R. J. Havinghurst

Who is Havighurst?

“Robert Havighurst was born in 1900 in Depere, Wisconsin, a small town in the midwestern United States. His family was German in origin. His grandfather immigrated to the United States in 1847. As the oldest of five children, Robert Havighurst attended public schools in Wisconsin and Illinois. He then attended Ohio Wesleyan University, Ohio State University (Ph.D. in physical chemistry), and Harvard University as a post-doctoral fellow. During 1924-1927, he worked on the structure of the atom and published a number of papers in journals of physics and chemistry. In 1928, he made a significant career shift with a decision to work in the field of experimental education…(International Adult Education Hall of Fame,2015)”

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Overview of Theory…

According to Havinghurst human growth & development is a byproduct of successful fulfillment of psychosocial tasks we encounter throughout the course of our lives.  In this respect, Havinghurst conceives human beings as active learners and development as a matter of his interaction with the environment.  “According to R. Harvighurst a developmental-task is a task which an individual has to and wants to solve in a particular life-period…it is the midway between an individual need and a social demand…The developmental-tasks concept assumes that social and educational arrangements impede or support the corresponding tasks (Uhlendorff, 2004, p. 55).”  Specific developmental tasks arise at critical times in our lives as a result of the combined effects of cultural pressure and physical maturation.  Mastery of these tasks is critical for successful development.  Havinghurst (1961) made the following remarks on successful aging:

A theory of successful aging should be a statement of the conditions of individual and social life under which the individual person gets a maximum of satisfaction and happiness and society maintains an appropriate balance among satisfactions for the various groups which make it up – old, middle aged, and young, men and women, (Havighurst, 1961).”

For an Overview of Havinghurst’s Developmental Stages Click Here…


behavioralinstitute.org (n.d.) Havighurst’s Developmental Task Theory. Retrieved from:  http://www.behavioralinstitute.org/uploads/Havighurst-development_task_theory.pdf
Havighurst, R. J. (1961). Successful aging. The Gerontologist. 1(1), 8-13.
International Adult Education Hall of Fame (2015). Robert J. Havighurst.  Retrieved from:  http://www.halloffame.outreach.ou.edu/1997/havighur.html
Uhlendorff, U. (2004). The concept of developmental-tasks and its significance for education and social work. Social Work & Society, 2(1), 54-63.

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