Autonomy, Development of

M. J. Zimmer-Gembeck, W. H. Ducat, W. A. Collins

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

33 Scopus citations


Autonomy is a developmental task of adolescence that includes increases in self-regulation of behavior and emotion and greater independent decision-making, as well as the acquisition of new societal rights and responsibilities. Autonomy development is important because it circumscribes the quality of an adolescent's selected pathways, how good he or she will feel, and the optimization of decision opportunities. Although the study of autonomy includes many diverse lines of research and multiple controversies, this entry describes four topics that emerge from recent empirical findings. Whenever possible, the topics are organized by the most prominent theoretical views of autonomy during adolescence. The first topic concerns descriptions of different prominent theories and provides a summary of key findings from research related to these various approaches. The second topic comes from contrasting theories and research on adolescent autonomy, which highlights culture and other social influences as well as identifying individual factors inherent in autonomy development. Third, what is known about the interpersonal foundations of autonomy is described, including relationships with parents and peers, and the influence of involvement in organizations and leisure activities. Fourth and finally, newly emerging areas of research are summarized. When taken together, processes of autonomy development are shown to be a result of interactions between individual characteristics, personal actions, and interactions with others. This makes autonomy development challenging, complex and important for adolescents in all parts of the world.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationEncyclopedia of Adolescence
PublisherElsevier Inc.
Number of pages11
ISBN (Print)9780123739513
StatePublished - Dec 1 2011


  • Agency
  • Autonomy
  • Decision-making
  • Friendship
  • Individuation
  • Internalization
  • Leisure activities
  • Parenting
  • Peer relationships
  • Positive youth development
  • Relatedness
  • Self-determination
  • Self-differentiation
  • Self-regulation
  • Volition


Dive into the research topics of 'Autonomy, Development of'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this