Stages of Development of Psychology of People at Different Ages from Infancy to Old Age!
1. Meaning and Definition:
Development means “a progressive series of changes that occur in an orderly predictable pattern as a result of maturation and experience”.
The development of human being is a continuous process from conception to death.
2. Psychology of People at Different Ages from Infancy to Old Age:
Developmental psychology is concerned with the scientific understanding of age-related changes in experience and behaviour. Its task, as La Bouvie has pointed is “not only description but also explication of age-related changes in behaviour in terms of antecedent-consequent relationships”. Although most developmental theories have been specifically concerned with children, the ultimate aim is to provide an account of development throughout the life span.
Some developmental psychologists study developmental change covering the life span from conception to death. By so doing, they attempt to give a complete picture of growth and decline. Among the different developmental psychologists, the views presented by Erickson and Havighurst appear to give a comprehensive picture of development of human individual from infancy to old age. These views are presented here.
Erik Erickson (1902-1994) was a student of Sigmund Freud. He offered a modified Freudian view of development of personality identity through the life span. His theory presents a progression through eight psychosocial stages. At each stage there is a crisis and its resolution leads to development of a virtue.
Erickson differed from Freud however, in giving more emphasis to social and cultural forces of development.
Freud believed that personality is formed mainly in the first 6 years, through unconscious processes under the influence of one’s parents, and that personality formation is irreversible. Erickson considered personality formation to be more malleable and to continue throughout life, to be influenced by friends the family and society.
The following are the stages of development:
This period extends from birth to 18 months of age. This is called the age of trust v/s mistrust. The infant who comes to the new environment, from mother’s womb needs only nourishment. If the child’s caretaker, the mother anticipates and fulfills these needs consistently, the infant learns to trust others, develops confidence. Inevitably the child will experience moments of anxiety and rejection. If the infant fails to get needed support and care, it develops mistrust which affects the personality in later stages of life.
2. Early childhood:
This stage ranges from 18 months to 3 years. By second year of life, the muscular and nervous systems have developed markedly, and the child is eager to acquire new skills, is no longer content to sit and watch. The child moves around and examines its environment, but judgement develops more slowly.
The child needs guidance. In the crisis of autonomy v/s doubt faced during this period, the critical issue is the child’s feeling of independence.
In an extremely permissive environment, the child encounters difficulties that it cannot handle, and the child develops doubt about its abilities. Similarly if the control is severe, the child feels worthless and shameful of being capable of so little.
The appropriate middle position, respecting the child’s needs and environmental factors, requires the caretaker’s careful and constant attention.
3. Middle childhood:
This stage extends from 3-5 years. The crisis faced during this period is initiative v/s guilt. Once a sense of independence has been established, the child wants to tryout various possibilities. It is at this time the child’s willingness to try new things is facilitated or inhibited.
If the care taker recognises the child’s creative effort in attempting to do some activities is encouraged, the crisis will be resolved in favourable direction and this outcome, if repeated, should influence the future initiative. Otherwise the child develops feelings of guilt.
4. Late childhood:
This period ranges from 5-12 years. During this period the child develops greater attention span, needs less sleep, and gains rapidly in strength; therefore, the child can expend much more effort in acquiring skills, and needs accomplishment, regardless of ability. The crisis faced during this period is industry v/s inferiority.
The child aims to develop a feeling of competence, rather than inability. The success in this endeavour leads to further industrious behaviour, failure results in development of feelings of inferiority. Hence, the caretakers should guide the child to take up appropriate tasks.
This is a period of transition from childhood to adulthood which extends from 12-20 years. During this period the individual attains puberty leading to many changes. These changes have enormous implications for the individual’s sexual, social, emotional and vocational life; that is why Stanley Hall has rightly described this period as a “period of storm and stress”.
These changes make the individual to find an identity, which means developing an understanding of self, the goals one wishes to achieve and the work/occupation role. The individual craves for encouragement and support of caretakers and peer groups. If he is successful he will develop a sense of self or identity, otherwise he will suffer from role confusion/ identity confusion.
6. Early adulthood:
This stage extends from 20-30 years. As an adult, the individual takes a firmer place in society, usually holding a job, contributing to community and maintaining a family and care of offspring. These new responsibilities can create tensions and frustrations, and one solution involves is, an intimate relationship with family. This situation leads to a crisis called intimacy v/s isolation.
If these problems are solved effectively by the love, affection and support of family the individual leads a normal life, otherwise he will develop a feeling of alienation and isolation which in turn affects his personality negatively.
7. Mature adulthood:
This period ranges from 30-65 years. It is otherwise called middle age. During this stage of life, the crisis encountered is generativity v/s stagnation. This requires expanding one’s interests beyond oneself to include the next generation. The positive solution to the crisis lies not only in giving birth to children, but also in working, teaching and caring for the young, in the products and ideas of the culture, and in a more general belief in the species.
This response reflects a desire for wellbeing of the humanity rather than selfishness. If this goal is not achieved the individual will be disappointed and experience a feeling of stagnation.
8. Old age:
This stage is the extension after 65 years till death. By this age people’s goals and abilities have become more limited. The crisis in this stage is the integrity v/s despair in which the person finds meaning in memories or instead looks back on life with dissatisfaction. The term integrity implies emotional integration; it is not accepting one’s life as one’s own responsibility. It is based not so much on what has happened but, as on how one feels about it.
If a person has found meaning in certain goals, or even in suffering, then the crisis has been satisfactorily resolved. If not, the person experiences dissatisfaction, and the prospect of death brings despair. The declining physical health conditions, decreased income, death of spouse, etc. will still more worsen these feelings.
Havighurst (1953) prepared a developmental model in which he has presented the list of developmental tasks from birth to old age. Every cultural group expects its members to master certain essential skills and acquire certain approved patterns of behaviour at various ages during the life span. Havighurst has labeled them developmental tasks.
According to him a developmental task is ‘a task which arises at or about a certain period in the life of the individual, successful achievement of which leads to happiness and to success with later tasks, while failure leads to unhappiness and difficult with later tasks’.
Although most people would like to master these tasks at the appropriate time, some are unable to do so, while others are ahead of schedule. Though these tasks are applicable to American population, they are generally accepted to be applicable to all. They are as follows:
This stage covers approximately first two weeks of life. It is the shortest developmental period. It is a time for radical adjustment. The new born infant must make four major adjustments to post natal life viz.,
(i) To temperature changes
(ii) To sucking and swallowing
(iii) To breathing
(iv) To elimination.
3. Babyhood and Early Childhood:
(i) Learning to take solid foods
(ii) Learning to walk and talk
(iii) Learning to control the elimination of body wastes
(iv) Learning sex differences and sexual modesty
(v) Getting ready to read
(vi) Learning to distinguish right and wrong and beginning to develop conscience.
4. Late Childhood:
(i) Learning physical skills necessary for ordinary games
(ii) Building a wholesome attitude toward oneself as a growing organism
(iii) Learning to get along with age-mates
(iv) Beginning to develop appropriate masculine or feminine social roles.
(v) Developing fundamental skills in reading, writing and calculating.
(vi) Developing concepts necessary for everyday living
(vii) Developing a conscience, a sense of morality, and a scale of values
(viii) Developing attitudes toward social groups and institutions.
(ix) Achieving personal independence.
(i) Achieving new and more mature relations with age-mates of both sexes
(ii) Achieving a masculine or feminine social role
(iii) Accepting one’s physic and using one’s body effectively
(iv) Desiring, accepting, and achieving socially responsible behaviour
(v) Achieving emotional independence from parents and other adults
(vi) Preparing for an economic career
(vii) Preparing for marriage and family life
(viii) Acquiring a set of values and an ethical system as a guide to behaviour-developing an ideology.
6. Early Adulthood:
(i) Getting started in an occupation
(ii) Selecting a mate
(iii) Learning to live with a marriage partner
(iv) Starting a family
(v) Rearing children
(vi) Managing a home
(vii) Taking on civic responsibility
(viii) Finding a congenial social group.
7. Middle Age:
(i) Achieving adult civic and social responsibility
(ii) Assisting teenage children to become responsible and happy adults
(iii) Developing adult leisure-time activities
(iv) Relating oneself to one’s spouse as a person
(v) Accepting and adjusting to the physiological changes of middle age
(vi) Reaching and maintaining satisfactory performance in one’s occupational career
(vii) Adjusting to aging parents.
8. Old Age:
(i) Adjusting to decreasing physical strength and health
(ii) Adjusting to retirement and reduced income
(iii) Adjusting to death of spouse
(iv) Establishing an explicit affiliation with members of one’s age group
(v) Establishing satisfactory physical living arrangements
(vi) Adapting to social roles in a flexible way. (Courtesy: Developmental psychology, Elizabeth B. Hurlock)