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From The CriticsReviewer: Gary B Kaniuk, Psy.D.(Cermak Health Services)
Description: This book addresses life span development in terms of cognitive development, social-emotional relationships, and physical/psychological health.
Purpose: The purpose is to "address, through a multidisciplinary perspective, the biological, cognitive, and psychological development that occurs from infancy through old age, and how the sociocultural and institutional factors interface with these changes."
Audience: Described as a resource "for graduate seminars in life-span-related studies," the book would be appropriate for clinicians, researchers, and individuals involved in public policy development. The editors include Karen Fingerman, from Purdue University, whose research focuses on middle-aged adults; Cynthia Berg, a professor of psychology at the University of Utah, whose research is of individuals in close relationships; Jacqui Smith, professor of psychology at the University of Michigan, who studies midlife and old age; and Toni Antonucci, also a professor at the University of Michigan, who studies social relations and health across the lifespan. They are joined by 77 contributors in writing this book.
Features: The book begins with theoretical perspectives of life-span development including task theory, agency and control, social relations, and facets of change. Next, it focuses on cognitive and physical factors, showing how intelligence and personality affect health outcomes. It also address basic cognitive functions such as memory, problem-solving, executive functioning, and attribution style across the life-span. The third section looks at social and emotional functioning, including the stability of personality traits. Finally, the book explores various contexts of development including behavioral genetics, social inequalities, family environment, and the influence of neighborhoods. The interesting chapter on emotional experience begins with emotional experience in infants and traces feelings of well-being through the various stages of life. An enlightening chapter on social inequalities clearly reveals obvious disparities among racial and ethnic groups in terms of economics and health status. Though not all members of minority groups remain disadvantaged all their lives, there still exist discriminatory practices in society which are difficult to overcome. Each chapter looks at the full life span, which is extremely helpful in making comparisons, as is the discussion of various contexts and perspectives. There are helpful tables and figures, though it would have been good to include more in order to clarify the text.
Assessment: This helpful book discusses the full life span in each chapter in order to compare and contrast the various stages of development. The international authorship has put together an easy to read book covering 33 different topics over 905 pages. Backed by research, it includes hundreds of references to follow up on. It is a great book for graduate students as well as clinicians.