12 Puberty

Its Role In Development

Developmental Psychology


  1. Elizabeth J. Susman1,
  2. Lorah D. Dorn2

Published Online: 26 SEP 2012

DOI: 10.1002/9781118133880.hop206012

Handbook of Psychology, Second Edition

Handbook of Psychology, Second Edition

How to Cite

Susman, E. J. and Dorn, L. D. 2012. Puberty . Handbook of Psychology, Second Edition. 6:IV:12.

Author Information

  1. 1

    The Pennsylvania State University, Department of Behavioral Health, University Park, Pennsylvania, USA

  2. 2

    Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center and the University of Cincinnati College of Medicine, Cincinnati, Ohio, USA

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 26 SEP 2012


Puberty has intrigued scholars, artists, parents, and adolescents alike for centuries, and cultures have ritualized puberty to varying degrees. Its biological basis has been described comprehensively in scientific journals in the last few decades. Its psychological significance continues to be of great scientific interest. The goal of this chapter is to present a perspective on the role of puberty in psychological development. It considers the neuroendocrinology of puberty and the implications of these endocrine and morphological changes for psychological development. The chapter begins with a historical and theoretical perspective on the role of puberty in development, followed by a review of the major neuroendocrine changes that occur at puberty and how these changes affect physical morphological characteristics. Then, the literature is condensed to present an overview of the relations between pubertal status and pubertal timing and psychological development. Finally, we conclude with research and intervention recommendations for the future.


  • puberty;
  • historical perspective;
  • gonadal and adrenal hormones;
  • timing of puberty;
  • brain development;
  • externalizing problems;
  • internalizing problems