Identification of a person’s behavior is paramount in understand his/ her personality and enabling him/ her to achieve their highest potential. Therefore, it is important to assess the human development with a view of understanding the underling factors in their development. Human development is identified as the continuities and systematic changes of an individual and occurs from the time of birth to the time they die. Development of a person is marked with changes, and the description of these changes as systematic implies that they do not just happen but instead follow an orderly pattern. The changes are also said to be relatively enduring, meaning that they do not fleet and are not unpredictable. Development of human beings involves continuities, which is a reflection of ways in which we do not change, or a continuation of a reflection of past lives. To understand the changes in persons in my society and the different development stages that they are undergoing, I interviewed a 4 year old child and a 28 year old man. The interview of the four year child was important in identifying the specific personality of her. Generally, children who are four years have four main characteristics that affect their performance and development, industry versus inferiority and initiative versus guilt. The 28 year old man is likely to be in the stage of intimacy versus isolation. In this stage, the person is likely to have the desire to share identity while having the fear of intimacy. Identification of the personality of these individuals is essential in understanding human development and factors that affect each person’s character.
Domains of Human Development
The systematic transformations and continuities of interest are categorized in three major areas which include the physical, cognitive, and psychological developments. Physical development refers to the growth of the body, its organs, and how the physiological systems function (Sigelman & Rider, 2017). It also comprises the changes in motor abilities and the reflections of physical signs of aging. Cognitive aspects of development include the transformations and continuities in language, perception, memory, learning, solving problems, and other processes of the mind (Sigelman & Rider, 2017). Psychological development, on the other hand, refers to the carryover and changes in both interpersonal and personal aspects. These elements of change include emotions, motives, relationships and interpersonal skills, personality traits, and the role one has to their family and the entire community (Sigelman & Rider, 2017).
Researchers who focus on theories of human development tend to specialize on one of the domains but at the same time give credit to the fact that humans are whole beings whereby a change in one aspect affects the entire system. For instance, when a baby develops the ability to crawl, they expose themselves to other opportunities of development such as the growth of the mind through exploration of the kitchen cabinets (Sigelman & Rider, 2017). In the same way, they hone their social skills by trailing the adult’s movements.
Conceptualization of the Lifespan
Conceptualization of the lifespan refers to the manner in which life is categorized into stages. The first period of life is the prenatal period which happens at the age range from conception to birth (Sigelman & Rider, 2017). The second one is the infancy stage which is identified during the first two years after an infant is born (Sigelman & Rider, 2017). The ages of 2 to 6 years old are defined as the preschool period while the middle childhood is marked by ages between 6 to 12 years old (Sigelman & Rider, 2017). The young age, on the other hand, is characterized by individuals aged between 12 and 20 years old. 20 to 40 years mark the early adulthood period while the middle adulthood is identified by persons aged 40 to 65 years old (Sigelman & Rider, 2017).
Lifespan Development Theories
Lifespan development theories explain and organize facts related to human development. However, these theories have to meet certain criteria for them to be adequate. The conditions they have to meet include that they must be supported by data, be falsifiable, and be internally consistent (Sigelman & Rider, 2017). The major issues addressed by the development theories include nurture and nature, the badness and goodness associated with the human nature, passivity and activity, universality and content specificity, and continuity and discontinuity (Sigelman & Rider, 2017).
Erikson: Neo-Freudian Psychoanalytic Theory
Erikson’s theory is founded on the theory of Freud and also proposed the human development and personality evolve through systematic transformations. He, however, differed from Freud in some ways. For instance, instead of focusing sexual urges as the forces of development, he emphasized on the social aspects as drivers of development such as teachers, schools, peers, and the broader culture (Sigelman & Rider, 2017). Equally important, Erikson did not emphasize on the irrational id but rather on the adaptive powers of the ego. In brief, Erikson put more emphasis on the outward nature of human beings, in this case, the social world, specifically, after the adolescence stage (Sigelman & Rider, 2017).
The 4-Year-Old Child Development as Outlined by Erikson
I interviewed a girl who is four years old, an age considered to be at the crux of the stages of development according to Erikson. The stages are the industry vs. inferiority and initiative vs. guilt. The conflict that needs to be resolved in early childhood is the initiative versus guilt (Hayes, Freeman, & Schaafsma, 2014). While interviewing the girl, her father who happens to be my neighbor, the child navigates the first stage in such a manner that her initiative to conduct tasks was done so with self-efficacy. However, I established that the child did not identify feelings of guilt. According to Erikson, most children in this stage are more concerned with developing some sense of judgment. The girl’s ability to identify sticker charts was an indicator that the child had developed some good sense of judgment. Equally important, both the girl and her parents had come up with methods of evaluating her prosocial conducts, such as ensuring that the toys were always clean. The parents would then provide the girl with a sticker every time she completed her tasks. The girl also took the initiative of showing me some of the progress she had made in her life, for example, she had a drawing book where he attempted to come up with pictures.
Erikson (as cited in Hayes at al., 2014) asserts that industry versus inferiority is the stage that a child tries to resolve in middle childhood and is where a child attempts to show their mastery of skills and tools. During the interview, I was able to determine that the child did not have the ability to master all that she was taught. The parents who said that her fine motor skills were not thoroughly established confirmed the observation, and this was confirmed by the child’s inability to write as expected. However, child’s future in the mastery of these skills and ability to overcome the ego did not seem to have any other challenges and all that was required of them was time to allow full development. I also noted that the child engaged in many activities including social groups, playing chess, and went for swimming lessons. The striking part was that the child was able to identify chess playing as the most challenging activity.
Through my analysis of the theory proposed by Piaget, the child was in the pre-operational stage. Grotewiel (2014) argues that with age, children can perceive the perceptions of the people around them. The parents identified their daughter to be emotional, to the extent that she could not only recognize how she felt but that she could see also how other individuals were feeling and thinking. The parents confirmed this by asserting that she could identify when two people are arguing or when a person is lying. The skill enables her to interact well with friends, and though these skills are not fully developed at her age, her exposure to TV shows and books enhanced the development.
The 28-year old Development According to Erikson
In the analysis of the human development nature between the 28-year-old classmate and the 45-year-old neighbor, Erikson’s theory applies because the developmental stages involve individuals above the adolescent age (Sigelman & Rider, 2017). The classmate falls under the intimacy versus isolation stage of development, which embraces a bracket age of between 20 to 40 years of age. In this stage, a person seeks to establish a shared identity with a colleague but in fear of intimacy and as a result experience isolation and loneliness.
The Development of the 28-year old Male as Outlined by Bronfenbrenner
The ecological systems theory analyzes the development of a human being through many systems, ranging from the societal to interpersonal ways through which people interact with one another. To analyze these systems into detail, I conducted some interview with a 28-year-old male, a classmate. Bronfenbrenner (as cited in Choi, Marshik, & Ross, 2014) identifies the microsystem as the first system. It addresses the methods through which human beings interact with both the environment they live in and the people around them. The 28-year-old male identified the school setting as their favorite place because they can meet people from different locations.
The Macro system & Chrono-system
According to Bronfenbrenner, these systems address the institutional patterns and ideologies that impact an individual. The impacts are attributed to factors such as economic, legal, cultural, and domain in education (Choi et al., 2014). During the interview, the 28-year-old male was able to identify some of the major events that both shifted and influenced their way of thinking. Being a white man, he grew up knowing that they were superior to the people of color. The idea changed the moment Obama was elected as president of the United States of America. Additionally, the achievement record was proof that his initial belief was not based on facts, but some ego that was attained when growing up.
Freud: Psychoanalytic Theory
The psychoanalytic theory suggests that people are irrational and are driven by biological instincts. According to Freud, the instincts provide the mental energy that avail the explanation of how an individual behaves (Sigelman & Rider, 2017). As one grows, psychic energy is divided into separate components which include the Id, the Ego, and the Superego. During birth, the mental strength of an infant resides at the id, also identified as the irrational or impulsive part of the personality (Sigelman & Rider, 2017). The main aim of the id is to seek instant gratification even when the biological instincts are not appropriately met. The ego comes second and assumes the rational aspect of an individual and attempts to explore the rational ways of gratifying the biological instincts. The third and final part is the superego. Here, an individual has already internalized the moral standards (Sigelman & Rider, 2017).
Additional Lifespan-Related Concerns
The Goodness and Badness of Human Nature
The concept of goodness and badness of a human nature seeks to answer the question on whether people are inherently bad, good, or neither. The philosophers of the 17th and 18th centuries, long before the modern theories of human development were proposed took stands regarding the human nature (Sigelman & Rider, 2017). For example, Thomas Hobbes suggested that every person is born as a bad person and that it was the responsibility of the society to instill civilized behaviors. On the contrary, Jean-Jacques Rousseau proposed that we are born good, with the ability to distinguish that which is good or wrong (Sigelman & Rider, 2017). Further, people would develop in the right direction provided that the society did not interfere with the natural tendency (Sigelman & Rider, 2017). John Locke, on the other hand, proposed an entirely different concept, which is that people are neither born innately good or bad, instead, they have the potential to develop in either direction depending on the experiences they go through (Sigelman & Rider, 2017).
The different perceptions expressed above concerning the nature of human beings have different implications on how parents are supposed to bring up their children. For examples, most adults question their tendencies to be selfish and if they should battle it at every step of the way even in teaching their children in sharing what they have with others (Sigelman & Rider, 2017). However, some recent evidence based on biological tendencies regarding the good and bad nature of human beings have challenged the idea that human beings are born neither good nor bad and have no biological predispositions that determine who they want to be (Sigelman & Rider, 2017).
Regarding the concept of good and bad human nature, my 28-year-old friend displays mixed reactions. For example, at times, he utterly good to the strangers he comes across and meeting him at the first time would create an impression that he is harmless and an ever understanding individual. Other friends have proposed that the manner in which he is brought up has influenced his god nature, yet others argued that he is innately good. However, on closer talk with him, he opens up that he has undergone and lived with people whom he likened with monsters and that because of these experiences; he made a personal decision to be good. On interviewing the parents of the 4-year-old girl, they indicated that they watched everything they did because they believed that the ability of the girl to identify and differentiate good or bad could influence her character. Additionally, they monitored what the girl watched because they knew the power of influence related to TV shows and movies. I asked the girl to describe her parents regarding the bad and good nature. She indicated that her mother was bad compared to her dad. The reason behind her statement was that the mother used to punish her, while her dad would correct her whenever she did wrong.
Universality and Context Specificity
The developers of theories that seek to address the nature of human beings differ on the issue of universality and context specificity. These problems include the degree in which changes of development are common to everybody (universal), or these changes vary from one person to another (content specific) (Sigelman & Rider, 2017). For example, theorists who believe that human development advances in stages propose that most adults at a certain age where they question their direction in life. On reaching this stage, the development of the said human being proceeds in a particular direction (Sigelman & Rider, 2017).
Other theorists come up with a different proposal where they believe that the development of a person varies from one person to another. That is, different cultures have different paths of human development (Sigelman & Rider, 2017). Human development is affected by both context specificity and universality, and this can be reflected by the words of Mark Van Doren, an American poet, who quote, “there are two statements about human beings that are true: that all human are different, and that all human are alike.” The two statements are true, for instance, the one asserting that all human are the same (universality) points that everybody goes through a transition stage such as from adolescent stage to early adulthood (Sigelman & Rider, 2017). Both the 28 and 4-year-old individuals have experienced the change.
The 4 Year Old
When the 4-year-old girl was asked if she felt more like a girl than a boy, her response was not as expected because she said that she felt both. Some of the reasons she gave for feeling like a boy was one; she played with toys she believed were for boys, for instance, car and dinosaur toys. She also argued that anytime she got in trouble, get dirty when playing with her friends, as well leading a group in doing some activity made her feel like a boy. On the other hand, some of the events that made her feel like a girl were watching TV shows whose main characters were princesses, and painting her nails.
The 28 Year Old
Identify lens for the 28 and 4-year-olds is based on Levinson’s stages of human development. Each stage has an age bracket and is accompanied by distinct characteristics. The first stage is the early adult transition which takes place between the ages of 17 to 21. Young individuals transition to the early adulthood stage where they explore possibilities related to the adult identity. It is at this stage that they determine their goals in life. The second stage is identified as the entering the adult world stage characterized by people with an age bracket of 22 to 28 (Sigelman & Rider, 2017). Here, career choices are tested, and marriages take place. The third stage is referred as the age 30 transition and embraces individuals aged between 28 – 33 years of age. Here, people review the decisions they have made in life such as their marriages and career choices and make adjustments (Sigelman & Rider, 2017). The 28-year-old classmate falls in this bracket though they had delayed having no kids and not completed their career. The settling down stage accommodates individuals aged 33 – 40 (Sigelman & Rider, 2017). Here, people realize their dreams and lead a life with a new structure.
Reflection Evidence and Critical Thinking about the Conceptualization Experience
Reflecting on the concept of a lifespan, the development theorists have developed a solid foundation for the development stages putting into consideration the different ways through which the society label these changes. For instance, some societies stratify the development stages regarding age groups and age sets where people included in these groups are assigned to tasks. Such methods of developing life stages are a hindrance to personal identification.
Developments of human beings involve continuities, which is a reflection of ways in which we do not change, or a continuation of a reflection of past lives. The concept of the stages of development of human being has been addressed by many individuals including Erikson and Freud. The psychoanalytic theory, according to Freud, suggests that human beings are irrational and are driven by biological instincts. Erikson shares the same sentiment with Freud but differs in some ways. For instance, instead of focusing sexual urges as the forces of development, he emphasized on the social aspects as drivers of development such as teachers, schools, peers, and the broader culture.
Choi, S., Marshik, J., & Ross, J. (2014, Summer). Bronfenbrenner’s (bio/)ecological systems theory [PowerPoint slides]. Retrieved from University of Missouri-Kansas City Blackboard course page.
Grotewiel, M. (2014, Summer). Early years [PowerPoint slides]. Retrieved from University of Missouri-Kansas City Blackboard course page.
Hayes, S., Freeman, C., & Schaafsma, J. (2014, Summer). Eric Erikson & the eight stages of life [PowerPoint slides]. Retrieved from University of Missouri-Kansas City Blackboard course page.
Sigelman, C. K., & Rider, E. A. (2017). Life-span human development. Boston, MA : Cengage Learning