Few issues in research on adolescence have received so much interest as the developmental significance of puberty, and if being early or late in developing compared with same-sex peers—labeled pubertal timing—has consequences for psychosocial adjustment in adolescence and later in life. This entry discusses the psychosocial adjustment of early and late developers.

Pubertal development is a hormonally driven process yielding radical bodily and hormonal changes. During a relatively short period, young people experience changes in height, weight, and secondary sexual characteristics (e.g., breast and muscle development and pubic, body, and facial hair). The age of puberty varies markedly. The average girl begins puberty about 2 years before the average boy, but considerable differences within the sexes—up to 6 years—are found.

Puberty signals that young people are leaving ...

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