Developmental psychology is a branch of psychology that deals with the study of the developmental changes oh humans at all levels including the behaviors. Therefore, this branch of psychology is concerned with the study of human development from birth to adulthood (Zelazo, 2013). The terms ‘growth’ and ‘development’ are used interchangeably and at times accepted to be synonymous. However, realistically, the terms are distinct.
Growth is the physical increase in size over a period of time which comprise of changes in height, weight, proportions of the body, and the general physical appearance of an individual. It is the increase in size or amount of an entity that involves all structural and psychological transformations occurring within a person during the maturation process (Zelazo, 2013). For instance, a child’s growth implies an increase in the weight, height, and organs of the body. Growth is the changes in size, proportion, the disappearance of past features, and the acquisition of new features (Roeckelein, 2006). Since all parts of the body can grow, therefore, human growth is measurable.
In contrast, development refers to the qualitative changes in a person as a whole. It is a continuous process of physical, emotional, and intellectual change (Roeckelein, 2006). Development is broad and more complex compared to growth. Moreover, development can occur in the absence of growth. These are changes that occur as a series that an individual undergoes from the stage of the embryo to maturity (Roeckelein, 2006). In other literature, it is defined as the changes in size, shape, and functioning that progressively occurs during the human’s lifespan whereby its genetic potential is transformed into a functioning adult system (Roeckelein, 2006). Therefore, human development involves the psychological changes that occur in the functions and activities of different organs of humans. Its primary concern is growth and behavioral changes resulting from the environment (Roeckelein, 2006). It is a change process in the growth and capability due to the function of maturation and environmental interaction.
The accurate knowledge of human development is vital for understanding oneself. Certain basic principles characterize the process and pattern of development. They provide a description of typical development as having a predictable and orderly process (Mishra). These principles include change, continuity, order, individual differences, maturation and learning, predictability, critical nature of early development, potential hazards, and variations in levels of happiness.
This paper is aimed at conducting an investigation on one’s development from a biological, cognitive, and psychosocial perspective by providing a review of one’s development from birth to current age.
The biological approach to human development postulates that we are products of our genetics and physiology. This approach conducts an examination of our thoughts, feelings, and behaviors from a biological, that is, a physical point of view (Salkind, 2004). Therefore, everything that is psychological began at the physiological level. The biological perspective to human development is a means of looking at topics in psychology through an understanding of human behavior (Salkind, 2004). It involves aspects such as studying and understanding the brain, immune and nervous systems, and genetics including physical activities, puberty and/or sexual maturity, development of appropriate motor skills, sensory development, and abilities to learn.
I am the first born in my family. Therefore, my mother’s pregnancy was primigravida. From my mother’s report, she experienced significant pain under the abdomen with her greatest worries being the excessive spitting that she had almost after every minute. She also stated that I started kicking early compared to the other parents in the support group and at the gym. However, despite these minor issues she reported to have a healthy pregnancy and normal birth. After birth, I received all the required immunizations as par the Centre for Disease Control. Centre for Disease Control recommended 14 vaccines of 49 doses by the time I was six, and this continued up to 18 years old where I had all recommended 16 vaccines.
After birth, additional examinations were conducted (Apgar evaluation and eye care) that determined I was perfectly healthy as an infant. Growing up, I was physically active. I have been into sports since childhood, and this helped me to keep fit until today and develop good motor skills especially in regards to motor coordination. Today, I play soccer during my free time, a sport that I have loved since childhood. However, while I did not have any learning disabilities, I had problems comprehending technical subjects especially those with any form of mathematical calculations, and they affected my overall grade. Despite that, through proper training, especially in high school, I developed better-studying methods for these subjects and my performance significantly increased. In regards to inheritance, I have inherited my father’s physicality and jovial personality. Therefore, I am quite confident and had no sexual development issues in regards to sexual maturity because I could freely interact with peers of the same sex and worse of the opposite sex.
Up to date I still have my joyful and confident attributes. Moreover, I am not easily irritated, a personality trait that my mother has and at the same time, I am a free spirit in regards to beliefs. In general, from a biological perspective, my development has been quite normal with no personality problems and minor learning difficulties.
Cognitive development refers to the construction of thought process that comprises memory, solving problems, and making decisions from childhood to adulthood through adolescence. It is how an individual perceives, thinks, and comprehends his/her environment through genetics and learning factors (Joubish & Khurram, 2011). Cognitive development is the development of the ability to reason and think. The definition of thinking is problematic as there are no obvious boundaries that distinguish thinking from other mental activities (Siegler, 2013). However, it involves higher mental processes such as problem-solving, conceptualization, creativity, reasoning, memory, and planning (Siegler, 2013). It also includes the basic mental processes such as perception of object and events, acting on goals in a skillful way, comprehension, and production of language.
- Piaget’s Stages
Jean Piaget was one of the psychologists focused on cognitive development. After observing children for a while, he developed a theory of cognitive development. He postulated that children during the cognitive development process go through four (4) progressive stages in the same order (Joubish & Khurram, 2011). The first is the sensory motor stage that occurs between birth and two years. During this phase, I was interested in just breastfeeding and grasping and hitting objects. I watched people’s mouths to learn the language. At about one and a half years old I could respond to some words and also pronounce some few words because of my limited vocabulary. I imitated my mother’s laughing style and could bubble a few words. However, I could not understand whether my parents were angry or not. Moreover, I also did not know my name but knew the tone used for calling someone, hence I responded to any such tone as I had not understood that I had a name.
Second is the preoperational stage. This stage occurs between two (2) years and seven (7) years and children become egocentric with the assumption that everyone’s perception of the world is similar to theirs (Joubish & Khurram, 2011). Skills for representation such as language, symbolic play, and drawing are learned. During this stage, I developed the ability to name individual objects and as expected developed an interest in my sexual organs. I had the substantial vocabulary to name different objects and even comprehend my name and those of close family members. Moreover, I could differentiate and read different emotions since I developed some level of emotional intelligence. I was also inquisitive and always asking questions. This stage is where I developed an interest in sports as I was only interested in ball games and not the regular class lessons and activities. However, I still had a significant level of egocentrism as I could not cooperatively play with others. Hence, after a while, the rest began isolating and avoiding me leading to some degree of shyness.
The third is the concrete operation stage that occurs between seven (7) to twelve (12) years and is responsible for the development of systemic thinking. I began participating in class activities during this age and found the class work interesting. However, I had problems with mathematical concepts. I developed an understanding of other people’s point of view and developed confidence and more open to others with an ambivalent personality. During this stage, I began to communicate clearly as my vocabulary had increased in school.
Finally, it is important to highlight the stage of formal operations that takes place between twelve (12) years to adulthood. I developed a logical capacity to think and make sense of abstract information. However, early in the stage, I had difficulties in mathematics. Yet, I began to deal with them after transitioning into adulthood. As a result, I have become more open-minded and learned to consider the point of view of others. During this stage, I entered puberty where my breasts began to grow and had an accelerated growth in height. At about 14 years pubic hair began to appear and also this is when inexperienced my first menstruation. By 17 years I had reached my maximum and current height.
- Vygotsky’s Theory
According to Vygotsky, children learn through their social and cultural experiences. Peer and adult interactions play a vital role in the learning process. Through the interaction with others, children learn the culture’s customs, beliefs, and language. At a personal level, the most interaction I had as a child was with my immediate family and rarely with friends as I was reserved and shy. Therefore, I learned all the elements from my family members. However, later in my childhood, my level of interaction increased as I dealt with my reserved and shy nature to interact with other friends. This transition taught me all the elements as explained above though it occurred quite late.
The psychosocial perspective of human development is based on Erik Erikson’s psychosocial development theory. According to this theory, development occurs throughout one’s entire life (Newman & Newman, 2014). It provides insight into the development of a healthy personality over time and places emphasis on the social and emotional factors in the development of an individual. It highlights that the personality and other skills of children develop in response to the social environment they are placed (Newman & Newman, 2014). Erikson suggested eight (8) developmental stages that every human being undergoes. These are trusted versus mistrust, autonomy versus shame and doubt, initiative versus guilt, industry versus inferiority, identity versus role confusion, intimacy versus isolation, generativity versus stagnation, and integrity versus despair. Each of these stages should be lived through successfully before moving to the next to prevent a social conflict or crisis.
From a psychosocial perspective, I have completed some of the stages and still working on some stages for future purposes. As aforementioned, I began developing emotional intelligence. As a result, I currently have a significant level of intelligence, and the open-minded nature I possess has allowed me to develop my emotions and ways to handle them. Most of the time as an infant up to early adulthood, I received sufficient attention from my parents and immediate family. The attention is given to me as a child resulted in healthy relationships with my parents and relatives. It also acted as a foundation for developing memory standards. As I was going through the genital stage, I understood my gender, and it helped in developing a proper gender identity. As a teen, I never succumbed to peer pressure, for example, substance use and as an adult, I have found myself to be highly autonomous and hence never engaged in delinquent behavior hence don’t even know how drugs look like.
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Newman, B. M., & Newman, P. R. (2014). Development through Life: A Psychosocial Approach. Boston, MA: Cengage Learning.
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Salkind, N. J. (2004). An Introduction to Theories of Human Development. New York: SAGE Publications.
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