Daniel N. Klein is one of two Stony Brook researchers studying how the personalities of adolescents change. (PHOTO CREDIT: STONY BROOK UNIVERSITY)
Daniel Klein is one of two Stony Brook researchers studying how the personalities of adolescents change. (PHOTO CREDIT: STONY BROOK UNIVERSITY)

While personality studies typically focus on adults, two psychologists from Stony Brook University are investigating the minds of adolescent girls from the ages of 13.5 to 15.5 to see how rapid hormone growth and brain activity changes the personalities of these girls.

Roman Kotov’s and Daniel Klein’s project, called Adolescent Development of Emotions and Personality Traits, will track subjects over the course of three years.

The ADEPT team decided to focus only on females during the study because adding adolescent males would have been too large of a sample to control and to get accurate results. Kotov told the Times Beacon Record that they chose pre-teen females because “they become much more emotionally sensitive than boys” and female adolescence is “a unique phase of emotional development.”

The study is going to take 13-year-old females and watch them over the course of three years, during which they will go to the clinic with their parents and both will be interviewed. Parent interviews are about an hour each while interviews with the girls are about three hours.

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According to the ADEPT website, the interviewees will ask questions about the teens’ feelings, likes and daily lives.

Apart from the personal interviews, there will also be phone interviews and other tests, like two EEGs—one in the beginning of the trial one at the end. The KidsHealth website says that “an EEG is used to detect abnormalities related to electrical activity of brain.”

During the EEG, the subjects will look at different pictures to allow researchers to see their brain’s reaction. The girls will also use the computer while hooked up to the EEG machine to see how their brain reacts with that stimulus.

Kotov and the other investigators participating in this project are halfway done with the study and have about a year and a half left with one more group of participants about to start. The researchers hope that the ADEPT project will bring knowledge about the teenage brain. Kovac told the Times Beacon Record that “we hope that what we learn will inform clinical services.”

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This research project was organized by Stony Brook’s Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Science and the Department of Psychology. The ADEPT project was given a $2.8 million grant by National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) for its research.

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