Developmental Theories Across the Lifespan

Article 1 Summary
The article, Cognitive and Affective Association with an Ecologically Valid Test of Theory of Mind across the Lifespan, examines theory of mind (ToM) performance across the lifespan of elderly adults. ToM is defined as the ability of a person to recognize mental states (Nolaker, Murray, Happé, & Charlton, 2018). That is, being able to understand and acknowledge that the desires and beliefs of another person differ from one’s own. While ToM tends to be stable during adulthood, the authors indicate that it has not been examined among the elderly. Moreover, isolation and health issues experienced by the elderly create a risk for social functioning.

The study conducted hypothesize that ToM will decrease with age. Six adults aged between 17 and 95 years participated in the survey, which was done in their own homes (Nolaker, Murray, Happé, & Charlton, 2018). Cognitive functions were tested as well as empathy to determine ToM abilities. The results verified the hypothesis as they showed a significant difference in levels of ToM across age. Ideally, having a working memory is essential in enhancing the concept, and as adults’ age, their memory is compromised. The results of the research are supported by other studies that have proved ToM declines across the lifespan of an adult.

Article 2 Summary
The article, Prospective Memory Development across the Lifespan, analysis the role of executive functioning in prospective memory (PM). Prospective memory is the ability of individuals to perform the planned task as a result of having a good memory (Zuber & Kliegel, 2020). Additionally, it is categorized into two types, time-based PM tasks, and event-based PM. In time-based, a performance is carried at a particular time in the future while in event-based PM, a task is conducted after an event. The author indicates that various researches have proved that older people have a poor PM performance compared to young people. However, in unplanned settings, more aged people perform as well as the younger population.

Cognitive and non-cognitive factors play a critical role in influencing PM across life. To illustrate the concept, the authors state that memory is affected by the type of resources available and the characteristics of the PM tasks (Zuber & Kliegel, 2020). As people age, the executive structure of the frontal region reduces in volume. Its activities also tend to be less effective; hence when a person is presented with a PM task that requires high strategies, it becomes more difficult to retrieve information and implement. Therefore, older people should be helped to improve their cognition as a means to improve their PM.

Article 3 Summary
The article, Theory of Mind Across the Lifespan, highlights some of the aspects that need to be addressed in the concept of ToM. The author notes that measuring ToM across the lifespan is difficult and can lead to the development of false beliefs (Wellman, 2018). Consequently, the results obtained offer little knowledge, and the concept of ToM has not had significant progress. The author suggests the use of statistical scaling methods to measure the growth of ToM among people of different age groups since it is developmentally sensitive. Additionally, the numbers obtained from the technique give intrinsically continuous measures that are suitable for analysis.

The article indicates the ability of individuals to develop an extraordinary mind shows that ToM has advanced. Both adults and children have developed an understanding of concepts such as prayers, God, superheroes, and omniscience (Wellman, 2018). Additionally, as a result of technological advancement, human beings attribute their mental abilities to devices. Therefore, studying how people interact and view extraordinary things can create a better understanding of ToM. In a study, children younger than nine years were seen to have a greater liking of robots when they believed it could make decisions and think. However, adults and older children felt the robots are creepy if they portray a human mind. The author summarizes that exploring the topic will make a significant contribution to ToM.
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Analysis and Evaluation
Article 1 features the theory of ToM across the lifespan and illustrates social and cognitive development as adults develop into older people. The information offered shows that cognition development leads to different relations between children and adults. Older adults have a compromised memory, which affects cognition processes, including ToM. As a result, their social life is affected as they become less likely to understand other people’s values and beliefs. Additionally, based on information, cognition development has a direct impact on social development. Moreover, it is as a result of memory change that the elderly become isolated. The results of the study were conducted to align with the findings of other researches, which shows historically the concept of ToM had not changed.

The second article focuses mainly on cognition development. The authors suggest that as a result of brain development, younger adults have skills that older adults lack. That is, they can perform planned tasks as a result of enhanced prospective memory. The article deconstructs the commonly held stereotype that older people tend to be poor performers by indicating that while they have poor prospective memory, they perform well when presented with different types of tasks. The stereotypes create a negative perception of the elderly, which affects their social life, which creates a relationship between cognition and social development.

The third article suggests measures that can be taken to improve the understanding of cognition and emotional development. It highlights the difference between children and adults concerning ToM. Additionally, it highlights the role of nature in development across the life span. For instance, technological advancement influences emotional development. Children are more drawn towards robots and other forms of artificial intelligence that operate as human beings compared to adults. On the other hand, the ability to believe in superficial powers such as God and prayers has an impact on emotional development. Considering that the article indicates areas that need improvement in the study of ToM, it shows that historical content may not be relevant or accurate today.

Integration Summary
The main similarity between the three studies is the notion that brain function across lifespan affects cognition development. As adults become older, brain function deteriorates, which affects ToM and the ability to perform planned tasks. Secondly, the three articles indicate how one form of development affects another. Poor brain function leads to reduced cognitive function, which affects social development. Additionally, cognition development also leads to emotional growth as an individual can understand the world better. The main difference is that the articles test different aspects of brain development. Unlike the first and last articles, the second article focuses on the functioning of prospective memory. The theories most applicable in the three readings are cognitive development and social development across the life span. The lifespan perspective may provide a better understanding of how to enhance the cognitive functioning of older adults and prevent conditions associated with memory loss. This way, they can lead a productive life.
Nolaker, E. J., Murray, K., Happé, F., & Charlton, R. A. (2018). Cognitive and affective associations with an ecologically valid test of theory of mind across the lifespan. Neuropsychology, 32(6), 754-763.
Wellman, H. (2018). Theory of Mind Across the lifespan? Zeitschrift für Psychologie, 226(2), 136-138.
Zuber, S., & Kliegel, M. (2020). Prospective memory development across the lifespan: An integrative framework. European Psychologist, 25(3), 162-173.