Human Development Essay Sample

  • Pages: 7
  • Word count: 1,828
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  • Category: psychology

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The purpose of this essay is to explore and discuss two different theorists with the main focus of these theorists will incorporate the understanding of Erik Erikson’s psychosocial theory crisis in late adulthood and Jean Piaget’s cognitive development theory on the sensor motor stage. The essay will then move on after the discussion of theorists from Human development in the field of psychology, using literature from the field of psychology

of psychology will be used to include how humans cope best with stress such examples will be exercise, social support and meditation.

Human development is broken down into life stages. Within each of these diverse phases are numerous changes in physical, cognitive and psychosocial development (Drewery & Bird, 2004). Erik Erikson was born in Frankfurt, Germany 1902. He is well known for his theory on psychosocial development covering the lifespan. Erikson believed that without completion of a stage, the next level of psychosocial development would be harder to reach. Erikson also felt strongly that failure to resolve the applicable crisis of a stage would greatly affect human development (Drewery & Bird, 2004).

According to Erikson’s stage theory of psychosocial crisis, the stages involve a virtue to each crisis or critical period. Erikson felt that much of life is preparing for late adulthood, in which one grows older and tends to feel fulfilled with happiness in life and looking back on life’s meaning. People could feel they have made some form of contribution to life itself, a feeling Erikson calls ‘integrity’. However some adults reach this stage and ‘despair’ at how their lives have come to a point where they could feel they have done nothing with their lives, with no experiences or not enough and they perceive this as failure. At this stage people could fear death, as others could feel prepared (Drewery & Bird, 2004). The virtue for ‘integrity’ versus ‘despair’ is wisdom. This example is the last of Erikson’s eight stages. Each stage builds on the completion of earlier stages. The challenges of stages not successfully completed may be expected to reappear as problems in the future (Nevid & Rathus, 2007).

Another world re-nowed theorist, Jean Piaget was born in Switzerland 1896, and began his career as a biologist. Piaget had a different approach in his theory on human development. Piaget’s cognitive development has affected peoples understanding of child development which he divided into a series of stages (Drewery & Bird, 2004). Cognitive development focuses on intellectual thinking and knowledge, yet is closely connected to the maturation of physical development. As opposed to Erikson’s psychosocial theory in human development, Piaget’s four stages of child development include; sensoring motor stage, focused mainly from birth to about the age of three, pre-operational stage ages 2-7 years, the concrete operational stage ages 7-11 years and the formal operational stage age of 11 years and upwards (Piercy & Berlyne, 2001).

The sensor motor developmental stage of a new born has six sub stages. The first makes use of ‘reflexes’, this at birth to 1 month, where infants exercise their inborn reflexes and gain some control over them. Secondly, ‘the primary circular reactions’ at 1-4 months is an action that responds to the same action which in fact relates to sucking on one’s thumb or objects. ‘Secondary circular reactions’ is the third and final sub stage aged 4-8 months, this a repeated action, shaking bedding covers or grasping hold of items (Drewery & Bird, 2004). Between 8-12 months the infant’s behaviour is more intentional, such as crawling across the room to get a desired toy, this is the co-ordination of ‘secondary scheme’ stage. ‘Tertiary circular reactions’ is the fifth sub-stage at 12-18 months; this consists of throwing food, hitting objects and the beginning of mental representation. Finally the sixth sub-stage is 18-24 months, where then the toddler can mentally represent events, walking and talking the child which then has a vocab of 900-1000 words (Piercy & Berlyne, 2001). Even though many people would disagree and criticise Piaget’s theory of cognitive thinking, he has influenced in a lot of child development students and psychologists throughout the world (Drewery & Bird, 2007).

This essay now moves on from human development and instead looks at the field of psychology with a focus on stress and how best people cope with stress. Examples of such will be exercise, social support and meditation

Stress is a topic of interest not only to health professionals but also to the general public as evidenced by the number of publications on the topic in pop-psychology literature such as in self-help books and health and lifestyle magazines (Barkway, 2009). Stress is worldwide but this second part of this essay focuses on how one can cope best with stress. In psychology, stress is any demand made on an organism to adapt, cope or adjust. Some stress is healthful and necessary to keep us alert and occupied. But intense or prolonged stress can overtake one’s physical and mental resources (Nevid & Rathus, 2010). While stress is generally considered to be a state to be avoided, the experience and outcomes of stress are, nevertheless, not always negative. Desired event like a promotion at work and getting married produce similar and psychological reactions as do unwelcome events like death and divorce. Furthermore, events that are ambiguous, uncontrollable, unpredictable or unrelenting are stressful (Barkway, 2009).

Social support is one of the important environmental resources that people can have in this day and age. Knowing that one can rely on others for help and support in a time of crisis helps blunt the impact of stress (Passer & Smith, 2001). Support can make a stressor seem less threatening because people with such support know there is help available. Having people to talk about one’s problems reduces the physical symptoms of stress – talking about frightening or frustrating events with others can help people think more realistically about the threat, for example and talking with people who have had similar experiences can help put the event into perspective (Ciccarelli & White, 2012). On the negative side a person’s social network can provide a source of peer group pressure to engage in unhealthy lifestyles and influence whether or not they come into contact with possible disease-causing factors, as in the case of sexually transmitted diseases and HIV (Walker, Payne, Smith, and Jarret, 2011).

Exercise for many reasons increases ones overall health and sense of well-being. Vigorous amounts raises the levels of endorphins into the bloodstream, can reduce key responses to stress, muscle tension, and anxiety, at least for a few hours. Perhaps then restoring a more relaxed state of mind and body (Nevid & Rathus, 2007). With ongoing research worldwide it is of no surprise that exercise is good for one’s mental health as well as one’s physical health (Ciccarelli & White, 2012). With little effort and encouragement from peers or social support. One would be surprised that with a brisk walk in the park; a gentle swim relieves stress which in turn has remarkable effect on one’s moods (Nevid & Rathus, 2010).

One other recent study found that regular exercise reduced the anxiety levels of patients suffering from a variety of chronic medical conditions by 20 percent, and this benefit was obtained with exercise programs of 30 minutes or less over a period of 3 to 12 weeks – anything longer and patients were less likely to continue (Ciccarelli & White, 2012).

Many would agree that exercise and social support are effective ways to cope with stress in today’s busy world. Although incorporating or making time for an exercise program can be difficult and social support is not always readily available people are seeking out the alternate method of meditation to cope with stress. Meditation is a worldwide practice by many people of religions, it is often associated with religion, but meditation may be practiced by anyone of any background. There are many definitions and variations of meditation, such as ‘Transcendal Meditation’ (TM) and ‘Mindfulness Meditation’ (MM) (Kong, 2008).

Both Transcendal and Mindful meditation produce a relaxation response that is characterized by a reduction in heart rate and respiration and a drop in blood pressure. Physicians and psychologists are actively exploring the use of these and other forms of meditation to promote physical and mental health. Evidence shows that meditation can have positive effects in relieving chronic pain, reducing high blood pressure, countering stress, and improving well-being (Nevid & Rathus, 2010). n conclusion, this essay has explained theories on human development in which Erikson and Piaget were compared using life stages of late adulthood and sensorimotor. These theories have been discussed in relation to human beings that are all considered in today’s society. In respect to the psychological aspect of the essay it was observed that stress has both a negative and positive influence on one’s life and can be maintained with coping techniques that were also discussed; exercise, social support and meditation, nevertheless, these are all beneficial that have an effect on the lives of many that are stressed.


Barkway, P. (2009). Psychology for Health Professionals. NSW: Elsvier.

Ciccarelli, S. K., & Noland White, J. (2012). Psychology (3rd ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson.

Drewery, W., & Bird, L. (2007). Human development in Aotearoa: A journey through life. (2nd ed.). Auckland: McGraw Hill.

Kong, S. Y. (2008). Meditation as a coping tool for stress and well being among clinical and counseling psychology graduate students. Alliant International University, Los Angeles). ProQuest Dissertations and Theses, , 118-n/a. Retrieved from (304837275).

Nevid, J.S., & Rathus, S.A. (2005). Psychology and the challenges of life: Adjustment in the new millennium (9th ed.). Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons.

Nevid, J.S., & Rathus, S.A. (2007). Psychology and the challenges of life: Adjustment in the new millenium. Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons.

Nevid, J.S., & Rathus, S.A. (2010) Psychology and the challenges of life: Adjustment and growth (11th edition.). Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons.

Passer, M.W., & Smith, R. E. (2001). Psychology: frontiers and applications (1st ed.). New York, NY: McGraw-Hill.

Piercy, M., & Berlyne, D. E. (2001). Piaget: The psychology of intelligence. London: Routledge.

Walker, J., Payne, S., Smith, P., & Jarret, N. (2011). Psychology for nurses and the caring professions. (3rd ed.). New York, NY: McGraw Hill.

Weiton, W. (2010). Psychology: Themes and variations. (8th ed.). Belmont, CA: Author.

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