High School: A Teenage Stage of Change

For many North American teenagers, the transition into high school represents a period of transformation and change. A social environment with new rules, structures and social experiences, high school can have a profound influence on teen motivations and behavior.

“When you first go to high school you’re more careful. You don’t want older kids making fun of you. You’re entering a new place. It’s different. I have shirts I wear in public but not in school. I don’t want people to think I’m weird.” – Teen Girl (2012)

The Science of Environmental Change

Research has found that environments can have a major bearing on human behavior. When living in a known environment, human actions have a tendency to become habitual (i.e. repeated without awareness). However, when an environment change occurs it can create a 'window of opportunity' in which habits are more likely to be considered.

"I started feeling insecure because it was a new school. You pay attention to those things that you can change; like what you eat, the clothes you wear, you can even change your personality. In elementary school everything was perfect. I'd wear sweatpants, but in high school I wear skirts.” – Teen Girl (2012)

The High School Stage of Change

The teenage transition into high school provides an excellent example of how environmental change can impact behavior. From food to fashion, entering high school can cause teens to re-evaluate many of their behaviors - which is what makes it an important stage of change.