1. Exploring Human Development

Studying Human Development can cover the time of life from an individual’s conception to the moment of death and therefore covers and an individual’s growth, maximum/minimum potential and decline. This study is interested in the changes that occur on three different processes:
· Physical processes involve changes in an individual’s biological nature.
· Cognitive processes involve changes in an individual’s thoughts, intelligences, and language.
· Socioemotional processes involve changes in an individual’s relationships with other people, in emotions and in personality.

There are two types of studies that can be conducted when dealing with people, a cross-sectional study and a longitudinal study. In a cross-sectional a number of people of different ages are assessed at one point in time, and the differences are noted. By examining how the ages of these individuals relate to the characteristics measured, researchers can find out whether younger individuals differ from older ones. Age differences, however, are not the same as developmental change. A longitudinal study assesses the same participants as in the cross-sectional but multiple times over a lengthy period. A longitudinal study can find out not only whether age groups differ but also whether the same individuals change with respect to a particular characteristic as they age.

Nature refers to the individual’s biological inheritance, especially his or her genes. Nurture refers to the individual’s environmental and social experiences. One way to look at the two is to consider nature as the tools and resources one begins with and nurture as the way in which one uses those tools and resources in everyday life and learn new ways when needed. Using those tools and resources one can evolve and develop further if one works at building or modifying ones experiences in life into positive moments or aspects instead of tearing down and building over or not building at all during negative moments. Taking those negative moments and starting anew is a sign of resilience. Resilience is a person’s ability to recover from or adapt to difficult times.

2. Child Development

The physical, cognitive and socioemotional processes in childhood development start at the prenatal stage of life and continue until the elementary school years.

The prenatal stage is divided into three periods, Germinal (weeks 1 to 2), Embryonic (weeks 3 to 8) and Fetal (months 2 to 9 months). During this time the prenatal development is easily susceptible to teratogens that can cause birth defects. Teratogens include chemical substances ingested by the mother (nicotine and alcohol), certain illnesses (rubella) and sexually transmitted infections (gonorrhea, HIV). Preterm infants, born prior to 37 weeks, have an increased risk of developing life threating difficulties. Factors that can increase these risks are size and socioeconomic conditions such as poverty.

In the first year of birth major physical developments occur. Reflexes are fine-tuned or slowly disappear. Motor and perceptual skills increase allowing an infant to sit upright, to begin standing, stooping climbing and often walking. The brain’s dendrites are making synapse connections at the highest rate then slowdown in later childhood. These changes continue develop through the elementary school years.

In childhood cognitive development, as per Piaget, children use there schema or a mental concept or framework that organizes information and provides a structure for interpreting it. These schemas can be used in relation to objects or situations. Piaget theory has two processes that are responsible for how children (and people) adapt their schemas:
Assimilation occurs when an individual takes that new information and adds it to existing knowledge.
Accommodation occurs when an individual adjusts their schema to take in new knowledge or experience.

In driving a motor vehicle first one makes accommodations on learning how to drive, how to follow the rules of the road. After having gained experience driving during good weather one assimilates the new requirements required when driving during inclement weather.

Piaget further divided childhood cognitive development into four stages: Sensorimotor stage (birth – 2yrs), Preoperational stage (2 – 7yrs), Concrete Operational stage (7 – 11yrs) and Formal Operation stage (11 – 15yrs)

In childhood socioemotional development it is present in early life and can be seen in an infant’s temperament and attachment. Temperament is individual’s behavioral style and characteristic way of responding to one’s environment. Attachment is a close emotional bond between an individual and its caregiver.

Erik Erikson proposed eight psychosocial stages to explain the development of temperament and attachment in a socioemotional world the first four occurring during childhood. In each stage there is a conflict that must be resolved.
· Trust versus mistrust
· Autonomy versus shame and doubt
· Initiative versus guilt
· Industry versus inferiority
· Identity versus identity confusion
· Intimacy versus isolation
· Generativity versus stagnation
· Integrity versus despair

Additional development can be affected by parenting styles such as: Authoritarian, Authoritative, Neglectful, and Permissive.

Moral development per Kohlberg’s theory can be broken down into three levels: pre-conventional, conventional and post-conventional.

toddler throwing a funny tantrum

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3. Adolescence Development

Physical changes

Most physical changes occur during puberty, a rapid skeletal and sexual maturation that occurs mainly in early adolescence. Such changes are:
· Hormonal changes – increase of:
· Androgens such as testosterone in males
· Estrogens such as estradiol in females
· Brain changes – rapid development of:
· Amygdala – responsible for emotions
· Prefrontal cortex – responsible for emotional control

Cognitive changes

Per Piaget’s four stages of childhood development, adolescents enter into the Formal Operation stage (11 – 15yrs). The adolescent reasons in more abstract, idealists and logical ways.

Socioeomotional changes

Per Erikson’s theory the fifth stage occurs, that of Identity versus Identity Confusion. Adolescents are now searching for who and what they are and where are they going. James Marcia further divides Erikson’s fifth stage into two dimensions, exploration and commitment. Exploration involves searching and discovering options and choices. Commitment is making a decision about which option or choice to follow and then investing time and resources in that option or choice.

As during childhood development parental along with ones peer can both assist in or reduce an adolescents potential.

4. Emerging Adulthood, Adult Development, and Aging

Emerging adulthood (18 – 25yrs) is the transition from adolescence to adulthood. Experimentation and exploration are distinguishing features of the emerging adult. Five features are:
  • Identity exploration in such things as love and work
  • Instability due to frequent changes in living locations
  • Self-focus due to no fixed or forced duties or obligations – “As free as a bird”
  • A feeling of being “in between”
  • Access to various life possibilities and opportunity to transform one’s life.
These five features are cycled through multiple times during the emerging adulthood.

Physical changes

Peak physical development occurs during individuals 20s and healthiest then, declining during the 30s. By the 40s and 50s more physical changes are noticeable such are loss of height and skin texture.

Cognitive changes

Idealism of young adulthood is replaced by more realistic, pragmatic thinking.

Longitudinal evidence points to an increase in and the highest level of four out of six measured cognitive abilities: Reason, space, vocabulary, and verbal memory. Perceptual speed and numerical ability declined. Wisdom, expert knowledge about the practical aspects of life, increase with the buildup of life experiences.

Socioemotional changes

Early adulthood, according to Erikson, involves intimacy versus isolation. An individual either has or is involved in intimate relationships with others or has become isolated. Erikson’s development stage for middle adulthood concerns the individual with the conflict between generativity versus stagnation. What have I contributed to the next generation or what legacies have I left behind. In Erikson’s last stage of socioemotional development, integrity versus despair, an individual looks back over their life and ask “Did I lead the good life, are things that I started completed?” While time marches on, taking care of oneself, both physical and mentally, death can possible be delayed.

5. Human Development and Health and Wellness

While discussed during childhood cognitive development, the process of assimilation and accommodation to adapt ones schema occur throughout one’s life. When one encounters an experience that does not conform to our schema expectations one develops the ability to cope with the issue until we can accept and change our schema.

Outside Resources

This site is mainly for parents to get a better understanding for the development their child will go through and it gives a huge amount of info and different links and resources to branch off from.



Chapter 9 Test
1. Which human developmental change does NOT belong?
A. Physical
B. Socioemotional
C. Cultural Influence
D. Cognitive
Answer- C

2. What is the difference between a cross-sectional study and longitudinal study? Answer- In a cross-sectional study a number of people of different ages are assessed at one point in time and differences are noted. Where as in longitudinal, they assess the same participants multiple times over a lengthy period of time.

  1. What is the difference between nature and nurture?
Answer- Nature is an individual’s biological inheritance, especially his or her genes. Nurture is an individual’s environmental and social experiences.

  1. Match the prenatal period with how many weeks are covered in the period.
A. Fetal period 1. weeks 1-2
B. Germinal period 2. weeks 3-8
C. Embryonic period 3. months 2-9
Answer- A and 3, B and 1, C and 2

  1. What age does adolescence begin?
Answer- between10 and 12

  1. The transitional period from adolescence to adulthood, spanning approximately 18 to 25 years of age is the definition of ___.
Answer- Emerging adulthood