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Lifespan Development Essay

Set forth by Margret Baltes, Paul Baltes and their associates, the life span perspective is the viewing of human development as multi directional, multi cultural, multi contextual,multi disciplinary and plastic. Human development is viewed as multi-directional because with time the characteristics of a human tend to change. Each person’s body consists of a large amount of genes and therefore bring the possibility of having several different directions that they could develop. Different events in life can lead to a change in direction.

Some examples of those events may be the death of a loved one, losing a job, getting married, getting into college. etc. Researchers have used the multi directional perspective to figure out that losses and gains tend to occur simultaneously and that losses can lead to gains and gains can lead to losses. Human development is seen as multi contextual because it occurs in various contexts such as physical surroundings and the constellations of family. Urie Bronfenbrenner was the first to shine light on the need to consider multiple contexts.

He recommended that when conducting a developmental study we should use an ecological-systems approach. This involves the belief that the individual should be considered in all contexts and interactions that life consist of in the study of human development. Bronfenbrenner later changed the name of this approach to bioecological to show the natural and biological aspects of this theory. There are three nested levels that each person is affected by. Microsystems is immediate surroundings such as friends, school, church and family.

Exosystems is local institutions such as place of employment, school, and religious courses. Macrosystems involves the larger contexts such as political, economics and culture. Bronfenbrenner created a fourth system called mesosystem that connects all the systems together. An example of mesosystem would be the connection between family and employment. Family leave policies and overtime are examples of family and employment connections. Bronfenbrenner created the chronosystem or time system which also has an affect on the other systems.

Development is viewed as multi cultural because there are many different cultures in the world today. Social scientists describe culture as a “meaning and information system, shared by a group and transmitted across generations, that allows the group to meet basic needs of survival . . . pursue happiness and wellbeing, and derive meaning from life” (Matsumoto, 2009) Development is multi disciplinary because researchers must study various disciplines to understand it. Scientists usually break the study of human development into three segments to study it better. The segments are biological, cognitive and social.

Each segment is a discipline that a scientist specializes in. It is also segmented in age groups such as childhood ,adolescence and adulthood. Development is plastic because the traits of humans can be molded much like plastic and people are durable like plastic. Two Theories of Life Span Development The first theory is Erik Erikson’s theory of psychosocial development. He believed that personality was developed in stages. One of the main aspects of Erikson’s theory was the ego identity. This is the conscious sense of self that we develop during social interactions.

According to Erik, it is constantly changing as we experience new things and learn new information during our daily interactions with others. Erikson also believed that behaviors and actions were motivated with a sense of competence. Each part of Erikson’s theory involves becoming competent in an area of life. The individual will feel a sense of mastery referred to as ego quality or ego strength if the stage is handled well. The person will feel a sense of inadequacy if the stage is not handled properly. He believed that people experienced a conflict that acted as a turning point during each stage.

In his view, these conflicts were focused on creating a psychological quality or failing to create a psychological quality. The second theory is Jean Piaget’s theory. His theory is composed of four stages. The sensorimotor stage is from birth to 2 years and suggests the the child builds a set of concepts about reality through physical interactions. Preoperational stage occurs between ages 2 and 7. The child is unable to understand logic and cognitive thinking. They understand symbolic things and have acquired motor skills. Concrete operational stage occurs between the ages 7 and 11.

Children are aware of external events. They develop operational thinking and can show logical reasoning. The formal operational stage occurs from the age of 11 to 16 and onward. Those who reach this stage have developed abstract reasoning and can easily think logically. How Heredity and Environment Affect Development Heredity and the environment both play an important part in human development. The heredity factors affect all aspects of development. Genes have a tremendous affect on the birth, puberty, growth and death of a human being. Many traits are inherited from our family members and determine how we develop.

Our genetics help to determine how we might act. For example, if there is a history of mental problems in your family then you might be prone to mental illnesses as well. The environment also helps in the human development process. The way we act, dress, talk, etc can be affected by our surroundings. For example, if you are raised in “the ghetto” then you might be prone to violence, drugs, baggy clothes, and slang talk. Growing up around violence and drugs might make a person develop into a drug abuser or participate in violent activities.

The people we surround ourselves with also affect our development. If we are surrounded by violence and drugs then we might think that it is a normal way of life and we might also participate in these activities. If we are not subjected to these types of activities then we have a less chance of getting involved in these activities. Conclusion In conclusion, the life span perspective sheds light on the many aspects of human development. It is multi directional because our lives can go in many directions as a result of different life changing events.

It is also multi cultural as there are several different cultures involved. There are many different contexts involved in human development such as our physical surroundings and family constellations. Multiple disciplines are studied in order for researchers to understand human development. Human development is also referred to as plastic because it can be shaped and molded just like plastic. Our development is greatly affected by genetic factors and environmental factors such as inherited qualities and the people and activities we are surrounded by.


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