THE LIFE-SPAN PERSPECTIVE
(Why Study Life-Span Development?
• Individuals can gain insight into their own childhood and better anticipate potential changes they may experience in adulthood.
• Development is the pattern of movement or change that begins at conception and continues throughout the human life span.
• Life-span development is an important college course, as it links many areas of psychology.
The Historical Perspective
• Historically, three philosophical views have been proposed to explain the nature of children and how they should be reared.
• The concept of original sin from the Middle Ages viewed children as being bad, born into the world as evil beings. Childrearing focused on salvation.
• The 17th century English philosopher Locke’s concept of tabula rasa stated that children were not innately bad, rather children were blank slates. Children acquired their characteristics through experience. Parenting focused on shaping children to be good citizens.
• In the 18th century, the French philosopher Jean-Jacques Rousseau proposed the innate goodness view that children were born inherently good. Children should be allowed to develop with little monitoring or supervision.
• The traditional approach emphasizes extensive change from birth to adolescence, little or no change in adulthood, and decline in old age.
• The life-span approach emphasizes that developmental change occurs during adulthood as well as childhood.
(The Twentieth Century
• Life expectancy has changed considerably in the last century. Improvements in sanitation, nutrition, and medical knowledge led to this increase of 30 years.
(Characteristics of the Life-Span Perspective
• Baltes states that the life-span perspective has seven basic characteristics.
Development is Life-Long
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