Life Span Perspective Paper
Heather Harrison, Ph.D.
Historically, the philosophy of human development has stemmed from the Biblical understanding of original sin, Jean-Jacques Rousseau’s intimations of innate goodness, and John Locke’s postulation that we are born with a psychological blank slate (Boyd & Bee, 2006). However, in the 19th century the study of human development was given legs to its already well-defined frame in the form of the theory of evolution, as put forth by Charles Darwin. With the idea of evolutionary stages in place, G. Stanley Hall of Clark University was able to formulate his theory of norms, which hypothesize that human ...view middle of the document...
Lastly, the social domain of LSP analyzes the cultural and environmental progression of human development, including individual differences in personality and children’s social skill development. These three domains constitute the broad strokes, rather than the rigid categories, of the LSP, and serve to organize discussion and research on human development.
LSP leverages a wide variety of concepts and paradigms to the end of understanding human development in the broadest terms possible. Of particular interest to LSP research is the struggle to reconcile the nature versus nature controversy, the continuity versus discontinuity issue, and the psychological prediction of the future self by the present self. In the early days of human development research it was assumed that either nature or nurture comprised the bulk of explanation for human behavior. More recently most psychologists have adopted a more comprehensive understanding of the nature/nurture controversy. For instances, inborn biases is a concept now used to describe the interplay of genetics and environment, explaining that nature influences, rather than determines, our reactions to predisposed factors. Additionally, the continuity versus discontinuity issue deals with the debate over whether age-related change is chiefly a matter of degree or type—meaning does change happen upon a continuous quantitative continuum or a disconnect qualitative gamut. If the case is the former, then stages of human development might be altogether irrelevant; if the latter, then stages might be particularly useful in the description of lifespan maturation. What's more, the psychological prediction of the future self by the present self is not developmentally constant over a lifetime (Fortman, Giles, Honeycutt, & Ota, 2003). For instance, the future self might be of particular interest when determining which career path or degree path to pursue, but of less significance after retirement. From these areas of interest —nature/nurture, continuity/discontinuity, and the future prediction of self—it is clear that the characteristics of LSP cover a wide range of topics and concerns within the area of psychology, biology, and genetics.
Contemporary concerns about LSP include an eclectic and accommodative movement with the goal of...