Human Development: A Life-Span View

Personal Introduction to Adulthood

Many people mature into adulthood in significantly different ways due to the variety of circumstances that can affect the process. To explain them and obtain a better perspective on the development stage, scholars have formulated a variety of theories. Personal characteristics are a significant predictor that can account for many of the differences, and it has been studied deeply as a result.

Family dynamics and support structures are another, with the recent emergence of numerous single-parent families and other arrangements changing the previous nuclear family model. Lastly, some meaningful event can change one’s future, whether positively or otherwise, and it is critical to account for those, as well. This essay will discuss the primary paradigms used in developmental research and apply them to the author’s development with a focus on adulthood.

Theoretical Perspectives of Development

Postformal Thought According to Perry

William Perry focused his efforts with regard to intellectual development on higher education settings such as colleges. According to Erford (2017), his model is separated into nine stages, which are further grouped into dualism, multiplicity, relativism, and a commitment to relativism. Throughout these phases, the person rejects the absolute value of authority and learns that multiple valid viewpoints exist on any matter, eventually adopting a specific set while acknowledging and respecting those of others.

The author of this paper believes themselves to currently be in the eighth position, where one explores their personal commitments and their conflicts with societal responsibilities. They also recall going through each of the other stages throughout the years, starting in high school and continuing to the present. There were no particular difficulties, and the process mostly went on smoothly, though the current stage has created some small issues due to its nature.

Adult Attachment and Relationships

A variety of adult relationship patterns exists, both in peer and romantic contexts. Due to their complexity and the need to preserve the pairs’ privacy in many cases, theorists have developed prototypes that make it easier to categorize different situations. Brown and Elliott (2016) highlight four different general paradigms: secure, dismissing, anxious-preoccupied, and disorganized/fearful. All four tend to stem from childhood experiences, particularly those with one’s parents, with the first being the most desirable. The other three can result in discomfort and the development of substantial issues that eventually ruin the relationship. The author believes their attachment models to be the closest to the secure prototype. However, they have issues concerning worry and fear of rejection, even if they are not severe enough to fully qualify for the anxious-preoccupied category.

The author sought a partner to enhance their life experiences but also wanted to respect their autonomy and spend time independently as well as together. This tendency matches the secure dyadic relationship practices described by Brown and Elliott (2016). The two are also open to displays of intimacy and open up to each other readily, though we prefer to do so in private rather than in public. However, the author’s satisfaction with the relationship is often undermined by concerns about that of their partner. They can be insecure about their self-assessment and worry about whether they deserve or receive their partner’s love. Despite this, the relationship is stable, and the author discusses and resolves issues with their significant other before they can develop into larger problems.

Career Development Process: Super’s Approach

Donald Super was a prominent theorist who created a detailed theory of career development that will be applied in this paper. According to Watson and McMahon (2017), there are ten overall propositions in the framework, one of which separates the process into growth, exploration, establishment, maintenance, and decline. The author is currently in the exploration phase, where they have developed a basic understanding of the world of work and are now exploring possible options. In the next stage, they will find a position, develop the skills required for it, and achieve initial milestones that will help them grow further.

To that end, activities such as internships are critical for them to understand the positions for which they apply. Career counseling would also be helpful for them to obtain a broad overview of potential options and to learn which ones may suit them.

Identity Development

Erik Erikson proposed a development theory that claimed that humans had an internal maturation plan that would be adjusted based on external societal demands. According to Kail and Cavanaugh (2019), there are eight stages, based on the epigenetic principles, in the process, which are segregated by age and last from one’s birth to their death. Young adulthood is associated with the intimacy vs. isolation crisis, where one is concerned with commitment in a loving relationship. The author also believes that they are currently in this stage, particularly due to the concerns presented above.

However, they are confident that they will be able to handle this problem well, as they have overcome most, if not all, past stages without lasting issues. The support of their partner would help the transition to occur smoother by fomenting mutual trust and overcoming worries.

Personality and Temperament

The Big Five model is prevalent in psychology due to its benefits in simplifying the understanding of a person’s mind. According to Ashton (2018), they are Extraversion, Agreeableness, Conscientiousness, Emotional Stability (vs. Neuroticism), and Intellect or Imagination. The author is extraverted as they enjoy talking to new people and taking part in unusual group activities. They are generally agreeable but can be rude when agitated, possibly excessively so.

They have had experiences of damaging their relationships with people due to this tendency in the past. The author tries to be organized, but sometimes, they prefer to act spontaneously and carelessly, putting them in the middle of the Conscientiousness spectrum. They tend to be relaxed, but sometimes their worries overtake them, even if they can control them swiftly. Lastly, they like to let their imagination work freely but also recognize that there are many structures, particularly in human hierarchies, in which they are not particularly interested.

Family Life Cycle

A family is another critical aspect of development for many adults throughout the entirety of their life. Sigelman, De George, Cunial, and Rider (2019) describe the traditional structure, starting with marriage and continuing until death, though they note that it does not accommodate modern arrangements such as cohabitation or disorderly progression. With that said, the author intends to progress through the cycle normally, though they are not married yet. As such, the first stage is the most relevant to them, as they plan to marry in the future. To that end, they want to develop a strong relationship that they want to extend throughout the rest of their life.

Culture, Religion, and Well-Being

The author grew up in a culture that is similar to that of their current environment. As such, they are comfortable with it, and it allows them to relax and relieve any stress that they incur easily. However, people from many different cultures gather at colleges, and their differences can substantially affect any interactions. As such, the author tries to learn more about other ethnicities and their practices as well as beliefs.

At times, misunderstandings occur, though they can usually be resolved without causing much harm after they are clarified. Moreover, these situations serve as preparation for life after college, where the author expects that they will have to deal with numerous diverse environments. However, overall, the college remains a comfortable environment that promotes the author’s well-being and benefits their development.

A similar situation takes place with religion, with the author encountering many different religious people, some of whom have strong beliefs. They are not religious and do not have much interest in spirituality, preferring to concern themselves with observable reality. As a result, they sometimes have misunderstandings or conflicts with people by accidentally offending their religious sensibilities, particularly when making jokes.

Due to the complexity of most religions, the author does not study them actively. Instead, they prefer to learn through interactions with people, which tend to cover relevant topics by their nature. Overall, as long as the author does not actively discuss religion, this topic does not complicate their life substantially. As such, it does not currently have a strong relationship with their well-being, though this situation may change in the future.


Ashton, M. C. (2018). Individual differences and personality (3rd ed.). San Diego, CA: Academic Press.

Brown, D. P., & Elliott, D. S. (2016). Attachment disturbances in adults: Treatment for comprehensive repair. New York, NY: W. W. Norton & Company.

Erford, B. T. (2017). An advanced lifespan odyssey for counseling professionals. Boston, MA: Cengage.

Kail, R. V., & Cavanaugh, J. C. (2019). Human development: A life-span view (8th ed.). Boston, MA: Cengage.

Sigelman, C. K., De George, L., Cunial, K., & Rider, E. A. (2019). Life span human development (3rd ed.). Boston, MA: Cengage.

Watson, M., & McMahon, M. (eds.). (2017). Career exploration and development in childhood: Perspectives from theory, practice and research. New York, NY: Routledge.

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PsychologyWriting. "Human Development: A Life-Span View." February 4, 2022.