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Lifespan Perspectives on Human Development Research Paper


Naturally, the entire human development must go through a series of steps, which have specific characteristics that define human beings. This makes it necessary for individuals to understand the human development process, a function that they can achieve using the human lifespan perspective. The human development perspective provides a method of understanding the primary changes undergone by normal human beings procedurally.

The understanding of such stages must take into consideration the effects of culture and other factors associated with the transformations. Lifespan development includes the entire processes that humans must go through, commencing immediately after fertilization of the female egg ending at death (WGBH Educational Foundation, 2001, p.1).

The process takes into consideration different characteristics occurring as a fetus progresses through different ages; such characteristics being the primary determinant of individuals’ levels of functioning.

Characteristics of Lifespan Development

The entire process involves three main stages namely: childhood, adolescence, adulthood. All these stages have different characteristics whereby, in normal development, they occur within specific periods (Smith, 2009, p.1).

One primary characteristic of the lifespan perspective is its multidimensional nature. That is, it has three main domains, namely the social, physical, and cognitive domains. To ensure there is a decrease and increase in developmental features, the perspective has multidirectional properties, which define developmental features at different ages. The second main characteristic of the lifelong perspective is plasticity.

This characteristic defines individuals ability to respond to different stimuli changes in their immediate surroundings. The lifelong perspective is never an age-stagnant process, but rather it is a continuous, accompanied by the development of different features in each stage. Another characteristic that makes the lifespan perspective unique is its multidisciplinary nature.

This makes it possible for individuals in different fields, for example, anthropology, science, and psychology to develop empirical studies, for, its better understanding. Because of the importance of all developmental stages, past occurrences are very crucial in understanding the process of human development hence, making the perspective to be a historical endeavor. Finally, because the context of occurrence of different activities is important in the human development process, the process is contextual.

That is, many characteristics such as an individual’s historical, cultural, social, and physical environment circumstances and specific physiological characteristics determine how individuals will react to different stimuli in their immediate environments (Rider & Sigelman, 2009, pp. 9-20 and Boyd & Bee, 2006, p.6).

Developmental Domains

To understand fully the human development process, researchers use three main domains, namely: the social, physical, and cognitive domain. The social domain primarily centers on the nature of relationships that exist between human beings as they interact daily, their personalities, and interaction capabilities. The second domain is the physical domain, which primarily centers on individuals physical developments that include their size, height, and general body physique.

To understand such features, research in this area must endeavor to understand these changes on an age basis, and the nature of perceptions developed by different individuals as their body make physiques change. In, addition to understand individuals thinking mechanisms, memorizing abilities, and their overall decision-making process at different ages, researchers use a third domain called the cognitive domain. This domain primarily centers on the functioning of the human brain (Rider & Sigelman, 2009, pp.140-212).

Human Development Periods

Because of the continuous nature of the human development process, all human beings must go through a series of eight stages, which include prenatal, early, middle, and late childhood. After going through these childhood stages, individuals move to another level of development, with four more stages, namely adolescence, early, middle, and late adulthood. In the prenatal stage, children undergo changes, which define their trust or mistrust, determined by the presence or absence of caretakers or specific experiences.

Completion of this stage ushers the second stage, which occurs in children of ages 1-3 (early childhood), defined by children’s ability to develop autonomy or uncertainty characteristics. Also, in this stage, children will acquire specific physical potentialities. In the middle childhood stage (between age three and six), children will develop goal-directed behaviors; hence, initiative versus guilt.

Such goal-directed behaviors lead to the late adulthood stage, defined by learning more knowledge from cultural and educational perspectives. Age 12 marks the onset of adolescence, a stage defined by the development of a sense of worth and improved decision-making abilities; hence, changes in individuals’ views on life occurrences. Such changes lead to another stage; intimacy versus isolation (early adulthood), a stage marked by the development of intimate affairs.

At age 30 (middle adulthood), individuals’ lives undergo a rapid transformation because most individuals will have ventured into raising families. In addition to raising families, individuals will become serious in their careers as they endeavor to see their families succeed. Late adulthood is characterized by wisdom, misery, or self-acceptance, depending on an individual’s achievements; hence, defining individuals’ level of satisfaction (Hernandez, 2008, p.3).

Contemporary Concerns

The lifespan perspective has many associated concerns some of which include the biological standpoint, continuity versus discontinuity, and behavior genetics. Behavior genetics goes hand in hand with nurture versus nurture and it primarily centers on the roles played by hereditary differences, as children inherit their parent’s characteristics. Also, it helps to understand the role played by an individual’s surrounding in shaping personal traits (Boyd & Bee, 2006, p.8).

Continuity versus discontinuity tries to understand the role played by relationship development (in terms of age) on trait development. On the other hand, biological standpoints are of two forms, namely ethology and ecology. The former emphasizes the importance of natural selection in trait evolution, whereas the latter emphasizes the importance of encoding of behaviors in individuals, as one of the main survival techniques (p.39).


In conclusion, change in many aspects of human development is inevitable; hence, it is important for all individuals to understand the human development process. Such understanding is important in encoding and decoding occurrences in one’s environments; hence, guaranteeing the development of good relationships.

Reference List

Boyd, D., & Bee, H. (2006). Lifespan development (4th ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson.

Hernandez, C. (2008). Lifespan perspective on human development. Associated Content. Web.

Rider, E. A., & Sigelman, C. K. (2009). . Belmont: Wadsworth Cengage Learning. Web.

Smith, M. (2009). Life span development and lifelong learning. Web.

WGBH Educational Foundation. (2001). Lifespan development. WGBH. Web.

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