April 4, 2020

Constructive developmental framework

Great overview of the topic on medium.‍

Becoming an ‘adult’ means transitioning to higher stages of development. It means developing an independent sense of self and gaining the traits associated with wisdom and social maturity. It means becoming more self-aware and in control of our behavior, as well as increasingly aware of, and better able to manage our relationships and the social factors affecting us.

However, most of us — about 65% of the general population — never become high functioning ‘adults’, i.e. we never make it past Stage 3 (out of 5 Stages!). We still lack an independent sense of self because so much of what we think, believe, and feel is dependent on how we think others experience us.

Quoted from Wikipedia

The constructive developmental framework (CDF) is a theoretical framework for epistemological and psychological assessment of adults. The framework is based on empirical developmental research showing that an individual's perception of reality is an actively constructed "world of their own", unique to them and which they continue to develop over their lifespan.

Social–emotional development

Stages of adult development

According to the developmental psychologist Robert Kegan, a person's self-concept evolves in a series of stages through their lifetime. Such evolution is driven alternately by two main motivations: that of being autonomous and that of belonging to a group. Human beings are "controlled" by these motivations in the sense that they do not have influence on them but are rather defined by them. Additionally, these motivations are in conflict and their relationship develops over a lifespan.

Kegan describes 5 stages of development, of which the latter 4 are progressively attained in adulthood, although only a small proportion of adults reach the fourth stage and beyond:

  • Stage 1: Purely impulse or reflex-driven (infancy and early childhood).
  • Stage 2: The person's sense of self is ruled by their needs and wishes. The needs and wishes of others are relevant only to the extent that they support those of the person. Effectively the person and others inhabit two "separate worlds" (childhood to adolescence).
  • Stage 3: The person's sense of self is socially determined, based on the real or imagined expectations of others (post-adolescence).
  • Stage 4: The person's sense of self is determined by a set of values that they have authored for themselves (rarely achieved, only in adulthood).
  • Stage 5: The person's sense of self is no longer bound to any particular aspect of themselves or their history, and they are free to allow themselves to focus on the flow of their lives.

CDF refers to such stages as "social–emotional" in that they relate to the way a person makes meaning of their experience in the social world. CDF holds that people are rarely precisely at a single stage but more accurately are distributed over a range where they are subject to the conflicting influences of a higher and a lower stage.