Havighurst's Developmental Task Model

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  • 0:02 Havighurst
  • 0:47 Stages of Life
  • 2:27 Developmental Tasks
  • 4:16 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Natalie Boyd

Natalie is a teacher and holds an MA in English Education and is in progress on her PhD in psychology.

You aren't the same as you were when you were a baby. Everyone grows and changes, but how do people develop? Watch this lesson to find out about Havighurst's developmental task model, including the six stages of life.


Think about when you were a baby: you crawled around, you goo-goo-ed and ga-ga-ed, and you cried whenever you wanted food. I'm betting that things are different now. You probably walk more than you crawl, and you communicate with words instead of 'goo-goo' and 'ga-ga,' and when you're hungry you probably go to the refrigerator and get food instead of sitting and crying until someone feeds you.

Development is the process of growth and change that people go through in life. Robert J. Havighurst was a psychologist in the 20th century who developed a theory on how people develop through life. Let's look closer at Havighurst's theory of development: the stages of life and the sources of developmental tasks.

Stages of Life

As we have already seen, people change a lot from when they are babies to when they are adults. But even adults change from when they are 20 to when they are 80. Havighurst identified six stages of life that people go through. They are:

1.) Infancy and early childhood, which lasts from birth to age 5. These are babies who are just learning to walk and talk and figuring out the world around them.

2.) Middle childhood lasts from age 6 to age 12. During this time, children become more self-sufficient as they go to school and make friends.

3.) Adolescence, which lasts from age 13 to age 18, comes with hormonal changes and learning about who you are as an individual.

4.) Early adulthood lasts from age 19 to age 30 and involves finding an occupation and often finding a life partner as well.

5.) Middle Age lasts from age 30 to age 60 and is the time when most people start a family and settle into their adult lives.

6.) Later Maturity is the time of life after age 60. During this time, people adjust to life after work and begin to prepare themselves for death.

As you can see, each life stage has specific developmental tasks that generally occur in that time period. Someone in early childhood, for example, is likely not going to be starting a family of their own, unless it's a pretend one. In contrast, someone in middle age is probably not learning to walk and talk. That's already happened by then.

Developmental Tasks

So people go through six stages of life and each stage has developmental tasks that a person needs to master during that period. But what dictates the developmental tasks? For example, why does a person in early adulthood find a mate instead of someone in early childhood? According to Havighurst, there are three sources of developmental tasks. That is, there are three things that can cause a developmental task during a life stage. The three sources are:

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