The Human Developmental Factors

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Pages:  6
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Date:  2021-03-09


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Morality, cognitive skills and self-worth are some of the developmental factors that characterize the growth patterns in individuals. If well nurtured the three can ensure an individual leads a satisfying life characterized with proper behaviours. The disruption of these developmental patterns however can lead to the development of maladaptive behaviours. The harmful behavioursare caused by need to compensate inefficiencies of the development cycle(Lerner et al., 2003). The impairment of the cognitive skills can lead one to have poor judgemental skills that may culminate to maladaptive behaviours such as drug abuse.Morality, on the other hand, can also be another influential element in an individuals life. The disruption of the moral development can lead to establishment a value-based individual that can easily be waylaid by voices such as drug abuse(Shaffer &Kipp, 2010). Self-perception and self-worth can also be observed as another feature that if not fully incorporated in an individuals life can lead to the assumption of destructive behaviours. Drug abuse can be pursued by an individual that has self-worth issues. In order to fully to appreciate the correlation between drug abuse with cognitive skills, morality and self-worth it is prudent to focus on the latter elements and their developmental stages.

Cognitive Skills

Cognitive skills are well understood using JeanPiagets stages of cognitive development theory. According to Piaget, the stages are four in number each illustrating the shift in understanding across various age groups. The first stage is known as sensorimotor stage which is observed from birth to two years. At this age infants acquire knowledge of their environment through manipulating objects and sensory experiences. It is at the age children can dissociate objects distinctly and name them. The second phase is the preoperational stage (2-7 years) which is characterized by pretend play by children. The children often struggle with the concept of constancy at this stage. The third stage (7-11 years) points to a rigid yet logical thinking in children. The children are observed to be less egocentric and begin to think about other peoples feelings and thoughts. The formal operational stage (adolescence-adulthood) entails the capability to reason deductively, logic increase, and the comprehension of abstract ideas. At this stage, individuals can make sound judgements and arrive at solutions as well as deduce matters scientifically.

The disruption of the cognitive skills, particularly, the last stage may bring about dire consequences to an individual. The disruption may make an individual think and act without logical foundation hence making him or her arrive at poor choices. An individual that does not reason critically may, for instance, engage in drug abuse seeking the thrill without care of the repercussions associated with it(Shaffer &Kipp, 2010). The cognitive skills at every stage are crucial hence the disruption may bring about psychological problems that may alienate on from his or her normal age subset. To compensate for these perceived shortcomings maladaptive behaviours may be incorporated in an individuals lifestyle. For instance, failure to make sound judgements can see an individual have a non-value based personality that may make him or her susceptible to negative peer pressure. Studies point that many drug abusers are usually products of peer pressure.

Moral Development

Morality development as another facet of developmental psychology is well captured by Kohlbergs theory of moral development. Kohlbergs theory is an extension of Piagets theory and is classified into three levels namely pre-conventional morality, conventional morality and post-conventional morality. Under the first level, there are two stages namely obedience and punishment, and individualism and exchange. Obedience and punishment is particularly inculcated in small children. This means that children perceive rules as absolute and rigid thus abiding them enables them to avoid punishment. The next stage, individualism and exchange focus on the need for reciprocity. Level 2, conventional morality, has two stages namely interpersonal relationships and maintaining social order. The former dwells on social roles and expectations. It has much emphasis on conforming to social norms while at the same time considering how choices impact ties or relationships. The latter, focuses on the maintenance of law and order, respecting authority and executing ones role. The third level, post conventional morality, has two stages(Shaffer &Kipp, 2010). The first stage, social contract and individual rights, accounts for divergent opinions, values, beliefs held by others. The second part, universal principles,dwells on abstract reasoning and universal ethical principles.

The disruption of the morality levels as captured by Kohlberg may bring about psychological repercussions. Disruption of the pre-conventional morality may bring about lawless or unruly individuals that have disregard to set absolute laws. An individual may opt to abuse drugs due to less regard to set laws. Conventional morality, on the other hand, once disrupted may hinder ones understanding or consideration of interrelationships with other members of the society(Baltes&Schaie, 2013). It may also impair ones sound judgement when it comes maintaining the expected social order. An individual with a drug abuse problem may fail to understand his or her actions and their negative on interrelationships with others. The individual may also make judgements that are not sound or logical enough. Disrupting post-conventional morality hinders ones ability to accept divergent beliefs and values held by others(Lerner et al., 2003). It also makes one think subjectively rather than objectively and abstractly. By thinking objectively an individual, for instance, may understand that many people do not prescribe to drug abuse or value the thrill behind narcotic use.

Hierarchy of Needs

Abraham Maslows Hierarchy of Needs to understand human behaviour. The theory focuses on personality and motivation delving in elements that influence peoples behaviour. The levels are five in number; physiological needs, security needs, social needs, esteem needs and self-actualizing needs(Lerner et al., 2003). . The hierarchy focuses on the most basic human wants at the first level progressing to more complex needs. The basic needs or physiological needs are low level demands such as water, food sleep, shelter and warmth. On meeting these needs, individuals the needs in the next level (security needs) in pursuit of safety and security(Baltes&Schaie, 2013). With progress, the needs increasingly become social and psychological. Social needs as the third form of needs include affection, love and belonging. They help fulfil acceptance and companionship. The fourth, esteem needs, focus on personal growth, self-worth, social accomplishment and recognition. It is highly founded on gaining appreciation and respect from others. Lastly, self-actualizing needs, focuses on an individuals self-awareness, personal growth and less inclined towards other peoples opinions.

The disruption of the various levels of the Maslow hierarchy needs can really hinder an individuals growth and cultivation of desired behaviours. The disruption at the first level may leave an individual vulnerable to harm. Lack of basic needs may prompt an individual to pursue other means whether legal or illegal in pursuit of self-satisfaction. Security needs can also make one susceptible to harmful habits and maladaptive behaviours. With lack of security, an individual may pursues activities that offer him a sense of security. Drug abuse for instance can be pursued by an individual to offer him or her feeling of belonging. Social needs once disrupted can make one feel alienated. In order to fit in in asocial circle an individual may partake in negative behaviours. The esteem needs can always attained if one has a proper perception of self. It is greatly anchored on ones self-belief an recognition. Many drug abusers have esteem issues. Many of them choose to abuse drugs with the intention of escaping away from their esteem issues(Lerner et al., 2003). They seek validation from their other counterparts that take the drugs. The drugs further serve to give them a high that helps them perceive themselves in a better light or perspective.


Cognitive skills, moral development and human behaviour motivation are key elements in the developmental psychology study. The three elements manifest themselves in the various spheres of an individuals life. Cognitive skills as captured by Jean Piaget focus on an individuals decision making skills as well as judgement capabilities. The moral development process as highlighted or understood using Kohlbergs theory is anchored an individuals growth in understanding the essence of justice, values and comprehension of right and wrong. The human behaviour motivation is classified as a hierarchy of needs that have to be met by an individual for one to be said to have achieved self-awareness. All these elements once disrupted can lead to psychological problem that may hinder ones decision making skills, creation and acceptance of values, and self-awareness. Through the gaps and disruptions serve to push individuals gratification and compensation from other activities or functions. Drug abuse, for instance, is highly psychological. It is greatly founded by an individuals failure to understand the essence of decision-making skills. Poor moral values can also be a reason one partakes in drug abuse. Failure to comprehend the essence human behaviour motivation may impact on an individuals choices. Failure to attain the sequential level of needs as posited by Abraham Maslows hierarchy of needs may bring about psychological issues that may impair an individuals psychological development.


Baltes, P. B., &Schaie, K. W. (2013).Life-Span Developmental Psychology: Personality and Socialization. Burlington: Elsevier Science.

Lerner, R. M., Easterbrooks, M. A., Mistry, J., & Weiner, I. B. (2003).Handbook of psychology: Vol. 6. (Handbook of psychology.) New York: Wiley.

Shaffer, D. R., &Kipp, K. (2010). Developmental psychology: Childhood and adolescence. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth Cengage Learning.

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The Human Developmental Factors. (2021, Mar 09). Retrieved from

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