Human Development - Solutions

 CBSE Class 11 Psychology

NCERT Solutions
Human Development

1. What is development? How is it different from growth and maturation?

Ans. Development is the pattern of progressive, orderly, and predictable changes that begin at conception and continue throughout life. Development mostly involves changes — both growth and decline, as observed during old age.

Thus, development is a process by which an individual grows and changes throughout the life cycle. The term development applies to the changes that have a direction and hold definite relationship with what precedes it, and in turn, will determine what will come after.

Growth is one aspect of development. Growth refers to an increase in the size of body parts or of the organism as a whole. It can be measured or quantified, for example, growth in height, weight, etc.

2. Describe the main features of life-span perspective on development.

Ans. The main features of development according to the Life-Span Perspective (LSP) includes the following assumptions :

  1. Development is lifelong, i.e. it takes place across all age groups starting from conception to old age. It includes both gains and losses, which interact in dynamic (change in one aspect goes with changes in others) ways throughout the life-span.
  2. The various processes of human development, i.e. biological, cognitive, and socio-emotional are interwoven in the development of a person throughout the life-span.
  3. Development is multi-directional. Some dimensions or components of a given dimension of development may increase, while others show decrement. For example, the experiences of adults may make them wiser and guide their decisions. However, with an increase in age, one’s performance is likely to decrease on tasks requiring speed, such as running.
  4. Development is highly plastic, i.e. within person, modifiability is found in psychological development, though plasticity varies among individuals. This means skills and abilities can be improved or developed throughout the life-span.
  5. Development is influenced by historical conditions. For example, the experiences of 20-year olds who lived through the freedom struggle in India would be very different from the experiences of 20 year olds of today. The career orientation of school students today is very different from those students who were in schools 50 years ago.
  6. Development is the concern of a number of disciplines. Different disciplines like psychology, anthropology, sociology, and neuro-sciences study human development, each trying to provide answers to development throughout the life-span.
  7. An individual responds and acts on contexts, which include what was inherited, the physical environment, social, historical, and cultural contexts. For example, the life events in everyone’s life are not the same, such as, death of a parent, accident, earthquake, etc., affect the course of one’s life as also the positive influences such as winning an award or getting a good job. People keep on changing with changing contexts.

3. What are developmental tasks? Explain by giving examples.

Ans. Development is commonly described in terms of periods or stages. Developmental stages are assumed to be temporary and are often characterised by a dominant feature or a leading characteristic, which gives each period its uniqueness. During a particular stage, individual progresses towards an assumed goal - a state or ability that s/he must achieve in the same order as other persons before progressing to the next stage in the sequence. These accomplishments of a person become the social expectations of that stage of development. They are known as developmental tasks.

Purposes of Developmental Tasks:

  • Developmental tasks serve three very useful purposes.
  • They are guidelines that enable individuals to know what society expects of them at given ages. Parents, for example, can be guided in teaching their young children different skills by the knowledge that society expects the children to master these skills at certain ages and that their adjustments will be greatly influenced by how successfully they do so.
  • Developmental tasks motivate individuals to do what the social group expects them to do at certain ages during their lives.
  • Finally, developmental tasks show individuals what lies ahead and what they will be expected to do when they reach their next stage of development.

4. 'Environment of the child has a major role in the development of the child'. Support your answer with examples.

Ans. Environment of the child has a major role to play in the development of the child because it includes the surroundings in which the child develops various cognitive and motor skills.

It also influences the physical development of the child according to the limits set by genetic characteristics.

The socio-economic and cultural environment has a major role in the development of the child's process. e.g., a child who is sent to school is able to develop characteristics of confidence and self-reliance more easily than a child who does not receive education.

Thus, environment plays a vital role in the child's development.

5. How do socio-cultural factors influence development?


  • Environmental factors are those factors which act upon the organism from outside and influence its structure and behaviour.
  • After birth, the infant is exposed to a complex external environment with its variety of physical and chemical energies, as well as the social forces which arise from contact with other human beings.
  • The environment differs and so also the effect on individuals. Different individuals within the same environment also differ. They develop different interests and attitudes, and they identify themselves to different groups- religious, political and recreational.

Man's genotype serves as a 'potential' source for his development of behaviour. Realisation of these potentialities, however, depends upon the interactions of the genotype with his environmental factors.

A child with average potential intelligence but a 'fertile' co-environment would do better in life. If the environment is congenial, the development is positive while it takes a negative turn if the environment is unpleasant.

6. Discuss the cognitive changes taking place in a developing child.

Ans. According to Piaget’s theory of cognitive development has four stages:

  1. Sensorimotor (Approximate age 0-2 years): In this stage, infant explores the world by coordinating sensory experiences with physical actions.
  2. Preoperational (Approximate age 2-7 years): In this stage, the child develops symbolic thought through which object permanence is established. However, the child cannot coordinate different physical attributes of an object.

(a) Egocentrism (self-focus): children see the world only in terms of their own selves and are not able to appreciate other's point of view.

(b) Centration: focusing on a single characteristic or feature for understanding an event e.g. a child may insist on drinking a "big glass" of juice, preferring a tall narrow glass to a short broad one, even though both might be holding the same amount of juice.

  1. Concrete operational (Approximate 7-11 years): In this stage, the child can reason logically about concrete events and classify objects into different sets. Here, the child is able to perform reversible mental operations on representations of objects.
  2. Formal operational (Approximately 11-15 years): In this stage, the adolescent can apply logic more abstractly and hypothetical thinking develops at this stage.

7. Attachment bonds formed in childhood years have long-term effects. Explain taking examples from daily life.


  • Attachment bonds formed in childhood years have long term effects because these are notably developed between the parents and children. These bonds determine the level of trust and perception of the would during the formative years of childhood. e.g, a child growing up in a secure family, with sensitive, responsive and affectionate parents will is not them.
  • The child will also make decisions in his/her life with the parents and thus, have a good relationship. However, a child who does not have a steady and good relationship with the parents will lack communication.
  • Problems of juvenile delinquency are after related to the lack of attachment of an individual towards his/her parents.

8. What is adolescence? Explain the concept of egocentrism.

Ans. The term adolescence derives from the Latin word adolescence, meaning “to grow into maturity”. It is the transitional period in a person’s life between childhood and adulthood. Adolescence is commonly defined as the stage of life that begins at the onset of puberty, when sexual maturity, or the ability to reproduce is attained. It has been regarded as a period of rapid change, both biologically and psychologically.

Though the physical changes that take place during this stage are universal, the social and psychological dimensions of the adolescent’s experiences depend on the cultural context. For example, in cultures where the adolescent years are viewed as problematic or confusing, the adolescent will have very different experiences from someone who is in a culture, where adolescent years are viewed as beginning of adult behaviour and, therefore, undertaking responsible tasks. Although most societies have at least a brief period of adolescence, it is not universal across cultures.

Egocentrism: Egocentrism (self- focus), i.e. children see the world only in terms of their own selves and are not able to appreciate others’ point of view. Children because of egocentrism, engage in animism - thinking that all things are living, like oneself. The egocentrism of early childhood is especially pronounced in the first year or two before children begin to play with other children-the age of parallel play.

  • Boys tend to be more egocentric then girls, partly because they sense they are often parental favourites and partly because they are given more privileges. While all children tend to be egocentric, there are certain ones whose environment encourage greater egocentrism than is found in the average child of the same age level.

Adolescents develop a special kind of egocentrism.
According to DAVID ELKIND adolescents develop two components of egocentrism:

  • Imaginary audience
  • Personal fable.

(i) Imaginary audience: adolescent's belief that others are as occupied with them as they are about themselves.
They imagine that people are always noticing them and observing each and every behaviour of theirs.

(ii) Personal fable: it is adolescents sense of uniqueness. It takes them think that no one understands them or their feelings.

Establishment of identity: Adolescence is the stage when primary task is to establish an identity separate from their parents.
Identity refers to knowing who am I? what are the commitments and beliefs are.

  • In the establishment of identity children may develop conflict with their parents and may develop "Identity Confusion".
  • Such adolescents may at one time complain of being 'treated like a baby' whereas on other occasions treated like 'grown ups'.
  • This identity crisis involves searching for conformity and sameness in on self and trying to get a clear sense of who am I? where I am going in my life?

Adolescence is a period of storm and stress: It is period of uncertainties occasional loneliness, self-doubt, anxiety, conforming to peer pressure and concern about themselves and their future.

9. What are the factors influencing the formation of identity during adolescence? Support your answer with examples.

Ans. Several factors influence the formation of identity during adolescence:

  • The cultural background, family and societal values, ethnic background, and socio- economic status all prevail upon the adolescents’ search for a place in society. Family relationships become less important as the adolescent spends more time outside the home and develops a strong need for peer support and acceptance.
  • Increased interactions with peers provide them with opportunities for refining their social skills and trying out different social behaviours.
  • Peers and parents are dual forces having major influences on adolescents. At times conflicting situations with parents lead to increased identification with peers.
  • Vocational commitment is another factor influencing adolescent identity formation. The question “What are you going to be when you grow up?”, requires the ability to think about the future and to be able to set realistic and achievable goals.
  • In some cultures freedom is given to the young people to choose an occupation, whereas in certain other cultures the option of making this choice is not given to the children. Here parents’ decision is likely to be accepted by the children. What has been your experience while making a choice in the selection of subjects?
  • Career counselling in schools offers information regarding appraisal of the students for various courses and jobs and provides guidance in making a decision about career choices.

10. What are the challenges faced by individuals on entry to adulthood?

Ans. An adult is generally defined as someone who is responsible, mature, self-supporting, and well integrated into society. There is a variation in developing these attributes, which suggests that there is a shift in timing when an individual becomes an adult or assumes adult roles.

In early adulthood, two major tasks are, exploring the possibilities for adult living and developing a stable life structure. The twenties represent the novice phase of adult development. Gradually, a transition from dependence to independence should occur. This could be marked by an image of the kind of life the young person wants, especially in terms of marriage and a career.

Career and Work : Earning a living, choosing an occupation, and developing a career are important themes for people in their twenties and thirties. Entering work life is a challenging event in anyone’s life. There are apprehensions regarding different adjustments, proving one’s competence, performance, dealing with competition, and coping with expectations both of the employers and oneself. It is also the beginning of new roles and responsibilities. Developing and evaluating a career becomes an important task of adulthood.

Marriage, Parenthood, and Family : The adjustments that young adults have to make when entering a marriage relate to knowing the other person if not known earlier, coping with each other’s likes, dislikes, tastes, and choices. If both the partners are working, adjustments are required regarding sharing and performing roles and responsibilities at home.

In addition to getting married, becoming a parent can be a difficult and stressful transition in young adults, even though it is usually accompanied by the feeling of love for the baby. How adults experience parenting is affected by different situations such as the number of children in the family, the availability of social support, and the happiness or unhappiness of the married couple, etc.