Life Span Case Study Project: Case Study

Excerpt from Case Study :

Interview No. 3 - "Bill" (age 54 years):

The interview with Bill took place immediately following the conclusion of the interview with Anne who left the dining room after being thanked for her participation and the refreshments. Bill is a semi-retired disabled veteran of the U.S. Air Force with Vietnam-era service; he continues to work part-time as a pizza delivery driver. Because the couple's ownership of a shared computer with high-speed Internet access had been established in the interview with Anne, this interview skipped these questions and went directly to an interrogatory concerning what Bill used the computer for most of the time. Bill replied that, "I like to play chess sometimes, and I've been a big fan of all of the Tiger Woods golfing games on CD for the computer." As to socializing on the computer, Bill said this feature was available in his chess room, but he avoided it since it "was just kids bad-mouthing each other and I'm there to play chess."

When asked if he used his computer for research or other learning purposes, Bill said, "Sure, all the time. Whenever we see something on TV that we have a question about, we just look it up. it's great." Bill also reiterated his wife's comments concerning the couple's use of their previous computers to help their young daughter learn, but Bill also emphasized that, "I taught Mary how to read when she was just 3 years old by using a copy of Green Eggs and Ham. Kids love repetition and even though I think Mary was just kind of faking it at first, she was able to read the whole book after a few weeks and she hasn't stopped since." Bill also said he tried to encourage Mary to use her computer for research and learning, but complained, "She's on that damn Gaia website all the time and she keeps asking me for money to buy things to use in there. Just last week I spent more than $40 on junk that can only be used in that website, and it's just a way to rip kids and their parents off."

When he was asked what he thought computers would look like in 10 or 20 years, Bill was quick to respond. He replied, "There won't be any computers in 20 years, probably sooner than that. Computers are already everywhere," he said, "and they keep making them smaller and pretty soon they're just going to disappear completely." When he was asked if he planned on using his computer to help him with any research or learning activity in the future, Bill said, "Absolutely. We may not know what computers will look like years from now, but I sure depend on mine now."

Like his wife, Bill became somewhat agitated at the questions concerning whether he thought there should be computers in every public school classroom. Bill agreed that all students should have access to computers in their classroom, but pointed out that his own daughter did not have computers in all of their classrooms, and the ones they did have were quickly becoming obsolete. Also like his wife, Bill was not pleased with the suggestion that the government might furnish computers and Internet access to economically disadvantaged students to help them remain academically competitive, and said, "We can't get a school voucher program in this country and it's tough to keep Mary in a private school. She's a top-notch student, though, and we figure she deserves whatever we can afford."

Finally, when he was asked what he considered to be the most important thing that computers have done for humans, Bill said, "It's the age of information, and we owe that to computers. Just think of all the things that we take for granted now that rely on computers. Shoot, they even took us to the moon and that was using 1960s technology. Just think of what we will be able to do a few years from now. I always wanted to be an astronaut when I was growing up and those guys were my heroes. My grandchildren will probably be able to vacation on the moon and colonize Mars thanks to computers."

Part Two: Discussion number of researchers have offered various frameworks in which an individual's course through life could be better understood. Paramount among these, of course, were Erikson and Piaget. According to Austrian (2002), "Erikson viewed development as resulting from a combination of biological, cultural, social, and psychological factors, merging within the ego. He postulated that at each different stage there is a psychosocial 'crisis' that, when resolved, enhances ego mastery. At the end of each stage, Erikson felt that a new psychological "virtue" (strength) is acquired. Each successive stage with its accompanying crisis is related to the basic demands of society; thus, the life cycle and society's institutions evolve together" (p. 46).

Erikson's first five developmental stages were extensions of Freud's psychosexual stages, and Erikson originally postulated a total of eight sequential stages involving ego crises, states of disequilibrium, and accompanying critical tasks, which enhanced competency and guided healthy life span development (Austrian, 2000). During the later part of his life, Erikson propounded yet another stage, the ninth, that concerned a sense of one's own integrity vs. A feeling of defeat or despair about one's life as physical deterioration occurs (Austrian, 2000). Each developmental stage in life, Erikson maintained, has both positive and negative factors which are incorporated into the person's identity; moreover, each stage must be successfully completed before an individual can move on to the next stage. The successful resolution of the specific crises of each developmental level, Erikson felt, enhanced the individual's sense of self and ego identity (Austrian, 2000).

All of this developmental progress, Erikson maintained, was naturally directed at maturation and personal growth. According to Hannush (2006), "In the large Eriksonian life-span scheme, the essence of developmental movement for adults is outward, forward, and upwards toward a conscious, ethical concern for others and a deeper sense of spiritual self. Erikson maintained that the caring, generative person was the developmental pinnacle for each adult" (p. 115). Moreover, Erikson believed that there was a "one-size-fits-all" goal to which all rationale people should aspire: "The fully developed adult is, of necessity, a generative, integrated, and ethical adult, the endpoint to which we all ought to aim" (quoted in Hannush, 2006 at p. 115).

Likewise, Piaget maintained that as an individual matures, new structures must be developed that build on the old, thereby enhancing interaction with the environment (Austrian, 2000). According to this author, "Intellectual development, Piaget's main interest, happens in a series of stages that require different types of interaction with the environment and thus different psychological structures" (Austrian, 2000, p. 52).

The interviewees fell into the following development stages as described by Erikson:

Mary's age of 12-1/2 years places her in Erikson's Adolescence (12 to 18 Years), with the Ego Development Outcome being Identity vs. Role Confusion stage where the individual's basic strengths are Devotion and Fidelity (Harder, 2002).

Anne's age of 35 years places her in Erikson's Young Adulthood stage (18 to 35 years), with the Ego Development Outcome being Intimacy and Solidarity vs. Isolation and the basic strengths of Affiliation and Love (Harder, 2002).

Finally, Bill's age of 54 years places him squarely in Erikson's Middle Adulthood stage (35 to 55 years), with the Ego Development Outcome being Generativity vs. Self absorption or Stagnation and the Basic Strengths of Production and Care (Harder, 2002).

While the interviewees fit neatly into these developmental categories according to Erikson, there were some anomalies noted that were worthy of note. For instance, Mary's age places her on the cusp of the previous developmental level according to Erikson, but notwithstanding her seeming shyness and reservations on the telephone, Mary's intellect probably places her far above this category for this developmental aspect at any rate. Likewise, Erikson would suggest that Bill had some distinct challenges ahead of him as he attempts to achieve the next developmental stage, particularly considering his current employment status and inability to secure more gainful employment in pursuit of a traditional career. By contrast, Anne appears to fit neatly within the developmental category assigned by Erikson across the board.

All of the interviewees reported they used their computers for recreational and learning activities, but the two female subjects indicated they also used their computers for socializing, with Mary being the most active in this regard. All of the interviewees also indicated they intended to use their computers for these purposes in the future, but they disagreed as to what computers might look like in the years to come and what the most important contribution computers had made to humans, with the oldest subject recalling exciting early applications of computers and the youngest subject emphasizing their current ability…

Sources Used in Document:


Austrian, S.G. (2002). Developmental theories through the life cycle. New York: Columbia University Press.

Hannush, M.J. (2006). Erikson on development in adulthood: New insights from unpublished papers. Journal of Phenomenological Psychology, 37(1), 115.

Harder, a.F. (2002). The developmental stages of Erik Erikson. Learning Place. [Online]. Available:

Appendix a Questions Used in Semi-Structured Interviews with Life Development Subjects

Cite This Case Study:

"Life Span Case Study Project " (2007, September 10) Retrieved March 30, 2020, from

"Life Span Case Study Project " 10 September 2007. Web.30 March. 2020. <>

"Life Span Case Study Project ", 10 September 2007, Accessed.30 March. 2020,