Introduction to Robert Havighurst’s Developmental Tasks
IDevice Icon Objective

After going through this session, you will be able to...

  • Explain Robert Havighurst's concept of developmental tasks

Robert James Havighurst was born on 5th June, 1900 in De Pere, Wisconsin. He was a professor, physicist, educator and aging expert. Both his father, Freeman Alfred Havighurst, and mother, Winifred Weter Havighurst, had been educators at Lawrence University. Havighurst worked and published well into his 80s. According to his family, Havighurst died of Alzheimer's disease on 31st January, 1991 in Richmond, Indiana



Psychologist Robert J. Havighurst further elaborated on Erickson's view on personality development. He asserted that "Erickson's analysis of stages of development could be applied in a different way to shed light on other facets of development.
IDevice Icon Scenario

Raj is a 5 year old boy. He enjoys taking part in sports and goes out to play with his friends every day.

While he was 1 year old he enjoyed falling down on the ground and then getting up again. He continued to do so until he was tired.

What could be the reason for Raj’s interest in different activities? Read below to find out.

"A developmental task is a task which is learned at a specific point and which makes achievement of succeeding tasks possible. When the timing is right, the ability to learn a particular task will be possible. This is referred to as a 'teachable moment.' It is important to keep in mind that unless the time is right, learning will not occur. Hence, it is important to repeat important points whenever possible so that when a student's teachable moment occurs, she/he can benefit from the knowledge."
Critical tasks arise at certain times in our lives. Mastery of these tasks is satisfying and encourages us to go on to new challenges. Difficulty with them slows progress toward future accomplishments and goals. As a mechanism for understanding the changes that occur during the lifespan of an individual, Robert Havighust (1952, 1972, and 1982) identified critical developmental tasks that occur throughout one's life. Although our interpretations of these tasks naturally changes over the years and with new research findings, Havighurst's developmental tasks offer lasting testimony to the belief that we continue to develop throughout our lives.Havighurst (1972) defines a developmental tasks as one that arises at a certain period in our lives, the successful achievement of which leads to happiness and success with later tasks; while failure leads to unhappiness, social disapproval, and difficulty with later tasks. Havighurst uses slightly different age groupings, but the basic divisions are quite similar to those used in this book. He identifies three sources of developmental tasks (Havighurst, 1972)
Tasks that arise from physical maturation. For example, learning to walk, talk, and behave acceptably with the opposite sex during adolescence; adjusting to menopause during middle age. 

Tasks that arise from personal sources. For example, those that emerges from the maturing personality and takes the form of personal values and aspirations, such as learning the necessary skills for job success.

Tasks that have their source in the pressures of society. For example, learning to read or learning the role of a responsible citizen.

From 1948 to 1953 Havighurst developed his highly influential theory of human development and education. The crown jewel of his research was on developmental task. Havighurst identified six major stages in human life covering birth to old age.

Robert Havighurst identified developmental tasks in the following age periods-

  1. Infancy and Childhood(0-5)
  2. Childhood (6-12)
  3. Adolescent (13-18)
  4. Early Adulthood (19-30)
  5. Middle Age (30-60)
  6. Later Maturity (60+)
IDevice Question Icon Exercise
Choose the appropriate alternative.

Moral Value is a…

Task that arises from physical maturation
Task that arises from personal sources
Task that has its source in the pressures of society

IDevice Icon Discussion Forum
Recollect any experience of a small task you had to learn in order to perform/learn a major task.

Visit the Discussion Forum created for discussion on the above topic. Post your reply in the forum.

After writing your post and reading others posts, continue with the next module.

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