“it is the theory that determines what we can observe.” -Albert einstein
Approaches to human development • There are a variety of approaches a social scientist can take when researching human development • Each theoretical perspective will determine the point of view, or approach, of the researcher • Our approach is primarily the “Life-Course Approach”
The life-course approach • This approach looks at behaviour demonstrated by individuals at various stages in their lives • Prenatal • Infancy • Early Childhood • Middle and Late Childhood • Adolescence • Early Adulthood • Middle Adulthood • Late Adulthood
The life-course approach • Biological, Psychological, Social, and Cultural factors can influence development • There are predictable changes in the behaviour of individuals as they progress through the life courses • As individuals progress through the stages, they face role expectations that challenge them to develop • For example, people develop identities separate from their parents during adolescence in order to form intimate relationships with others.
Life-course approach • Social Scientists have developed theories regarding life stages and developmental stages based on longitudinal (over time) studies of thousands of samples. • These stages can be used to determine normal, age-appropriate behaviours and milestones. • They are not intended to dictate how people should behave, or to criticize those who follow a different pattern
Drawbacks of the life-cycle approach • Assumes that all families have predictable stages that follow a predictable pattern • Ex: marriage, birth of a child, child leaving home • Ex: newly wed couple learns to problem solve together; this prepares them for the future challenge of raising children • More and more frequently, people are not conforming to these patterns and stages • Ex: couples living together before marriage, having children together before buying a home, etc. • Some life events are non-normative • Ex: death of a child