The observation occurred on (date, month, year), at 7 p.m., during a friendly board game meeting at one of the participant’s houses. The subject of the observation was a 30-years old male. According to Berk (2014), the characteristic developmental stage of people at this age is the formal operational (Piaget), with intimacy versus isolation being the developmental crisis (Erikson). Regarding the former, the capacity of abstract thinking at this stage allows individuals to logically hypothesize about the matter at hand and deduce and test inferences (Berk, 2014). The individual proved capable of formal operational thinking; for instance, he quickly comprehended the board game rules and was reasonably successful. As for the latter, maturity involves balancing desires for intimacy and isolation. A strong sense of identity and personal borders indicate a good balance, which simultaneously signalizes the successful completion of the previous identity versus role confusion crisis (Berk, 2014). People possessing these features are tolerant and accepting of the differences in others. The fact that the individual managed to adjust to the new company effortlessly confirms his displaying the mentioned features.
The first behavior I noted was how the individual shook hands while introducing himself to the group. His hand was not in a dominant or submissive position – it was perpendicular to the floor. Second, he did not enter the conversation immediately, devoting some time to listening and learning about the group environment. Third, he was open to communication without any preferences toward the group members. Fourth, despite being five years older than the average group age, he showed no signs of an indulgent attitude. Finally, he eventually mirrored the pose the other players were sitting in.
The majority of the observed behaviors can be explained from the perspective of Kohlberg’s stages of moral understanding. According to Berk (2014, p. 408), the final and the most mature stage implies behaving by “self-chosen ethical principles of conscience that are valid for all people, regardless of the law and social agreement.” This context explains why the individual held his hand in a neutral position while handshaking, his openness in communication, and the absence of condescension. The second notion showcases the individual’s intent to present himself positively to the group – I believe he did not want to compromise with inappropriate behavior or comment. The final notion can be considered an act of psychological mirroring, which occurs unconsciously and leads to interpersonal rapport (Reed, 2020). Consequently, it implies that the individual enjoyed the meeting and felt sympathetic toward the company.
Overall, I have greatly benefited from the observation, mainly in terms of small details of great significance. Firstly, I noted how an equal attitude and empathy toward others positively contribute to your image. During the game, it was apparent that the individual respected what others had to say regardless of the matter. Moreover, he displayed interest in others, actively responding and returning questions when appropriate, which recommended him as a good listener and interlocutor. Secondly, I noted that older people are more than capable of overcoming generational differences – it depends on their attitude. In particular, people in their 30th do not actually differ much from those in their 20th, apart from being more experienced in some issues. Last and most importantly, I looked at the concept of maturity from the angle of a solid and developed sense of self. When I observed the individual’s confidence in how he behaved, acknowledging the differences but encouraging the similarities, I asked myself whether I behaved in the same fashion. Overall, the main lesson learned was the reassessment of my attitude toward myself and others, which I find a valuable life lesson.
Berk, L. E. (2014). Development through the lifespan (6th ed.). London, England: Pearson.
Reed, B. S. (2020). Reconceptualizing mirroring: Sound imitation and rapport in naturally occurring interaction. Journal of Pragmatics, 167, 131-151.