• Question: Why do people see teenagers as naughty kids?

    Asked by Dario M. to Emily, Alex, Amber, Jolel, Sophie on 14 Nov 2019. This question was also asked by knit365can.
    • Photo: Emily Mattacola

      Emily Mattacola answered on 14 Nov 2019:


      Great question! I think there’s generally a lack of understanding between generations. We’re quite bad as people at understanding other groups. One way in which we can understand why we do this is through social identity theory, which says that our sense of who we are is based our group memberships.

      The groups that we belong to (e.g. our generation, our family, which football team we support, etc.) which we belong to are a source of pride and self-esteem, and a sense of belonging to the social world.

      The downside of social groups is that it automatically means we divide the world into “them” and “us” based through a process of social categorization (i.e. we put other people into social groups and define them according to those groups). Stereotyping (i.e. putting people into groups and categories) is based on this tendency to define people according to their group membership, and in doing this we exaggerate the differences between groups and the similarities of things in the same group. This is known as in-group (us) and out-group (them), so that group members of an in-group will seek to find negative aspects of an out-group, essentially to make themselves feel that their group is better to enhance their self-image.

      We can apply this idea to generations. Members of my parents’ generation (baby boomers) identify themselves as being better than my generation (millennials). But also by consequence, every generation of teenagers is perceived by the generation of now-adults as being worse than them. It’s the same processes through which we develop prejudiced attitudes such as racism and homophobia; at their core is an idea of “us” vs “them.”

    • Photo: Jolel Miah

      Jolel Miah answered on 14 Nov 2019:


      great answer by Emily!

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