What is Maturation? - Definition, Theory & Process

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  • 0:01 What Is Maturation?
  • 0:16 Maturation Defined
  • 0:33 Physical Maturation
  • 1:21 Cognitive Maturation
  • 2:52 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Dana Dance-Schissel

Dana teaches social sciences at the college level and English and psychology at the high school level. She has master's degrees in applied, clinical and community psychology.

Maturation refers to the ways in which we grow and develop throughout the lifespan. This lesson will discuss the various types of maturation, as well as an associated theory.

What is Maturation?

Think back on when you were a very young child. Can you remember being physically small? How about the way you solved problems when you were very young? I'll bet it was very simplistic compared to how you figure things out now. These types of questions shed light on the process of maturation.

Maturation Defined

Maturation is the process by which we change, grow, and develop throughout life. Developmental psychologists look at many different types of maturation throughout the lifespan. The types of maturation that we'll focus on in this lesson are physical maturation and cognitive maturation.

Physical Maturation

Physical maturation focuses on the physical changes that occur as we age. For example, at birth we mainly use reflexes to interact with the world. Sucking is a reflex that allows us to take in nutrition. As we get older, we do not rely on our reflexes as much because we develop gross motor skills such as crawling, sitting up, walking, and running. We also develop fine motor skills for things like writing and drawing. We grow taller and our weight increases. We go from being infants to toddlers to kids to adolescents and finally adults. Surprisingly though, we do not stop maturing once we become adults! Through the process of senescence, or aging, we move from early adulthood through middle adulthood and lastly into late adulthood. Physical changes happen in each of these stages. They are all examples of physical maturation.

Cognitive Maturation

Why is it that babies think peek-a-boo is funny, yet adults would likely think you were crazy if you asked them to play? Cognitive maturation is the way we change our thinking patterns throughout the lifespan and its principles will help to explain why babies find Peek-a-boo funny while adults do not.

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