The Forces of Adult Development: Biological, Psychological, Sociocultural & Life-cycle

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  • 0:04 Development
  • 1:03 Biological
  • 2:00 Psychological
  • 2:57 Sociocultural
  • 3:59 Life-cycle
  • 4:51 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Devin Kowalczyk

Devin has taught psychology and has a master's degree in clinical forensic psychology. He is working on his PhD.

This lesson will briefly cover the four main forces that work together to influence a person's development from childhood through adulthood: biological, psychological, sociocultural, and life-cycle.


In science, we like to think of everything as discrete and non-interactive. In Newtonian physics, force equals mass times acceleration. Simple, discrete, but it fails to consider the interaction of air pressure, the composition of the mass, and other effects like gravity and drag. Of course, all those specifics here aren't important - what I'm trying to convey is the idea that the world is interactive and complicated.

When it comes to development, we like to pretend and write about the factors and forces as if each one is separate. We will write about each one, but really they are interactive, additive, and multiplicative. What I mean is, it isn't nature versus nurture, it is nature and nurture. The four main forces of development are biological, psychological, sociocultural, and life-cycle. We will look at each one separately, but they are not actually apart.


Biological forces are a group of physiological developments leading to maturity. This includes things such as genes, hormones, nutrition, and more. The biological force is concerned with the body and how it develops. And even after puberty your body will continue to be affected by this force.

Let's look at two that are easy to understand: genes and nutrition. Say you were born and grew up with a good set of genes. You age well and you haven't developed any cancerous tissues. You grow to a good height and your body is in pretty good shape. That is biological force working for you.

Let's say that you start eating a lot of fast food and drinking way too many energy drinks. You are never hungry for real food, so you just stick to your diet of fast food and energy drinks. Over time, you body will begin to break down. The cells of your body need more than is offered, and you're basically starving yourself.


Psychological forces are a group of thoughts, emotions, and behavioral developments leading to maturity. As we grow up, we accrue experience and we understand the world is more complex. Things like learning, personality, and choices all fall under this force.

The most obvious changes occur during childhood, but shifts can occur as one grows older. Sometimes, being an adult is understanding what choices are made. A good example that I like to pass on to people is that children make decisions based on wants and needs, whereas adults understand that they cannot live that way for very long. There is a thing called 'cognitive override' in which an adult makes a conscious decision to not follow through on a particular want or need because they understand that they need to be an adult. This continues into older age, in which one learns to control their emotions better and develop certain wisdom.


Sociocultural forces are a group of values, ideas, and beliefs that influence maturity. Examples of this force include morals, habits, and practices. Here the sociocultural forces are kind of how people gauge your maturity or level of involvement in society. Someone who fails to accept their role is often mocked as childish or weird.

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