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During the life, people change significantly with references to their physical appearance and characteristics and with references to their mental and emotional progress. The life span perspective of the human development is based on the idea that a person moves through several stages of development during the whole life (Berger, 2011, p. 7).
Thus, certain changes are typical for the definite stages of life, but it is also important to pay attention to the individual character of experienced changes because all the people are different. From this point, the life span perspective aims to explain the human development with the focus on separate phases completed during the whole life; and all the stages of the human development are taken into consideration in spite of the fact that the followers of this perspective are inclined to determine phases according to different criteria.
The Aspects of the Life Span Perspective of Development
The life span perspective of the human development is characterized by the complex approach to analyzing all the aspects of the people’s changes observed during different life stages. As a result, it is possible to speak about the multidimensional character of the approach because all the aspects are discussed in their connection.
According to Berger, the human development presented as the life span is multidirectional, multicontextual, multicultural, multidisciplinary, and plastic (Berger, 2011, p. 10-18). This statement means that it is irrelevant to discuss the human development as started at one point and moving to another one; or as dependent only on one context, including only the family or social status; or as dependent only on one culture.
The people’s development is the complex process because a person is influenced by a lot of environments, cultures, and situations during the life span. This person interacts with many people belonging to different cultures and ethnic groups and develops the specific personal traits during the whole life (Berger, 2011, p. 10). Each detail associated with the person’s life, such as the family, socioeconomic status, and character, matters to explain the aspects of the person’s life span development.
Freud and Erickson’s Theories of Life Span Development
There are many theories of the life span development which differ in criteria according to which psychologists determine different stages of the people’s life. Freud and Erickson’s theories are similar in focusing on the age-related steps, but they are different in criteria to state the fundaments for the stages’ progress. Thus, Freud’s theory depends on a range of psychosexual phases because the theorist is inclined to associate the man’s sexual nature with the psychological development.
Freud concentrates on the childhood as the period when a child experiences some crises which determine the oral, anal, phallic phases, and the period of latency. These periods lead to the genital stage lasting during the adolescence and adulthood. According to Freud, the stages depend on the centers of pleasures important during different stages (Berger, 2011, p. 43-47). As a result, the human sexual nature is chosen as the criterion to propose the life span stages.
Erickson’s theory is based on the social aspect. If Freud’s theory depends on psychological crises associated with the sexual development, Erickson’s theory depends on psychological crises associated with the people’s social interactions. Erickson states that people move through a range of stages during which they are impacted by the peculiarities of the environments and interactions with people.
People’s activities and behaviors during different stages are explained with references to their attitude to their society and personal interactions. As a result, at different stages, people are influenced by the conflicts between their identity or independent life and society which can be represented as the family, relatives, friends, and other people (Berger, 2011, p. 51).
Interaction of the Heredity and Environment
A person can be discussed as an individual only with references to the unique combination of the heredity and environment’s impact on his or her development. Today, scientists cannot provide the single opinion on the role of nature and nurture in the person’s development because it is impossible to state what factors affect the personal development drastically. Heredity makes people different in their appearance and physical qualities when nurture makes people different in their vision of the world, education, and lifestyle.
It is important to note that nature and nurture are in ongoing interaction to affect the person’s individual development. The unique complex of the genetic material and environment produces a unique person who should be discussed only with references to combination of heredity and environment (Berger, 2011, p. 9). Inherited qualities should be combined with the environment’s impact to influence the individual’s development.
The life span perspective of the human development depends on the idea that people move through many stages during their life, but this movement should be discussed as the multidimensional process rather than as the linear movement. Such aspects as the interaction of nurture and nature can influence the person’s development significantly because various inherited qualities or life situations can affect the people’s life differently.
Berger, K. S. (2011). The developing person through the life span. New York, NY: Worth Publishers.