CAREER: Stereotypes of Teens and Adolescent Neuropsychological Development

Project: Research project

Project Details


Overview: Adolescence is often viewed in a negative light in American society. Accumulating evidence from longitudinal and experimental research underscores that negative stereotypes that youth hold about teens, which appear to be culturally shaped, undermine their behavioral adjustment and neural development. For example, the more youth see teens as irresponsible, the more they are at risk for storm and stress as they navigate adolescence, as reflected in declines in academic engagement and increases in risk-taking behavior. Moreover, holding negative stereotypes of adolescence (e.g., seeing the teen years as a time of ignoring family responsibility) predicts longitudinal increases in youth’s prefrontal cortex activation during cognitive control, which is associated with increases in risk-taking behavior over time. Despite detrimental impact of negative stereotypes about teens, little is known about how youth’s stereotypes of teens change over adolescence, how such changes have long-term impacts on youth’s academic, social, and neural development, and how youth’s social context plays a role in transmitting stereotypes of teens. To address these issues, the proposed multi-method, 4-wave longitudinal study will examine the developmental trajectories of youth’s stereotypes of teens over the course of adolescence, as well as the antecedents and consequences of such trajectories. Using a combination of survey and fMRI data, the proposed research pursues three aims: (1) Investigate longitudinal trajectories of youth’s stereotypes of teens over the course of adolescence. (2) Elucidate the role of youth’s teen stereotypes in academic, social, and neural development. Given that adolescent storm and stress is often manifest in declines in academic engagement and increases in risk taking, Aim 2A focuses on the impact of youth’s stereotypes of teens on these two behaviors. Aim 2B examines how youth’s stereotypes of teens may modulate the neurodevelopment underlying changes in academic engagement and risk taking. (3) Evaluate the role of parents’ stereotypes of teens in youth’s stereotypes and adjustment over adolescence. Intellectual Merit: This proposed work exemplifies a multi-method, multi-dimensional approach by integrating adolescent development across belief, behavioral, and brain levels in theoretically novel and important ways, with attention to the role of social context (e.g., parents). Although no prior research has examined the developmental trajectories of youth’s stereotypes of teens, this study will systematically investigate this issue. The longitudinal design will not only provide insights into the reciprocal and dynamic pathways between youth’s stereotypes and adjustment over time, but also elucidate the neuro-behavior transactions initiated by stereotypes of teens. Highlighting the role of parents in transmitting cultural views of teens, this work also stands to inform theoretical models regarding parental socialization of adolescent development. Broader Impacts: This project seeks to empower underrepresented students and to inform the public in three ways. First, the PI is committed to provide opportunities for students from high school to undergraduate level, in particular for under-resourced and underrepresented ethnic minorities, to participate in research on stereotypes of teens. Second, the PI will initiate a general education course on “The Myths and Facts of Adolescence”, which takes an interdisciplinary perspective to introduce students from diverse academic backgrounds to the topic of adolescent developmen
Effective start/end date9/15/208/31/25


  • National Science Foundation (BCS-1944644-002)


Explore the research topics touched on by this project. These labels are generated based on the underlying awards/grants. Together they form a unique fingerprint.