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Life Stages and National Mentality Characteristics Essay


Professional development concept

Donald Super introduced his conception of professional development in the 1950s. He emphasized vocational self-esteem as the major determinant of professional development and continuous progress.

Super defined the five stages of vocational development including the stage of crystallization (14-18), specification (18-21), implementation (21-24), stabilization (25-35), and consolidation (35 +).

The stage of crystallization, which encompasses the period from the age of 14 until the age of 18, is characterized by the intense development of the perception of a future career. At this period, the individuals tend to determine which profession is the most interesting for them and to set their professional goals.

The stage of specification encompasses the period from the age of 18 until the age of 21. At this period, people, usually, fully understand their goals and the efforts, which should be made by them to achieve these goals. The stage of the specification assumes the obtaining of a clear vision of the career path.

The stage of implementation lasts from the age of 21 until the age of 24. This stage is characterized by the first work experience and the first steps in career building. Moreover, individuals recognize the necessity of professional knowledge and skills and try to attend specialized training to acquire them.

The stabilization is the fourth stage, which is the period lasting from the age of 25 until the age of 35. At this period, usually, people have already obtained the first work experience and make the final choice regarding their occupation.

The consolidation is the fifth stage. It is the period starting from the age of 35. It is the time when people usually progress in their professional development and advance in their careers.

Donald Super’s theory has been criticized by many scholars. Some of them argue that the stages described by Super cannot be summarized for all people. They claim that everyone has their concerns during each of the stages. Other scholars argue that his theory is not universal and the characteristics of life’s stages largely depend on the peculiarities of the national mentality.

Attachment concept

John Bowlby is considered to be a follower of Freud’s psychoanalysis. However, Bowlby’s contribution to psychology lies in the deeper understanding of the concept of the attachment suggested by Freud. John Bowlby developed his theory of attachment, which describes the four features of the attachment. Also, he explains the concept of the attachment figure, which can be described as the person, with whom a child has close bonds. Usually, this person is the mother. Bowlby states that the attachment is characterized by proximity maintenance, haven, secure base, and separation distress. The secure base is often represented by the mother of the child or other attachment figure. They provide security to the infant and help them to obtain the knowledge and perception of the surrounding world. Bowlby stresses that the period from infancy to adolescence inclusive is the critical one in the development of an individual. The feeling of confidence is formed during this period.

The theory of attachment by John Bowlby has been subjected to criticism. In particular, the scholars argue that the world perception learned from the parents is not the main determinant of the development of personality. In this respect, the critics stress that neither nature nor nurture is the primary factor influencing the future of the child. Rather, it is the external environment, which makes the largest impact on the development of personality.

Mastery orientation and learned helplessness orientation

The terms “mastery orientation” and “learned helplessness orientation” are the important concepts of the Learned Helplessness Theory developed by Carol Dweck. Both concepts explain the factors influencing success in study and career. However, the “mastery orientation” means that people think that their success depends on their financial ability to pay for education and training. In contrast, the “learned helplessness orientation” implies that people who possess it lack confidence in their ability to succeed. They tend to be pessimistic about their skills and talents and often give up when they cannot obtain the immediate result from their work.

In the period of adolescence, students are usually divided into those who believe that their success is determined by their efforts and those who think that it is the inborn level of intelligence, which determines their ability to succeed. In case of failure, the former group tends to try once again and to make even more efforts, whereas the latter group tends to give up.

The contributing factors are the teacher’s beliefs, the classroom climate, including the teacher-student relationships and the emotional support, the motivational climate in the classroom, the nature of academic work, the experience of racial and ethnic discrimination, the school expectations regarding student potential, and some others.

Acquired helplessness theory concept

Adolescent social networks are organized into cliques and crowds. The former can be characterized by the small groups, high level of trust, and sharing of the dress code, dialect, and behaviors. The latter is based on reputation or stereotype. An adolescent can be a member of more than one crowd.

Popularity can be described by two concepts: sociometric popularity and the perceived popularity. Although these two concepts characterize the person who stands out among others, their meanings are quite different. Sociometric popularity is the term, which can be used to describe an individual, who possesses certain positive personal traits, which attract people and make him or her likable. The perceived popularity means that the person stands out among others not due to his or her traits but rather due to the charisma and visible reputation. It is the perceived popularity, which is broadly used to characterize the peer groups among teenagers. In the context of perceived popularity, adolescents tend to define themselves as being popular, rejected, neglected, or perceive the attitude of others to them as controversial.

Teenage work

The adolescent work takes an important place in contemporary American culture. The youths tend to combine their study at school with part-time work. The job contributes to the popularity of adolescents. It supports their self-confidence as they feel themselves financially independent. Many of the adolescents are employed in the sphere of services. Also, retail jobs are often suitable for youths. A lesser percentage of students are employed in the administrative field.

The history of adolescent work in the United States can be divided into certain periods. The first one is the period before 1990. At this time, the youths were employed in farming and took care of domestic needs. The second period was characterized by the substantial impact of industrialization when the adolescents started to work at the factories and plants. The period of 1890-1920 was named the “age of adolescence”. It was characterized by an increase in compulsory education. The contemporary period started in the middle of the XX century.

The impact of adolescent work on psychological functioning depends on the number of hours worked per week and the type of job. Abnormal working pressure can cause anxiety, depression, sleep problems, disruption to eating, and exercise patterns.


Steinberg, L. (2014). Adolescence [Coursesmart.com]. Web.

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