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A CRITICAL EVALUATION OF HOW ADOPTING A LIFESPAN PERSPECTIVE CAN ENHANCE OUR UNDERSTANDING OF COGNITIVE CHANGE

A CRITICAL EVALUATION OF HOW ADOPTING A LIFESPAN PERSPECTIVE CAN ENHANCE OUR UNDERSTANDING OF COGNITIVE CHANGE

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An essay for the 2012 Undergraduate Awards Competition by Orla Meehan. Originally submitted for Psychology at University College Dublin, with lecturer Dr Eilis Hennessy in the category of Psychology
An essay for the 2012 Undergraduate Awards Competition by Orla Meehan. Originally submitted for Psychology at University College Dublin, with lecturer Dr Eilis Hennessy in the category of Psychology

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Published by: Undergraduate Awards on Aug 31, 2012
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial

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10/27/2013

 
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A CRITICAL EVALUATION OF HOW ADOPTING A LIFESPANPERSPECTIVE CAN ENHANCE OUR UNDERSTANDING OFCOGNITIVE CHANGEWord Count: 2,069
 
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A CRITICAL EVALUATION OF HOW ADOPTING ALIFESPAN PERSPECTIVE CAN ENHANCE OURUNDERSTANDING OF COGNITIVE CHANGE
Abstract
The lifespan perspective emphasises the entwined nature of an individual‘s development
within their cultural, interpersonal and biological contexts (Lang, Wagner & Neyer, 2009)and has become an increasingly active area of inquiry in recent years (Heckhausen & Schulz,1995). According to Newman and Newman (2009) the five assumptions of the lifespanperspective are: 1) that growth occurs at every period of life and new capacities emerge, 2)
that individuals‘ lives show continuity along
with change, 3) the need to understand thewhole person as we function in an integrated manner, 4) that behaviour must be interpreted inthe context of the applicable settings and 5) that individuals actively contribute to theirdevelopment. The present essay critically evaluates the applicability of this perspective, usingthese five assumptions, as a means of determining the ways in which it could offer furtherunderstanding of cognitive change.
 
3According to Salthouse (2004), the occurrence of cognitive aging has been noticednearly as long as the occurrence of physical aging, but is still not fully understood. Craik and
Bialystok (2006) believe the notion that cognitive aging is simply ‗development in reverse‘ is
too simple. There is large variation in differences between individuals in both level of andchange in mental ability throughout the life course (Gow et al., 2011). Lifespan developmenthas become a progressively active area of inquiry in recent years and has shown the potentialof generating important theories regarding the emergence and development of humanbehaviour throughout life (Heckhausen & Schulz, 1995). The lifespan perspective emphasises
the entwined nature of an individual‘s development within their cultural, interpersonal and
biological contexts (Lang, Wagner & Neyer, 2009). Therefore the lifespan perspective couldenable a more integrated understanding of cognitive change.According to Newman and Newman (2009) there are five assumptions of the lifespanperspective: the first is that growth occurs at every period of life and new capacities emerge,
the second is that individuals‘ lives show continuity along with change, the third is the need
to understand the whole person as we function in an integrated manner, the fourth is thatbehaviour must be interpreted in the context of the applicable settings and finally thatindividuals actively contribute to their development. The present essay will critically evaluatethe applicability of this perspective, using these five assumptions, as a means of determiningthe ways in which it could offer further understanding of cognitive change.To begin with, the first assumption holds that growth occurs at each period in life and witheach new period comes new roles/abilities and in doing so the lifespan perspective infersplasticity (Newman & Newman, 2009). Cognitive skills increase sharply from infancy toyoung adulthood and then are either upheld or deplete in old age, depending on the ability

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