Lifespan Human Development: Perspective and Theories


The process of human development involves several stages. Moreover, it starts with the period of conception until birth. Lifespan development is characterized by numerous transformations. Development process begins at conception and culminates at birth. Fetus materializes from a single cell organism then it forms a full term infant. At this point, several genetic changes unfold. This brings about emergence of the new child. It is necessary to note that the world in which a child is born also influences its growth. Additionally, the world alters ways in which genetic characteristics are portrayed. This paper will explore life span development (Sigelman & Rider, 2011).

Life span perspective of development

Lifespan perspective is significant to anthropologists and psychologists, among others. Human development involves a number of changes. Lifespan perspective is concerned with these changes. It concerns the study of alterations that occur in every stage of development. In addition, lifespan perspective results from changes in the surrounding as well as culture that surrounds the child. A number of events characterize lifespan perspective concerning human development. It is necessary to note that life span perspective is continuous. In essence, lifespan perspective continuous for life. That is, it does not dominate any specific age. Moreover, it is also multidimensional. It comprises of various domains.

In addition, lifespan perspective can be considered multi-directional. It is also necessary to note that various perspectives of development decrease while others increase. Moreover, other theorists also consider lifespan perspective as plastic since it can change with environmental demands. In addition, lifespan perspective is embedded in history since it is affected by past events. Therefore, it can be considered multidisciplinary. Finally, it is necessary to note that lifespan perspective is contextual. That is, persons respond to aspects like culture and society, among others. In essence, it can be noted that lifespan perspective development occurs throughout one’s lifespan (Freund, Brandmaier, Lewejohann, Kirste, Kritzler, Krüger, Sachser, Lindenberge & Kempermann, 2013).

Two Theories of life span development

There exist several theories of lifespan development. These include perceptual, emotional, cognitive, and moral, among others. This paper will explore Gibson’s theory on perceptual development as well as Piaget’s theory on cognitive development. Gibson’s theory postulate that systems of perception in humans like touch, sound, smell, sight and taste function in whole at birth and they also play significant roles in survival of the child. She carries out numerous studies on newborns for visual, among other systems. However, it is important to note that Gibson emphasized mainly on significant processes of perception. She did not focus on changes with regards to age.

The second theory, which was proposed by Piaget, states that people follow four main cognitive processes. These stages are sequential and move right from birth to adulthood. According to Piaget, people do not acquire mental capabilities before they move through the earlier stages of development. That is, they have to go through the four stages sequentially. Moreover, Piaget argued that each stage of development led to significant cognitive accomplishments. These stages include sensor motor (0-2), pre-operational (2-7), concrete operational (7-12), and formal operational (12+) stages (Sigelman & Rider, 2011).

How heredity and environment interact to produce individual differences in development

It has been noted that different individuals posses different attitudes and behaviors. This is usually related to the environment in which they live as well as their origin. In essence, both heredity and environment influences difference characters of individuals. In the late 20th century, debate on the influence of environment and heredity was chaotic. However, modern psychologists have concluded that both factors affect behavior of individuals. In essence, an individual is a creation of both environment and genes. Moreover, it is also important to note that both past and present environment have effects on an individual. For instance, present environment works to stimulate present behavior of individuals concerned.

It is also necessary to understand that differences in individuals in lifespan development usually occur because of differing genes and environment factors. Nonetheless, even though a particular behavior can be derived from a combination of influences from heredity and environment, difference in behaviors of individuals come from either environment or hereditary influences. In essence, either heredity alone can cause differences in individual behaviors or environment alone. However, this has also caused debate since opposite outcomes have also been observed. Moreover, determining the proportional contribution of each factor in an individual’s trait has also been an ongoing research (Annenberg Foundation, 2013).


Lifespan perspective development has been found to be continuous throughout the life of an individual. However, other aspects of lifespan development do not end at birth. In fact, environmental and hereditary factors influence an individual throughout his/her lifespan. Moreover, change in social, cultural, and physical factors change the behaviors of individuals. A number of theories have come up to support lifespan human development. These include Gibson’s perception and Piaget’s cognitive theories, among others. The former argues that a child at birth has all perception systems. These perceptions also influence the child’s growth. Additionally, the latter states that human cognitive development goes through four sequential stages. In essence, lifespan developments are continuous.


Annenberg Foundation (2013). Life Span Development. Web.

Freund, J., Brandmaier, A. M., Lewejohann, L., Kirste, I., Kritzler, M., Krüger, A., Sachser, N., Lindenberger, U. & Kempermann, G. (2013). Emergence of individuality in genetically identical mice. Science, 340(6133), 756–759.

Sigelman, C. & Rider, E. (2011). Cengage Advantage Books: Life-Span Human Development. Stamford, CT: Cengage Learning.