Case study of human development – Term Paper

Human development is the process that involves the enlarging of the opportunities and freedom of people with the objecting of ensuring that their well-being is improved. Human development is when a human being has the freedom to make decisions on their own such as what is to be done, who one can be and how one lives his or her life. When describing human development, Researcher Sameh Elsayed says that each creature is a unique piece of art to be respected and believed in. once we realize this, equality follows. 

Human behavior theories

Related theories are consequentially used to explain human behavior by exhibiting human interaction or reaction to given stimuli. Examples of the theories include systems theory, psychodynamic theory, social learning theory among others.   

Thomas seems to be experiencing a combination of psychological and moral dilemmas, which have led to a situation in which he is confused, frustrated and uncertain. He is at a stage in his life where such emotional conflicts and challenges are standard and in fact anticipated, and is clearly uncertain as to how to cope or handle these issues.

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Well known theorists like Erickson (psychosocial development) and Kholberg (moral development) have postulated that individuals are expected to face certain standard issues and difficulties at various stages of their life, and to not have such experiences is the aberration as opposed to having them which is the norm, and expected.

Erick Erickson psychosocial theory

According to Erick Erickson, (1956) the stages a person goes through are determined by their environment or socialization standards. He theorized that as we grow and develop, our mode of operation is determined by the developmental stage, which is a direct result of social upbringing. 

One critical stage of development which he put forward was “Identity vs. Role Confusion.” This is a phase which generally occurs between the ages of 12 – 18, the adolescent years. During this stage, Erickson theorized that the individual experiences the most difficult period because he/she is now faced with the difficult position of being caught between adulthood and childhood. 

It is a transitional period which can be smooth and well handled, or it can be a frustrating, confusing experience, which can result in chaos, frustration and even anger. When a person is unsure of who he/she is, or what his/her role is in the world, it is a situation which can shape or mold the character of an individual permanently. As a result, particularly careful guidance and mentoring is needed in the life of such a person at this time.

Piaget’s Cognitive Development Theory

Piaget’s Cognitive Development Theory is an interesting theory that deals with development of the intelligence of the human brain and its nature. There are several instances where Thomas interacts to various stimuli by not being close to his family because he is not comfortable going away. He reacts to the peer pressure from friends thus the explanation of the cognitive development theory. 

He doesn’t want to go to college but remain around to get a job, an apartment and get a car to enjoy the company of the friends. According to the case study, “but right now what he really wants is just to stay in the area and get a job and an apartment so he can hang out with all his friends who are not going away to college”. 

Clearly, Thomas is experiencing the symptoms associated with this particular stage of development. He is unsure whether he is ready to leave high school or not, because perhaps he does not yet see himself as an adult, ready to face the obstacles and challenges associated with being an adult. He wants things to remain the same, hanging out with his friends, indulging in activities with which he is familiar and comfortable.

He feels angry and frustrated because the changes he must inevitably face are beyond his control, the rebellious feelings are a direct result of his unconscious, inner uncertainty as to how to make the inevitable transition. He is also displaying anger towards his family, which is again a clear indication of his feelings of confusion.

He doesn’t fully see himself as an adult, yet he believes he is fully capable of making his own decisions. He feels annoyed by his aren’t and family because he believes they are trying to control him, to tell him what to do. Yet he views their input or intervention as unnecessary, as he believes he is fully capable of making his own decisions.

These feelings of uncertainty, apprehension, role confusion have become so intense that they have caused extreme anger and resentment in Thomas. His emotions are further compounded by the anger and ineptitude he probably feels as a result of his girlfriend leaving him, and so he has gotten to the place where he probably needs anger management counselling.

Lawrence Kohlberg theory of moral development

The theory of Morality proposed by Lawrence Kohlberg (1958), is also one which could be applied to the case of Thomas. According to Kohlberg, there are three basic stages of morality. The Pre-Conventional Stage, The Conventional Stage and the Post Conventional stage. During these stages, the individual develops different levels of morality, which help to determine his or her behavior to a large extent.

During the Pre-Conventional stage, usually occurring in childhood, morality is determined based on standards established by those in authority, coupled with the fear of punishment. Children are unable to truly tell right from wrong, and so must be told, based on social norms and standards.

During the Conventional Stage, individuals begin to internalize the established morals of society, choosing to do so to fit in and meet societal expectations. They gain a better understanding of why certain behaviors are acceptable or not, but in this stage, they will often choose to go along with what is expected of them, even if they themselves see those behaviours as wrong.

It is this stage which seems most applicable to Thomas. He has learned that certain things are expected of him – going to college, getting a certain type of education, maintaining certain types of relationships. He is desirous of meeting social expectations, but at the same time wants to do what he thinks is best for him.

Another indication of Thomas’ conflicting feelings could be the fact that he attempts to vent his anger and frustration in the privacy of his room, when no one else is around, he has feelings of remorse about showing this type of behavior around others as he believes it will be frowned upon and disapproved of. This s proved by “he was convinced he wanted to go into engineering, but now he is not so sure”.  

So despite his personal misgivings about what is happening in his life, and where things seem to be headed as opposed to where he would want them to be, he attempts to control outward manifestations of these feelings, and maintain his status as a morally ‘upright’ citizen. 

In conclusion, human behavior can be predicted and even explained through various theories psychologically. These theories are capable of explaining the interaction and reaction of human body to various stimuli. There are some traits that might stick with one’s personality till death but at the same time there are specific behaviors that changes with time.

Summary Review of Project on Human Development in Chicago Neighbourhoods (PHDCN) and the Program of Research on the Causes and Correlates of Delinquency (PRCCD)

The goal of the Human Development in Chicago Neighbourhoods (PHDCN) project is to gain an in-depth understanding of how family setting, schools, and local neighbourhoods impact child and adolescent social behaviour. Following its implementation in the early 1990s, the project has examined violence, juvenile delinquency, adult crime, and teenage sexuality, among other behaviour outcomes. The PHDCN project has also collected extensive data about Chicago neighbourhoods, including its institutions, people, and resources, from surveys, key informant interviews, and videotaping of the streets to help analyze the environment in which social development takes place. The PHDCN focuses on the purpose of the research as opposed to a specific method, which makes it an evaluation research. Evaluation research assesses the impact of an intervention and the PHDCN fits that criterion because it evaluates the impact of the social surroundings on human behaviour.   

The Research on the Causes and Correlates of Delinquency (PRCCD) program, on the other hand, was designed to help gather more information about the factors that increase juvenile delinquency. Initiated in 1986, the goal of the program is to provide the much-needed insights to help develop effective intervention programs. It employs a longitudinal study design to enable the researchers investigate how each unique causal factor of delinquency changes over time. Based on the information presented in Chapter 13, the PRCCD program matches the criteria of a problem analysis. A problem analysis is developed to help the administration choose an appropriate course of action. The PRCCD program falls into that bracket because it is intended to help the government to develop an effective action program to reduce the rising cases of juvenile delinquency in the country.  


National Institute of Justice. (2017). Project on Human Development in Chicago Neighborhoods. Retrieved on 24th March 2017 at

The National Center for Juvenile Justice. (2017). the Program of Research on the Causes and 

Papalia, D., Olds, S., & Feldman, R. (2009). Human development (1st ed.). New York: McGraw-Hill.