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The study of human development focuses on growth of humans across lifespan. Understanding and explaining how people change from conception to death, why the changes occur is its focus. This encompasses human physical, emotional, intellectual, and social and personality growth across various stages of life.

The social context is used to capture bronfenbrenner’s social ecosystem model of understanding the multidimensional nature of human growth and development. Bronfenbrenner’s Ecological Theory focuses on development as a phenomenon that is constantly influenced by the environmental systems. This encompasses three social aspects. These include the micro-system that involves the influence of the immediate environment surrounding an individual from conception to death. A person’s immediate family members, peers, school, and immediate neighborhood are examples of the micro-systems in the social context. The mesosystem entails exploration of the interactions that exist between different micro-systems or the interactions between social contexts.

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The exosystem as a social context in human growth and development involves exploration of the link between the social set-up and the immediate context. The macro-system, on the other hand, entails description of the culture in which people live from childhood as they develop into adulthood. The chrono-system in Bronfenbrenner’s social context entails the influence of the environmental occurrences that take place across the life of an individual inclusive of the socio-historical events, such as divorce that may affect the development of a child. The social context as conceptualized by Bronfenbrenner thus stresses the significance of environmental factors in determining the development of an individual across lifespan.

Theoretical Frameworks in Human Development.

The Psychoanalytic Theory of Human Development is founded on the premise that childhood experiences and the desires of the unconscious self have great influence on the behavior of an individual. The Psychosocial Theory as espoused by Erikson focused on explaining human development across lifespan. The Learning Theory of Development focuses on the development of overt behavior. This theory is based on the premise of reinforcement, punishment, and environmental control of human behavior. On the other hand, the Cognitive Theory maintains that as people develop across various stages, they develop personal and subjective mechanisms of understanding and explaining their world and how it operates. The core interest of the Cognitive Theory of human development is to understand how people acquire knowledge and how this knowledge is in turn used in a person’s interaction with the environment.

The Socio-Cultural Theory explains that a person’s mental functioning depends on the cultural, institutional, historical context. The participation of an individual in the social interactions through organized cultural activities thus influences one’s development. On the other hand, the Epigenetic Theory of development stresses the process, through which genes interact with the environment to influence the development. Therefore, whereas each individual has a unique genetic composition, the environment significantly influences the path followed by each genetic base and the outcome of the development of an individual.

Other Aspects of Human Development.

Genetic diversity is caused by natural selection that confers an adaptive advantage to people in specific environments. Besides, the diversity is caused by high level of neutrality of the genetic mutations. Genetic diversity is very important in helping organisms to cope with the immediate environmental variability.  This helps in enhancing adaptability of individuals/organisms to future uncertainties. Genetics has a bearing on fertility and infertility. Genetic diseases may render spermatozoa in males unproductive and also the leading cause of ectopic pregnancies among females. Genetics can influence also fertility by causing imbalances in the chromosomic compositions.

Genotype is a representation of the exact genetic composition of particular genes. It is different to phenotype, which is the actual property of an organism that can be observed such as behavior, development or even an individual’s morphology whereas phenotype is the consequence of expression of the genes of an organism resulting from environmental influence. The genotype is the original set of genes that are inherent in an organism.

 In an additive gene-gene interaction, the phenotype enables an organism to withstand environmental changes through adaptability. This interaction enhances complementation. On the contrary, dominant-recessive pattern of gene interaction leads to the elimination of the recessive gene and the manifestation of the dominant genes.

At the germinal stage, the development process involves the implantation of the fertilized egg in the wall of the uterus. The cell division and implantation of the zygote at this stage takes the first 10-14 days. However, development at the embryonic stage involves formation of the structures and the organs related to the nervous, circulatory, and respiratory systems of an organism.

 The fetus gets to sense and respond to the external environment by the seventh month of pregnancy. The human fetus detects and responds to the external environment through the abdomen, wall of the uterus, the amniotic fluid and the translucent eyelids. Thus, a fetus can respond to the outside environment.

The survival of the fetus born at 38 weeks is enhanced more than that born at 24 weeks. This is because the weight of the fetus at 38weeks gives it stability in the environment outside the womb. The immunity of the baby is also better enhanced at 38 weeks than at 24 weeks. Further, all organs in the body are well developed and can function independently unlike at 24 weeks when the baby still needs special care of pediatric doctors.

The causes of low birth weight in a baby include under-nutrition of the mother, pathogenic infections on the fetus, children born to young girls, health of the mother or even the environmental contaminants that are resistant to degradation. Low birth weight can lead to infant and child mortality and development of health complications after delivery.

In conclusion, development across lifespan is a progressive process. Successful transition from one stage to another significantly influences achievement of a sense of fulfillment in an individual. Right from conception to death, there are a series of developmental process that occur.

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