Essay on Developmental psychology



Essay on Developmental psychology

Development in human beings is an intriguing subject that most developmental psychologists are rapt in due to various reasons. This is because “discovery of early influences and developmental sequences” helps psychologists discern adults (Rathus, 2015). Moreover, the impacts of early interactions with siblings and parents, genetic factors and the schools and communities on human traits such as intelligence and aggressiveness are integral aspects of developmental psychology that provide valuable information regarding developmental attributes and abnormalities. Based on this understanding, prenatal development, cognitive development and physical development from childhood to adulthood and related factors are critical to determining the moral decisions made by adults regarding how they lead their lives.Essay on Developmental psychology

Developmental psychology can be referred to as the branch of psychology that explores all the psychological and physical changes that an individual experiences from conception to death. It is important to note that the most significant gains in weight and height occur during prenatal development. Prenatal development comprises of three stages, that is, the germinal stage, embryonic stage and the fetal stage. The germinal stage occurs after implantation of the fertilized egg or zygote in the fallopian tube whereby the zygote begins dividing rapidly as it proceeds on its three to four day journey to the uterus. These multiplying cells wander about in the uterus for three to four days prior to commencing implantation in the uterine wall; a process that takes approximately seven to eight days. After the end of the germinal stage, the embryonic stage of prenatal development begins and lasts from the point of implantation on the uterine wall up to the eighth week of development. It is during this stage that most major body organ systems such as heart and lungs develop or take form.  By the end of the second month, the nervous system of the embryo is able to transmit messages, the facial features have become distinct, the head has becomes rounded, the embryo exchanges wastes and nutrients with the mother through the placenta and the entire embryo is suspended in a protective amniotic sac in the uterus of the mother. The final stage of prenatal development is the fetal stage. In this stage, the embryo experiences rapid growth and develops into a fetus so much so that it can suck its thumb, opens and shuts its eyes, responds to light and moves so vigorously that the mother feels like she is being kicked. The culmination of the fetal stage is in the birth of the baby.Essay on Developmental psychology

Based on the research conducted by Erik Erikson, people undergo eight stages of cognitive development. Of these stages, four occur in childhood commencing with trust versus mistrust, the fifth stage, that is, ego identity versus role diffusion takes place in adolescence and the remaining three stages forging adult identity occurring in adulthood. In the first four stages involving trust versus mistrust, children depend on their primary caregivers (normally parents) and tend to expect that their environments will meet or fail to meet their needs. Thus, children explore their environments more actively and try novel things, with their relationships with their friends and parents encouraging them to develop self-direction and initiative. When it comes to ego identity versus role diffusion in adolescents, ego identity refers to the firm sense of who an individual is and what he or she stands for, thus, according meaning to achievement. Adolescents who are not able to develop ego identity end up experiencing role diffusion, that is, spread themselves and rely on other people such as leaders to give them the sense of identity that they are not able to find for themselves. Adult stages spread across young, middle and late adulthood entailing intimacy versus isolation, middle adult involving generativity versus stagnation and late adulthood involving ego integrity versus despair. In adulthood, people are tasked with developing abiding and intimate relationships, in middle adulthood, they are tasked with being productive and positively contributing to younger generation and in late adulthood, individuals are tasked with maintaining their sense of identity despite physical deterioration.Essay on Developmental psychology

On one hand, Erikson’s theory of psychological development explores psychological development across childhood, adolescence and adulthood in the context of an individual creating a positive and constructive identity that they can maintain from childhood to adulthood in accordance with societies prerequisites and morals. On the other hand, Piaget’s theory of cognitive development explores the development of cognitive processes in children in an orderly sequence, unlike Erikson’s theory of psychological development that does not subscribe to a particular order or phases of cognitive development. According to Piaget (1963), there are four major stages of cognitive development, that is, sensorimotor, preoperational, concrete operational and formal operational stages. The sensorimotor stage which occurs between zero and two years of age entails the coordination of motor activity and sensory information, lack of language and exploration of the environment. The preoperational stage occurring between two and seven years of age involves egocentrism, spotty logic, illogical use of words and reckoning, and inability to view things from another person’s perspectives unlike in Erikson’s theory of psychological development where children trust their primary care givers. The concrete operational stage takes place between seven and eleven years of age and involves conservation, logical reckoning regarding tangible objects and subject morality. The final stage, that is, formal operational occurs from eleven years of age and entails reversibility, logic and hypothetical thinking. While Erikson’s theory of psychological development emphasizes the importance of social interaction and culture to foster identity and psychological development, the focus of Piaget on cognitive development is largely maturational, that is, maturation of the brain enables to develop problem solving skills and gain new insights.Essay on Developmental psychology

Based on the Lawrence Kohlberg’s theory of moral development, moral reasoning occurs in three stages that follow a specific sequence, that is, the preconventional level, the conventional level and the post conventional level (Rathus, 2015). The preconventional level mostly applies to children about the age of nine whose moral judgments are contingent on the consequences of behavior, that is, oriented toward obedience to avoid punishment and maintaining good behavior for personal gain or to satisfy their needs and those of other individuals. In the conventional level of moral reasoning, right or wrong are judged by conformity to traditional, that is, religious, familial and societal standards of right and wrong. As such, individuals exhibit moral or good behavior in this stage so as to maintain social order and be contemplated as good people by the society since obedience and evincing veneration for authority and performing one’s duties are held in high esteem. In the postconventional level, moral reasoning is more intricate and focuses on dilemmas whereby people are caught between their personal conscience and maintaining social order.

The most significant physical developments in children or infants that influence social and cognitive development are reflexes, that is, response to stimuli, motor development, that is, the progression of childhood development from simple acts such as lifting the head to turn around (rooting) to running around and perceptual development, that is, response to cues, voices, sound and light (Campos et al., 1975). When it comes to cognitive development, children utilize schemas; cognitive frameworks to organize and interpret information gained through physical development, for assimilation, that is, responding to novel stimulus via prevailing cognitive structures and accommodation, that is, creating new ways of responding to objects or viewing the world. In adolescents, physical development is defined by a growth spurt lasting two to three years and brings to an end the gradual changes in weight and height that characterize most of childhood. Apart from the growth in weight, height and muscles, brain imaging research evinces the frontal lobes of adolescents responsible for executive functioning are less active than those in adults. When it comes to cognitive development, formal expressions, egocentrism and postconventional moral reasoning take center stage. Adolescents are more concerned about their thoughts and behaviors and derive moral judgments from moral precepts. Social development in adolescents mainly involves ego identity versus role diffusion whereby adolescents either develop an ego identity based on their appearance, thoughts and demeanors or experience role diffusion should they be unable to develop ego identity. In early, middle and late adulthood, most obvious aspects of development are physical. Young adults are mostly at their height of strength, cardiovascular fitness, reaction time and fortitude on top of being sexually active. In middle adulthood, people begin to lose the coordination, fortitude and stamina they possessed in their young adulthood. However, healthy eating and exercise at this stage may make people feel younger than they were as young adults. In late adulthood, immune systems are less active and more vulnerable to diseases. These physical changes affect cognitive and social development in that adults are tasked with developing abiding and intimate relationships, in middle adulthood, they are tasked with being productive and positively contributing to younger generation and in late adulthood, individuals are tasked with maintaining their sense of identity despite physical deterioration.

Middle adulthood is a key stage of adulthood since most significant changes in emotional, social and cognitive development occur in this stage. Based on the research by Levinson (1975), there is a midlife transition at approximately forty to forty-five years of age since people stop viewing their age in terms of the time that has elapsed since birth and start viewing from the perspective of the time they have left. Zucker et al. (2002) are of the opinion that women undergo a middle transition sooner than men. This can be attributed to the culmination of their abilities to conceive and bear children. However, middle crisis can be triggered in both sexes. This is whereby adults feel a sense of loss of purpose and entrapment based on the lives they are currently living. However, this predicament may well “present opportunities for new direction and fulfillment” (Rathus, 2015).

Prenatal development, cognitive development and physical development from childhood to adulthood discussed in this paper are essential to determining the moral decisions made by adults regarding how they lead their lives. It is through successful aging that people can prove that they utilized information on better prenatal development, cognitive development and physical development to lead healthy and productive lives. In this regard, successful aging can be associated with maintenance of identity amidst physical deterioration and acceptance of their status in life which enables adults to develop sense of peace, as well as, exercising and avoiding the consumption of unhealthy food and toxic material that affect physical health such as cigarettes and alcohol. Moreover, autonomy while performing daily activities and satisfaction with friendship and family relations are social factors of successful aging for both men and women. High rates of resilience and low rates of depression are as a result of having vivid identities and accepting one’s status are psychological factors associated with successful aging. Thus, understanding prenatal development, cognitive development and physical development is critical to successful aging since its helps people make moral decisions regarding how they will lead their lives and how their lifestyle will impact them in old age.Essay on Developmental psychology




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Zucker, S., Mazeh, T., & Kovács, G. (2002). A box-fitting algorithm in the search for periodic transits. Astronomy & Astrophysics, 391(1), 369-377.