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Inter-Alpha

By Joseph Albert Zarandin, STEM 1201


In a person’s life, there comes a time that he or she yearns to take control over his
or her respective life. Parents usually mistake this as teenage angst for this phenomenon
usually starts during adolescent age and detriments as he or she ages. This phenomenon
was coined as the Lifespan Theory of Control by Heckhausen and Schulz (1995).
The Lifespan Theory of Control (Heckhausen and Schulz,1995) was defined as
the proposition that the desire to exert control over one’s environment and thus realize
primary control rules the system of control behavior. This has two stages namely the
primary and secondary stage. The primary stage is the process of exerting control over
the individual’s environment and the secondary stage manifests when the person controls
the said control in his environment.
Furthermore, this theory manifests among age groups. Primary-control capacity
increases substantially during infancy, adolescence, and young adulthood, hitting a
maximum peak during midlife and declining with the loss of social roles and physical
fitness associated with old age (Chipperfield et al, 1999). Due to this, developmental
deadlines were observed. For example, when a woman is almost at the end of her child
bearing days and still longs for a child, she will utilize the control she has established in
her early years and alter this to achieve her goal. This stage manifests the secondary
stage to overcome pre-deadline goal engagement and post-deadline goal disengagement
and self-protection. Once the woman has attained her goal of childbirth control strategies
of goal disengagement, such as devaluing the goal and self-protective downward
comparison with others, were preferred and can be observed as the latter part of the
secondary stage of the Lifespan Theory of Control (Heckhausen and Schulz,1995).
Therefore, this approach also allows the study of individual differences in the ability
to recognize changes in opportunities structures and the flexibility of switching between
target engagement and goal disengagement. This may provide an avenue for researching
differences in vulnerability and resilience to transitions in development (Diewald et al,
1996). In addition to this, a society should not judge a specific age group’s actions towards
a certain event for different age groups have different perceptions to these as well
(Heckhausen, 1997).