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PSYC FPX 3210 Assessment 3 Meet the Washingtons: Case Study


The study focuses on the theoretical concept of identity as it relates to Erickson’s stage of psychosocial development for Kyla’s age. Kyla is the second oldest of four siblings and lives with her parents and grandparents. She is described as responsible and helpful at home and has a close relationship with her mother but a more combative one with her father. Kyla has a strong interest in cooking and wants to attend culinary school, but she has a negative attitude toward traditional academia. Additionally, the paper notes that Kyla is heavily influenced by the attention she receives on social media.

PSYC FPX 3210 Assessment 3 Meet the Washingtons: Case Study

The paper explores how these different aspects of Kyla’s life and personality influence her psychosocial development, particularly relating to her sense of self and decision-making abilities. Through analysis of Kyla’s self-reported feelings and behaviors, the paper aims to understand how different factors influence an individual’s psychosocial development. 

Keywords: psychosocial development, Erickson’s stages of development, identity, idealism, decision making, self-esteem, family, community, society, adolescent development.

Process of Identity Formation Using the Erickson Psychosocial Development

Erickson states that during adolescence, individuals undergo a process of identity formation in which they explore different roles, values, and beliefs and eventually form a stable sense of self. Kyla is currently in Erickson’s fifth stage of psychosocial development, which is the stage of identity versus role confusion. At this stage, individuals are challenged to develop a sense of self and determine their place in the world (Gross, 2020). They explore different roles, interests, and values and form stable identities.

Despite the pressure to conform to traditional academic paths, Kyla’s decision to pursue a career in culinary arts suggests that she is developing her sense of identity. The statement that the attention heavily influences Kyla garnered from social media indicates her trying to find validation and acceptance of her identity through external sources. Additionally, her strong relationship with her mother, and her reasonably combative one with her father, also indicate her trying to establish her own identity, separate from her family’s expectations and influence. Her negative attitude towards traditional academia also reflects this. Her psychosocial development is on the right track. She is exploring different roles and interests and forming her sense of identity, which is a crucial aspect of this stage. It’s essential for her to continue to explore her interests, values, and beliefs and to seek support and guidance as she navigates this stage of development.

Brain Development

The brain development of an adolescent like Kyla is a complex process influenced by various factors, including genetics, environment, and experience. During adolescence, the brain undergoes significant changes, particularly in the areas that control decision-making, impulse control, and emotional regulation. The expansion and maturity of the prefrontal cortex, the amygdala, are responsible for judgment, impulsive behavior, and emotional stability. It is one of the significant developments that occur throughout teenage cognitive development. This process is fully complete in young adulthood, which can explain why adolescents like Kyla may struggle with impulse control and decision-making. Another fundamental change that occurs during adolescent brain development is the development of the brain’s reward system, which is responsible for processing pleasurable experiences and motivating behavior.

PSYC FPX 3210 Assessment 3 Meet the Washingtons: Case Study

The reward system is heavily influenced by the release of dopamine, a neurotransmitter associated with pleasure and reward. Research suggests that adolescents have higher dopamine levels than children or adults, making them more susceptible to the influence of pleasurable experiences and tips, such as social media attention, which affects Kyla’s behavior (Clements et al., 2022). The limbic system, which is responsible for emotional regulation, still develops during this stage (Frere et al., 2020). This can explain why Kyla may have a more challenging time regulating her emotions and may be more easily influenced by her environment.

Genetic, environmental, and experiential factors likely influence Kyla’s brain development. It’s important to note that brain development is continuous and fully developed in young adulthood.

Ethical Considerations

Psychologists must obtain informed consent from Kyla and her parents before conducting any assessments or interventions to ensure they understand the nature of the research or treatment and agree to participate. Additionally, confidentiality should be maintained throughout the process to protect Kyla’s privacy and personal information. Conflicts of interest should also be avoided by ensuring that any interventions or recommendations align with Kyla’s best interests and are not influenced by personal biases or self-interest. Furthermore, psychologists must ensure that any interventions or recommendations are evidence-based and appropriate for Kyla’s unique situation. According to the APA code of ethics, psychologists should be aware of these ethical considerations and be guided by beneficence and non-maleficence, respect for people’s rights and dignity, and responsibility to promote social justice.


In conclusion, the case of Kyla Washington highlights the complex and dynamic nature of psychosocial development in adolescence. Through the lens of Erickson’s stages of psychosocial development and identity theory, the paper has explored how different factors, such as family relationships, interests, and social media influence, influence Kyla’s sense of self and decision-making abilities. The paper also discussed Kyla’s brain development, emphasizing the fundamental changes during adolescent brain development, which may affect her behavior and decision-making. It is important to note that an individual’s psychological and brain development is continuous, and ethical considerations should be considered when working with adolescents like Kyla.

PSYC FPX 3210 Assessment 3 Meet the Washingtons: Case Study


Clements, C. C., Ascunce, K., & Nelson, C. A. (2022). In context: A developmental model of reward processing, with implications for autism and sensitive periods. Journal of the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jaac.2022.07.861 

Frere, P. B., Vetter, N. C., Artiges, E., Filippi, I., Miranda, R., Vulser, H., Paillère-Martinot, M.-L., Ziesch, V., Conrod, P., Cattrell, A., Walter, H., Gallinat, J., Bromberg, U., Jurk, S., Menningen, E., Frouin, V., Papadopoulos Orfanos, D., Stringaris, A., Penttilä, J., & van Noort, B. (2020). Sex effects on structural maturation of the limbic system and outcomes on emotional regulation during adolescence. NeuroImage, 210, 116441. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.neuroimage.2019.116441 

Gross, Y. (2020). Erikson’s stages of psychosocial development. The Wiley Encyclopedia of Personality and Individual Differences, 1, 179–184. https://doi.org/10.1002/9781118970843.ch31 

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