Lifespan Development

Growth and development involves several processes in the human lifespan.The lifespan of human beings has been explained through theories by psychologists. Similarly, the stages of development are also illustrated by psychological theories. During growth and development, human beings experience changes in their behaviors such as hunger and eating habits as well as emotions. This blogpost discusses the human lifespan development through lifespan theories and the various behavioral changes such as hunger and emotions in the development stages.

Lifespan development is the view of development as a lifelong process. The lifespan development falls under three main domains. The first domain is physical development which involves changes in the brain and the physical body such as movement skills and senses. Secondly, lifespan development can be studied under cognitive development. Cognitive development involves language, memory and development in attention. Lastly, it may also be studied under psychosocial development. Development in emotions, and personalities are studied under the psychosocial aspect of lifespan development. Theorists view development as a continuous process where individuals continue to expand their existing skills. It can however be seen as a discontinuous process, for instance in the case of infants learning speech or motor skills. Development in these aspects begins at the stage when the child utters their first word or makes an attempts to move a step. The developments in the lifespan of a human being are influenced by nature and nurture. However, this area has been on debate for a long time. Personal traits may be inherited from parents through genes from birth (nurture). Similarly, individuals can develop certain personalities and behavior influenced by the environment around them(nature).

Lifespan development can be explained through several lifespan theories. These theories describe how babies grow and develop from infancy into adults. One major theory is the psychosexual theory of development. The theory was put forward by Sigmund Freud (1856–1939). He perceived development as discontinuous believing that children had to pass through several stages of psychosexual development. According to Freud, if a child lacked proper nurturing in a certain stage, then they would be stuck in the phase.Erik Erikson (1902–1994) modified Freud’s theory and came up with another stage theory called the psychosocial theory. The theory emphasizes on the social nature of development throughout the lifespan. In this theory, the human lifespan is divided according to the age of the subjects from infancy, toddlers up to the age of 65 and above. Another lifespan development theory is Jean Piaget’s cognitive development theory. The main focus in Piaget’s theory was the cognitive development of children. He believed that children’s cognitive development was different from adults. In children, the development occurred in stages and is therefore discontinuous according to the theory. Piaget believed that children develop mental models called schemata depending on the environment they observe which helps them understand the world.

The stages of human development can be broadly classified into four categories i.e. prenatal development, infancy through childhood, adolescence and adulthood. However, within these four basic stages are other numerous stages of development.In the prenatal development phase, one cell structure grows to the baby that is born after nine months. The prenatal phase includes other stages such as the germinal stage where cell division leading to growth occurs. Then there are other such as embryonic and fetal stages before the baby is born. The next stage of development is infancy through childhood. Physical development is rapid in this stage with weigh gain and height. Similarly, the brain development is also rapid in this stage of development. The infants began to learn new things from the environment such as from noise they know that rattles can make sounds. In this stage, children also develop attachment to their parents and friends sometime later. The children also develop self-concept in this stage, which is a milestone in the development process. The children then cross to the next stage of adolescent which is associated with significant physical and psychosocial changes. The body restructure from childhood to early adulthood. Then lastly, adulthood concludes the development young adulthood, individuals have maximum strength and cardiac functioning is at its peak. However, there are little physical changes. In the late adulthood, physical decline gradually emerges with skin losing elasticity and formation of wrinkles.

Eating is a human behavior that is essential for survival. Hunger is body’s way of demanding for food. However, there are several physiological mechanisms that serve as the basis for hunger. Empty stomachs contract causing hunger pangs and result in the secretion of chemical messages sent to the brain signaling the need for feeding. Similarly, after eating one feels full and satisfied. Feeding increases the blood glucose which leads to the secretion of the satiety hormone from the fat cells. The satiety hormone, leptin, sends satiety signals to the brain. The feeding behavior determines the metabolism and body weight. “A person’s metabolic rate is the amount of energy that is expended in a given period of time.” However, there are variations in the metabolic rates of individuals. If the intake of calories exceeds the amount the body can burn, the excess energy is stored as fat. On the other hand, if one consumes less calories than required by the body, the fats stored are burned to give the body energy. Obesity is the state where one weighs more than the weight generally accepted as healthy for their height. Obese individuals are advised to reduce their weight through observing diet and exercising.

An emotion is a subjective state of being that we often describe as our feelings.Sometimes the word “moods” isused to refer to emotions but the two word are different things. The components of emotions have been explained through theories by psychologists. Such theories include The James-Lange theory which holds that emotions result from physiological arousal. For instance, when one encounters a threat, the sympathetic nervous system initiates physiological arousal leading to increased pulse rate. Another theory which asserts that emotions result from physiological arousal is the CannonBard theory. However, the Schachter-Singer two-factor theory states that physiological arousal is interpreted in context to produce the emotional experience. Biologically, emotions originate from the limbic system of the brain. The amygdala for instance creates the emotions of anxiety and fear. However, the emotions experienced are displayed through facial expressions. When someone is happy he smiles but frowns when sad or angry.

In summary, human development can be studied through the lifespan development stages as well as the behavioral changes over the various stages of development. Lifespan development is the lifelong development from birth up to adulthood. It may be explained in development theories. Similarly, human behavior such eating and hunger or emotions can be studied along the development stages or explained by theories from psychologists.The stages of human development include prenatal, infancy through childhood, adolescence and the adulthood stages.


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