Saturday, January 11, 2020
Reflection on Lifespan Development Essay
Abstract The purpose of this paper is to present a comparison of my knowledge and understanding of lifespan development at the outset of course PSY 7210 Lifespan Development and at the coursesÃ¢â¬â¢ end. In this paper I will explore lifespan development by identifying and discussing the stages of development, theoretical perspectives and research related to lifespan development. I will conclude with discussing how my knowledge and understanding of lifespan development can be applied within my specialization of Industrial-Organizational (I-O) Psychology. Reflection on Lifespan Development As middle age lurked its unwanted presence I began to recognize how true and applicable the saying Ã¢â¬Å"life is too shortÃ¢â¬ applied to almost everything the average middle-aged person set to accomplish. At age 42, I have no regrets in life. My parents set the stage for my desire for achievement and accomplishment, and I set out to do the same for my children. A personÃ¢â¬â¢s lifespan is their legacy; and I strongly believe that nothing happens by chance, all things happen as a consequence of some action. For example, my enrollment in this course was the consequence of years of work in a field that I no longer hold a passion. I started career as a high school girlÃ¢â¬â¢s basketball coach and somehow 22 years later managed to service 14 years in United States Air Force; two years as a State Correctional Officer; and seven years as a State Auditor. My academic career has seen me bounce from nursing to education and finally settling with business. My most important career as a mother is about to take new direction, as my youngest children begin their collegiate journey. So the question I asked myself was Ã¢â¬Å"What do I do nowÃ¢â¬ ? I recently obtained my Masters degree in Management and Leadership and was not sure I wanted to return to school so soon; however the profession that IÃ¢â¬â¢ve longed to do for so many years required additionalÃ academic credentials. My love of teaching is why I decided to embark on my new academic journey. I have sailed through my lifespan with no regrets and surely do not want to tack any on so late in life. This course is my first course in psychology. The course material has been somewhat challenging because my background is not in psychology. My lack of foundational knowledge in psychology has required me to do a bit more than skim through scholarly literature. I feel I have a better understanding of lifespan development now than I did at the outset of this course, yet I know my journey into the world of psychology has only just begun. Lifespan Development Lifespan development is deals with understanding the growth, changes, and stability of behavior that occur throughout the lifespan. The field of lifespan development studies the patterns in physical development, cognitive development, and personality and social development that occur during the lifespan (Berk, 2007). The study of physical development examines the way in which the bodyÃ¢â¬â¢s makeup determines behavior. The study of cognitive development seeks to understand how growth and change in intellectual capabilities influence a personÃ¢â¬â¢s behavior. Personality development is the study of stability and change in the characteristics that differentiate one person from another. The study of social development examines the way in which individualsÃ¢â¬â¢ interactions and relationships with others grow, change, and remain stable over the course of life. Those who study lifespan development approach the field from different perspectives. These perspectives are based on various developmental theories. Six major theoretical perspectives are used in lifespan development: psychodynamic perspective, behavioral perspective, cognitive perspective, humanistic perspective, contextual perspective, and evolutionary perspective. Although each has added significant value to the study of lifespan development, this paper will focus primarily on the psychodynamic, behavior, and cognitive perspectives. Psychodynamic Perspective The psychodynamic perspective focuses on the inner person (Berk, 2007).Ã Supporters of the psychodynamic perspective believe that inner forces, memories, and conflicts of which a person has little control motivate behavior throughout the lifespan (Berk, 2007). The name that comes to mind when discussing the psychodynamic perspective is Viennese physician and theorist, Sigmund Freud. FreudÃ¢â¬â¢s psychoanalytical theory suggests that unconscious forces act to determine personality and behavior. Freud believed there are three aspects to the human personality: the id, ego and superego. The id is the part of personality that exists at birth. The id operates on what Freud calls the pleasure principle (Berk, 2007, p. 15), which drives the innate need to maximize good feelings and minimize bad feelings. The rational and reasoning aspect of personality is called the ego. The reality principle (Berk, 2007, p. 15) regulates the ego. Freud classified a personÃ¢â¬â¢s conscience as the superego. The superego guides a person through the journey between right and wrong. In addition to his theory on the different parts of human personality Freud also formulated theory to explain the manner in which personality develops during the lifespan. According to Freud (Berk, 2007) Ã¢â¬Å"psychosexual development occurs as children pass through a series of stages in which pleasure, or gratification, is focused on a particular biological function and body part.Ã¢â¬ The stages of FreudÃ¢â¬â¢s psychosexual development include the oral stage, the anal stage, and the phallic stage. The oral stage takes place during the first year of life. Freud believed during this stage all needs are satisfied orally or through the mouth; for example, eating and drinking. The anal stage takes place during the second year of life. During this stage the battle between control and letting go begins. The phallic stage takes place during the third and fifth years of life. During this stage a child develops a fixation with the genitals. FreudÃ¢â¬â¢s psychosexual stages focus on developmental changes in the first 5 years of life and transformation of the id. Psychoanalyst Erik EriksonÃ¢â¬â¢s psychosocial theory is also part of the psychodynamic perspective. According to Erikson (Berk, 2007) society and culture have an influence on human development. In contrast to Freud whose theory that proposed development was complete by adolescence (Berk, 2007), EriksonÃ¢â¬â¢s theory argues that development is continuous throughout the lifespan and occurs in eight stages. The first stage of development, trustÃ versus mistrust, occurs during infancy (birth to 1-year-old). During this stage if an infantÃ¢â¬â¢s basic needs are met by a responsive and attentive caregiver, the infant will begin to trust the caregiver, thus establishing the foundation for future trust relationships. In contrast if an infant does not receive enough or irregular care, or if caregivers are unresponsive, the infant can develop mistrust. The autonomy versus shame and doubt is the next stage, which occurs between the first and third years of life. According to Erikson successful development through one stage is essential for an individual to pass on to the next stage of development. For example, if an infant does not establish trust for itÃ¢â¬â¢s caregiver during the trust versus mistrust stage, then it will be difficult to establish a sense of autonomy (Broderick & Blewitt, 2010). Autonomy versus shame and doubt is the next stage of EriksonÃ¢â¬â¢s psychosocial theory. During the autonomy versus shame and doubt stage a child begins to develop its independence. Physical and cognitive growth and control during this stage afford a child the desire and ability to explore outside the comfort and security of his or her parental safe haven. Parents who are overprotective and do not allow their children to explore their independence risk their child developing issues with their self-esteem and confidence. If not allowed to explore independent of the parental structure a child could begin to doubt her ability and feel shameful for not being able to accomplish expected tasks. The initiative versus guilt stage occurs during early childhood. During this stage a child begins to develop social skills and learns to manage her behavior. The concept of what is right or wrong is factored into a childÃ¢â¬â¢s decision to exhibit certain behavior in social settings. Interaction with peers and individuals outside the family structure has a major influence on development during this stage. Guilt from further exploration of independence may occur if caregivers criticize the childÃ¢â¬â¢s methods of exploration. The industry versus inferiority stage is the development period that occurs during adolescence. During this stage of development adolescent self-awareness and intellectual skills are heightened (Broderick & Blewitt, 2010). The identity versus role confusion is the stage of development in which adolescents explore self or role identity. The adolescent begins to define who she is and what she wants to do in life. In contrast to self-awareness adolescents may experience roleÃ confusion during this stage. Some adolescents will have trouble establishing the level of self-understanding necessary for positive life direction. The intimacy versus isolation stage of development is the period of development where intimate relationships are formed; young adults develop meaningful friendship, fall in love, and establish relationship skills that will impact their ability to form future relationships. Adolescents who fail to establish a sense of trust for their environment may have trouble in establishing intimate relationships. The generativity versus stagnation stage of development occurs during middle adulthood. During this stage of development an adult begins to evaluate how her past and present behavior impact the lives of others, rather than focusing only on her personal wants and needs (life). The final stage of EriksonÃ¢â¬â¢s eight stages of development is the ego integrity versus despair stage, which occurs during late adulthood. This stage is the time for reflection. An adult evaluates life choices and assess whether goals and dreams were fulfilled or whether life choice have left her with regrets. Psychodynamic theory centers on development relative to the unconscious mind. Freud argues that development is complete by adolescence and that unconscious behavior affects development; where as Erikson suggests development is a continuous process throughout the lifespan and occurs in eight stages. Each theorist has contributed important information to the understanding of lifespan development. According to Berk (2010), psychoanalytical theory provides a strong basis for understanding past behavior but does not do a very good job with predicting future behavior. Behavioral Perspective Behavioral theorists argue that individuals do not pass through stages of development but rather development is based on observable behaviors influenced by stimuli in the individualsÃ¢â¬â¢ environment (Feldman, 2006). Furthermore behavioral theorist suggests that nurture rather than nature is more significant to human development. The behavioral perspective views development from a more personal perspective. Unlike psychoanalytical theorists that believe each person will pass through the same stage of development at approximately the same stage in life; behavioral theoristsÃ believe that development is different for each person, given that each person will respond to her environment in a different way. Behaviorism rejects the psychoanalytical theory of studying the unconscious mind to understand human development (Feldman, 2006). Behaviorism focuses on things that can be seen Ã¢â¬â social and cultural cues, human action and reaction and other observable aspects of the external environment. Unlike psychoanalytical theorist who believed that development is discontinuous Ã¢â¬â occurring in distinct stages; behavioral theorists believe that development is a continuous process Ã¢â¬â gradual levels of achievement building on previous level (Feldman, 2006). Research conducted by Psychologist Ivan Pavlov, John Watson and B. F. Skinner set the foundation for Behaviorism. Through PavlovÃ¢â¬â¢s research with dogs the principle of classical conditioning was discovered. Pavlov found that he could acquire the same behavior from the dog (salivation) produced by a specific stimulus (food) by associating the original stimulus with another stimulus (a bell) (Santrock, MacKenzie-Rivers, Malcomson & Ho Leung, 2011). Watson conducted similar research involving the principle of classical conditioning except he used human beings as his test subjects. Watson conducted an experiment where he gave an infant a rat to assess he fear of the creature. Once it was determined that the infant was not afraid a loud noise was sounded each time the infant was allowed to play with the rat. The noise did frighten the infant. After this coupling of the rat and loud noise was accomplished a few times the infant began to develop a fear of not only the loud noise but also the rat. Watson concluded that the infantÃ¢â¬â¢s fear of the rat was the result of classical conditioning (Santrock et al., 2011). Skinner took a different approach to his research and set out to understand the principle of operant conditioning. Operant conditioning suggest that certain behaviors are associated with certain consequences, for example, if a parent wants a child to behave the parent could give the child some type of reward that would induce good behavior. Most are familiar with the later principle of operant conditioning; many aspects of human behavior are controlled by some type of reward and punishment system (Santrock et al, 2011). Cognitive Perspective The cognitive perspective focuses on the development of human understanding.Ã Cognitive theory is constructed around the conscious mind rather than the unconscious mind (psychoanalytical theory). Theories that have added value to cognitive perspective are PiagetÃ¢â¬â¢s cognitive development theory, VygotskyÃ¢â¬â¢s socio-cultural cognitive theory, and the information-processing approach. This paper will only touch on PiagetÃ¢â¬â¢s cognitive development theory. PiagetÃ¢â¬â¢s theory states that children actively construct their understanding of the world and go through four stages of cognitive development (Santrock et al., 2011, p. 40). The four stages are the sensorimotor stageÃ¢â¬âuse of the senses and movements in infancy to explore the world; preoperational stage Ã¢â¬â use of words and images, symbolic but illogical thinking of preschool aged children; concrete operational stageÃ¢â¬âorganized logic and reasoning of school-aged children; and formal operational stageÃ¢â¬âcomplex, abstract reasoning system of the adolescent and adult (Berk, 2007, p. 19). The four stages involve a pattern or organization and adaptation. IndividualsÃ¢â¬â¢ organize past experiences in a manner that helps them understand the world, while adapting to new experiences. Piaget suggests that this process of organization and adaptation is continuous throughout the lifespan because the way human beings think is in constant evolution. As we age our experiences grow, as does our brain. For example, a child perception of where babies come from will no doubt change over the course of his or her lifetime, yet if you ask a child where babies come from the child will try to associate what he or she understands about babies to answer your questions. The common response usually has to do with two people loving each other; yet many find as they get older love has very little to do with where babies come from. The cognitive perspective contributed to lifespan development the concept that learning begins well before human beings can formulate words. Where an infant will use its body and immature sound to communicate its needs an adult will use reasoning and logic to get its way. Stages of Lifespan Development Development throughout the lifespan is divided into periods: the prenatal period (conception to birth); infancy period (birth to three years old); early childhood (three to six years old); middle childhood (six to 12 yearsÃ old): adolescence (12 to 20 years old); early adulthood (20 to 40 years old); middle adulthood (40 to 60 years old); and late adulthood (60 years old to death). Each period is characterized with specific physical and cognitive growth and developmental changes. This part of the paper will define each period of development and examine theory and research relative to the period. Prenatal Development The importance of preconception health has been far overlooked. As the mother of three, when my spouse and I began to discuss the possibility of having a baby one of my first thoughts was whether I was healthy enough to conceive. I believe once an individual or couple make the decision to conceive the importance of his or her (their) preconception health is removed from the equation, even though preconception health has a major impact on prenatal development. There is not much research on the importance of preconception health and care; however, over recent years with an increase in adolescent pregnancy and pre-term births that has changed drastically (Dean, Bhutta, Mason, Howson, Chandra-Mouli, Lassi & Iman, 2012). Proper health care prior to conception will improve the chances for successful prenatal development. The prenatal period encompasses the most rapid phase of development of our lives, beginning as a single cell and ending as a newborn baby emerging into the world (Slater & Lewis, 2006, p.41). The prenatal period sets the foundation for future development. The prenatal period begins with conceptions and ends with birth. The prenatal period is divided into three stages: the germinal stage, the embryonic stage, and the fetal stage (as cited in Slater & Lewis, 2006, p. 42). In the germinal period the sperm fertilizes the egg. The union of the sperm and egg takes place in the fallopian tubes. During ovulation an egg is released from the ovary and enters the fallopian tubes. Sperm journey up the fallopian tube to meet the egg. This meeting results in the formation of a single-celled organism called a zygote. The zygote journeys down the fallopian tube to the uterus where it implants. The germinal period last approximately 2 weeks. The embryonic stage begins during the middle of the second week and concludes at the end of the eighth week, at which time the physical appearance of theÃ embryo is clearly human (Slater & Lewis, 2006, p. 43). The embryonic stage is considered the most critical stage of prenatal development. It is during this time that all the major organs of the body begin to form. At the conclusion of this stage the embryo is transformed into the fetus. The fetal stage follows from the end of the embryonic stage, beginning at nine weeks and ending with the onset of labor and birth of the baby (Slater & Lewis, 2006, p. 44). During this stage the fetus head, eyes, genitals, fingers and toes all under go massive growth. .r The image of a human being is undeniably visible. The prenatal period is the most vulnerable period of human development. Not only is the physical health of the parents important to fetal development but the prenatal environment (Broderick & Blewitt, 2010) also has an impact on prenatal development. The prenatal environment is a blend of both internal and external parts; the internal being the motherÃ¢â¬â¢s womb and the external all elements outside the womb Ã¢â¬â physical environment and social and cultural factors (Broderick & Blewitt, 2010). Research has long debated the influence nature versus nurture has on prenatal development. The question remains how much of development is influenced by genetics (nature) and how much is influenced by environment (nurture) (Slater & Lewis, 2006). It would make sense to view the prenatal period as being heavily influenced by genetics; however environmental factors actually influence development just as much as genetics. There is a clear balance between genetic and environmental influences during prenatal development. Genetics direct physical growth and development, where as environmental factors influence physical growth and development. These environmental factors called teratogens can cause serious damage during prenatal development. Environmental substances and agents (Broderick & Blewitt, 2010) such as alcohol, tobacco and illegal drugs cause serious harm to an unborn fetus. Women who consume alcohol during pregnancy are at risk of having an infant who suffers from fetal alcohol syndrome. Mothers who use tobacco products during pregnancy risk having a pre-term baby or infant with low birth weight. Environmental factors also include socioeconomic and cultural factors. Women who live in low-income communities are at risk of not getting enough to eat or proper medical care during pregnancy. PoorÃ nutrition and inadequate medical care could result in pre-term birth or infant low birth weight. Stress is also an environmental factors. Women who are subjected to daily distress can pass the effects of stress onto their unborn child. Children born to mothers who suffered from depression and other stress related issues were found to be emotional, psychological and developmentally challenged. Children who suffer from Attention Deficit Disorder present an example of how maternal stress during pregnancy can impact the physical development. Adequate nutrition, routine medical care and maternal psychological and emotional well being are essential to reduce the influence external factors have on prenatal development. How a fetus develops during the prenatal period will have a immense impact on the subsequent periods of development. Infancy The infancy period of human development begins at birth and ends at the approximate age of three. Parent-child bonding is essential during the infancy period. Infancy is the period of development in which a human being relies completely caregivers for all its basic needs, as such, infancy is marked as the period in which human beings develop trust for others and for their environment. According to Erikson (Broderick & Blewitt, 2010) during this period infants must resolve the crisis of trust versus mistrust (p. 9). Human beings undergo a significant amount of physical and cognitive development during the infancy period. During infancy, interaction with caregivers sets the emotional foundation for all future relationships. Cognitive, motor, and social/emotional development are also developmental milestones that occur during the infancy period. Many Ã¢â¬Ëfirst-timeÃ¢â¬â¢ developmental events occur during infancy. InfantsÃ¢â¬â¢ learn various skills such as crying, nursing and coordination; these learned skills ensure the infantsÃ¢â¬â¢ ability to satisfy his/her attachment needs by soliciting the nurturing attention from caregivers. During infancy an emotional and physical attachment is established between an infant and its caregiver(s). According to Bowlby (Delius, Bovenschen, Spangler, 2008; Broderick & Blewitt, 2010) attachment theory is the theory of social-emotional development; where infants develop a bond with the primary caregiver(s) and a sense of security within their environment. The attachment relationship that develops between infant and caregiver will set the foundation for allÃ future relationships, as such, any deviation from a healthy attachment relationship can have an adverse affect on the infants future relationships. A study by Bates, Maslin, & Frankel (Year), found a direct correlation between a childÃ¢â¬â¢s ability to self-regulate his/her behavior and the mother-child attachment relationship established during infancy. Early Childhood Human infants are the most vulnerable and helpless of any other species at birth; however cognitive, physical and emotional development during the infancy period is what helps bring the human infant to developmental par. Early childhood is the period of development where extensive cognitive, emotional, physical and social growth occurs. The early childhood period begins at age three and last until around six years old. The early childhood period marks the start of school for most children. Children begin to explore their environment and reach for more autonomy and independence. Cognitive skills continue to develop and children begin to develop a sense of self during early childhood. Children begin to learn the physical differences between self and others. Children learn social appropriateness and begin the journey of peer interaction. During this stage children may experience behavior problems as they attempt to develop their social skills and independence. ItÃ¢â¬â¢s during this st age that children begin to interact more frequently with individuals outside the family structure. Exposure to other children, cultures, values and environments can have a negative impact on a childÃ¢â¬â¢s behavior. Middle Childhood The middle childhood period begins at age six and ends around the age of 12 or 13. For most children, middle childhood begins the journey to independence and self-awareness/actualization. Children begin to develop concrete likes and dislikes. Boys show signs of increased gross motor coordination and girls show signs of increased fine motor coordination. At this time some children will begin playing sports or participate in extracurricular activities such as music lessons, little league or girls scouts. Emotional and biological changes and continued cognitive development also occur during middle childhood. The onset of puberty is common during middle childhood. Children develop gender specific roleÃ identities and sexual identity/orientation may also develop. Middle childhood also marks the beginning of peer pressure and self-esteem issues. Adolescence Adolescence can be a very emotional and challenging period of development. It begins around the age of 12-13 and last until age 20. Adolescence is the period between childhood and adulthood. Individuals continue to aggressively reach for more independence from family. Adolescence is marked with more physical changes/development. For late bloomers, the onset of puberty may not occur until adolescence. Identity and gender conflict are common issues of adolescence. Adolescence continues the exploration of sexuality (sexual preference and sexual orientation). Culture begins to have a significant influence on gender role identity. In many cultures, adolescence marks the ascension into adulthood. Adolescence can be a time of great conflict when cultural views on gender roles and identity do not match with a childÃ¢â¬â¢s maturity level. Parents and authority figures begin to few adolescents as pseudo-adults. Parental expectations are high and some adolescents do not possess a level of maturity that meets parental standards. The conflict of almost being an adult can cause rebellious and risky behavior in some adolescents. Adolescents are more prone to illegal substance use, violent behavior, illegal behavior, and sexual promiscuity. Erikson suggests that adolescence is the stage of development that is plagued with the most crises and success through this stage requires a healthy and stable environment. Early Adulthood Early adulthood begins around the age of 20 and last well into the 40s. Early adults are focused on friendships, intimate relationships, child bearing and careers. During early adulthood a person might experience physical, emotional or psychological issues such as depression or chemical dependency. Physical development is at its peak by early adulthood; however cognitive skills continue to develop. Individuals begin to take on new roles and identities in their personal and professional lives. Morals and values begin emerge (independent of parental influences). One of the major milestones of early adulthood is falling in love. An individualsÃ¢â¬â¢ ability to successfully develop and maintain an intimate adult relationship willÃ depend significantly on the attachment relationships developed during infancy. According to Broderick & Blewitt (2010) childhood attachment theory provides a useful framework for conceptualizing adult intimacy (p. 382). EriksonÃ¢â¬â¢s sixth stage of development, intimacy versus isolation is another theoretical view on the process of establishing intimate relationships in early adulthood. Erikson suggests (Broderick & Blewitt, 20100) that young adults are internally driven to establish intimate relationships by their need for generativity (p. 381). Middle Adulthood Middle adulthood begins at the age of 40 and last until the age of 60-65. Middle adulthood marks the time of new beginnings for a lot of people. Middle age finds many people divorced, starting new careers, going back to school and even starting families for the first or second time. Stay at home parents are entering the workforce for the first time or returning back to work after raising their family. Middle adulthood marks the beginning of the loss of friends and family due to illness (death). Middle adulthood brings changes in physical appearance and ability (menopause, hair loss, impotenceÃ¢â¬ ¦). Individuals begin to find a sense of community during middle adulthood; volunteering their time and resources for various community and/or humanitarian causes. Health issues are also a factor during middle adulthood. The onset of physical and emotional illness has a significant impact on the quality of life during middle adulthood. According to Erikson, individuals experience the seventh stage of development, generativity versus stagnation, during middle adulthood. Generativity refers to an individuals need to guide and mentor younger generations to leading and developing meaningful lives, in contrast to stagnation which refers to an individuals feeling he or she has done nothing to give back to or help the next generation. Late Adulthood Late adulthood begins around the age of 60-65 and last until death. More physical and health related issues occur during late adulthood. Loss of friends and family to illness and natural causes is more frequent and common during late adulthood. Changes in cognitive ability due to mental illness (dementia, AlzheimerÃ¢â¬â¢s) manifest during late adulthood. Late adulthood marks the time of retirement for many individuals. Late adulthood marks the period of senescence Ã¢â¬â the process of aging (Broderick & Blewitt, 2010). As an individual gets older changes in food consumption and metabolism result in changes in weight. Also, changes in of the tissue and bone density in addition to compression of the spinal cord result in changes in height. As the body begins to degenerate an individual is more susceptible to illness and disease. More common physical changes of aging include hair, hearing and tooth loss, and wrinkling and reduced physical strength. Developmental changes in the brain are also part of the aging process. During middle to late adulthood an individual will begin to experience some loss of memory (Broderick & Blewitt, 2010). It becomes difficult to remember minor details of past and/or immediate events. Other effects of aging include changes in mental health. Many older individuals suffer from chronic mental illnesses such as dementia or AlzheimerÃ¢â¬â¢s disease. As an individual gets older he or she may find it difficult to physically do many of the things he or she did during adolescence or middle adulthood. Because of these new age imposed restrictions many individuals experience and/or suffer from mental and emotional illness. Getting older can limit or change a personsÃ¢â¬â¢ social life, as such, many people become discourage and/or depressed because of physical limitation due to aging. During late adulthood individuals enter EriksonÃ¢â¬â¢s eight stage of development, integrity and despair. According to Erickson for most individuals late adulthood is a time for reflection. An individual looks back upon his or her life to access whether life was good and filled with happiness or whether life is laced with countless regret. Knowing what I know Ã¢â¬â Applying Lifespan Development to Industrial-Organizational Psychology Industrial-Organizational (I-O) Psychology is the study of the workplace. I-O psychologist apply methods of psychology to issues of business, talent management, coaching, assessment, selection, training, organizational development, performance, and work-life balance (www.siop.org, nd). Ã¢â¬Å"Industrial/Organizational (I/O) psychologists study human behavior in the workplace. I/O psychology is an applied discipline that seeks to improve organizational behavior, attitudes, performance, and results. I/O psychologists are trained in the disciplines of organization change andÃ development, leadership effectiveness, work motivation, training and employee development, human performance improvement, job analysis, performance appraisal, personnel selection research, test development, research methods, and statistics. I/O psychologists are employed in business and industry, consulting firms, non-profit organizations, government agencies, the military, and academe. Through their research and performance improvement interventions, I/O psychologists improve the bottom line of the organization by helping the organizationÃ¢â¬â¢s leaders select the right people, train and develop people effectively, motivate employees, improve individual and group performance, and reward empl oyees appropriatelyÃ¢â¬ (http://www.latech.edu, nd) So how can studying lifespan development benefit the professional career of an I-O psychologist? My ultimate professional goal is to teach at the university level. But while I work my way towards gaining the knowledge and skills necessary for a career in academics I would like to direct my attention to making the workplace a better place for the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community. As a member of the LGBT community I have witness blatant acts of discrimination against LGBT employees and watched some many tolerate a hostile and unhealthy work environment. I would like to help organizations establish programs that educate employees about the LGBT community, specifically the psychology aspect of coming out. For many of my LGBT colleaguesÃ¢â¬â¢ coming out is a two-fold process; a person first comes out to family and friends and then must make the decision of coming out in the workplace. The psychological trauma associated with coming out in the workplace has an impact, not only on the person coming out, but on the organization as a whole. I believe educating employees about selfÃ¢â¬âpersonal morals, values and religious beliefs is a good place to start in the fight against LGBT workplace discrimination. It is the personal morals, values, and religious beliefs that allow people to form opinions about LGBT individuals. So how will I apply my knowledge of lifespan development? Through my study of lifespan psychology I gained a better understanding of how the varies stages of life can influence how a person thinks or reacts to a situation. There is no right age of coming out and in my experience coming out can happen in any stage of life. The knowledge I gained about the various stages of life will help me in developing a program gearedÃ around these stages. I would also like to provide career counseling for LGBT youth. The adolescent years are already a confusing time, coupled with the idea that one might be homosexual; this may leave some LGBT youth in limbo about what they want to do with their lives. Current LGBT youth programs are geared towards helping youth understand their sexuality, but drop the ball on helping the individual understand how to live as an openly gay adult. Overall the knowledge I gained from this course will help me to better understand why human being do the things they do and how I can help them do things better. 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