It goes without saying that the life of a human being is founded on development and developmental stages. Starting as an infant that weighs just a few pounds, humans develop into mature adults, and then age. The process is quite fascinating as it consists of many different steps that show striking consistency from person to person.
As one identifies life span development, they then identify different issues that surround it. This paper will look deeper at life span development, including its definition, characteristics, the nature of development, the domains and periods, and two contemporary concerns associated with it.Defining Lifespan DevelopmentAs the lifespan has been evaluated by many Developmental Psychologists, many different definitions and perspective have evolved. An accumulation of theories suggests that lifespan development can be identified as a study of the miraculous changes a person goes through from birth until death.
Lifespan development covers all stages of development and progress from the birth of a person to their death (Herron, 2010). These changes are not only physical, but they are cognitive as well.Characteristics of Lifespan DevelopmentThere are three primary characteristics that surround lifespan development; which are Plasticity, Interdisciplinary Research, and multi-contextual nature of development. Plasticity essentially means that individuals of all ages posses the capacity for positive change in response to environmental demands (Scarr, 1992).
In other words, past experiences may lead to permanent change. Interdisciplinary research suggests that research from different kinds of disciplinary perspectives is needed to fully understand lifespan development. Lifespan development is a complex process that is not just physical changes. Many different aspects need to be considered in the process.
Multi-contextual nature of development is similar to the disciplinary perspectives, as individual development occurs within several interrelated contexts. Aspects like family, neighborhood, and culture are all pieces of the puzzle (Scarr, 1992).Domains and PeriodsThere are three main domains in regards to lifespan development, which are physical, cognitive, and social. Physical domains are quite self-explanatory, as they relate to changes in size and characteristics of the body.
The cognitive domain is more related to changes in thinking, memory, problem solving and other intellectual skills (Hernandez, 2009). This memory may lead to future behavioral changes, or may just prove to show the brain's development and maturity in regards to the memory process. The social domain correlates to variables that are associated with the relationship of the individual to others (Scarr, 2009).Nine different periods are associated with lifespan development, six of which happen in the first 18 years of one's life (Herron, 2010). The first is the prenatal stage, which is actually the process of pregnancy, before the person is physically born.
After that is infancy, which includes the first 18 months of life. From ages three to twelve, two stages are covered, which are the play stage and the school stage. Adolescence follows from ages twelve to eighteen, and it is unquestionable that some of the most striking physical changes take place during this time. The three self explanatory stages of adulthood follow, as they are emerging adulthood, middle adulthood , and late adulthood (Scarr, 1992).Contemporary issuesThe nature versus nurture argument in regards to lifespan development has been a long discussed issue.
The nature argument essentially suggests that people develop because of genetic reasons. For example, if a son is born to an aggressive father, then the son will likely be aggressive. If a daughter is born to a sensitive mother, then she will likely be sensitive. The argument is quite simple as those in belief argue that many of the developments of a person were essentially "meant to be," considering these traits stem from genetics (Derlega, Winstead, & Jones, 2005).Those who argue that nurture leads to one's development take into consideration just how influential one's environment is. For example, on the topic of aggression, one would argue that one develops aggressive behaviors based on their environment.
Perhaps they saw their father act in a certain way, which cognitively causes them to follow in his footsteps. This theory was made extremely popular by Albert Bandura, who argued the significance of vicarious learning in one's life. With this being said, the concept of vicarious learning is all around people. Viewing television, playing video games, and listening to music on the radio are all potentially ways that individuals can learn vicariously. As they see people go through life, they learn, and then apply the learning to their own life; hence leading to developmental occurrences in their lives.
Defying Nature's CourseAnother issue is more of an ethical one, as scientific has evolved. As this evolution has taken place, people have gained the ability to essentially tamper with nature's intended ways. For example, drugs like steroids and human growth hormone are allowing adolescent individuals to physically mature at a very rapid pace. They essentially can get the body of the emerging adult with the assistance of performance enhancing drugs.
Other scientific advances like stem cell research has divided people, as one side argues that God's plan is God's plan, and science shouldn't intervene with the lifespan development of a person. The other side argues that these scientific advances may be key to the future survival of the human race. One could argue that both sides have legitimate arguments. Indeed, scientific advances have proven to be a huge aid in the development of humans and their lifespan; however, it may be unethical to tamper with the natural intention of nature.ConclusionRegardless of the issues that surround the lifespan development of human beings, the process is really quite fascinating. As the steps of the process have been identified, other attributes have evolved, such as parenting and teaching strategies.
It has been proven that maintaining a certain diet can lead to positive physical development. Being in the right social atmospheres can lead to an improved lifespan development in regards to mental development. With all of this in mind, there is no question that this topic is highly necessary to continue studying as it applies to every person on this planet.