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Dynamics of body time, social time and life history at adolescence

Nature volume 554, pages 451457 (22 February 2018) | Download Citation

Abstract

Recent opposing trends towards earlier physical maturation and later social maturation present a conundrum of apparent biological–social mismatch. Here we use life history analysis from evolutionary ecology to identify forces that drive these shifts. Together with findings in developmental science, our life history analysis indicates that adolescence is a distinctive period for biological embedding of culture. Ethnographic evidence shows that mass education is a novel feature of the globalizing cultural configurations of adolescence, which are driven by transformations in labour, livelihood and lifestyle. Evaluation of the life history trade-offs and sociocultural ecologies that are experienced by adolescents may offer a practical basis for enhancing their development.

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Author information

Affiliations

  1. 1Department of Anthropology, Emory University, Atlanta, Georgia 30322, USA

    • Carol M. Worthman
    •  & Kathy Trang

Authors

  1. Search for Carol M. Worthman in:

  2. Search for Kathy Trang in:

Contributions

K.T. assembled population data; C.M.W. filtered ethnographic data; C.M.W. and K.T. wrote the paper.

Competing interests

The authors declare no competing financial interests.

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Carol M. Worthman.

Reviewer Information Nature thanks S. Spyrou and D. F. Lancy for their contribution to the peer review of this work.

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https://doi.org/10.1038/nature25750

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