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Human Development Essay


Mary (not her real name) is a sixteen-year-old girl who is a neighbour and a family friend. She is among the best basketball players for our estate basketball team called Shooters. Mary’s favourite hobby is singing and dancing. She is a great fan of Rhythm and Blues music and attends Salsa classes in the evenings whenever time allows. She is the third child in a family of three. Also, the teenager is an active member of the Praise and Worship team of their church. Based on the human stages of development, Mary is in the adolescent stage, ready to graduate into the early adulthood stage.

Physical development

Mary is five feet tall and weighs sixty-five kilograms. Her breasts are much more pronounced, round, and steady than four years back when her breasts appeared like a nipple. She also has longer head hair that has also become darker. Also, Mary has hair under her armpits and on her legs too. Besides, Mary has broadened hips and larger buttocks. Her obsession with food has made Mary obese, which is currently limiting her basketball playing abilities. Mary eats a lot of food. She cannot spend more than three hours without having something to eat. Unfortunately, she is a great fan of junk and fatty foodstuffs. Her peers are stronger and more active than Mary’s low physical activity levels. She also has larger legs and a fatty stomach, apart from larger buttocks. Her skin is oily and glows even without applying body lotion.

Cognitive development

Mary has a sharp memory and can remember every detail of a favourite movie that she watched. Mary has had excellent academic performances since childhood. However, in the last two years, her academic performance has deteriorated. Mary seems mentally occupied with many things in life. Generally, she has robust intellectual strength because she reasons logically and questions everything from social standards and authority. She seems to scrutinize what appears right and wrong in the socio-political domain. She has developed a strong desire to become a surgeon and asks her parents to support her career. Mary’s logical thinking is stronger compared to when she was ten. She can now reason out what is right and what is wrong. She sometimes gives possible solutions to the problems that grapple the global society. In one of the talks with Mary, I discovered her mature thinking when she stated that the best way of talking about sexuality is by addressing the subject as early as possible.

Social development

Even though she still has close ties with her family members, Mary has a stronger attachment with other peers in the neighbourhood. She mostly likes the company of male teenagers and mixed-peer groups. It seems like peers are more important to Mary compared to her parents. She prefers going for study sessions in the public library in the company of other teenagers compared to studying at home. She seems to be seeking social independence and dislikes being restricted on what to do and what not to do. Whenever she has a troubling social issue (especially about her intimate relationships), she tells her older sister. Generally, Mary has stronger bondage with her father. She always feels better when visited at school by her father than her mother. While at home, Mary prefers boarding her father’s car compared to her mother’s classic Mercedes-Benz. Mary is already sexually active. She is in her third intimate relationship with Davies (their basketball coach) and has already decided to get married to Davies. As a music lover, she always attends discotheques in the company of other youths. The trend has attracted negative influences like drug abuse. I was perplexed last summer when Mary admitted to having started smoking cigarettes. Davies introduced Mary to cigarette smoking, deceiving her that smoking would reduce weight.

Personality development

I find Mary to be unique in many aspects. Despite her younger age, she reasons like a mature person. She is also in a relationship with thirty-five-year-old Davies. People will expect Mary to be the typical short-term teenage relationship at her age. Also, she is very temperamental. She gets annoyed by any sentiments that are contrary to her wishes. In some incidences, she fights with her brother and other teenagers who cross her path. Besides, her clumsy appearance makes Mary lack self-esteem.

Theories of human development

One of the theories about stages of human development that suits Mary is Erikson’s Psychosocial Theory of Development. Under this model, every stage has psychological friction that must be tackled to successfully navigate into another stage (Orensten & lewis, 2020). Mary is in the fifth stage, referred to as the Identity versus Role Confusion stage. The stage occurs in individuals between twelve and eighteen years. According to Erikson, individuals in this stage design specific identities that shape their future life. The stage is characterized by the exploration of different behaviours and identities. They get confused about what to become. Mary has a higher passion for being a professional basketball player while wishing to be a great musician or a surgeon. Youths in this stage also strive to determine their future. Although Mary is young, she has already decided to get married to Davies. She identifies herself mostly with mixed-peer groups and seeks to enjoy freedom as much as possible.

Another theory that fits in this context is the Psychoanalytic theory by Sigmond Freud. Freud opined that an individual’s psychological behaviours and responses were a true reflection of biological drives (Gaude, 2021). He argues that means or objects used for quenching our drive for pleasure transcend throughout a person’s early stages of development. Based on this theory, Mary is in the genital stage, in which individuals develop immense interests in the opposite sex. In this stage, libido becomes more pronounced. The argument links well with Mary, who was already in the third romantic relationship with Davies. When she broke up with her first boyfriend, Mary never wished to lead a life without a boyfriend. She jumped into the second relationship and now the third with Davies. It seems like her high libido could not allow her to lead a lonely life.

Also, Piaget’s Cognitive Development theory best explains Mary’s case. Mary is in the Formal Operational Stage, in which individuals start thinking abstractly. The individuals start to reason from a general perspective to specific elements (McLeud, 20180. Individuals in this stage use deductive reasoning to seek potential remedies to issues that grapple society. Mary questions why society shies off from discussing matters related to sexuality. She considers such concealment as why youths are ill-informed hence making wrong decisions about intimate relationships. She concludes that sexuality should be discussed openly and at the initial stages of development to prepare individuals adequately.


I have learned that most development models have relevant insights that can be used to define the various stages of human growth and development. I have learned that teenagers strive for autonomy and that how an individual sail through the stage determines the success rate of her future life. I enjoyed doing this assignment, for it made me think deeply about Mary’s life in terms of the four life elements (physical development, cognitive development, social development and personality development). I was surprised to learn that youths lead a competitive life with everyone striving to be accepted, especially their peers. In general, the adolescence stage is marked with confusion and identity crisis in the individuals. Parents need to understand and employ the best mechanisms to avoid clashing with individuals in this segment.


Gaude, U. (2021). The Relevance of Freud in the Modern World. Journal of Clinical & Diagnostic Research15(8).

McLeod, S. (2018). Jean Piaget’s theory of cognitive development. Simply Psychology, 1-9.

McLeod, S. (2018). Jean Piaget’s theory of cognitive development. Simply Psychology, 1-9.

Orenstein, G. A., & Lewis, L. (2020). Erikson’s stages of psychosocial development. StatPearls [Internet].


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