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Saturday, 16 July 2011

Schaie’s stages of life-span development

K. Warner Schaie(2005), developmentalist, divides cognitive development into five stages. They are
1. Acquisitive stage—Acquisitive stage spans all of childhood and adolescence. During this stage, a person acquires and accumulates knowledge (Schaie, 2005).
2. Achieving stage—Achieving stage occupies the early adulthood of a person. During this period, a person applies his/her intelligence and accumulated knowledge to attain career and family goals (Schaie & Willis, 2002).
3. Responsible stage—Responsible stage is gone through by a person during and after the passage from early to middle adulthood. During this stage one performs the task of protecting one’s career and family (Schaie, 2005).
4. Executive stage—Executive stage occurs during middle adulthood. This stage is characterized by broadening of one’s focus from personal domain to the community or societal level. The stage occurs later than the responsible stage. This stage, however, may not be experienced by all the persons (Schaie, Willis & Caskie, 2004).
5. Reorganizational stage: Reorganisational stage occurs past adulthood, In this stage adults entering retirement, reorganize their lives around activities not related to their routine work (Schaie, 2005).
6. Reintegrative stage: Reintegrative stage is one in which older adults have only limited energy and focus on tasks which are relevant to them (Schaie, 2005).
 7. Legacy-creating stage: This is a stage in which very old people spend twilight of their lives doing tasks like narrating their life stories and distributing their possessions (Schaie& Willis, 2002).
An observation of the lives of our parents and grandparents clearly indicates that every person passes through almost all the stages. The lives of the adults in the society around us also strengthen our observation. This is not surprising because theories of cognitive development emerged from observation of human lives.


Schaie, K. W. (2005). Developmental influences on adult intelligence: The Seattle Longitudinal Study. New York: Oxford University Press.
Schaie, K. W., & Willis, S. L. (2002). Adult development and aging (5th ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice-Hall.
Schaie, K. W., Willis, S. L., & Caskie, G. I. L. (2004). The Seattle Longitudinal Study:Relation between
           personality and cognition. Aging, Neuropsychology and Cognition, 11,304-324.

Part 1 of the Schaie's stages with Acquisition Stage, Young adult stage, Achieving Stage, Responsible stage, Executive stage, Reorganizational stage is also available in detail at

Part 2 of the Schaie's stages with Reintegration Stage and Legacy creating stage available at

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