Psychology is a profession that explains scientific changes that occur in human beings during their development stages. Some people claim that a person’s personality is inherited while others claim that the environment in which a person lives determines his/her personality. As believed by most scientists, psychological and characteristic behaviors of persons are determined by factors surrounding them as they develop from birth to adulthood (Parke and Gauvain, 2009). As children develop, several changes occur in their day-to-day lives. These changes influence their character and dictate their personality traits. The three main factors that influence the developmental processes of persons could be biological, cognitive, or socio-emotional.
Many scientists have come up with theories to explain the above factors and their effect on people. Case studies have been performed on a specific group of humans that are out of the ordinary and have later been used to prove the above theories. This case study will provide a discussion about three developmental processes, including biological, cognitive, and socio-emotional, as well as their influence on people of all ages. Specifically, the discussion would use a case study of a 16-year-old female who was placed under investigation to establish how the above processes, as well as environmental and genetic factors, influenced her behavior.
Biological or Physical Development
Parental and postnatal period
This is described as the time between fertilization and birth; it is the first biological influence on an infant. During fertilization, females’ ovum intertwines with males’ sperm, and the genetic make-up of both parents is therefore transferred to the fetus. A child is said to inherit some factors going back from as far as their great grandparents. This is the first stage in the creation of one’s personality, whether male or female. Some of the personalities may include one’s talent and addiction to certain foods among many others.
During this stage, a pregnant mother is advised to consume healthy foods and avoid harmful substances like liquor, cigarettes, and drug abuse, as this is the most crucial stage of child formation, which can either damage or make a child’s physical and mental characteristics. After birth, the formation of their brain, eyesight, muscles, and bones gradually continues, thus making it an important phase in their development. They slowly adapt to physical changes where they get to learn and discover different things occurring around them. At this stage, all parents are advised to guide and teach their children good moral values and the importance of practicing them. From this stage, children observe and copy everything they see from their parents and siblings. Thus, it is important to observe a child’s behavior keenly at this stage.
This is the transformation from childhood into adolescence; here, a person’s body goes through massive changes, both physical and emotional. During puberty, adolescents’ growth rate is much higher and faster and their secondary sexual characteristics appear; here, extravagant psychological changes are observed. Even though the puberty stage is necessary for all humans, each person’s puberty arrives at different times and at different ages, which can be associated with one’s exposure to the environment. For example, some may observe these changes at the age of 13 while others may observe them at the ages of 16 and so on. The most common and considerably normal ages for puberty are 8-14 in girls and 9-15 in boys. In most cases, the female gender is more likely to undergo puberty much earlier than the male gender. Generally, the brain, pituitary glands, and gonads control these changes, which go hand in hand with the environmental changes. At this stage, most teenagers are more liable to substance abuse, peer pressure, early involvement in sexual activities, and at times, depression, which may degenerate to suicidal attempts if not carefully observed (Parke and Gauvain, 2009).
In men, sexual drive is highest during their teenage years whereas, in females, it climaxes in their thirties. One’s sexuality is immensely based on different factors such as biological, social, or psychological. Just like a person’s character, sexuality can be influenced by illnesses, depression, medicines, lifestyle, and relationships with people around that person. In some cases, we find people from the same gender or sex attracted to each other, which is a completely different scenario from the normal opposite sex attraction. Some causes of abnormal sexual behaviors could include previous submission to sexual abuse, assault, trauma, low self-esteem, or one’s desire to search for love at all costs. This means that a person’s sexuality is greatly affected by his/her environment, society, and life experiences in the past.
Cognitive development is a scientific study of a child’s growth in regard to transmission of information, resource of concept, personal skills, ability to learn a language and some parts of brain development. Many scientists have come up with ideas to explain a child’s way of thinking; for instance, Jean Piaget, a world-renowned scientist, came up with the “Theory of cognitive development.” Jean Piaget’s theory states that each child undergoes four stages of cognitive development, including sensorimotor, preoperational, concrete operational and formal operational stage (Coon, 2006).
This is the first stage and normally occurs between 18 and 24 months of a child’s life. In this stage, sight and hearing are the main learning techniques. They use the information gathered to satisfy their curiosity; for example, they learn how to suckle on their own without having to be taught by anyone. At around 7-9 months, their memory sensors become more developed and they now have the ability to remember their mother’s face. They also begin to crawl, stand, walk, and eventually start mumbling some words, which they frequently hear from those around them.
This is the second stage of cognitive development and occurs between the ages of 2 and 7 years. At this stage, children’s ability to think becomes more efficient; they also become more active and have increased creativity levels during play. They also develop a sense of understanding and can differentiate between right and wrong.
Concrete operational stage
This stage occurs between 7 and 13 years. Here, a child exhibits senses for making logical decisions. Children also tend to develop high levels of awareness to their surroundings while their behavior and thinking level become more mature than before.
Formal operational Stage
This final cognitive stage occurs from the time of adolescence to adulthood. Here, people are able to make life-long decisions, since their brains have fully developed and they have gained the ability to reason more clearly (Parke and Gauvain, 2009). Moreover, their bodies become mature and fertile.
Socio-emotional development refers to children’s emotions, manner in which they relate to others, what they think about themselves, and their identity in general (Denham & Weissberg, 2004). This development begins from time of birth through to adulthood. The type of relationship that children have with their parents or those around them in their early stages of life determines the kind of relationships they will develop in future. A good relationship in early life can build self-esteem of a child, enabling him or her to obtain good values, moral conduct, and self-identity, as well as make and maintain good relationships in future (Nelson, Erwin & Duffy, 2007).
In conclusion, child development milestones vary from one child to another and all the above factors contribute to this. Not only do biological factors matter in early development, but also environmental and social factors (Cohen, Onunaku, Clothler, & pope, 2005). All children are a blessing and it is our duty as their mentors to ensure that we take good care of them and mould them into upright adults with prosperous futures. Though our ideas and moral values of raising our children may differ due to our different religious and community backgrounds, we are advised to do our best for the benefit of children, thus the need for such case studies. As shown in the discussion above, environmental factors play a significant role in shaping a persons behavior; thus, it is important to expose a child to the right environment that would mould him/her to morally and socially upright person. Nevertheless, even genetic factors tend to have an influence on a person’s behavior and personality. Therefore, it is important to understand the two factors, given that they influence people’s behaviors differently.
Cohen, J., Onunaku, N., Clothler, S., & pope, J. (2005). Helping Young Children Succeed: Strategies to Promote Early Childhood Social and Emotional Development. Denver, USA: National Conference of State Legislatures.
Coon, D. (2006). Psychology: A Modular Approach to Mind and Behavior. CA, USA: Thomson Wadsworth.
Denham, S., & Weissberg, R. (2004). “Social-Emotional Learning in Early Childhood: What We Know and Where to Go From Here.” In E. Chesebrough (Ed), A Blueprint for the Promotion of Pro-social Behavior in Early Childhood (pp. 13-42). New York, USA: Kluwer Academic/Plenum Publishers.
Nelson, J., Erwin, C. & Duffy, R. (2007). Positive Discipline: The First Three Years. NY, USA: Three Rivers Press.
Parke, R.D., & Gauvain, M. (2009). Child Psychology: A Contemporary View Point. New York, USA: McGraw Hill.