Most knowledge about adolescent development is based on adolescents living in the United States or Europe. ""The Thoughts of Youth"" reports a study in which over 6000 adolescents from 20 regions of the world, including the Americas, Europe, Africa, and Asia, described an ideal woman or ideal man. Adolescents' images of the ideal person reflect their personal values about gender roles, their expectations and plans for the future, and their cultural values. ""The Thoughts of Youth"" presents the teenagers' perspectives - their descriptions, drawings, and interpretations of their peers' responses. Issues of importance to adolescent development are addressed, including morality and altruism, physical appearance and attractiveness, self and identity, intelligence and schooling, work, fun and leisure, family relationships, and romance. In contrast to the stereotype that adolescents are preoccupied with appearance and popularity, adolescents in this study endorsed kindness, honesty, helpfulness, and a positive attitude toward children. This book documents both the universal attitudes of adolescents and the ways that teenagers' views differ by gender, culture, and economic condition.
"In this original and provocative book, Judith Gibbons and Deborah Stiles present the results of 15 years of research on over 8000 adolescents in 20 countries around the world, in which they asked the adolescents to describe the ideal man or woman through ratings, drawings, and written statements. These descriptions reveal much about the lives and dreams of adolescents in diverse areas, including physical appearance, love, school, work, family, and fun. Gibbons and Stiles include many of the drawings, which are often striking, sometimes amusing, sometimes poignant. The authors give ample attention not just to the similarities of adolescents across cultures, but to the differences among them by culture as well as gender, social class, and ethnicity. Furthermore, they integrate material from many other studies of adolescents into their own findings, so that the book is an excellent overview of what we know about adolescents in many different cultures in diverse aspects of their lives. The book is clearly structured and nicely written. Anyone who wishes to know more about the lives of adolescents worldwide will greatly enjoy this book. Jeffrey Jensen Arnett Editor, Journal of Adolescent Research"