When it comes to social behaviour, young people don’t go by set norms but they weigh up the circumstances very carefully before reacting, new research has revealed. Contrary to what parents think today, adolescents who are often blamed for their selfish behaviour are rather well-behaved through interaction with their peers. The behaviour of the adolescents during certain social circumstances that helps them further in the development of their brain has become the major cause of concern for parents. “Adolescents don’t have a great reputation in terms of their social behaviour,” said Rosa Meuwese, developmental psychologist at University of Leiden in the Netherlands.
“You often hear parents say that their sweet, socially-minded children turn into selfish, lazy hotel guests who only think of me, myself and I. But out of sight of their parents, adolescents learn a lot about social behaviour from their peers,” Meuwese added. To reach this conclusion, the researchers surveyed over 1,000 pupils and used four different methods to study their behaviour, brain structure brain function and the high friendship quality or the level of friendship that the adolescents maintained with their peers. The participants were allowed to choose one euro for themselves and one euro for someone else.
The results showed that young people’s choices are governed less by a set norm but that they weigh up the situation increasingly carefully. At the same time, their social skills do not decline but are rather refined through interaction with their peers, the researchers noted. It was also viewed that the high friendship quality of the adolescent encourages the development of the social brain more rapidly with increasing age. “But a favourable social environment, such as a good friendship, may have a positive effect,” the researcher said.