27 Nov 2022


Life-Span Perspectives: An Introduction to Human Development

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Academic level: College

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Explain the premises of the life-span perspectives; as well as the basic forces in human development. 

Life span perspectives argue that there are essential changes that occur in all people’s lives throughout their periods of development. Life span perspectives are therefore based upon certain premises which include plasticity and multi contextual abilities. Plasticity for instance implies that changes are not restrictive to age. At any point in one’s life, they can be influenced by the environment (Hoyer & Roodin, 2009, p. 67) . The Multi-contextual approach on the other hand argues that many concepts can impact a person’s development such as neighbourhood and cultures. The premises brings to mind the basic forces in human development which are biological, psychological, socio cultural, and life cycle forces. Biological forces for instance are health related and genetic factors that affect a human being’s development, while psychological are emotional and personality factors, and socio cultural forces are ethnic, cultural as well as interpersonal and societal. Life cycle forces additionally, focuses on how puberty, prenatal development, among other stages through life affect persons differently. 

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Describe what successful aging is and the best method to study successful aging. 

For a person to age successfully, it implies that there is a high level of physical, as well as mental and social wellbeing for the individual in older age. The concept is multidimensional thus the need for intervention in determination that as people age, they can avoid disease and disabilities, maintain high physical as well as cognitive functions and remain engaged in social and productive activities. The best method to study successful aging therefore is multidimensional as well. A multidimensional approach is one where the researcher welcomes perspectives from varied people and angles as well (Hoyer & Roodin, 2009, p. 70) . For instance, a biomedical method might be limited to only the absence of disease, mental and physical health as indicators of successful aging. Life satisfaction and social functioning are not automatically related to this however. In order to be relevant to the populations applied to, the methods used should consider all views of successful aging, even the lay ones. 

Explain the different types of research design used in the study of the life span. 

There are varied types of research designs used in the study of the life-span. Observational studies for instance involve watching participants while recording their actions especially in natural setups. Other than this, experiments can be designed to test a particular thesis in a setting that is controlled. Additionally, there are case studies where the focus is on one issue that is explored in detail using tests, observations and interviews among other methods. Furthermore, there are surveys which may be conducted in person or over the phone. The surveys entail asking a particular set of question to subjects, often requiring specific pre-determined responses from given options. There is also content analysis where pre gathered information is looked at in detail to determine specific patterns from them. Also used in lifespan research are development designs which can be cross sectional, longitudinal or cross sequential. These determine how different factors such as age and gender impact development (Papalia & Papalia, 2002, p. 138) . 

Describe the main approaches used to measure behaviour in adult development and aging research, include the strengths and weaknesses for each. 

The main approaches used to measure behaviour in adult development and aging research are systematic observation, self reports and representative sampling (Papalia & Papalia, 2002, p. 144) . In systematic observations, a group of participants are monitored in an attempt to minimise biasness. The approach is advantageous in that it is easy to make recordings. Being too specific with what to record however can make essential things be left out thus disadvantageous (Papalia & Papalia, 2002, p.  146 ) . In self reports, information is collected from participants and interpreted. The advantage of the approach is the ease in collection of information. When respondents fail to return questionnaires however, it becomes expensive thus disadvantageous. In representative sampling, the original population is divided up into smaller groups which are the studied. The advantage in this is the ease in working with smaller groups while the disadvantage lies in the fact that crucial information may also be left out. 


Hoyer, W. J., & Roodin, P. (2009).  Adult development and aging . Boston: McGraw-Hill. 

Papalia, D. E., & Papalia, D. E. (2002).  Adult development and aging . New York: McGraw-Hill. 

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