Life Span and Development and Personality

10 October 2016

Life Span Development ad Personality Christina Schwartz PSY/300 17 March 2013 Richard Alpert Abstract I have selected a famous individual from the 20th and/or 21st century; Princess Diana. I conducted research concerning the background of Diana to determine what forces impacted her life from the viewpoint of developmental psychology. Diana Frances Spencer, better known as Princess Diana or Lady Di was born in 1961 in Norfolk; she was the younger daughter of Edmund Roche and Frances Rosche. In 1964 Diana’s parents divided and her mother remarried Peter Kydd.

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Diana’s education came from a private boarding school for girls in Norfolk. In 1977, after finishing her education Diana went to see her father to join him and her sister Sarah in attending an event knowing that wealthy upper class royalty were on the guest list. This would be the first encounter with Charles the Prince of Whales, but it wasn’t until a 1980 festivity after a polo match that she would run into Prince Charles again. Fast forward a little over a year to February 1981 when Prince Charles proposed, and Diana accepted; the engagement was officially announced on February 24th at a press conference.

During that press conference the two were asked if they were in love, Diana responded with ‘of course’ and Charles with ‘whatever love is’ which much later in time would be reflected back on revealing a more accurate image of what the marriage truly entailed (Reynolds, 2011). Diana was born into wealth and royalty with her father Earl Spencer who was a personal aide to King George VI and to Queen Elizabeth II, and the godson of Queen Mary. (Lewis, 2013) After Diana’s parents divorced in 1964 her father gained guardianship of the children and her mother somewhat disconnected herself from their lives after running away with a wealthier man.

Diana being born into royalty, and being subjected to a certain lifestyle, a certain expectation of future endeavors and relationships from infancy set the tone in her future and what was to come. Although Diana’s road to love, happiness, and a family would come, it had its difficult times, as a young child the absence of her mother was difficult to handle. Diana had feelings of abandonment and rejection after her mother left, but took comfort in caring for her youngest sibling; her brother Charles (Princess-Diana. om, 2013). Taking the motherly role for her younger brother came naturally, and with this would come the interest in being around and caring for younger children, along with having a family of her own some day. Although hereditary traits along with environmental factors influenced Diana’s persona there is a level of moral and cognitive psychological development that is intertwined with her experiences. Moral development has a biological emphasis, which focuses on characteristic goodness of individuals.

In the midst of the engagement announcement and planning a wedding with Prince Charles Diana had her first of many negative experiences with the paparazzi. One of the first popular images that caused uproar in the royal family was taken by cleaver paparazzi while Diana was attending to a kindergarten class. He positioned Diana and two children strategically with the sun beaming down behind them while Diana was wearing a thin white skirt, which revealed a silhouette of her legs; from the moment the photo was published Diana learned she could not be so trusting of others and built a guard to the outside world.

At first it may have been a subconscious defense mechanism, but it developed into something much more serious. B. F. Skinner who developed a personality theory stated, “Personality is acquired and maintained through the use of positive and negative reinforcers” (Credo, 2001). Although Diana was born into royalty she did not carry a high profile until the relationship with Prince Charles, the significance of her appearance in general, much less in the media never crossed her mind.

This experience was a turning point in her life that leads us to believe she carried traits that associate with Skinner’s behavioral theory. Diana had to learn the hard way that not everyone in her forthcoming life would be her friend. The famous photo symbolizes Diana’s trust in others being taken advantage of as a negative reinforcement; she would never allow such a thing to happen to her again. Although the chaos of the photo eventually passed in hindsight the photo was just the precursor of what was to come.

After marriage and children Diana became known for her charity work and her loving, charismatic personality. Social-cognitive theories emphasize interactions between a person and events according to (Credo, 2001). One might say social-cognitive personality theories contradict with Diana’s personality; one also might say this theory is what turned Diana into the iconic humanitarian she was. All individuals endure negative experiences but we also learn from them through reinforcement and through revision of outcomes.

Diana took her experiences good and bad and used it as motivation to do worthy things for other people. B. F. Skinner believed that positive behavior, which receives positive reinforcement, causes the individual to adjust displays of process and the same with negative actions and reinforcements. Diana faced some serious challenges in her lifetime being in the public eye and the wife of a Prince as well as the mother of two boys, William and Henry. With the media watching the families every move it was only a matter of time until the truth was leaked out.

The truth, being that Diana was living in a world full of lies and betrayal. Through the years there had been speculation of Charles’ infidelity, with a life long friend Camilla. It wasn’t until Diana un-expectantly showed up at the country home in Highgrove and found the house a mess, with couch cushions on the floor, bath towels dirtied and so fourth; it was obvious what was taking place. Through this period Charles accused Diana of self-mutilation, being depressed, eating disorders, and even possible boarder line personality disorder, which was never confirmed.

With the deterioration of the marriage full fledged it wasn’t long before Diana had her own lover outside of her marriage as well. During such a destructive time in Diana’s marriage, family, and life in general she still managed to continue and expand on her charity work. In 1987 Diana visited the first ward for AIDS sufferers in Britain (Reynolds, 2011). She expressed empathy and concern for the ill individuals as well as those within the Red Cross and other charities. The ability to do for others while her marriage and family are being torn apart in the public eye displays characteristics of a truly remarkable human being.

The cognitive-social approach states “personality reflects a constant interplay between environmental demands and the way the individual process information about the self and the world” (Kowalski & Westen, 2011). It seems as though Diana made a conscious decision to not let the media, or the position she held as the Princess of Whales to make or break her interest in charitable work and motherhood. Through the divorce of the couple Diana was forced to detach from more than 100 charities she associated with, but continued to work for the ones she could.

She was able to take her negative experiences in her marriage, process them mentally, accept them emotionally and move forward with her son’s and a new life. The strength she portrayed in front of the world signifies behavioral characteristics of cognitive-social theories, even more so after her tragic death. Before, during, and after Diana’s death individuals still find her work notable and encouraging; it is not often this world has been touched by someone so heartfelt and caring, even through the trials and tribulations of her life.

References 1. (Reynolds, 2011) http://www. oxforddnb. com. ezproxy. apollolibrary. com/view/article/68348? docPos=1 2. (Lewis, 2013) http://womenshistory. about. com/od/diana/p/princess_diana. htm 3. (Princess-Diana. com, 2013) http://www. princess-diana. com/diana/childhood. htm 4. (Credo, 2001) http://www. credoreference. com. ezproxy. apollolibrary. com/entry/worldsocs/personality_theories 5. (Kowalski & Westen, 2011) https://ecampus. phoenix. edu/content/eBookLibrary2/content/eReader. aspx

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