What Was G. Stanley Hall’s Theory of Adolescence?

Introducing the concept of adolescence as a transitional period in human experience, G. Stanley Hall characterized it as a time of subversive or rebellious behavior and biological maturation (puberty). Hall identified this developmental stage as occurring between the ages of 14 and 24.

Contemporary notions of adolescence, owing largely to altered social and cultural norms, as well as biological understanding, place the developmental stage between the ages of 10 and 18, the end of which (in many countries) signifies a person’s eligibility to vote.

Hall’s theory of adolescence focused largely on that of males. He argued that young boys’ energies needed to be controlled and properly channeled by society. He advocated, for instance, for more sports to be included in young males’ education, as opposed to excessive academic study. He also said that their education should be focused on fostering emotions of patriotism and service.

Hall held obedience and discipline in high esteem, but claimed that, for adolescents, the most effective way to foster these traits was through the supervised channeling of physical energy. His theories thus gave rise to organizations like the Boy Scouts.

Although Hall said comparatively little about adolescent women, he felt that their education should also be tailored to their cultural gender role, preparing them for the roles of wife and mother.