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Lifespan Development


This essay will explore the concept of lifespan development - which is a perspective that seeks to understand people and the nature of development and change throughout their lifetime from conception to death- and illustrate the position of how this concept is essential to the understanding of human development (Baltes,1968) .Furthermore two theoretical prepositions characteristic of the lifespan developmental psychology namely multidirectionality and the gain and loss concept will be discussed with evidence that supports our position (Baltes,1968). Subsequently we will critique these characteristics and furthermore link it to a South African context (Baltes,1968). There are many characteristics that are used to define what lifespan is in relation to human development (Baltes,1968). The first of which is multidirectionality and multidimensionality .By multidirectionality we mean that the development of a specific area does not occur in a linear manner that continuously leads to functional efficacy of a specific modality (Baltes,1968). Instead development may be characterised as having the ability to both decrease and increase in efficacy during ones lifetime –thus numerous areas being developed are multidirectional in nature (Baltes,1968). The second part of the proposition is multidimensionality that describes that development across a lifespan is influenced by a complex interplay of factors, both exogenous and endogenous, and therefore it is not a single criterion that determines development (Baltes,1968). One specific process related to development is puberty and is a good example of evidence that supports multidirectionality and multidimensionality (Baltes,1968). During puberty there is a period of morphological changes ranging from physical and hormonal changes to social and psychological changes (Brent,1978) . Due to the term puberty encompassing such a variety of areas proves its multidimensional component of this concept (Baltes,1968). The concept of puberty could further be an illustration of multidirectionality as individual areas of development can increase of decrease in their levels of effectiveness (Brent,1978). One such area related to puberty is self regulation which happens to undergo multidirectional changes throughout adolescents (Brent,1978). During the course of childhood, individuals find it difficult to regulate their impulsive behaviours and actions (Baltes,1968). This lack of effective regulation results in individuals behaving in a manner that lacks full consideration of the consequences of one’s actions (Brent,1978). Therefore during puberty neuronal changes try to manage this behaviour by increasing ones ability to regulate their own behaviour (Brent,1978). However this decreases the ability for adults to engage in spontaneous actions which are related to impulse behaviour (Coper & Schulze,1986) . In addition research conducted on psychometric intelligence shows the value of this concept (Coper & Schulze,1986).Carttell and Horn devised the theory of fluid crystallized intelligence which provides the example that firstly intelligence has subcomponents with fluid and crystallized intelligence being two of the most critical clusters within the theory; the postulate of an arrangement of abilities is an example of multidimensionality (Coper & Schulze,1986). Secondly these ability components are predicted to differ in direction of their development (Elder,1974) . Crystallized intelligence shows the continuation of an incremental function whilst fluid intelligence demonstrates a turning point in adulthood tending towards a decline – proving to be an example of multidirectionality (Coper & Schulze,1986). Therefore multidirectionality and multidimensionality illustrates my position that lifespan development is imperative in understanding human development as it helps us understand certain behaviours such as why older adults devise various...
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