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Human Development Application Paper


How is the lifespan development of John Bender exposed in the movie “The Breakfast Club”? How easy is it to track the set of changes that happen throughout the movie? Lifespan development is fundamentally the exploration of the change that individuals go through from conception to death. It is a basic analysis that will give a clear definition as to who and why individuals experience different changes along with their life courses. It is, therefore, an important aspect especially in the field of developmental psychology. Human development is a lifelong process that is spread across the scientific presets of study of the human physical, cognitive, and psychological development. The movie seeks to emphasize the importance of handling rejection and staying in the course of one’s life. Here, the main emphasis of the film is set on not judging anyone by who he or she is. Through the events in the movie, it is thus possible to elucidate the true meaning of these words and in the end, come up with a conclusion that is befitting for the human development that is witnessed throughout the movie. From fighting with the school teachers and students to pulling the fire alarms, it is difficult not to judge Bender from the actions that he is engaging in. However, due to this concern, it is therefore important to analyse Bender’s lifespan development. This write-up is aimed at discussing physical development, cognitive development, social development, identity development, resilience, and the implications of practice while applying the actions of the character Bender from the movie.

Physical Development

The entire setting of the movie is set on the transition that the characters go through as they face their adolescent ages into adulthood. The set of the five characters inclusive of Bender go through several redefining processes to break various barriers in their lives. This includes physical growth and changes and change that they went through. For Bender, he goes through, most notably a lot of physically redefining features that change his physicality.

John Bender demonstrates normal physical development that is expected for anyone at his age. Here, the movie shows the phases that Bender develops through and the refinement they extend to his character. Bender develops to an extent that he can effectively, efficiently, and correctly use tools at home. This is also the case with his school tool use. His physical development aids aim to skillfully use various tools (Elenbaas, 2021). The movie is keen to detail the advantages that physical growth extends to him. Bender can score easily when he is playing basketball on the court next to the gym. The essence of physical development among adolescents and individuals at this age cannot be underestimated. This is preceded by the overall effect that this preset has on the individual as a result of this physical change. Here, the strength that accumulates over time due to muscular development is important in their normal day-to-day activities due to the numerous physical involvements that they are expected to engage in. Besides, at this specific age bracket, this kind of development is important because it has direct outcomes on the mental well-being of the individuals.

In human development studies, the orientation of adolescents towards physical activities that require high levels of coordination is viewed as one of the essential milestones that are normally used to account for this kind of growth. Here, coordination is viewed as an activity that involves the movement or the action of two body parts together at the same time. Here, the coordination activities are not only linked to the positive effects that it has on the physical growth of the individuals but also on the cumulative outcomes in the individuals’ lives. The emphasis is stressed on the need to incommode fast thinking and faster information processing (Haniffa et al., 2021). Exercises that include this facet are important and they trigger smartness and better self-control. This can be used as the source of the explanation or the activities that Bender engaged in and the resulting outcomes.

John Bender does not portray this trait; a trait that is commonly exhibited by adolescents of his age. The importance that is excluded from his life thus exposes him to the issues of lowered self-control that he is constantly fighting to alleviate in his life. The main reason that pushes Bender to this precipice earlier on is the inability to adapt to the new physical activities that he faces in school. In this new environment, he is required to fully engage in the activities that call for maximum coordination. However, this character shows no interest in pursuing any of these extracurricular activities. Thus, due to this reason, Bender faces multiple delays in his developmental milestones.

Cognitive development

Cognitive development is one of the most essential points that are used to assess the overall human developmental patterns. Through this front, individuals can develop their ability to focus, remember information, and participate or engage in more critical thinking as age moves by. Here, the individuals can understand the relationships between ideas, top grasp the process of cause and effect, and consequently improve their analytical skills. The individuals get a chance to pay attention to thinking about the world around them. For everyone, is cognitive development is the pacesetter in the ability to balance and effectively exhaust the capacity of the working memory, attention, as well as the individual’s ability to manage and respond to the day-to-day experiences and information. But how does Bender exactly demonstrate this from the movie?

The overall statement on Bender’s cognitive development in the movie can be regarded as normal. He is constantly learning, realizing more about his environment and surrounding, and demonstrating normalcy in the process. However, Bender’s learning is constantly deterred by his inability to effectively fit in the cognitive bracket of the adolescents. Through the experiences that Bender goes through in the movie, he has learned that there is no better place to stay. To say, he is aware that every place has challenges of its own ( Wallace, 2021). This realization comes to his attention through several instances that he experiences firsthand or witnesses happening to various people. He nevertheless learns that coping up with the situation is perhaps the most important aspect that one has to associate self with to come over the issues.

For instance, Bender is saddened by the actions that Clark’s father exposes him to. In this particular incident, Cark is punished by his father for not competing. This is later followed by the act of Clark and Bender joining forces and teaming up against their parents. They recognize the unfair and the bad treatment that their parents have been exposing them to. Cognitively, they recognize the need for better treatment from their parents. The main hate that they offer to their parents is based on the reaction of their parents towards their wishes, blatant misunderstanding that they offered to them as children, and the need to be understood better. Here, as children or young adults, they understand their needs and how they have been experiencing unmet interests from their parents.

The cognitive ability of Bender to bond with friends and associates is especially brought out by the association that he strikes with Clark. After finding out that they both have father issues, they decide to stick together. However, it is essential to analyse the reflection of Bender’s family on his character. Here, it is clear that most of the characters that Bender exposes can be traced back to the kind of family that he grew up in (Palit and Chhabra, 2021). This raises the concern on the effect of the environment on the cognitive ability of individuals and the learning processes on the character that they will portray. His growth and correction were based on violent punishments which eventually led him to believe that violence is the only option of solving most of the problems that he faced. The reason why he was possessively engrossed with his violent involvements.

According to most psychological scholars and analysts, the cognitive ability of individuals is directly related to the outcomes in the risk for violent behaviour and antisocial behaviour. Here, lower cognitive ability (as witnessed with Bender), leads to aggressive behaviour and other antisocial involvements that he engages in. According to the theoretical and the practical understanding of this theory, it’s the role of the parents to ensure that their children are free and not in any way exposed to any instances of aggressive behaviour that may negatively impact the children’s cognitive abilities. It is especially important according to this argument and the cognitive orientation of Bender in the movie to embrace better and cohesive environments for the children’s growth because the children will benefit from numerous advantages. Among these include the likelihood of developing improved-decision making skills, thoughts, and most importantly, the choices that they are likely to make.

Additionally, it is important to note that the negative outcomes in the cognitive orientation of individuals are non-discriminative in the extension of negative traits. Bender stresses this point as he mostly labels his family as being “stupid” and “worthless”. This is evident throughout the movie especially the point that he gets a chance to talk about his family. Basing on the activities that take place in the movie, it can be conclusively agreed upon that he does not portray the expected adolescent cognitive development bracket. Bender falls out on this milestone majorly because of his inability to control his emotions. At this age, it is expected that an individual should portray a certain level of emotional intelligence (Haniffa et al., 2021). Managing the emotional issues and crises that he was undergoing was the main reason why he is a misfit. Reeling from the effects of his abusive home, Bender struggles to stay afloat showing wide inconsistencies through the depression and remorse of the abuse at home. Besides, Bender is at an age where he is expected to find solutions and figure out the way to the several problems he faces daily. However, he misses out on this adolescent cognitive development outcome on a huge margin because of his inability to figure out the solution to his problems.

Social Development

Fundamentally, social development forms one of the essential blocks in the study of the developmental understanding of individuals. It is the totality of the processes that are involved from childhood as the children learn to interact with people who are around them. This facet is essential in determining the outcomes of these individuals in their later lives, concerning the understanding, collaboration, and how they blend with various social settings. Over time, social development undergoes various shaping factors to affect how people react to various simulations in terms of attitudes and behaviour towards others. For instance, the social development of individuals determines how individuals behave with opposite genders and this consequently blurs or eases the engagements that these individuals get into.

In this regard, the movie portrays Bender’s social development in several ways. There are instances where he elaborates on “normal” social development. One of the most referred-to scenes that can be referenced to support this argument includes the several aspects where he behaves normally. Bender picks a sincere approach that enables him to effectively show his influential side to Claire Standish. However, it is important to note that this specific instance had a complex twist that maybe heavily relies on Standish’s composure. Here, she handles the whole issue professionally despite being previously sexually harassed by Bender (Palit and Chhabra, 2021). Here, the revelation comes out clear to place Bender on the normalcy bracket in terms of social development because of how he treats her with care, respect, and in a much different way than he did to anyone else. Bender admits that “ladies are delicate creatures who deserve to be treated with a lot of care and gentleness. His actions consequently lead to the building of trust between the two. Standish expresses the trust that she had in Bender by offering him her earrings.

The steps made with the interaction between Bender and Standish cannot, however, go unnoticed. On her part, she lacks the drive and the patience to handle the mostly erratic figure of Bender. Taking on the earlier events of the movie, this issue can be referenced to the behaviour of Bender and how his manipulative ways affected her (Haniffa et al., 2021). It is noted that Bender had the knack to make her happy through talking to her and kindness. However, he lacks out on keeping this consistency due to his good acts. However, based on the rest of the social outcomes that Bender exhibits throughout the whole movie, this specific interaction with Standish can be inferenced to being one of the situations that he manages to pull a “normal” social development pattern. This s because, despite his shortcomings and the several times that he makes Standish lose her temper and cool, she somehow sticks to him. In the incident that Mr. Richard extends his detention period for an additional seven weeks, she responds to this by expressing her sincere sympathy.

Perhaps the social outcomes of Bender with other characters such as Mr. Richard took a consistent nosedive because of the prejudgement that they accorded him. His association with Standish brings out this understanding. With his behaviour, it was increasingly difficult to trust or view Bender as an honest guy. However, Standish forms an elaborate, although a highly conflicted association with him and this enables Bender to create an alibi who could trust him and view him as an honest person. She identifies Bender as an open-minded person who delights in criticism in the path to problem-solving. Later in the movie, they fall in love ad this marks a new beginning for Bender’s social perceptions. He experiences an enormous boost in his confidence levels, understanding of other people, and elevated self-esteem.

Several reasons can be referenced to explain why Bender doesn’t fit in the expected bracket for adolescent social development Palit and Chhabra, et al., 2021). First, his background, upbringing, and cognitive orientation severely override the common requirements of the teens at his age. Here, his social relations skills are very poor. It takes someone with patience to deal with him just as was the case with Standish. Besides, he does not have the common presets that enhance harmony and collaboration within the social settings. He for instance targets Brian Johnson and makes him a scapegoat for mockery and taunting. Additionally, Bender shows an unmatched willingness to fight with Andrew Clark. This is coupled with, of course, the multiple times that he harasses Clare Standish.

Identity Development

John Bender expresses a “normal” identity on several occasions. It is essential to note that above all the unpleasant things that he extrued, his general wild nature that was characterized by several jokes made it easy for him to occasionally get along with individuals. However, several questions surface due to this particular behaviour. He likely uses the wild nature and the numerous jokes to deal with the depression and other tribulations that he dealt with from his home. Bender himself admits that he is more happy and relaxed in the company of other children rather than his siblings. However, the bender is severely unhappy with his parents and he frequently questions whether he should be with them (Palitt and Chhabra, 2021). Additionally, Bender is keen to express his dissatisfaction with the kind of punishment that he receives from his father. Most specifically, the scar on his arm left by a cigar burn from his father for spitting on the floor makes him angry. It is important to refer to the effect that the environment has on the identity outcome of the teens. Bender turns out to the low self-esteem issues due to the unconducive environment that he has to contend with at his home.

Besides, Bender demonstrates normal identity development signs in his interaction with Mr. Richard. Upon his extraction from his fellows into a new location, Bender is unable to contain himself. He is seen lonely, taking up lesser space, and consequently avoiding contact with the teacher. Due to this, he decides to follow Mr. Richard’s instructions to alleviate any further punishments that might be due to him not following his instructions.

However, Bender does not fit into the expected developmental identity of adolescents for any reason. First, Bender has not identified or known who he is as a person. Bender severely lacks a sense of self-identity and awareness (Elenbaas, 2021). This is shown by the way he treats, orients, and relates with himself and his counterparts. He expected fair treatment that he could not be able to provide to his friends and people around him. However, he still exudes the character of shutting away all those who mistreated him.

Implications of Practice

Considering Bender’s case, there are several talking points that a professional counselor can base the guidance session on. The most essential aspect will be, however, to incommode the developmental theory under the close analysis of the range of developmental challenges that Bender faced. In this specific case, professional counselors need to examine the challenges and elucidate the available information on Bender’s behaviour to come up with the necessary answers. With the trauma and the abuse that he was undergoing under his dad, there will be a correct diagnosis of the problems that he is facing. This will be the most important source of solutions for the problems and a basis for creating a regimen to correctly handle the case.

The application of the development theory in this case by the counseling professionals is normally used to examine the various stages of development. Through this, the parents, caregivers, and guardians are properly advised on the matter. Therefore, the most essential step in aiding out Bender will be to carry out an analysis to determine the effect that his former lifestyles exposed him to. With this, childhood trauma and abusive home relationships will be the most referenced.

To effectively apply this theory to help Bender, a few steps have to be taken into account. First, the typical examination room ordeal will demand uttermost trust and confidentiality. The professional guidelines to creating a meaningful rapport with Bender will be the key aspects to this. According to the science of psychology, teens with abuse experiences similar to Bender are more likely to cooperate if these presets are considered (Haniffa et al., 2021). Here, the relative adherence to these rules and guidelines will impact the final input and outputs that Bender will extend to the exercise. Creating an atmosphere that will compel him to share the ideas and the ideas and the experiences that he is going through is solely the working of the psychiatrist. On top of this, warmness and empathy towards the client is the role of the counselors. Furthermore, deep understanding and connecting with the client’s feelings is regarded as one of the most essential points of practice that will only work to ease the process.


Based on this text and the character, the definition of resilience will be crafted from the misfortunes that Bender had to contend with as he came over the issues he faced in his teenage stint. Therefore, withstanding a challenging environment and environment shifts will form the basic context of this research. Bender was able to overcome the harsh home atrocities through his behaviour. Bullying his mates and an excessive tendency to joke formed the idealistic escape plan for him. Various factors can be inferenced to elucidate whether Bender’s level of resiliency is high, medium, or low. This includes individual factors, school factors, confidence, toughness and commitment, and his perspective towards achievement.

Bender’s tribulations of facing an unwelcome home environment and an abusive dad do not affect his life course to an end. He displays a great level of commitment and an ability to be committed to his course. His active nature effectively alleviates the chances of falling into self-pity. Regardless, he soldiers on despite the conditions and he does not opt for suicide as his friend did (Elenbaas et al., 2021). The character of resilience is based on the ability of the individuals to deal with the challenges that they face along the way. He surprisingly remains stable in the face of hardships and depression, a clear indication of his resilience.

To establish the level of Bender’s resilience, it is vital to address his view and frame towards success orientation. His attention to his drive for success and the academic achievements he aims to achieve is continuously swayed by the emotional turbulence he undergoes from his abusive father. The inability of the people close to him to check up on him at this time reflects on his relations and this is evident in his relationship with Mr. Richard (Elenbaas et al., 2021). At his age bracket, Bender’s resilience constitution is an outcome of the positive support he receives from the environment that he finds himself in. Besides, Bender displays unwavering confidence in his family alongside high expectations on how they are supposed to treat him. He is highly confident that bad situations are bound to change; that they cannot linger forever;- he constantly admitted that the situation was bound to improve at some point. Bender’s confidence can be used as the measure for resiliency because of the effort that it takes to remain confident at such extreme levels of stress. He can withstand the hardships that he faces in a confident lookout that the situation is bound to improve in some way. Here, however, Bender’s situation exposes the necessity of parents accepting responsibility to foster the required positive confidence in their children through love and care.

Additionally, a list of individual factors can be sued to link the level of resilience of Bender. This includes the temperament, self-esteem, and the set of cognitive skills the individual holds. Here, it is evident that the tough and difficult overall character that Bender displays is an outcome of how he internalizes the issues that he is facing (Wallace, 2021). This draws into light the importance of families and the social settings in the development of children. The likelihood to engage in extreme behaviours and find a difficult time fitting in the society is based on the nature of upbringing that one receives. Bender turns out to be aggressive because he believes that violence is the best solution to the problems that he is facing. Violent outcomes in teenagers can therefore be alleviated with the simplistic approach of fostering better parenting approaches. Social support from the teachers, associates, and the relevant stakeholders in the education system is essential in toning down the effects of abusive outcomes of the home environments. A social relationship is essential in creating the required level of resilience in the characters. Finally, school factors form one of the most important prisms of resilience. The evaluation of resilience levels is regarded as the cumulative outcomes of the interaction between these individuals and the school activities.

Basing on the condition of Bender, the social behavioral change that could impact most on his life is the attainment of an improved relationship with his parents. In case his father decides to treat him with love and compassion, it will ultimately exonerate the bitterness and hatred that Bender holds. Besides, it will be necessary for Bender to become more resilient by opting for emotional competence and positive development (Skow, 2021). Finally, Bender can attain this facet by being more resilient and being open to new ideas, experiences, and people.


Resilience for Minorities

The research points out racism, prejudice, and discrimination to be the sources of resilience for say, a Hispanic teenager. The resilience factors highly differ from what their White counterparts face. Minority teenagers face challenges that are normally seeded in complex understanding that range from relational and health issues. Unlike the White teens who might face issues to do with family alone, the Hispanic teens face more complex issues.

Personal Reflection on Adolescence

The analysis will be based on the changes I have grown in and out of from childhood concerning the social, identity, physical, and cognitive fields. I will base my reflection on Freud’s psychosocial development theory and Erikson’s psychosocial development theory.

On Erickson’s theory, growth is an outcome of changes that take place throughout the entire life of an individual. The emphasis is laid on social life and conflict management. Growing up, I have been in situations that evoke strong emotions. I tend to let things settle on their own. Besides, I have a lot of trust issues having grown up around people who broke promises. On the other hand, Freud argues that childhood events have a permanent lifelong impact on the outcomes of an individual’s behaviour and personality. Most of my decisions and characters are hugely influenced by my childhood experiences.


The research effectively applies the knowledge gained to the experience of John Bender. The study shows how the character handles development challenges and the outcomes that are exhibited in the physical, cognitive, and social presets. Additionally, the identity formation of Bender is analysed in the paper. Besides, the study analyses the possibilities and the applications of counseling that can be used to handle the situation. Finally, the minority teens are put in a similar situation and their issues are discussed. My overall reaction to this assignment is based on the importance of tracking the developmental theory through Bender’s character. It is an open front to analyse the essential points of development studies and how to overcome some of the common issues. Additionally, I have learned that the most shaping factor for development is the immediate environment that a child encounters.


Elenbaas, L. (2021). Early Career Research Grant in Developmental Psychology. Presidential Column, 11.

Haniffa, M., Taylor, D., Linnarsson, S., Aronow, B. J., Bader, G. D., Barker, R. A., … & Webb, S. (2021). A roadmap for the Human Developmental Cell Atlas. Nature597(7875), 196-205. Haniffa, M., Taylor, D., Linnarsson, S., Aronow, B. J., Bader, G. D., Barker, R. A., … & Webb, S. (2021). A roadmap for the Human Developmental Cell Atlas. Nature597(7875), 196-205.

Palit, M., & Chhabra, B. (2021). Causes of Juvenile Delinquency and Treatment. In Criminal Psychology and the Criminal Justice System in India and Beyond (pp. 93-117). Springer, Singapore.

Skow, B. (2021). Questioning Imaginative Resistance and Resistant Reading. The British Journal of Aesthetics.

Wallace, R. (2021). The Theoretical Influence of Praise Given to Teen Leaders at 4-H Camp on Their Feelings of Contribution and Motivation. Journal of Human Sciences and Extension9(2), 180-190.


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