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Developmental Psychology


Homeopathic Journal :: Volume: 4, Issue: 3, Jan, 2011 (General Theme)   -   from Homeorizon.com
Author : Dr. Smita Deb Krori, BHMS, MD(Hom, Reader in LBS Homeopathic Medical College, M.P.
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Article Updated: Jan 17, 2011


Age of development

Prenatal :

  • 270 to 280 days or 09 Calendar Months.

Infancy :

  • according to Medical Jurisprudence - up to 01 year.
  • according to Psychology - it suggests extreme helplessness - i.e. from birth to approximately 02 weeks of life.

Babyhood :

  • Toddler - too old to be a baby and too young to be a littleboy. End of 2nd week to end of the 2nd year of life.

Childhood :

  • Early Childhood - 02 to 06 years.
  • Late Childhood - 06 years to till child becomes sexually mature.

Puberty :

  • Maturation of sexual apparatus.

Adolescence :

  • Early and Late - age arbitrarily placed 17 years.

Adult :

  • 21 years; now-a-days, 18 years.

Middle Age :

  • Early - 40 to 50 years.
  • Advanced - 50 to 60 years.

Old Age :

  • above 60 years.

Havighurst's Developmental Tasks During The Life Span

Babyhood and Early Childhood

  • Learning to take solid foods.
  • Learning to walk.
  • Learning to talk.
  • Learning to control the elimination of body wastes.
  • Learning sex differences and sex modesty.
  • Getting ready to read.
  • Learning to distinguish right & wrong and beginning to develop a conscience.

Late Childhood

  • Learning physical skills necessary for ordinary games.
  • Building a wholesome attitude towards oneself as a growing organism.
  • Learning to get a long with age-mates.
  • Beginning to develop appropriate masculine or feminine social roles.
  • Developing fundamental skills in reading, writing and calculating.
  • Developing concepts necessary for everyday living.
  • Developing a conscience, a sense of morality and a scale of values.
  • Developing attitudes towards social groups and institutions.
  • Achieving personal independence.

Adolescence

  • Achieving new and more mature relations with age-mates of both sexes.
  • Achieving a masculine or feminine social role.
  • Accepting one's physique and using one's body effectively.
  • Desiring, accepting and achieving socially responsible behaviour.
  • Achieving emotional independence from parents and other adults.
  • Preparing for an economic career.
  • Preparing for marriage and family life.
  • Acquiring a set of values & an ethical system as a guide to behaviour - developing & ideology.

Early Adulthood

  • Getting starting in an occupation.
  • Selecting a mate.
  • Learning to live with a marriage partner.
  • Starting a family.
  • Rearing children.
  • Managing a home.
  • Taking on civic responsibilities.
  • Finding a congenial social group.

Middle Age

  • Achieving adult civic and social responsibilities.
  • Assisting teenage children to become responsible and happy adults.
  • Developing adult leisure-time activities.
  • Relating oneself to one's spouse as a person.
  • Accepting and adjusting to the physiological changes of middle age.
  • Reaching and maintaining satisfactory performance in one's occupational career.
  • Adjusting to aging parents.

Old Age

  • Adjusting to decreasing physical strength and health.
  • Adjusting to retirement and reduced income.
  • Adjusting to death of spouse.
  • Establishing an explicit affiliation with members of one's age group.
  • Establishing satisfactory physical living arrangement.
  • Adapting to social roles in a flexible way.

Growth and Decline

Developmental Psychology, which studies growth and decline from conception of death, has 06 major objectives:

  1. To find out the common & characteristic age.
  2. When these changes occur.
  3. What causes them?
  4. How they influence behaviour?
  5. Whether they can be predicted?
  6. Whether they are individual or universal?

There are 05 incentives to study developmental changes:

  1. Traditional beliefs.
  2. Practical problems engendered by these changes.
  3. An attempt to determine the relative importance of nature and nature's influence on developmental changes.
  4. A desire to substantiate material accumulated from research or from practical experiences.
  5. A desire to prove & disprove theories about developmental psychology.

There are 10 significant facts about development:

  1. Early foundations are critical.
  2. Maturation & learning are responsible for development.
  3. Development follows a definite & predictable pattern.
  4. Attitude towards developmental changes are influenced by the individual's appearance and behaviour; by cultural stereotypes; by cultural values; by role changes and by personal experiences.
  5. All individuals are different.
  6. Each phase of development has characteristic behaviour & hazards.
  7. Development is aided by stimulation & is affected by cultural changes.
  8. There are social expectations for every stage of development.
  9. There are traditional beliefs about individuals at all ages.
  10. Even though all individuals are different - they follow definite & predictable patterns of development -- that are similar for all.

Developmental tasks serve 03 useful purposes:

  1. They are guidelines to enable individuals to know what society expects from them.
  2. They motivate individuals to do what society expects.
  3. They show individuals what lies ahead and what will be expected of them later.

The 03 common potential hazards relating to developmental tasks are:

  1. Inappropriate expectations.
  2. Bypassing of a stage of development due to failure to master the developmental tasks for that stage.
  3. The crises individuals experiences as they pass from one stage of development to another.

The life span of today differs from that of the past in 02 ways:

  1. The proportion of individuals at different age levels is becoming increasingly similar.
  2. On an average, the life span of an individual is longer than that of the past.

The life span can be divided into 10 periods:

  1. Prenatal.
  2. Infancy.
  3. Babyhood.
  4. Early Childhood.
  5. Late Childhood.
  6. Puberty.
  7. Adolescence.
  8. Early Adulthood.
  9. Middle Age.
  10. Old Age.

The recent focus of scientific interest in the life span has been on middle and old age - while the focus of interest was formerly centered on the early years of life. There are many obstacles to studying life span development. The most common of which are getting representative samples of subjects, establishing rapport with subjects, finding a satisfactory method for studying development at different age group, verifying accuracy of the data obtained and confirming to ethical standards regarding research in different age levels.

The most difficult & least satisfactorily coped-with obstacles in studying life-span development are finding suitable methods and confirming to ethical standards of research.

Because happiness & unhappiness are subjective state, information about them must come from introspective & retrospective reports or from answers to questionnaires - all of which lack scientific accuracy.

At all the ages there are 03 essentials of happiness:

  1. Acceptance.
  2. Affection.
  3. Achievement.

All of which must be fulfilled to the individual's satisfaction if happiness is to be attained.

The major obstacles to happiness at any age may be subjective or environmental - though the former tend to dominant.

The Prenatal Period

The prenatal period, which extends from conception to birth and is approximately nine months long, has attracted little psychological attention until recently, although the Physiologists and the members of the medical Profession have extensively investigated it.

There are 05 characteristics of this period:

  1. It is the time when the hereditary endowment and the sex of the individual are determined.
  2. When conditions in the mother's body can foster or disturb the pattern of prenatal development.
  3. When growth & development are proportionally greater than at any other time.
  4. When there are many hazards - both physically & psychologically.
  5. When significant people form attitudes towards the newly created individual.

Before they are ready to produce new individuals - male sex cells must go through 02 preliminary stages - viz. Maturation and Fertilization ---- and female sex cells, 03 preliminary stages - viz. Maturation, Ovulation and Fertilization.

At the time of conception 04 things are determined:

  1. heredity endowment
  2. Sex - once and for all
  3. whether there will be a single or multiple births
  4. and what the baby's (babies') ordinal position in the family will be.

The determination of hereditary endowment at the time of conception affects later development in 02 ways:

  • first, by placing limits beyond which the individual cannot go and
  • second, because the hereditary endowment is entirely a matter of chance, it cannot be controlled.

The sex of the newly created individual is important for 03 reasons:

  • first, from early life individuals are molded into the approved cultural stereotype for their sex-groups
  • second, they are denied learning experiences considered inappropriate for their sex-groups
  • and third, attitude of significant people vary according to which sex-group they belong to.

The immediate as well as the long-term development of singletons differ from that of individuals of multiple births. The pattern of development of individuals of different ordinal positions within a family varies greatly - with that of first-borns and last-borns usually more favourable than that of middle-borns.

Prenatal period is divided into 03 subdivisions:

Period of Zygote - which extends from the conception to the end of 2nd week.

Period of Embryo - which extends from the 2nd week to the end of the 2nd lunar month.

Period of Foetus - which of the 2nd lunar month to the birth.

The period of the embryo usually regarded as a critical time because the physical features, which are then developing rapidly, can be distorted by unfavourble conditions in the prenatal environment.

Attitudes of significant people toward the newly created individual are established during the prenatal period. These attitudes tend to be persisting because they are based on what are regarded as justifiable reasons, and because they are emotionally toned - and therefore difficult to change. Of all family attitudes, maternal attitudes are most important - because of the close relationship between mother & child during the early, formative years of life.

The timing of physical hazards and their intensity are more important in their effects on the individual-to-be's development than the hazards per se.

Among the physical hazards of the prenatal period, malnutrition of the mother and certain diseases - e.g. Rubella - contacted during the period of the embryo - are usually the most serious because of the long-term effect.

The most common and serious among the psychological hazards of the prenatal period are traditional beliefs about conditions that can affect the unborn child; maternal stress; and unfavourable attitudes towards the child-to-be on the part of significant people.

Infancy

The period of infancy covers approximately the 1ST two weeks of life - the time needed for the newborn to adjust to the new environment outside the mother's body. The period is usually divided into 02 subdivisions:

Period of Partunate - which lasts from the time the fœtus emerges from the mother's body until the umbilical cord has been cut & tied.

Period of Neonates - which lasts from the cutting & tying the cord until approximately the end of 2nd week of life.

There are 05 important characteristics of this period:

  1. This is shortest of all developmental periods.
  2. It is a time of radical adjustment.
  3. It is a plateau in development.
  4. It is a preview of later development.
  5. It is a hazards period.

The newborn infant must make 04 major adjustments to the postnatal life and must make them quickly - if it is to survive. These adjustments are to temperature changes, to sucking & swallowing, to breathing and to elimination.

The difficulty of adjustment to postnatal life is shown by loss of weight, disorganized behaviour and infant mortality. The most important conditions influencing the infant's adjustment to postnatal life are prenatal environment; length of gestational period; kind of birth (normal or otherwise); postnatal care and parental attitude.

While each newborn infant is different - they all have certain common characteristics - e.g. size; body proportions lack of body homeostasis; two types of activities; mass & reflex; inability to communicate except crying; undeveloped sensitivities except for smell & taste; a blurred state of consciousness; a limited capacity of learning; undeveloped emotions and the beginning of individuality.

An unfavourable prenatal environment is as hazardous to normal development in postnatal life as is a difficult and complicated birth.

Post-maturity is less hazardous than pre-maturity - because infants born pre-maturely are not as able to adjust to the radical changes of the postnatal life. Infant mortality is an especially serious hazard on the day of birth and on the 2nd & 3rd days after birth. The long-term effects of the pre-maturity are normally less than popularly believed if pre-mature infants are given environmental stimulations and opportunities to overcome the developmental lag that normally accompanies their early birth.

Traditional beliefs about birth are serious psychological hazards - because they have a profound influence on the way people treat infants.

The helplessness of the infant, the plateau in development and developmental lag - all of which are common among newborn infants - influence the attitudes of significant people and their treatment of the infant.

Individuality in infancy can be a serious psychological hazard - because most people interpret individuality to mean that the infant is not normal.

"New Parent Blues" are other unfavourable attitudes toward the newborn infant are serious psychological hazards - because they are reflected in the way parents treat the infants.

Names given to infants are potential hazards to good personal and social adjustments because as they grow older, children may dislike and be embarrassed by their names.

Babyhood

The outstanding characteristic of babyhood, which extends from the end of the 2nd week to the end of the 2nd year of life; are that it is the true foundation age; a time of rapid growth & change and of decrease dependency; a time of increase individuality and the beginning of socialization; a time of sex role typing and creativity; and a time that is both appealing and hazardous.

Babies who lag behind their age-mates in mastering the developmental tasks of babyhood - tasks that make them independent of adult help - are handicapped when they reach the childhood years.

Physical growth & development occurred at gradually decelerated rates throughout babyhood while development of the physiological functions occurred at a rapid rate. Because muscle control follows the laws of developmental direction, the earliest skills to be learned are the head, arm and hand-skills.

To be able to communicate, babies must comprehend what others are communicating to them and, in turn, communicate with others. Because of their inability to speak during the major part of babyhood, babies' communications are mainly in pre-speech-forms - crying, babbling, gestures and emotional expressions.

Babyhood emotions differ from those of older children, adolescence and adults in that, first they are accompanied by behaviour patterns proportionally to great for the stimuli that give rise to them and, second, they are more easily conditioned than at later ages.

Early social foundations are important, first, because the type of behaviour babies' show in social situations affects their personal & social adjustments and, second, because once established, these patterns tend to persist.

Play-development follows a pattern that is greatly influenced by the baby's physical, motor and mental development. This is true of play in general and also of specific plays patterns.

In babyhood, understanding comes from a combination of sensory exploration, motor manipulation and toward the end of babyhood, from answers to questions. Discipline's role in moral development is mainly in the form of punishment for wrong behaviour and different forms of approval for socially approved behaviour. Sex-role typing beginnings at birth, though the pressure on boys to look and act in a sex-appropriate way is stronger than the pressure on girls.

Evidence of the importance of parent-child relationships in babyhood comes from emotional deprivation, attachment behaviour, and the influence of different-sized families.

Babyhood is regarded as a critical period in personality development because it is the time when the foundations of adult personality are laid.

During the first year of life, physical hazards are more numerous and more serious than psychological hazards while, during the second year, the reverse is true. Unhappiness tends to increase in babyhood draws to a close though, for most babies, it is far less common than happiness.

Early Childhood

Parents label early childhood, which extends from 02 to 06 years, as the problem, the troublesome or the toy-age; by educators as the Pre-school-age; and by psychologists as the Pre-gang, the exploratory, or the Questioning-age.

Physical development proceeds at a slow rate in early childhood but the physiological habits, whose foundations are laid in babyhood, become well established.

Early Childhood is regarded as the teachable moment for acquiring skills because children enjoy the repetition essential to learning skills; they are adventuresome and like to try new things; and they have few already-learned skills to interfere with the acquisition of new ones.

Speech development advances rapidly during early childhood as seen in improvement in comprehension as well as in the different speech-skills. This has a strong impact on the amount of talking young children do & the content of their speech. While emotional development follows a predictable pattern, there are variations in this pattern due to intelligence, sex, family-size, child training and other conditions.

Early Childhood is the pre-gang age - the time when the foundations of the social development, characteristic of the gang-age of the late childhood, are laid. It is also a time when companions play an important role in the socialization process.

Play in early childhood is greatly influenced by the motor skills children have acquired, the degree of popularity they enjoy among their age-mates, the guidance they receive in learning different patterns of play, and the socio-economic status of their families. In accuracies in understanding are common in early childhood because many childish concepts are learnt with inadequate guidance and because children are often encouraged to view life unrealistically to make it seem more exciting & colourful.

Early childhood is characterized by morality by constraint - a time when children learn, through punishment & praise, to obey rules automatically. It is also the time when discipline differs, with some children subjected to authoritarian discipline while others are brought up by permissive or democratic discipline.

The common interests of early childhood include interest in religion, in the human body, in self, in sex and in clothes. Early childhood is often referred to as the critical age in sex-role typing because, at this time, the important aspects of sex-role typing are mastered, especially learning the meaning of sex-role stereotypes and accepting & playing the sex-role approved for members of their sex.

Different family relationship - parent-child, sibling and relationships with relatives - play roles of different degrees of importance in the socialization of young children and in their developing self-concepts.

The important physical hazards of early childhood include mortality, illnesses, accidents, unattractiveness, obesity and left-handedness. Among the most important psychological hazards of early childhood are unsocial content of speech, inability to establish the empathic complex, failure to learn social adjustments due to lack of guidance, preference for imaginary companions or pets, too much emphasis on amusements & too little on active play, unfavourable emotional weighing of concepts, inconsistent discipline or discipline that relies too much on punishment, failure to be sex-role typed in accordance with the approved pattern of the social group, deterioration in family relationships and unfavourable self-concepts.

Happiness in early childhood depends more on what happens to children in the home than outside the home.

Late Childhood

Late childhood, which extends from 06 years until children become sexually mature at approximately age 13 years for Girls and 14 for Boys; is labeled by parents as the "troublesome", "sloppy", or "quarrelsome" age; by educators as the "elementary school" age; and by psychologists as the "gang-age", the "age of conformity", or the "age of creativity".

Physical growth, which is at a slow & relatively even rate in late childhood, is influenced by health, nutrition, immunization, sex and intelligence. The skills of late childhood can be categorized roughly into 04 major groups:

  1. Self-help skills.
  2. Social-help skills.
  3. School skills.
  4. Play skills.

All of these are influenced, to some extent, by development of handedness. While all areas of speech - pronunciation, vocabulary and sentence structure - improved rapidly during late childhood; as does comprehension, the content of speech tends to deteriorate.

Older children learn to control the overt expressions of their emotions and to use emotional catharsis to clear their systems of the pent-up emotionality caused by social pressures to control their emotions.

Late childhood is called the "Gang-age" - because older children are interested in activities with their peers and want to belong to a gang, which expects them to conform to the patterns of behaviour and to the values & interests of its members. As gang-members, children often reject parental standard, develop an antagonistic attitude toward members of the opposite sex and become prejudice against all who are non-gang members.

The socio-metric status of older children varies from popular to that of socially isolate. Once a child's status is established in the social group, it is difficult to change - whether the status is that of leader, follower or social isolate.

The play interests of older children and the amount of time they devote to play depends more on the degree of social acceptance they enjoy than on any other condition. There is a rapid increase in understanding and in the accuracy of concepts during late childhood, partly as a result of increase intelligence and partly as a result of increased learning opportunities.

In late childhood, most children develop moral codes influenced by the moral standards of the groups with which they are identified; and a conscience - which guides their behaviour in place of the external controls needed when they were younger. In spite of this home, school and neighbourhood misdemeanors are common.

The interests of older children are broader than those of younger children and include many new subjects. Among these are names, clothes, human body, sex, school, future vocations, status symbols and autonomy.

Sex-role typing in late childhood influences children's appearance, behaviour, aspirations, achievements, interests, attitudes toward members of the opposite sex and self-evaluation.

The deterioration in family relationships, characteristic of late childhood, affects children's personal & social adjustments and has a strong impact on their personalities through its effect on their self-evaluation. This is especially serious when the gap between their ideal and real self-concepts is large, because it acts as an obstacle in their search for identity.

Among the new physical hazards of late childhood are ---- obesity, sex inappropriate body build, a tendency to be accident-prone, awkwardness and homeliness. The new psychological hazards are mainly those that affect children's social adjustments because they lead to unfavourable self-evaluations and social evaluations.

While happiness in late childhood does not guarantee life time happiness, conditions that contribute to happiness will continue to do so as children grow older. This is especially true if the 03 A's of happiness - Acceptance, Affection & Achievement are fulfilled.

Puberty

In spite of the fact that the puberty is a short period that overlaps the end of childhood and the beginning of adolescence, it is a time of rapid growth & change. It occurs at different ages for boys & girls and for individuals within each sex-group.

There are 03 stages of puberty ----- Pre-pubescent, Pubescent and Post- pubescent. The criteria most often used to determine the onset of puberty are menarche (first menstruation), in girls and nocturnal emission in boys.

Puberty is caused by hormonal changes that, because they are not controllable to date, come at variable times. The average age for girls is 13 years and for boys, 14 to 14 ½ years. The time needed to complete the puberty changes ranges from 02 to 04 years.

The puberty growth spurt - the time when puberty changes are taking place most rapidly - is variable because it is influenced partly by hereditary factors and partly by environmental factors - such as nutrition, health and emotional stress. There are 04 major changes in puberty:

  • Changes in body size.
  • Changes in body proportion.
  • Development of the primary sex characteristics.
  • Development of the secondary sex characteristics.

The most rapid growth in body size comes during the year or two before the sex organs begin to function and then tapers off. Changes in body proportions are influenced by the age of sexual maturing. The primary sex characteristics - the sex organs - grow & develop rapidly during puberty and become functionally mature in approximately the middle of puberty.

The secondary sex characteristics - the physical features that distinguish males & females - develop according to predictable patterns but, by the end of puberty, all of these patterns are at their mature or near mature levels.

Puberty changes affect physical well being as well as attitudes & behaviour. Because these effects tend to be unfavourable, especially during the early part of puberty - puberty is sometimes called the Negative Phase.

Deviant sexual maturing, whether the deviation is in the age, at which sexual maturing occurs or in the time needed to complete the sexual and bodily changes, has a profound influence on the attitudes, behaviour patterns and self-concepts of boys and girls. Of the different forms of deviant maturing, late & slow maturing have, on the whole, more unfavourable effects than early & rapid maturing. The 02 major concerns characteristics of puberty relate to normalcy and sex appropriateness.

The physical hazards of puberty are minor compared with the psychological hazards. The most common of the latter are the tendency to develop unfavourable self-concepts; to become under-achievers; unwillingness to accept changed bodies or socially approved sex-roles and deviant sexual maturing.

Because the 03 A's of happiness - Acceptance, Affection and Achievement - are often violated during these years. Puberty tends to be one of the unhappy periods of the life span. This is serious because unhappiness can and often does become habitual.

Adolescence

Adolescence, which extends from the time the individual, becomes sexually mature until eighteen - the age of legal maturity - is divided into -----

Early Adolescence - which extends to seventeen years.

Late Adolescence - which extends until legal maturity.

It is characteristically an important period of the life span, a transitional period, a time of change, a problem age, a time when the individual searches for identity, a dreaded age, a time of unrealism and the threshold of adult hood.

Because mastery of the developmental tasks of adolescence requires major changes in children's habitual attitudes & patterns of behaviour, many adolescents reach legal maturity with mastery of some of these developmental tasks unfinished and, as a result, they may carry much unfinished business into adulthood.

Even though the physical growth is far from complete when puberty ends, its rate slackens in adolescence and much of the change that occurs then is internal rather than the external. When physical growth will be complete is influenced by sex & age of maturing, thus causing many concerns for boys & girls.

While, traditionally, adolescence is a period of heightened emotionally, a time of 'storm and stress', there is little evidence that this is universal or is as pronounced and persistent as is popularly believed. The important social changes in adolescence include increased peer-group influence, more mature patterns of social behaviour, new social groupings & new values of selection friends & leaders and values in social acceptance.

The most important and important universal interests of today's adolescence fall into 07 major categories ----

  1. Recreational interests.
  2. Personal interests.
  3. Social interests.
  4. Educational interests.
  5. Vocational interests.
  6. Religious interests.
  7. Interests in status symbols.

The major changes in morality during adolescence consists of replacing specific moral concepts with generalized moral concepts of right & wrong; the building of a moral code based on individual moral principles and the control of behaviour through the development of a conscience.

Sex interest & behaviour, which centre on heterosexuality, have two separate and distinct elements. First, the development of a pattern of behaviour involving members of the two sexes and, second, the development of attitudes relating to relationships between the two sexes. These differ from adolescent heterosexuality in the past in 02 respects ----

1st - the stages in heterosexual behaviour are more telescoped today than in the past.

2nd - there is greater permissiveness in sexual behaviour.

There are a number of effects of sex-role typing on adolescents. The most important of which are ----- feelings of masculine supremacy, sex bias, underachievement in activities regarded as sex-inappropriate and fear of success on the part of adolescent girls because of the possibility of facing the stigma of sex-inappropriateness. Relationships between adolescents and members of their families tend to deteriorate in early adolescence - though these relationships often improve as adolescences draw to a close, especially among adolescent girls and their family members. While most adolescents are anxious to improve their personalities in the hope of advancing their status in the social group, many of the conditions influencing their self-concepts are beyond their control.

Among the physical hazards of adolescence, suicide is becoming increasingly frequent and serious; though other physical hazards, such as awkwardness, a sex-inappropriate body built and homeliness are too common to be overlooked.

The major psychological hazards of adolescence centre on failure to make the transition to maturity - which is the most important developmental tasks of adolescence. This failure is often due to obstacles over which adolescents have little or no control.

The areas in which immaturity, due to failure to make the transition to more mature behaviour, are especially common are social, sexual and moral behaviour - and immaturity in family relationships. When immaturity is pronounced, it leads to self-rejection with its damaging effects on personal & social adjustments. Most adults remember adolescence as an unhappy age. Studies of adolescence have revealed that this is truer of early than of late adolescence.

Early Adulthood [Personal & Social Adjustments]

Adulthood - the longest period of the life-span -- is usually sub-divided into 03 periods:

Early Adulthood - which extends to 18 to approximately 40 years.

Middle Adulthood / Middle Age - which extends from approximately 40 to 60 years.

Late Adulthood / Old Age - which extends from approximately 60 years to death.

Early adulthood is the settling-down and reproductive age; a problem age and one of emotional tension; a time of social isolation; a time of commitments and often a time of dependency, of value changes, of creativity and of adjustments to a new pattern of life.

There are certain aids to mastering the developmental tasks of early adulthood - physical efficiency, motor & mental abilities, motivation and a good role model.

Because many of the interests carried over from adolescence are no longer appropriate for the adult role, changes in all areas of interests are inevitable. The greatest change is in narrowing down the range of interest.

Personal interests in early adulthood include interest in appearance, in clothes and personal adornment; in symbols of maturity &status symbols; in money and in religion. Even though the recreational interests of adults differ in many respects from the play interests of childhood due to changes in roles & life patterns. The major recreational interests of young adults in the American culture of today include talking, entertaining, hobbies and amusements - which, for the most part, are enjoyed in the home. Social activities in early adulthood are often greatly curtailed because of occasional and family pressures. As a result, many young adults experience what Errikson has called an 'Isolation Crisis' - a time of loneliness due to isolation from the social group.

During early adulthood, social participation is often limited and changes in friendships, in social groupings and in values placed on popularity and leadership status are inevitable. Social mobility in men comes mainly through their own efforts while, in women, it comes mainly through marriage to upper-status men or those who, through their achievements, have been able to climb the social-ladder. Most young married women find sex-role adjustment in early adulthood very difficult, especially when they are forced into traditional roles after playing more egalitarian role before marriage. Difficulties in mastering the developmental tasks of adulthood are often increased by such stumbling blocks as inadequate foundations, physical handicaps, discontinuities in training, parental over protectiveness, prolongation of peer-group influence and unrealistic aspirations.

The most common & important physical hazard of early adulthood is physical unattractiveness because it is detrimental to the individual's personal & social adjustments. 02 important religious hazards in early adulthood ----

  • adjustment to a new religious faith in place of the childhood family faith and in-law pressure to adopt another faith in mixed marriages - are hazardous to good personal
  • & social adjustments because they cause emotional disturbances.

Finding a congenial social group to identify with, especially in social mobility, and acceptance of traditional sex-roles are the major psychological hazards most young adults must cope with in their personal & social lives.

Early Adulthood [Vocational & Family Adjustments]

Vocational & family adjustments in early adulthood are especially difficult - because most young adults have limited foundations on which to build their adjustments due to the newness of the roles these adjustments requires.

The major problems in vocational adjustment in early adulthood consist of selection of a vocation, achieving stability in the selection made and adjustment to work situations. How successfully men & women make these adjustments can be judged by their achievements, voluntary changes of jobs and the satisfaction derived from the jobs. The ever-increasing number of family-life patterns makes marital adjustment difficult, especially when the family life-pattern that fits the individual's needs differs from that approved by the social group.

A number of conditions contribute to difficulties in marital adjustment, the common of which are limited preparation for marriage, early marriages, unrealistic & romanticized concepts of marriage, mixed marriages, shortened courtships, lack of identity in marriage and marked role changes.

Among the common adjustment problems in marriage adjustment to a mate, sexual adjustments, financial & in-law adjustments are the most common and most difficult. Parenthood may be regarded as a 'crisis' in the individual's life because it necessitates changes in attitudes, values and roles. This is especially true for women who must give up careers for which they have trained and in which they have been successful.

Of the many factors influencing adjustment to parenthood, the most important are attitudes toward pregnancy and parenthood, age of parents, sex of children, parental expectation, feelings of parental adequacy, attitudes towards changed roles necessitates by parenthood and the child's temperament. In assessing marital adjustment, 07 criteria may be applied -----

  • Happiness of husband & wife.
  • Good parent-child relationship.
  • Good adjustment of children.
  • Ability to deal satisfactorily with disagreements.
  • 'Togetherness'.
  • Good financial adjustments.
  • Good in-law adjustments.

The affects of single hood in early adulthood are, today, far less serious and far less damaging to good personal & social adjustments of both men & women that was true in the past. Among the most common & most serious vocational hazards of early adulthood are -----

  • Job dissatisfaction.
  • Unemployment.

The most common and most serious marital hazards of early adulthood centre on ----

  • Adjustment to a mate.
  • Competitiveness in the marital relationship.
  • Sexual adjustments.
  • Acceptance of the family economic status & role changes.
  • Relationships with in-laws.
  • Adjustment to parenthood.

Hazards of divorce are intensified when there are children, especially when the children are old enough to comprehend the radical changes divorce brings into their lives. Among most common problems divorced men & women face are ----

  • Economical.
  • Practical.
  • Psychological.
  • Emotional.
  • Social.
  • Loneliness.
  • Sexual.
  • Divided child custody.
  • Changes in self-concepts.

There are 02 adjustment problems in re-marriage - that are almost universal in the American Culture of today -----

  • Adjustment to a new mate.
  • Adjustment to the role of stepparent.

Success of adjustment to adulthood can be assessed by 03 criteria ----

  • Achievement in the vocation & life pattern chosen by the individual.
  • Degree of satisfaction derived from chosen vocation & life pattern.
  • Success of personal adjustments.

Middle Age [Personal & Social Adjustments]

Because middle age is an especially difficult time in the American Culture of today, adjustment to it is greatly dependent on the foundations laid earlier. There are 10 important characteristics of middle age, the most significant of which are ----

  • It is a dreaded age.
  • It is a time of transition.
  • It is a time of stress.
  • It is a time of achievement.
  • It is a time of evaluation.
  • It is the time of empty nest.
  • It is the time of boredom.

Adjustments of physical changes in middle age are especially difficult in the areas of appearance, physiological functioning and sexuality. The female menopausal syndrome is due partly to œstrogen deprivation and partly to environmental stress that is psychological in origin. The male climacteric syndrome is due to a combination of physiological & psychological conditions that often lead to changes in attitudes, behaviour and self-evaluation. The success of adjusting to physical changes in middle age is aided by camouflaging the telltale signs of aging.

There is little evidence, to date; the mental decline universally begins in middle age, especially among those of high intellectual ability. Changes in interests in middle age are far less pronounced than those occurring during the earlier years and are, for the most part, the result of role changes.

Middle-aged men, as a group, have a greater interest in clothing and appearance than middle-aged women, as a group, because they recognize its importance to vocational success.

Middle-aged men's interest in money is different from that of middle-aged women; though it is usually greater in women than in men - who regard it as essential to security and to having the status symbol they crave. Interest in religion in middle age is usually greater than in adulthood and is often based on personal & social needs.

There are 04 important changes in recreational interests in middle age ----

  • Interest in strenuous recreations wanes.
  • There is a shift from recreational activities involving large groups to those involving only several people.
  • There is a narrowing down of recreational interests.
  • Social interests in activities in middle age are greatly influenced by social-class status, sex and marital status.

The most important personal hazards of middle age include acceptance of traditional beliefs about middle age, idealization of youth, unrealistic aspirations & changes in roles, in interests and in value placed on status symbol.

Among the common hazards that affect social adjustments in middle age are acceptance of the 'rocking chair' philosophy about middle age, unattractive appearance, lack of social skills, preference for family contacts, financial problems, family pressures and obligations, a desire for popularity as expressed in immature patterns of behaviour and social mobility.

Middle Age [Vocational & Family Adjustments]

Vocational adjustment of middle-aged men & women are complicated by such factors as ----

  • Unfavourable social attitude.
  • Hiring policies.
  • Increased use of automation.
  • Group work.
  • Increasing importance of the role of wives.
  • Compulsory retirement.
  • Dominance of big business.
  • Necessity for re-location.

Vocational adjustment in middle age can be assessed by 02 criteria ----- Achievement and Satisfaction - with satisfaction usually a more important contributor to adjustment than achievement.

Middle age can be called the 'Shrinking circle stage' of family life because the most important change at this time is a reduction of family members living under the same roof. The 'empty-nest period' - a time of radical role changes for both men & women - is less traumatic than is popularly believed though, for many women, it requires far greater adjustment in life patterns than it does for men. Poor sexual adjustments in middle age are due to many causes. The 05 most common causes are ----

  • Differences in the male & the female sex-drives.
  • Male concern about loss of sexual vigour.
  • Increased female interest in sex.
  • Female desire to have one more child.
  • Female initiative in putting a stop to sexual intercourse.

There 02 new forms of in-law adjustment most middle-aged people must make ----

  • Adjustment to their children's spouses.
  • Adjustment to the care of each other's aging parents.

Middle-aged men & women play grandparent roles. The 05 most common are ----

  • The formal role.
  • The fun-seeking role.
  • The surrogate-parent role.
  • The 'reservoir of family wisdom' role.
  • The distant-figure role.

Adjustment to single-hood in middle age is more difficult for women, as a group, than for men, as a group, because single women, more often than single men, are expected to assume responsibility for the care of elderly parents. Adjustment to the loss of a spouse is different when the losses due to death than when due to divorce though, in both case, the adjustment is more difficult for women than it is for men. The most common problems of widow-hood are ----

  • Economic.
  • Social.
  • Familial.
  • Practical.
  • Sexual.
  • Residential.

Chances for re-marriage after death of a spouse or divorce grow slimmer with each passing year for women, especially those who live in small towns or rural areas while, for men, chances for re-marriage are good, regardless of where they live.

While adjustment to approaching to retirement and approaching old age should be important development tasks for all middle-aged men & women, they are made more difficult than they should be - because of unfavourable social attitudes that militate against adequate preparation for these tasks. Among the important vocational hazards of middle age are ----

  • Failures to reach earlier goals.
  • Decline in creativity. Boredom.
  • The growing tendency toward 'bigness' in business & industry.
  • Feelings of being 'trapped' in a job.
  • Unemployment.
  • Unfavourable attitudes toward present job.
  • Geographic mobility in order to advance or to retain present job.

Among the common & most serious marital hazards in middle age are ----

  • The necessity for making role changes.
  • Boredom (especially on the part of women).
  • Inability to establish satisfactory relationships with the spouse as a person.
  • Opposition to child's marriage.
  • Sexual mal-adjustment.
  • Care of an elderly parent.
  • Loss of a spouse.
  • Re-marriage.

The success with which men & women adjust to middle age can be assessed by 04 criteria ----

  • Achievements.
  • Emotional states.
  • The effect of the physical & psychological changes on personality.
  • The degree of satisfaction or happiness the middle-aged person experiences.

Old Age [Personal & Social Adjustments]

Old age, which begins at approximately 60 years, is characterized by certain physical & psychological changes that are far more likely to lead to poor adjustments and unhappiness than to good adjustments. There are marked individual's differences in the affecting of aging, with physical aging, as a general rule, preceding psychological aging. There are certain problems of adjustment unique to old age, such as ----

  • Increased physical & economic dependency on others.
  • New social contacts.
  • Developing new interests & activities to occupy increased leisure time.
  • Learning to treat grown children & being victimized due to inability to defend oneself.

The Physical changes include ----

  • Changes in appearance.
  • Changes in different internal & physical systems.
  • Changes in physiological functioning.
  • Sensory & sexual changes.

The most common changes in motor abilities include ----

  • Changes in strength & speed.
  • An increase in time needed to learn new skills.
  • A tendency to become awkward & clumsy.

While there are many causes of changes in mental ability, lack of environmental stimulation and lack of motivation to remain mentally alert are among the most common & most serious. Changes in interests due to many conditions, the most common of which are deterioration in health & economic status, changes in place of residence& in marital status and changes in values. Personal interests of the elderly include self, appearance, clothes and money.

Changes in recreational activities in old age are due more to changes in health, economic & marital status, and living conditions, than they are to changes in recreational interests. Social disengagement, characteristic of old age, may be voluntary or involuntary, though voluntary social disengagement tends to be far less common than involuntary social disengagement. Of the different sources of social contact, those most seriously affected by aging are close personal friendship, cliques & formal groups & clubs. Interest in religion is often concentrated on concern with death that, at this age, becomes a personal matter instead of an abstract, theoretical one as it often is during the early years of life.

Potential hazards to good personal & social adjustments are due partly to the physical and mental decline characteristic of old age, which makes the elderly especially vulnerable, and partly to lack of recognition of potential hazards on the part of the social group. Among the common physical hazards characteristic of old age are ----

  • Diseases.
  • Physical handicaps.
  • Malnutrition.
  • Dental disorders.
  • Accidents.
  • Sexual deprivation.

The Psychological hazards include ----

  • Acceptance of cultural stereotype of the elderly.
  • Feelings of inferiority and inadequacy resulting from physical changes.
  • Changes in life patterns.
  • A tendency to 'slip' mentally.
  • Feeling of guilt about idleness, especially on the part of men after retirement.
  • Reduced income that necessitates changes in living patterns.

Old Age [Vocational & Family Adjustments]

Vocational adjustments in old age are markedly influenced by workers' attitudes, the 02 most common types of which are ----

  • "Society-maintaining" work attitudes - attitudes characterized by little or no interest in work per se but in the play checks.
  • "Ego involving" works attitudes - attitudes characterized by great personal satisfaction, self-respect and a sense of worth.

Employment opportunities for older workers are limited by such factors as compulsory retirement, hiring practices, pension plans, social attitude toward the elderly, business cycles, sex of the worker and kind of work. Retirement, which involves role changes as well as changes in interests, values & life patterns, may be voluntary or compulsory, early or regular. Attitudes toward retirement are influenced by a numbers of conditions, the 03 most important of which are ----

  • The economic status of the individual.
  • Attitudes of significant people especially family members, towards individual's retirement.
  • The satisfaction the retiree derives from substitute activities.

Changes in family-life patterns, made more pronounced by retirement-reduced income or death of a spouse, require 05 major adjustments ----

  • Relationship with a spouse.
  • Changes in social behaviour.
  • Relationships with offspring.
  • Relationship with grand children.
  • Role reversal or parental dependency on offspring.

Adjustment to loss of a spouse, by death or divorce, in old age necessitates different types of adjustment for men & for women with those for men complicated by loneliness and need for dependency and, for women, by decreased income. There are many adjustment problems with re-marriage & old age, the most common of which are adjustment to a new spouse, to a new set of relatives and often to a new home or a new community.

Cohabitation in old age, which has been increasing in recent years especially in large urban centres, is usually motivated by practical & financial considerations as compared with the desire to determine compatibility, the usual motivation for cohabitation in younger people.

Single men & women tend, in old age, to be better adjusted & happier than those who lose a mate because, over the years, they have established interests & friendships that take the place of the family relationships that are so absorbing to married individuals. There are 05 common patterns of living arrangements for the elderly in the American Culture of today ----

  • An elderly married couple lives alone.
  • An elderly person, whether male or female, lives alone in his / her own home.
  • Two or more elderly people - brother / sister, brother, sisters, or friends - live together in a non-marital relationship.
  • An elderly widow or widower lives with a married child.
  • An elderly person lives in a home for the elderly, in a hostel or in a club.

Geographic mobility in old age, often necessitate by economic, health or family conditions, or by changes in marital status as happens with divorce or death of a spouse, is more often involuntary than voluntary.

The 02 most common & serious vocational hazards in old age are -----

  • Exclusion from work due to lack of vocational opportunities or unemployment even though one wants to work.
  • Retirement, especially when it is involuntary, or early, due to conditions over which the individual has no control or is unprepared for.

The most common family-life hazards of old age are ----

  • Sexual deprivation.
  • Loneliness, especially when there is a loss of spouse due to divorce or death.
  • Changes in living arrangements those are often involuntary.
  • The necessity for making role changes due to changes in health, economic status or living conditions.

There are 04 criteria commonly used to assess adjustment to old age on the part of both men & women -----

  • The quality of behaviour patterns, whether active or characterized by voluntary or involuntary disengagement.
  • Changes in emotional behaviour.
  • Personality changes.
  • Self-satisfaction or happiness

Happiness in old age is characterized by continued activity, while unhappiness is influence by disengagement, either voluntary or involuntary.

Sources: -

  • Faterson, H. F. & Witkin, H. A. - Developmental Psychology: Longitudinal Study of Development of Body Concept (Reprint, 1970; Tata McGraw-Hill Companies)
  • Hurlock, Elizabeth B. - Developmental Psychology: A Life-Span Approach (29th Reprint, 2003; Tata McGraw Hill Companies).

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