Lifespan Perspectives Paper

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Life-Span Perspective Paper

Tiffany B

From the day of conception until the day of death, humans are constantly changing and developing. Most of the changes that individuals go through are common biological and psychological changes. One of the obvious elements of change is when a development is being defined (Smith, 2009). This is when the development involves the advancement from one life stage to another. Human development takes place in a process of certain stages in which helps us understand human development. However there are many concerns related to lifespan development. Two examples are nature versus nurture and continuity versus discontinuity.

The study of lifespan development developed and grew from Darwin’s development and understanding of evolution. Lifespan is defined by G. Stanley Hall as “the period of time from conception extending to death” (Boyd & Bee, 2006). This process begins with the development of a fetus from a single celled organism. As the unborn child enters into the world, his environment begins to have influence over his development (WGBH Educational Foundation, 2001). Developmental psychology uses the term ‘lifespan development’ to “encompass all of the development that occurs from birth throughout life. Lifespan development covers all stages of development and progress from the birth of a person to his death and is studied in a variety of ways” (Herron, 2010). Human development consists of periods and each period consists of a transition to the next period. Each of these periods contains necessary changes to the individual’s life and this process can take many years to fully complete (Smith, 2009).

There are many characteristics that define what lifespan perspective is in relation to human development. According to Boyd & Bee, lifespan perspective is “the current view of developmentalists important changes that occur throughout the entire human lifespan and that these changes must be interpreted in terms of the culture and context in which they occur; thus, interdisciplinary research is critical to understanding human development” (2009). With the above stated, lifespan perspective places emphasizes on the following key factors:

• Plasticity: individuals of all ages posses the capacity for positive change in response to environmental demands.

• Interdisciplinary Research: research from different kinds of disciplinary perspectives (e.g., anthropology, economics, and psychology) is needed to fully understand lifespan development.

• Multi-Contextual Nature of Development: individual development occurs within several interrelated contexts (e.g., family, neighborhood, culture).

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(Sandrock, 1997).

Paul Baltes, who is a leader in the development of a comprehensive theory of lifespan development, was very influential. One of the most important of Baltes’ contributions to this study is “the emphasis on the positive aspects of advanced age”. Baltes points out that, “as human beings age, they adopt strategies that help them maximize gains and compensate for losses” (Boyd & Bee, 2009). This is shown in one of Baltes most famous examples about Arthur Rubinstein, a concert pianist, who was able to outperform pianists that were much younger that himself, when Baltes was well into his 80s (Boyd & Bee, 2009). Rubinstein stated that he “maintained his performance capacity by carefully choosing pieces that he knew very well (maximizing gain) and by practicing these pieces more frequently than he had at earlier ages (compensating for the physical losses associated with age)” (Boyd & Bee, 2009).

The domains of development are categories that are used by scientists. These categories include physical, cognitive, and social domains that characterize human development. The physical domain is characterized by how humans grow and change physically specifically during the childhood and adolescence periods. The physical domain includes how human...
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