What Is the Havighurst Developmental Task?

Havighurst developmental tasks are the array of skills and abilities that human beings develop across their lifetimes. His theory mediates between natural, seemingly innate development and development supported or required by other people in a person’s life.

People go through developmental stages throughout their lifetimes, and various psychologists and other thinkers have offered theories about what these stages are and what people do during them. Like Erik Erikson, Havighurst covered the entire lifespan in his theory. However Erikson’s theory is based on essential conflicts at various stages, and Havighurst’s theory focuses on the accomplishments a person usually makes during a given period of time. For example, adolescents experience significant changes in their bodies during puberty. Therefore one task each adolescent faces is to accommodate these changes. The reason this task falls in adolescence and not somewhere else in the lifespan is that prior to adolescence, the human body is fairly consistent from birth to puberty. During puberty, both the mind and the body change because of new hormones pumping through the bloodstream and new cognitive capabilities. Young adolescents find themselves thinking new thoughts, having new desires and having an essentially new body to get used to. They have, essentially, adult bodies but the minds of pre-teens at the beginning of puberty. Over time, though, they begin to know what to expect from their bodies, and they begin to get used to their new ways of thinking. This is how an adolescent accomplishes Havighurst’s developmental task of adjusting to bodily changes.