Human Development and Life-Span Perspective

What are the most important years in life for human development? Human development is a complicated and controversial subject. In the past, childhood has been attributed a majority of the concentration in regards to the development of a human being, and In some cases, adulthood has gotten all of the attention. However there is one perspective that considers all phases of life, known as the life-span perspective, which is universally accepted by most psychologists and implicated into their own respective theories.

This perspective was originally introduced by Paul and Margaret Ballets, and was monumental as It considered all phases of life, rather than just childhood or adulthood (Berger 2010). There are five insights which are focused on to describe the context under which development occurs. According to the life- span perspective, development is multidimensional, multifunctional, multicultural, multidisciplinary, and plastic (Berger 2010). Let’s begin with multidimensional. Multidimensional means that human qualities change In all directions.

A more traditional belief was that development took place up until the age of 20, becomes stagnant, and then declines. Life-span research has refuted this claim (Berger 2010). For example, when an elderly person’s spouse passes, the newly single elderly person can either lose motivation to live, or expand their social surroundings. Regardless of the outcome, development occurred even in these elderly years. The belief that development occurs in stages is held by many people and supported by many popular theorists.

For example, Fraud’s Psychosocial Theory consists of an Oral Stage, an Anal Stage, and a Phallic Stage throughout the first six years. In this order. These stages are named after the anatomical portion of the body in which the child feels pleasure. From six to eleven years, the child experiences a stage which sexual urges are suppressed and focused into conventional activities. Adolescence comes next, also known as the Genital Stage. Once again, the genitals are the pleasurable anatomical part. Finally, there is adulthood, where Freud suggests is Just a continuation of the Genital Stage.

According to Freud, the desire of a normal life is “to love and to work” (Berger 2010). In contrast with Fraud’s theory, but still supporting the concept of multidimensional development, Is Erosion’s Psychosocial Theory. The Psychosocial Theory also has three stages in the first six years. In order, they are Trust vs… Mistrust’, ‘Autonomy vs… Shame and Doubt’, and ‘Initiative vs… Guilt’. During the first year (Trust vs… Mistrust), infants either learn to trust or mistrust that their caregivers will take care of them. The next stage (Autonomy vs…

Shame and Doubt) Involves the child becoming able to do basic activities such as walking, eating, going to the bathroom, and talking. Failure at this stage can result in doubting their own abilities. Then in the next stage (Initiative vs… Guilt), the child either desires to do adult activities, or feels guilty about doing certain things due to the limits set by the caregivers. From six to eleven years, the child goes through the Industry vs… Inferiority stage, learning to be competent or failing to do activities that they wish they could. Adolescence is referred to as the Identity vs…

Role Confusion stage. During this stage, I OFF confused about which role they are supposed to fulfill. Adulthood is split up into three stages known as Intimacy vs… Isolation, Generatively vs… Stagnation, and Integrity vs… Despair (Berger 2010). These involve love, rejection, work, and reaching goals. Furthermore, Piglet’s Cognitive Theory suggests that a person’s ideas and thoughts directly affect their actions. This theory also supports the idea of multidimensional development as there are stages which must occur that occur throughout childhood as well as adulthood (Berger 2010).

From birth to two years, the infant must learn to use senses and motor skills in order to perceive the world and interpret mental actions. From two to six years, children use their own mind and language to understand the world from their own point of view. During this stage, caregivers must allow the child to communicate as frequently and as efficiently as possible as language is the key to categorizing and understanding the world (Bile 2004). Then during six years to 11 years, children begin to think logically, interpret experiences, and learn scientific ideas.

Finally, from 12 years to adulthood, adolescents and adults are able to think logically during situations that they have never been exposed to. This stage develops one’s ethics, morals, and social skills through experience (Berger 2010). Regardless of the difference between Erosion’s, Fraud’s, and Piglet’s theories, they all support the concept of multidimensional development and life-span perspective of human development. Continuing on, the next insight is that development is multifunctional. This aspect infers that development occurs within many contexts, like physical surroundings.

This can be influenced by climate, noise, population, geography, or socioeconomic status (Berger 2010). Furthermore, development is multicultural. This “culture” is referred to as “the patterns of behavior that are passed from one generation to the next” (Berger 2010). A group may be members of a nation, members within a certain region, a city, a neighborhood, a team, a class, etc. Growing up in different cultures can immensely impact the development of an individual. For example, when I first began to attend the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, I noticed there were students from all over the country.

Some students (mostly from New York) were very prepared for college as most of their high schools ran trimesters and quicker paced classes. These students had an advantage due to experience which was a direct impact of where they grew up. Another insight is that development is multidisciplinary. This means that there are many disciplines to be studied in order to understand the difference in development among individuals. Genetics, neuroscience, biology, medicine, economics, religion, psychology, education, and many other areas play a vast role in placement (Berger 2010).

According to Ballets, Lindbergh, and Staggering, evolution, genetics, and environment go hand in hand for development. During the younger years, these aspects play their largest roles. Environment can directly affect the expression of certain genes, and as one ages, the functionality of changing gene expression decreases. In other words, the genes that your body expresses earlier in life (which can be a combination of predisposed expression as well as environment) tend to be more difficult to shut off later in life regardless of environment, and vice versa.

Also, environment can help explain how some individuals who have the same genetics (twins) act very differently (Ballets 1999). It has been discovered that all controlled through varied gene expression, which is altered by different environmental exposure and cues (Berger 2010). Finally, we have plasticity. Development is plastic because human characteristics can be shaped to a certain extent, but still maintain a certain level of identity. This is realistic because it supports the notion that an individual is capable of changing, but one can only build off of the base of what came before (Berger 2010).

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