When Mattering (really) Matters: A Developmental Science Perspective on Social Value Sensitivity in Adolescence

Colloquium | March 13 | 12:10-1:15 p.m. | 1104 Berkeley Way West

 Ron Dahl, Professor, UC Berkeley School of Public Health

 Institute of Personality and Social Research

Adolescence is a dynamic maturational period when social learning experiences can have a large impact on life course development. This presentation will describe a trans-disciplinary developmental science perspective on adolescence—as a dynamic period of learning and adaptation that involves multiple levels of interacting change. This includes the biological changes of puberty (e.g. rapid physical growth and sexual maturation), a set of neurodevelopmental changes that influence social and emotional processing, and also a wide range of changes in social contexts, social roles, and social relationships. One particularly important set of changes (relevant to social learning in adolescence) focuses on pubertal changes in the motivational salience of social value. The enhanced sensitivity to being valued socially (e.g. wanting to be liked, admired, respected, and stronger aversion to being embarrassed, humiliated, or disrespected) is fundamental to the social learning experiences that shape adolescent development. These same social affective changes may also provide insights into adolescent motivations for broader social value (e.g. to contribute, to ‘matter’ in a larger sense, to seek meaning and purpose). These will be discussed within a larger set of questions about adolescence as a window of unique opportunities (and vulnerabilities) for social learning.

Ron Dahl is a pediatrician and developmental scientist with a strong commitment to interdisciplinary team research with the goal of improving the lives of children and adolescents. His research has ranged from basic studies of neurobiological and psychological development, clinical studies in pediatrics and child psychiatry, to consideration of the social, family, and cultural contexts that shape neurobehavioral development. He has published more than 300 scientific articles in the areas of child and adolescent development, behavioral/emotional health in youth, sleep and its disorders in youth, adolescent brain development, and the public health/policy implications of this work.

 ipsr@berkeley.edu, 510-642-5050