Life cycle : a changing individual in a changing world

Date

1984

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Abstract

Life cycle, in the broadest sense, refers to a perspective. The objective in this thesis is to develop and apply a life cycle perspective to a changing individual in a changing world. How the scientist under- tands a changing individual in a changing world is dependent upon one of three major organizational frameworks within which scientist's make sense of change in individuals - the mechanistic world view, the organismic world view and the dialectic world view. Each provides a different "lens" or perspective for comprehending what people are like, how people change and why people change over time. The primary emphasis of the model developed here is to examined human growth and development from a dialectic world view. Focus is given to the interrelationship of both continuity and change in shaping the human life cycle. The process of human development is explained as a product of internal forces within the changing individual and external forces within the changing world brought together in time by one's inheritance, circumstance and chance. The primary assumption of this model is that changes in one's self and changes in one's world is given "meaning" by an active, thinking individual. The meaning of change to the individual helps us identify and define three types of change across the life cycle. The process and outcome of these types of change represent the patterning of the human life cycle over time. The methodological approach and specific research design most applicable for testing the model of a changing individual in a changing world is examined by a presentation of two very different styles of thinking about and doing science. The existing differences between the two are used to demonstrate that one's basic underlying assumptions about the nature of scientific knowledge influences not only what the researcher is observing but guides the various approaches to research and the design of experiments. The nature of the experimental question and the overall experimental purposes determines which style of scientific study and which research design(s) is most appropriate. The value of a life cycle model of a changing individual in a changing world is explored in terms of its usefulness rather than in the extent to which it can be found to be "true". Attention is given to the theories and theorists who have utilized the model, how it has been evaluated as a useful model for the social sciences, and what its implications are for both the scientist and for the individual.

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Keywords

Life cycle, Human, Developmental psychology, Change (Psychology)

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