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Being Cool in Adolescence May Lead to Problems as an Adult

being coolIn adolescence, it is so important to be popular, cool, part of the in-crowd.[1] Many do all that they can to be seen as similar to those who are already seen as cool.1 However, new research suggests that teens who try to act cool in early adolescence were more likely than their peers who weren’t seen as cool to experience a range of problems in early adulthood.1

The findings were published in the journal Child Development and were the result of a decade-long study by researchers at the University of Virginia.1 While cool teens, who often act older than their age, are often idolized in popular TV shows and movies, it turns out that whatever benefits being cool may have eventually diminished.1

Researchers followed 184 teens from age 13 to age 23, collecting information from the teens themselves, as well as from their peers and parents.1 The teens attended public school in suburban and urban areas in the southeastern United States, and they were from racially and ethnically diverse backgrounds.1

Teens who were romantically involved at an early age, engaged in delinquent activity and placed importance upon hanging out with their physically attractive peers.1 However, over time, the sentiment faded.1 By 22, those once-cool teens were rated by their peers as being less competent in managing social relationships.1 There were also more likely to have had significant problems with alcohol and drugs, and to have engaged in criminal activities.1

“It appears that while so-called ‘cool’ teens’ behavior might have been linked to early popularity, over time, these teens needed more and more extreme behaviors to try to appear cool, at least to a subgroup of other teens,” said Joseph P. Allen, PhD, who led the study. “So they became involved in more serious criminal behavior and alcohol and drugs use as adolescence progressed. These previously cool teens appeared less competent—socially and otherwise—than their less cool peers by the time they reached young adulthood.”1

[1] Nauert, R. (2014). Being ‘Cool’ in Early Adolescence Can Lead to Adult Problems. Psych Central. Retrieved on June 17, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/news/2014/06/16/being-cool-in-early-adolescence-can-lead-to-problems-in-adulthood/71271.html

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