One of the most important things of human development is understanding change. Darwin’s need to understand evolution gave light to the study of lifespan development. Life span can easily be defined as a period of time starting with conception and ending with death. Coming up with a definition of lifespan development and describing the characteristics of lifespan perspective all starts with understanding that changes occur in every period of development and these changes must be looked at as a product of the culture and of the specific situation surrounding the change.
The lifespan perspective of development can be put into context through the models of both human development domains and developmental periods, the major characteristics of lifespan perspective, and the contemporary concerns about lifespan perspective. Characteristics of lifespan Lifespan perspective has many characteristics when it is related to human development. To start with as in the definition lifespan is life-long.
To put it in simple terms lifespan perspective is ongoing and is not dominated by any one age period.
Another characteristics of lifespan is that it is multidimensional, consisting of physical, cognitive, and social domains. Lifespan development is also multi-directional According to Santrock (1999), multi-directional means, “that some aspects of development will increase, while others decrease. The lifespan perspective also has a characteristics called plastic, Paul Bates who was a German psychologist whose broad scientific agenda was devoted to establishing and promoting the life-span orientation of human development, explains that “the capacity for positive change, or plasticity, in response to environmental demands is possible throughout the entire lifespan” (Boyd, D.
, and Bee, H. , 2006 p. 6).
Because lifespan perspective is influenced by the past it can also have a characteristic called historically-embedded. Lifespan perspective is studies cross the field of science from psychology to anthropology making the perspective multidisciplinary. The final characteristic of lifespan perspective is contextual. According to Santrock (1999) contextual is defined as, “the individual continually responds to and acts on contexts, which include a person’s biological makeup, physical environment, and social, historical, and cultural contexts” (Santrock, 1999). Development domains Lifespan perspective has three key developmental domains. The most obvious would be the physical domain which would have to do with all the physical changes that a person goes through.
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Things such as height, weight, puberty and menopause, are all physical changes that can be associated within the physical domain. Not only physical changes are categorized in the physical domain a person’s perception and how he or she experiences the world can also be put in the physical domain. The next domain would be the cognitive domain, which would have to do with all the cognitive issues such as thinking, memory and the decision making processes. The last domain would be the social domain which would deal with all the social issues such as relationships.
According to Boyd and Bee (2006), “The social domain includes changes in variables that are associated with the relationship of an individual to others. For example the studies of children’s social skills fall would into the social domain, as well as the research on individual differences in personality” (p. 6). Developmental Periods There are four human development periods within the two different periods throughout our life from conception to death among them are the prenatal period, the early childhood period, the middle childhood period and the late childhood period.
That is just the childhood periods of our life, on progression from childhood to adulthood, there are a few more developmental periods which would include the adolescence period, early adulthood period, middle adulthood period and the late adulthood period. In that respect the three most dominant theories explaining the various periods of development are cognitive, learning as well as psychoanalytic theories (Sigelman et al. 2008). Contemporary concerns related to lifespan development The lifespan perspective of human development has development many concerns over the years.
One concern, a major contemporary concern comes for a biological standpoint. According to Boyd and Bee (2006), “Ethology emphasizes genetically determined survival behaviors that are assumed to have evolved through natural selection” (p. 39). Etiology is a theory that is hard to test, because it along with other biological standpoints it does not put enough emphasis on the environment. Etiology states that genetic behaviors are encoded into each individual to help in the survival of the organism.
Another contemporary concern related to lifespan perspective would be Behavior genetics. The focus of behavior genetics is on the effect of heredity on the differences between individuals. (Boyd. D. , and Bee, H. , 2006). Heredity is the genetic transmission of characteristics from parent to offspring. This concern relies on heredity because of the fact that it is believed that related individuals share more of the same traits and behaviors with each other over those who do not share the same genes.
Because of the fact that this concept is easier to study there is a better chance to look at what role the environmental factors can play with in the lifespan perspective. Change is going to happen many times throughout our lives, change is constant. Understanding these changes and their characteristics as well as the developmental period in which the change is accruing will give us a better understanding of the lifespan perspective on human development.
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