Theory and Research in Human Development


Life development

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There has been a lot of focus put on the concept of life and the growth process, the development of the human mind and even the behaviors displayed as one grows and the changing patterns of the behaviors of the individual. Scholars have come up with varied explanations on what shapes behavior of people with some going for the physical contact and the physical world, while others going for experiences in life, yet others going for the mind in an attempt to explain the behavior of human beings.

There are various theories that can help explain behavior;

The Social / learning theory and aggressive personality which indicates that human beings highly depend on one another and the contiguity plays a big role in the shaping of personality and the behaviors that one gives back to the society (Delatrre, E., 2006).

Psychoanalytic theory and aggressive personality was propagated by Freud Sigmund, Alfred Adler, Erick Erikson and Carl Jung. They had different approaches and explanations behind this theory but one convergence they had was that the childhood greatly shaped the behavior of an individual. The perspective that will be takens here to explain my behavior in line with the childhood association with my principal care giver will be the 8 stages development that was propagated by Erick Erikson.

The eight stages as stipulated by Erikson are as follows:

(1). Trust V Mistrust; sets in at infancy to 1.5 years old. The infant has a strong belief that all is and will continue to be fine. All they want is love and care f rom the mother.

(2). Autonomy V Shame & Doubt; sets in from 18 months to around 3 years. This is referred to as the toilet training stage and the child learns to acquire skills like talking, walking, feeding as well as the motor development. At this stage the child develops self-esteem and if no parental support comes forth, the child ends up with a shattered self-esteem.

(3). Initiative V Guilt; sets in between 3 years to 6 years also considered the pre-school or the nursery stage. This is considered the play stage where the child needs direction as he also leads others and works with them. Here, the child undergoes the ‘oedipal struggle’ hence seem to ask ‘why’ on many issues. The guilt conscious is developed here if the desire to know is suppressed.

(4) . Industry V Inferiority; the stage sets in between the age of 5 to 12 years and here the child needs guidance from both the parents and the teachers. The child at this stage needs to do things and see the results, hence they need support to see those results otherwise they mat form inferiority complex and a feeling of inadequacy among the peers.

(5). Identity v Role Confusion; comes in between 9 to 18 years or at the puberty stage. At this stage, self-esteem and self-confidence are of the essence. The adolescents tend to socialize more than any other stage of life. At this stage the teenager will want to discover whom they are and if not given the right guidance, they may end up on role confusion.

(6). Intimacy v Isolation; this comes in at the ages between 18 and 40 years and here the person is considered young adult. The person will seek a companion in the form of a wife and friends and would like the relationship to be deeper. Incase an individual is not granted the companionship, they are prone to suffer isolation. At this stage, the marital partners and friends are very important.

(7). Generativity v Stagnation; this is considered the mid-adult stage of development and it comes in between the age of 30 to 65 years. The individual at this age gap will tend to give as a way of supporting others as well as the society unconditionally. Work life becomes very important to them since the individual will be struggling to build and leave a lasting legacy.

(8). Integrity vs. Despair; according to Erikson this is considered the last stage of development and it sets in at 50 years of age till the person dies and is considered late adulthood. Here, the person will look back and derive satisfaction from the life they lived, a thing that Erikson refers to as integrity. On the contrary some will not be satisfied with the life they lived and hence suffer from despair at the things they failed to accomplish

A well balanced experience in each development stage forms a basic virtue which in turn enables the development of other psychological and emotional strengths. For instances the successful passage through the fourth stage of Industry vs. Inferiority (6 to 12 years) will give birth to a basic psychosocial virtue of considerable competence accompanied by strengths like skills, ability to work with others and follow procedure and techniques.

This approach tha Erikson studied and gave the progression through life is the most applicable to my lifestyle, since childhood to the present time and can postulate for the future. At the age of six I had a lot of problems with both my parents and teachers. Earlier on I had intimated to my father my desire to one day pursue a career in professional football. Despite the fact that he never expressed open opposition to this, it appears to me that he intimated this issue to my mom who had reservations against this. My mom impressed on me the need for pursuing a career in medical profession in future. I was, however, adamant, to buy this. My mother reported this to my teachers who talked me against pursuing a career in professional football in future. Because of the pressure that was exerted on me, I relented.

The memory of the event that happened when I was six years may be completely true because at that stage in life a child is expected to have begun to understand information entering its sense. Besides, they have the ability to interact with the world. He can manipulate objects and understand the permanency of these objects even if they are not within his/her current sensory perception. When these objects are removed from his or her view s/he can understand that the object still exists. A child at this stage has the ability to understand that an object continues to exist hence, with regard to his/her mom, an increased sense of safety and security (Erikson, 1968). At this age a child is also expected to have developed a capacity to interact with the environment in a more complex manner through the words and images. Therefore at age six it is impossible to forget what my mom, my dad, and my teachers told me; the consternation that was written all over their faces when I revealed to them whatever I wanted to do with my life when I grew up. In fact, my mother openly told me that footballers are a bunch of losers who have no role to play in the society (Erikson, 1968).

The event that occurred when I was six still impacts my cognitive and affective evaluations. It still affects how I think about my life satisfaction in global perspective, my work, and my relationships. Because I did not want to rebel against my parents, I later resolved to pursue a career in medical sciences. However, all has not been pleasant because that is not where my interest was. I have always felt that I betrayed my emotions. My emotions, moods, and feelings have always been punctuated with guilt, anger, and shame (Diener, Suh, Lucas & Smith, 1999). Because of the scolding that my parents subjected me too in front of my teacher when I raised the issue of one day becoming a professional footballer my social interaction was greatly impaired. I felt so withdrawn because of being forced to one day pursue what I had no interest in. because of lack of social interaction; I had no sense of self pride in my accomplishments and abilities. I could not therefore perform complex results because of the fear that if I failed I would become the subject of ridicule among my peers. My ability to master new skills was also in the process impaired. Because of lack of self sense of pride in my accomplishments and my abilities and inability to master new skills my parents and teachers rarely encouraged and commended me. As a result, I never developed a feeling competence and belief in my skills. I have always doubted my ability to be successful because of the element of self-confidence that was eroded in my formative stages of development. I can vividly remember that I rarely received praise and attention for performing tasks like reading, writing, drawing, and solving problems. My failure to cope with new social and academic demands earlier in my life contributed to my personality. I have come to appreciate that success leads to a sense of competence where as failure results in feelings of inferiority.

The experiences I went through impacted my general health negatively. My self-concept received a beating. Where as my colleagues emphasized their capabilities and talents, I primarily paid much attention to things I did to define my self. My self-esteem which was extremely high before the humiliating incident was brought down to a more realistic level. I can also attribute this to the amount of achievement related attributions that I made. My social competence was also questionable at my formative stages of development (Berk, 2007). I learnt to develop a feeling of misconstrued pride even if my teachers or parents did not commend me. Instead of facing more challenges due to the “false” achievement I gradually became wary of taking on new tasks for fear of being ridiculed by my peers. Sense of guilt clouded my mental faculties even if I was doing something right. I always tried to make amends and strive to do better for fear of being harshly reprimanded. This decreased my self-esteem. I as a result experienced episodes of depression, withdrawal, and anger (Berk, 2007).


Berk, L.E. (2007). Theory and Research in Human Development. New York: Pearson.

Erikson, E.H. (1968). Identity: Youth and Crisis. New York: Norton.

Delattre, E. (2006). Character and cops: Ethics in policing (5th ed., pp. 10, 79, 85, 88).

Washington, D.C.: American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research. Retrieved February 25,2014 from

Diener, E., Suh, E.M., Lucas, R.E., & Smith, H.L. (1999). Subjective well-being: Three decades of progress. Psychological Bulletin, 125, 276-302.

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