Sample Psychology Term Paper on Development Through the Lifespan

Development Through the Lifespan


Donellan, Conger, and Rebecca (2007) ask whether there are normative changes in personality during the transition from adolescent to adulthood. This phase in human development is quite significant as it signifies the change from childhood to maturity. Therefore, human development represents the concept of allowing an individual to make their own choices that enhance long and healthy living, and a decent standard of living as described by the United Nations Development Program. It focuses on giving people the freedom and opportunities to live as per their values in order to enhance human abilities and provide equal opportunities. Human beings elicit various and distinct characteristics as they grow which may lead to success of failure in their latter life. A person’s unique character can be described as a state of individual difference; that is, what differentiates that person with the others (Boucher &Maslach, 2009). Individuation is a significant aspect in human development especially when it has positive outcomes.

Berk (2007) also asks whether development is continuous or discontinuous wherecontinuous development argues that the process of growth is smooth as an individual gradually adds more skills in his life. Discontinuous development states that people change rapidly with each new step introducing a varied response to the environment. For these reasons, Steve Jobs was an American entrepreneur who co-founded one of the largest information technology organizations in the world. Steve Job portrayed a distinctive character throughout his lifespan that led to brilliant inventions and stewarding of iconic business ventures in the world (Polsson, 2009). Therefore, this paper uses facets such as psychosocial development, moral development, individuation, parenting styles and attachment theory in explaining how they unfold and the likely impact they have on Steve Job’s human development. It also seeks to identify whether Steve Jobs had a continuous or discontinuous type of development.


In the year1955, Steve Jobs was born in the county of San Francisco in California, United States of America. Born to German and Syrian parents, he was adopted at birth and was taken to San Francisco Bay Area for primary education and later to Homestead High School in Cupertino. In 1976, Jobs amazed the world when he introduced Apple 1 personal computer with his friend Wozniak. Within one year, the two hadacquired global audience and wealth. Before his demise in 2011, Jobs was the C.E.O of Apple Inc., the general manager and the highest shareholder of Pixar Animation Studios, the Director General in NeXT Inc., and finally a board director of The Walt Disney Company. Surprisingly, Blumenthal (2012) says that Jobs was neither an engineer nor a computer geek but he led to the invention of one of the largest technology in the world. Most interestingly, his junior life was not that admirable and he had also a taste of failure. The life of Steve Jobs provides a platform to evaluate his human development through the theories mentioned above and identify how they played a role in his success that came later in life.

Human Development

Erickson psychosocial development theory outlines a series of eight stages that define human growth from childhood to adulthood. The stages are sequential whereby a person completes one after the other. According to Erickson, the stages of development are presented to a human being at birth but they unfold in different stages as the individual grows (Crain, 2011). This study looks at the stages as they unfolded in Steve Job’s life to understand his human development aspect.

  1. Hope: trust versus mistrust

The first level of Erickson’s theory focuses on an infant’s basic needs that are catered for by the parent when they are 0- 2 years. These needs impacts either trust or mistrust in the child. Erickson says that provision of basic needs such as food, affection, and comfort impacts trust on the child. On the contrary, neglect, lack of basic needs, and abusive parents makes the child learn mistrust at the early stage in life. According to Blumenthal (2012), Jobs biological father was a Muslim of Syrian origin named AbdulfattahJandali. Jandali was born to a tyrant family that gained wealth despite their lack of education. At the American University of Beirut, Jandali spent most of his time in political activism and he was arrested a numerous number of times. He later went to study economics in University of Wisconsin where he met Schieble who was a female student from a German descent. Their relationship was not taken well by the parents forcing the couple to give up their child, Steve Jobs, for adoption. Jobs suffered neglect before he was born and even during the adoption process. A wealthy family that had decided to adopt him changed their minds and dropped the move.

Jobs’ mother placed her with the Bay Area Blue Collar where Paul Jobs and his wife shown interest in adopting Steve Jobs. Schieble was angered by the fact that they were uneducated and she wanted to cancel the adoption plan but they couple won the case of adopting the boy; all along, Jandali did not participate in this process. After adopting the baby, Clara “feared loving it” for six months because she thought it would be taken away by their parents. Paul on the other hand was born in abusive family and had tattoos all over his body. Therefore, Steve Jobs was born and raised in two families that elicited a “hardcore’ type of live. By the age of two, Paul and Clara confessed in Job’s biography, Steve Jobs was already a difficult they even thought of returning him (Blumenthal, 2012). As illustrated by Erickson, Jobs had already elicited mistrust in his early stage of human development. Similarly, the attachment theory suggests that a child may either learn on who to trust or it is inborn to show trust. Jobs later learnt to trust Paul and Clara as they are the ones who catered for his basic needs.

  1. Will; Autonomy versus shame and doubt

By the age of two to four years, the child has the ability to understand and explore the surroundings. They are still highly dependent of their parents’ assistance as caution is needed for they may make dangerous exploration. Children try to explore what interests them, if it is music orenvironment; they start showing an ability to perform tasks such as bathing without assistance. Erickson asserts that the parents should give the chance to handle problems on their own to develop autonomy where the contrary would result to shame and doubt. Bretherton (1992) explains this phenomena basing on the separation anxiety aspect of the attachment theory. Separation anxiety or response states that maternal over gratification may deny a child the sense of independence. It is a result of repeated threats, overprotection, and rejection by the parents.

Job’s parents, Paul and Clara, eventually shown interest in him and started showing him love as if he was their biological child. Paul was a mechanic who built a garage for “passing time.” He carried Job along when he went to the garage giving him an opportunity to interact with the working tools. From the word go, Job’s parents gave him a chance to explore things that interested him which created autonomy in his life. His strong character later in life can be associated with the childhood support he acquired from his parents. The lack of over gratification in his life did not build separation anxiety in his early life.

  1. Purpose: initiative versus guilt

The building block of this stage is the child’s zeal to discover if it is right to move or act in a certain way. It is at this stage that a child learns how to speak, count and feels guilt over issues that did not produce the desired results. They develop the essence of self-judgment, risk taking, frustration, leadership and how to achieve a goal (Bretherton, 1992). At this point, a child may show negative behaviors such as aggressiveness and being ruthless. It is quite clear that Jobs was a difficult child at this age. His character may have been adopted from his background or the environment he grew in. the parents admit that they were at the verge of getting frustrated by Jobs as he was a difficult child. These are some of the negative outcomes or malignancy associated with this stage of phallic. Alternatively, a child elicits the signals of purpose and direction as the positive outcome. 

  1. Competence: industry vs. inferiority

Erickson identifies the age of 5-12 years as paramount in developing the fundamentals of technology are developed.  Children become aware of the world surrounding them and they want to explore their abilities. Most of the industrious skills are noted at this stage as children are eager to complete complex tasks. They want to identify what they can make out of people and things in the world. Erickson insists that this age group enhances development of self-confidence in whatever they are doing. Schools and parents give children opportunity through tasks such as drawing pictures, writing sentences, and other capabilities. Jobs did exactly what this stage of development asserts when he was at this stage (Blumenthal, 2012). He admired his father’s craftsmanship and accompanied him to his garage. This forced his father to build him an extra workbench in the garage where he would practice his love for electronics at the early age of 10 years (Blumenthal, 2012). Jobs’ biography states that he had a problem making friends of his own age but had peers older than him who were intrigued by electronics. Erickson says that children discover their talents and interests in this stage just like Steve Jobs found that he was interested in electronics as early as ten years.

  • Fidelity: identity versus role confusion

After identifying their interests, children start to get concerned with how they appear to others. This is where Erickson identified the issue of identity crisis where children struggle to find out who they are in terms of sexual identity, career identity, common issues such as dress code, and they begin creating boundaries. It mainly occurs at the age of 13 to 19 years and it is considered at the transition age from childhood to adulthood. They start making their own decision according to how they are experiencing in the world as opposed to what they learnt from their parents (Boucher &Maslach, 2009). At this age, Erickson asserts that there is true self-discovery where they seek to find out what the world has to offer. Previously, Steve was significantly protected by his parents andteachers. When he was sent away from school for being difficult, his father Paul always protected him claiming the teachers were too harsh to him. Similarly, Jobs praised his grade four teacher who encouraged him to finish his workbook as he was against school. When he reached the stage of fidelity, he had to make his own decisions that were not influenced by the parents or teachers. Blumenthol says that Jobs attended his first graduation in 2005 as a commencement speaker. This means that he did not complete his studies as he dropped out against his parents will. His foster parents had signed a deal with his biological parents that he had to be taken to college; unfortunately, he dropped out. However, Jobs dropped out of school to follow his passion of electronics. He was not aware that in some few years he was going to stun the world with an immense discovery. The main point is that at this age, he defied his teachers and parents’ wishes to pursue higher education but made independent decisions to pursue his career path of choice.

  • Love: intimacy versus isolation

It reaches a point that every human being desires to be associated with a certain cocoon of friends. At the early twenties, individuals want to associate with people they feel appreciate and understand them. They fear rejection; hence, they may stay isolated or make few friends. Young adults are still eager to blend with a group that shows their identity (Crain, 2011). Jobs from the word go was associated with engineering friends who he felt understood his passion. He got in touch with Fernandez, Brennan, and Wozniak, who later became his closest friends. They were fond of hanging out in electronics clubs and he read a lot of science books. Jobs responded to the calls of this stage by getting isolated from his peers and joining those who shared a common interest with him. Significantly, this is the stage in which Jobs made his first discovery and invented Apple Inc. together with his friends (Linzmayer, 2004). He was ready to make long-term commitments towards his work and love life. He got married at this stage and became the C.E.O of one of the largest information technology industry across the globe.

  • Care: generativity versus stagnation

Unfortunately, this was Steve Jobs final stage in his life as he died at the age of fifty. This stage accommodates people aged from 40 to 64 years as described by Erickson. The central aspect of this stage is to make an impact in the society. Jobs was quite passionate at solving the world’s problems regarding communication and passing of information. His zeal made him make an array of inventions that would later become a life changer. He became the Chief Executive Officer of a number of organizations and steered various social responsible initiatives (Linzmayer, 2004). This was the age that Jobs experienced tremendous failure in his life. He was fired as the C.E.O of Apple Inc. a company that he cofounded. However, he did not feel discouraged but started another company called NeXT (Stross, 1993). After Apple made huge losses and they were at the verge of being declared bankrupt, the board decided to recall Jobs who returned it to the profitable ways. Lastly, this stage is described with efficiency in spending leisure time. At this point, an individual has already matured and wishes to do things that impact the society positively.

Physical and cognitive development

Piaget’s Theory suggests that humans are born “less mature” than most other animals. The theory suggests that human beingsadvance through a series of qualitatively, discreet and necessary stages–all children go through stages in the same order if not at the same age. The physical and cognitive developmentelicits in various stages of in light of this, Steve Jobs showed numerous young people, how to apply an individual’s intellect and rationality with passion to understanding, characterizing and resolving problems in an honest, open-minded and rigorous manner. Steve Jobs resonates with Piaget’s theory of cognitive development as it has been observed that he acquired his skills as he grew in different stages. He used to hang out with engineer friends who helped him get basic skills in electronics. At an advanced stage, he went to college to equip his skills and during the height of profession he attended major electronic forums.

As observed through Erickson’s stages of development, Steve Jobs experienced non-normative influence in his life. Non-normative influence refers to the irregular events that happen to just a specific person or a few people (Berk, 2007). Jobs; birth and early childhood could be described as a mystery; also, he did not attain higher education like other people for him to make his discoveries. Jobs elicit resilience to the challenges put on his way from early childhood to when he was being fired for a company he owned. He had shock absorbers to the damaging effects of stressful life conditions. As observed in this study, his life did not follow a smooth curve but had various bends in terms of challenges and experiences. However, he turned out victorious by achieving his childhood dreams and making a global impact. This means that his life was discontinuous as he responded to each stage of life distinctively. Therefore, human development is significant throughout the lifespan as observed in the case of Steve Jobs.


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