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Critically evaluate the claim: the concept of Lifespan Development is essential to understanding human development.   (1601 words, excluding the bibliography)

Does one particular course characterise human development or are there potentially many courses an individual can take?   Do personal and environmental influences or a combination of both affect development?   What role do historical and cultural influences play?   Do life changing and traumatic events have a significant impact?   The lifespan approach is only one such approach in developmental psychology that attempts to answer these important questions. This essay will critically evaluate the lifespan approach and highlight its essential need as a way to better understand the complexities of human development.   Influential theorists in the field of development will be outlined and their strength and weaknesses in relation to the lifespan approach discussed. This essay will use the South African context as a reference point to emphasise the importance of the lifespan approach, given South Africa‚Äôs reputation for being a violent nation and the potential impact this can have on individual development.

The purpose of developmental psychology is to provide insight into the differences and similarities regarding human development (Berk, 2007).   Psychologists attempt to provide answers into the complexities surrounding development by evaluating why individuals develop differently on multiple levels, including physical, mental, emotional and social levels.   The topic of development is diverse and complex and no single theory can fully provide the answers to all of these questions, however, as we will see from the evaluation to follow, through the integration and support of additional developmental theories, a rational reason for supporting the lifespan approach can be provided (Berk, 2007).

The lifespan approach has increased in popularity over the past few decades due mainly to an increase in the average life...