According to the life span perspective, significant changes occur throughout development. It encompasses the multidimensional, multidirectional, plastic, multidisciplinary, and contextual factors that influence human development. Growth, maintenance, and regulation are all components of development.
Changes are interpreted in terms of the cultural requirements and context of the occurrences. According to Paul Baltes, humans possess the capacity, plasticity, and capacity for positive change in response to the constant environmental demands placed on individuals. Throughout life, an individual develops strategies for compensating for and overcoming obstacles. According to Baltes, one of the most important characteristics of old age is the ability to compensate and overcome (Boyd and Bee, 2006). These characteristics combine to form a family of beliefs that define a consistent view of development's nature. The life-span approach is defined by the application of these beliefs in concert. The following are the critical characteristics of the life span approach's beliefs:
11 Characteristics of Life Span Development
Development is Lifelong:
Development is Multidirectional
Development is Plastic
Development is Contextual
Development is Multidisciplinary
Development involves Growth, Maintenance, and Regulation
Development is Embedded in History
Normative Age Graded Influences
Normative History Graded Influence
is Lifelong:This belief has two separate aspects. First, thepotential for development extends across
the entire life span: there is noassumptionthatthelifecoursemustreachaplateauordeclineduring
adulthoodand old age. Second, development may
involve processes that are notpresent at birth but emerge throughout the life
span. No age period dominatesduringdevelopment.Researchersincreasinglystudytheexperiencesandpsychological orientations of adults at different points in their development.Gainsandlossesindevelopmentoccurthroughoutthelifecycle.
development cannot be described by a
single criterion such as increasesor decreases in a behaviour. It occurs in the
biological, cognitive and socialemotionaldomains.
Development is Multidirectional: The
principle of multidirectional maintainsthat there is no single, normal path that
development must or should take. Inother words,healthydevelopmentaloutcomesareachievedinawidevarietyofways.Developmentisoftencomprisedofmultipleabilitieswhichtakedifferent
directions, showing different types of change or constancy. Some dimensions or aspects of development may be
increasing while others aredecliningornotchanging.
is Plastic:Plasticity refers to the within-person variabilitywhich
is possible for a particular behaviour
or development. For example,infants who
have a hemisphere of the brain removed shortly after birth (asa treatment for epilepsy) can recover
the functions associated with thathemisphereasthebrainreorganisesitselfand
is to understand the nature and the
limits of plasticity in variousdomains of functioning. Development can be modified by life circumstancesto
some extent. Plasticity involves the
degree to which characteristics changeorremainstable.
Development is Contextual:Development
varies across the different contextsin which we live our lives. For example,
social and rural environments areassociatedwith
potentialtoimpact these two settings requires an understanding of the differing contexts.
Itoccurs in the context of a
person’s biological make-up, physical environmentandsocial,historicalandculturalcontexts.
Development is Multidisciplinary:The
study of developmental psychologyismultidisciplinary.Thatis,thesourcesofage-relatedchangesdonotliewithin
the province of any one discipline. For example, psychologicalmethodologiesmaynotbeappropriateforunderstandingfactorsthat aresociologicalinnature.
achieved only by research conducted from the perspective of disciplinessuch as sociology,
linguistics, anthropology, computer
Development involves Growth, Maintenance, and Regulation:The masteryof life involves conflict and
competition among three goals of humandevelopment:growth,maintenanceandregulation
is Embedded in History: Development is also historicallysituated
and is always influenced by
historical conditions. The historical timeperiodinwhichwegrowup affectsour
Normative Age Graded Influences:Biological and
are similar for individuals in a particular age group
History Graded Influences:Biological and environmentalinfluences that are
associated with the history that are
common to people of aparticular
generation (example: Depression, The AIDS epidemic) alsoinfluences.
individual’s life; the occurrence, the pattern, and sequence of these eventsare not applicable to most
individuals (e.g. Death of a parent at young age,gettingaseriousillness.