compare this information with real life, a research project on the behavior of an adolescent in his everyday life will provide support to the information that we have read in adolescents’ development, as well as helping to see how textbook knowledge applies to real life.

For this study a chose Luis. He is a 19 year old college student that lives at his mother’s house. He was born in Bogot�, Colombia on December 20, 1989. Luis moved to the United States September 28, 1999 with his whole family. Both of Luis’ parents are still alive; his father William is 57 years old, and his mother Julia is 51 years old. Both of them were born in Colombia, however William was born in Bogot (the capital) and Julia was born in Cali (one of the largest cities).

Both parents completed their bachelor’s degree in Economy from the two of the best Colombian universities. His father is currently living in Bogot, Colombia because his parents are going through a divorce that has already taken more than two years to settle. The reason why this process has taken so much time is because the divorce has to be settled in both countries, Colombia and the United States. Luis has two siblings, Paola and Felipe. Paola is a female born in March 27, 1979. She is married and has two children. The other sibling is Felipe, a male born in April 14, 1983. He is a college graduate with two bachelor’s degrees (both of them from FIU), and currently looking for a job.

After using different research methods with Luis and his mother, the first thing I noticed was how close their relationship was. When I got to observe Luis at a house party his mother had organized, it was obvious that the two of them express their love for each other with no shame to show it; they look like they have a really close mother-son relationship. However, when I was asking Julia about Luis’ behavior when he was going through puberty she declared that they used to argue about almost everything like the house shores, school, and friends. When reading about the biosocial development, the studies show how adolescents have many differences with their parents in the early stages of adolescence (puberty), making their relationship hard and resulting in the children distancing themselves from their parents.

However, this disruption of the parent-child relationship ends when the pubertal transition has ended. This also proves how puberty’s hormonal changes not only cause a physical change in the adolescent, but also creates a change in the mood, behavior, and family interactions in a human’s life. In addition, Luis is a highly sociable boy, self assure, attractive, and it has a great social acceptance with his friends, and people of all ages. When talking to him and his mother, it was clear that both agreed that Luis has always seemed to be more mature, and to experience more things than other adolescents his age. His girlfriend is older than he is (25 years old) and he establishes conversations and relationships with people from all age ranges, babies to adults. When comparing his behavior to the readings on the textbook it is obvious that Luis was an early-developing boy, because it shows all the characteristics described by the researchers in the book.

Something else that can be linked to its biosocial development is the use, and maybe abuse, of alcohol and drugs. By observing his behavior on the party, and after questioning him and his mother, I can conclude that Luis may be inclined to have alcohol abuse problems, and maybe drug related problems. He is only 19 years old and his mother allows him to drink, and get drunk at home. Also when I asked Luis about drug use he was not afraid of telling me that he has consumed once or twice.

As the readings suggests, if Luis is an early-developing boy, he has an increased risk of early involvement in substance and alcohol use. This alcohol use may also be related to human genetics because when I asked his mother about any family problems with alcohol, she told me that Luis’ grandfather and father had alcohol abuse problems in the past. Research has link the dopamine D2 receptor gene (DRD2) and its neighboring gene called Ankyrin repeat and Kinase domain containing 1 (ANKK1) with alcoholism and addictive behaviors. As with any other genetic trait, in order for the gene to have an influence in human behavior, the environment has to provide the elements that trigger the gene; in Luis’ case it is obvious that alcohol is present at home and when with friends, thus, triggering the gene’s influence in Luis’ behavior.

Luis’ life has been filled with events that have brought experiences (good and bad), and abrupt changes to his environment which have constructed his understanding of the world. He moved to Miami (United States) when he was 9 eras old, bringing a drastic change to his learning (cognitive) development. In Colombia he was taking classes in Spanish and French, and suddenly, he had to star communicating in English and dealing with kids that did not understand him; however, this did not create any problems with his understanding of the world.

He learned to appreciate other cultures, which build a love to travel and interact with different cultures; this expanded his mind and allowed him to have a broad understanding of the world. When he finished high school, Luis traveled to Europe and spent a summer in France; this only helps me to understand Piaget’s Cognitive Development Theory, which states that children construct new understandings of the world based on their experiences (Sigelman 2009). This is the concept of Constructivism.

When looking at the psychosocial development is important to take into consideration the divorce of Luis’ parents because this is an event that will affect a persons life in any stage of its development, more importantly his adolescence because it is the time when the person is finding its identity; the time of the identity crisis. The divorce of Luis’ parents allowed me to understand Erik Erikson theory which proposed that people experience eight psychosexual crises over his life (Sigelman 2009). Luis’ lack of decision on what to study in college can be reflected on the fact that his father figure has been missing from his life for more than seven years. Because Luis is going through the “identity versus role confusion”, his parent divorce can be affecting his lack of decision on what major to pursue.

In conclusion, this study allowed me to get an inside look into the subjects that I have study for my class. Now I understand the importance of research in order to give explanation to human development and behavior. I did not only learn about someone else’s life, I also learned about myself and the ways I can approach the problems, behaviors, and stages of my life. With this study I realized how textbook knowledge is easier to understand by applying it to real life.


Adolecense: Biosocial Development. Retrive September 17, 2009 from

Adolescence: Biosocial Development. Retrive September 17, 2009 from

Gene That May Influence Alcoholism And Addiction Identified. Retrive September 17, 2009 from

Sigelman, Carol K, & Rider, Elizabeth A. (2009) Life-Spam Human Development (6th Ed.) Wadsworth Cengage Learning.

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