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Developmental psychology

Developmental psychology

Overview
Developmental psychology, also known as human development, is the scientific study of systematic psychological changes, emotional changes, and perception changes that occur in human
Human
Humans are the only living species in the Homo genus...

 beings over the course of their life span. Originally concerned with infants and child
Child
Biologically, a child is generally a human between the stages of birth and puberty. Some vernacular definitions of a child include the fetus, as being an unborn child. The legal definition of "child" generally refers to a minor, otherwise known as a person younger than the age of majority...

ren, the field has expanded to include adolescence
Adolescence
Adolescence is a transitional stage of physical and mental human development generally occurring between puberty and legal adulthood , but largely characterized as beginning and ending with the teenage stage...

, adult development
Adult development
Adult Development is a branch of developmental psychology that deals specifically with how adults age through physical, emotional, and cognitive means...

, aging, and the entire life span. This field examines change across a broad range of topics including motor skills and other psycho-physiological processes; cognitive development involving areas such as problem solving
Problem solving
Problem solving is a mental process and is part of the larger problem process that includes problem finding and problem shaping. Consideredthe most complex of all intellectual functions, problem solving has been defined as higher-order cognitive process that requires the modulation and control of...

, moral understanding
Morality
Morality is the differentiation among intentions, decisions, and actions between those that are good and bad . A moral code is a system of morality and a moral is any one practice or teaching within a moral code...

, and conceptual understanding; language acquisition
Language acquisition
Language acquisition is the process by which humans acquire the capacity to perceive, produce and use words to understand and communicate. This capacity involves the picking up of diverse capacities including syntax, phonetics, and an extensive vocabulary. This language might be vocal as with...

; social, personality, and emotional development; and self-concept and identity formation
Identity formation
Identity formation is the development of the distinct personality of an individual regarded as a persisting entity in a particular stage of life in which individual characteristics are possessed and by which a person is recognised or known . This process defines individuals to others and themselves...

.
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Encyclopedia
Developmental psychology, also known as human development, is the scientific study of systematic psychological changes, emotional changes, and perception changes that occur in human
Human
Humans are the only living species in the Homo genus...

 beings over the course of their life span. Originally concerned with infants and child
Child
Biologically, a child is generally a human between the stages of birth and puberty. Some vernacular definitions of a child include the fetus, as being an unborn child. The legal definition of "child" generally refers to a minor, otherwise known as a person younger than the age of majority...

ren, the field has expanded to include adolescence
Adolescence
Adolescence is a transitional stage of physical and mental human development generally occurring between puberty and legal adulthood , but largely characterized as beginning and ending with the teenage stage...

, adult development
Adult development
Adult Development is a branch of developmental psychology that deals specifically with how adults age through physical, emotional, and cognitive means...

, aging, and the entire life span. This field examines change across a broad range of topics including motor skills and other psycho-physiological processes; cognitive development involving areas such as problem solving
Problem solving
Problem solving is a mental process and is part of the larger problem process that includes problem finding and problem shaping. Consideredthe most complex of all intellectual functions, problem solving has been defined as higher-order cognitive process that requires the modulation and control of...

, moral understanding
Morality
Morality is the differentiation among intentions, decisions, and actions between those that are good and bad . A moral code is a system of morality and a moral is any one practice or teaching within a moral code...

, and conceptual understanding; language acquisition
Language acquisition
Language acquisition is the process by which humans acquire the capacity to perceive, produce and use words to understand and communicate. This capacity involves the picking up of diverse capacities including syntax, phonetics, and an extensive vocabulary. This language might be vocal as with...

; social, personality, and emotional development; and self-concept and identity formation
Identity formation
Identity formation is the development of the distinct personality of an individual regarded as a persisting entity in a particular stage of life in which individual characteristics are possessed and by which a person is recognised or known . This process defines individuals to others and themselves...

. 3 major contexts to consider when analysing child psychology are: social context, cultural context, and socioeconomic context.
Developmental psychology includes issues such as the extent to which development occurs through the gradual accumulation of knowledge
Knowledge
Knowledge is a familiarity with someone or something unknown, which can include information, facts, descriptions, or skills acquired through experience or education. It can refer to the theoretical or practical understanding of a subject...

 versus stage-like development, or the extent to which children are born with innate mental structures versus learning through experience
Experience
Experience as a general concept comprises knowledge of or skill in or observation of some thing or some event gained through involvement in or exposure to that thing or event....

. Many researchers are interested in the interaction between personal characteristics, the individual's behavior, and environmental factors including social context, and their impact on development; others take a more narrowly-focused approach.

Developmental psychology informs several applied fields, including: educational psychology
Educational psychology
Educational psychology is the study of how humans learn in educational settings, the effectiveness of educational interventions, the psychology of teaching, and the social psychology of schools as organizations. Educational psychology is concerned with how students learn and develop, often focusing...

, child psychopathology
Child psychopathology
Child psychopathology is the manifestation of psychological disorders in children and adolescents. Oppositional defiant disorder, attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, and pervasive developmental disorder are examples of child psychopathology...

, and forensic developmental psychology
Forensic developmental psychology
Forensic Developmental Psychology is a field that has emerged over the past two decades. The term was developed by Bruck and Poole and includes autobiographical memory, memory distortion, eyewitness identification, narrative construction, personality, and attachment as topics covered by this field...

. Developmental psychology complements several other basic research fields in psychology
Psychology
Psychology is the study of the mind and behavior. Its immediate goal is to understand individuals and groups by both establishing general principles and researching specific cases. For many, the ultimate goal of psychology is to benefit society...

 including social psychology, cognitive psychology
Cognitive psychology
Cognitive psychology is a subdiscipline of psychology exploring internal mental processes.It is the study of how people perceive, remember, think, speak, and solve problems.Cognitive psychology differs from previous psychological approaches in two key ways....

, ecological psychology
Ecological psychology
Ecological psychology is a term claimed by a number of schools of psychology. However, the two main ones are one on the writings of James J. Gibson, and another on the work of Roger G. Barker, Herb Wright and associates at the University of Kansas in Lawrence...

, and comparative psychology
Comparative psychology
Comparative psychology generally refers to the scientific study of the behavior and mental processes of non-human animals. However, scientists from different disciplines do not always agree on this definition...

.

Approaches


Many theoretical perspectives attempt to explain development; among the most prominent are: Jean Piaget
Jean Piaget
Jean Piaget was a French-speaking Swiss developmental psychologist and philosopher known for his epistemological studies with children. His theory of cognitive development and epistemological view are together called "genetic epistemology"....

's Stage Theory
Theory of cognitive development
Piaget's theory of cognitive development is a comprehensive theory about the nature and development of human intelligence first developed by Jean Piaget. It is primarily known as a developmental stage theory, but in fact, it deals with the nature of knowledge itself and how humans come gradually to...

, Lev Vygotsky
Lev Vygotsky
Lev Semyonovich Vygotsky was a Soviet psychologist, the founder of cultural-historical psychology, and the leader of the Vygotsky Circle.-Biography:...

's Social constructivism
Social constructivism
Social constructivism is a sociological theory of knowledge that applies the general philosophical constructionism into social settings, wherein groups construct knowledge for one another, collaboratively creating a small culture of shared artifacts with shared meanings...

 (and its heirs, the Cultural Theory of Development of Michael Cole, and the Ecological Systems Theory
Ecological Systems Theory
Ecological systems theory, also called development in context or human ecology theory, specifies four types of nested environmental systems, with bi-directional influences within and between the systems.- Overview :...

 of Urie Bronfenbrenner
Urie Bronfenbrenner
Urie Bronfenbrenner was a Russian American psychologist, known for developing his Ecological Systems Theory, and as a co-founder of the Head Start program in the United States for disadvantaged pre-school children....

), Albert Bandura
Albert Bandura
Albert Bandura is a psychologist and the David Starr Jordan Professor Emeritus of Social Science in Psychology at Stanford University...

's Social learning theory
Social learning theory
-Theory:Social learning theory is derived from the work of Albert Bandura which proposed that social learning occurred through four main stages of imitation:* close contact* imitation of superiors* understanding of concepts* role model behavior...

, and the information processing
Information processing
Information processing is the change of information in any manner detectable by an observer. As such, it is a process which describes everything which happens in the universe, from the falling of a rock to the printing of a text file from a digital computer system...

 framework employed by cognitive psychology.

To a lesser extent, historical theories continue to provide a basis for additional research. Among them are Erik Erikson
Erik Erikson
Erik Erikson was a Danish-German-American developmental psychologist and psychoanalyst known for his theory on social development of human beings. He may be most famous for coining the phrase identity crisis. His son, Kai T...

's eight stages of psychosocial development
Erikson's stages of psychosocial development
Erikson's stages of psychosocial development as articulated by Erik Erikson explain eight stages through which a healthily developing human should pass from infancy to late adulthood. In each stage the person confronts, and hopefully masters, new challenges. Each stage builds on the successful...

 and John B. Watson
John B. Watson
John Broadus Watson was an American psychologist who established the psychological school of behaviorism. Watson promoted a change in psychology through his address Psychology as the Behaviorist Views it which was given at Columbia University in 1913...

's and B.F. Skinner's behaviorism
Behaviorism
Behaviorism , also called the learning perspective , is a philosophy of psychology based on the proposition that all things that organisms do—including acting, thinking, and feeling—can and should be regarded as behaviors, and that psychological disorders are best treated by altering behavior...

. For more on behaviorism's role see Behavior analysis of child development
Behavior analysis of child development
Child development in behavior analytic theory has origins in John B. Watson's behaviorism. Watson wrote extensively on child development and conducted research . Watson was instrumental in the modification of William James' stream of consciousness approach to construct a stream of behavior theory...

).

Many other theories are prominent for their contributions to particular aspects of development. For example, attachment theory
Attachment theory
Attachment theory describes the dynamics of long-term relationships between humans. Its most important tenet is that an infant needs to develop a relationship with at least one primary caregiver for social and emotional development to occur normally. Attachment theory is an interdisciplinary study...

 describes kinds of interpersonal relationships and Lawrence Kohlberg
Lawrence Kohlberg
Lawrence Kohlberg was a Jewish American psychologist born in Bronxville, New York, who served as a professor at the University of Chicago, as well as Harvard University. Having specialized in research on moral education and reasoning, he is best known for his theory of stages of moral development...

 describes stages in moral reasoning
Kohlberg's stages of moral development
Lawrence Kohlberg's stages of moral development constitute an adaptation of a psychological theory originally conceived of by the Swiss psychologist Jean Piaget...

.

Theorists and theories


  • John Bowlby
    John Bowlby
    Edward John Mostyn "John" Bowlby was a British psychologist, psychiatrist and psychoanalyst, notable for his interest in child development and for his pioneering work in attachment theory.- Family background :...

    , Harry Harlow
    Harry Harlow
    Harry Frederick Harlow was an American psychologist best known for his maternal-separation and social isolation experiments on rhesus monkeys, which demonstrated the importance of care-giving and companionship in social and cognitive development...

    , Mary Ainsworth
    Mary Ainsworth
    Mary Dinsmore Salter Ainsworth was a Canadian developmental psychologist known for her work in early emotional attachment with "The Strange Situation" as well as her work in the development of Attachment Theory.-Life:...

    : Attachment theory
    Attachment theory
    Attachment theory describes the dynamics of long-term relationships between humans. Its most important tenet is that an infant needs to develop a relationship with at least one primary caregiver for social and emotional development to occur normally. Attachment theory is an interdisciplinary study...

  • Urie Bronfenbrenner
    Urie Bronfenbrenner
    Urie Bronfenbrenner was a Russian American psychologist, known for developing his Ecological Systems Theory, and as a co-founder of the Head Start program in the United States for disadvantaged pre-school children....

    : The social ecology of human development
    Ecological Systems Theory
    Ecological systems theory, also called development in context or human ecology theory, specifies four types of nested environmental systems, with bi-directional influences within and between the systems.- Overview :...

  • Jerome Bruner
    Jerome Bruner
    Jerome Seymour Bruner is an American psychologist who has contributed to cognitive psychology and cognitive learning theory in educational psychology, as well as to history and to the general philosophy of education. Bruner is currently a senior research fellow at the New York University School...

    : Cognitive
    Cognitive psychology
    Cognitive psychology is a subdiscipline of psychology exploring internal mental processes.It is the study of how people perceive, remember, think, speak, and solve problems.Cognitive psychology differs from previous psychological approaches in two key ways....

     (constructivist
    Constructivism (learning theory)
    Constructivism is a theory of knowledge that argues that humans generate knowledge and meaning from an interaction between their experiences and their ideas. During infancy, it was an interaction between human experiences and their reflexes or behavior-patterns. Piaget called these systems of...

    ); learning theory
    Learning theory (education)
    In psychology and education, learning is commonly defined as a process that brings together cognitive, emotional, and environmental influences and experiences for acquiring, enhancing, or making changes in one's knowledge, skills, values, and world views . Learning as a process focuses on what...

     / narrative construction of reality
  • Erik Erikson
    Erik Erikson
    Erik Erikson was a Danish-German-American developmental psychologist and psychoanalyst known for his theory on social development of human beings. He may be most famous for coining the phrase identity crisis. His son, Kai T...

    : Erikson's stages of psychosocial development
    Erikson's stages of psychosocial development
    Erikson's stages of psychosocial development as articulated by Erik Erikson explain eight stages through which a healthily developing human should pass from infancy to late adulthood. In each stage the person confronts, and hopefully masters, new challenges. Each stage builds on the successful...

  • Sigmund Freud
    Sigmund Freud
    Sigmund Freud , born Sigismund Schlomo Freud , was an Austrian neurologist who founded the discipline of psychoanalysis...

    : Psychosexual development
    Psychosexual development
    In Freudian psychology, psychosexual development is a central element of the psychoanalytic sexual drive theory, that human beings, from birth, possess an instinctual libido that develops in five stages. Each stage — the oral, the anal, the phallic, the latent, and the genital — is characterized...

  • Jerome Kagan
    Jerome Kagan
    Jerome Kagan was born in 1929, and grew up in Rahway, New Jersey, USA. Kagan is currently retired after being a professor at Harvard University in the Developmental program . He is one of the key pioneers of developmental psychology. He is Daniel and Amy Starch Research Professor of Psychology,...

    : A pioneer of developmental psychology
  • Jean Matter Mandler
    Jean Matter Mandler
    Jean Matter Mandler is Distinguished Research Professor of Cognitive Science at the University of California, San Diego and Visiting Professor at University College London....

    : Early development – theory of early conceptual thinking
  • Lawrence Kohlberg
    Lawrence Kohlberg
    Lawrence Kohlberg was a Jewish American psychologist born in Bronxville, New York, who served as a professor at the University of Chicago, as well as Harvard University. Having specialized in research on moral education and reasoning, he is best known for his theory of stages of moral development...

    : Kohlberg's stages of moral development
    Kohlberg's stages of moral development
    Lawrence Kohlberg's stages of moral development constitute an adaptation of a psychological theory originally conceived of by the Swiss psychologist Jean Piaget...

  • Jean Piaget
    Jean Piaget
    Jean Piaget was a French-speaking Swiss developmental psychologist and philosopher known for his epistemological studies with children. His theory of cognitive development and epistemological view are together called "genetic epistemology"....

    : Theory of cognitive development
    Theory of cognitive development
    Piaget's theory of cognitive development is a comprehensive theory about the nature and development of human intelligence first developed by Jean Piaget. It is primarily known as a developmental stage theory, but in fact, it deals with the nature of knowledge itself and how humans come gradually to...

    , genetic epistemology
    Genetic epistemology
    Genetic epistemology is a study of the origins of knowledge . The discipline was established by Jean Piaget.The goal of genetic epistemology is to link the validity of knowledge to the model of its construction. In other words, it shows that the method in which the knowledge was obtained/created...

  • Lev Vygotsky
    Lev Vygotsky
    Lev Semyonovich Vygotsky was a Soviet psychologist, the founder of cultural-historical psychology, and the leader of the Vygotsky Circle.-Biography:...

    : Social constructivism
    Social constructivism
    Social constructivism is a sociological theory of knowledge that applies the general philosophical constructionism into social settings, wherein groups construct knowledge for one another, collaboratively creating a small culture of shared artifacts with shared meanings...

    , zone of proximal development
    Zone of proximal development
    “The zone of proximal development defines functions that have not matured yet, but are in a process of maturing. The zone of proximal development , often abbreviated ZPD, is the difference between what a learner can do without help and what he or she can do with help...

  • Reuven Feuerstein
    Reuven Feuerstein
    Reuven Feuerstein is an Israeli clinical, developmental, cognitive psychologist, renowned for his theory of intelligence which states “it is not ‘fixed’, but rather modifiable”. This idea in general is that intelligence can be modified through mediated interventions...

    : Structural Cognitive Modifiability
  • Judith Rich Harris
    Judith Rich Harris
    Judith Rich Harris is a psychology researcher and the author of The Nurture Assumption, a book criticizing the belief that parents are the most important factor in child development, and presenting evidence which contradicts that belief.Harris has been a resident of Middletown Township, New...

    : Modular theory of social development
    No Two Alike: Human Nature and Human Individuality
    No Two Alike: Human Nature and Human Individuality is a book by psychology researcher Judith Rich Harris. It was published in February 2006. Harris attempts to explain why people are so different in personality, even identical twins who grow up in the same home....

  • Eleanor Gibson: Ecological psychology
    Ecological psychology
    Ecological psychology is a term claimed by a number of schools of psychology. However, the two main ones are one on the writings of James J. Gibson, and another on the work of Roger G. Barker, Herb Wright and associates at the University of Kansas in Lawrence...

  • Robert Kegan
    Robert Kegan
    Robert Kegan is the William and Miriam Meehan Professor in Adult Learning and Professional Development at Harvard University. Additionally he is the Educational Chair for the Institute for Management and Leadership in Education and the Co-director for the Change Leadership Group...

    : Adult development
    Adult development
    Adult Development is a branch of developmental psychology that deals specifically with how adults age through physical, emotional, and cognitive means...


Piagetian stages of cognitive development



Piaget was a French speaking Swiss theorist who posited that children learn by actively constructing knowledge through hands-on experience. He suggested that the adult's role in helping the child learn was to provide appropriate materials for the child to interact and construct. He would use Socratic questioning to get the children to reflect on what they were doing. He would try to get them to see contradictions in their explanations. He also developed stages of development. His approach can be seen in how the curriculum is sequenced in schools, and in the pedagogy of preschool centers across the United States.

Vygotsky's cultural–historical theory



Vygotsky was a theorist from the Soviet era, who posited that children learn through hands-on experience, as Jean Piaget suggested. However, unlike Piaget, he claimed that timely and sensitive intervention by adults when a child is on the edge of learning a new task (called the "zone of proximal development
Zone of proximal development
“The zone of proximal development defines functions that have not matured yet, but are in a process of maturing. The zone of proximal development , often abbreviated ZPD, is the difference between what a learner can do without help and what he or she can do with help...

") could help children learn new tasks. Martin Hill
Martin Hill
Martin Hill is a mountain ridge which connects Tussey Mountain to its east and Evitts Mountain to its west. Martin Hill is located in the Martin Hill Wild Area, which is a part of the Buchanan State Forest, in Bedford County, Pennsylvania...

 stated that "The world of reality does not apply to the mind of a child." This technique is called "scaffolding," because it builds upon knowledge children already have with new knowledge that adults can help the child learn. Vygotsky was strongly focused on the role of culture in determining the child's pattern of development, arguing that development moves from the social level to the individual level.

Ecological Systems Theory



Also called "Development in Context" or "Human Ecology" theory, Ecological Systems Theory, originally formulated by Urie Bronfenbrenner
Urie Bronfenbrenner
Urie Bronfenbrenner was a Russian American psychologist, known for developing his Ecological Systems Theory, and as a co-founder of the Head Start program in the United States for disadvantaged pre-school children....

 specifies four types of nested environmental systems, with bi-directional influences within and between the systems. The four systems are microsystem, mesosystem, exosystem, and macrosystem. Each system contains roles, norms and rules that can powerfully shape development. Since its publication in 1979, Bronfenbrenner's major statement of this theory, The Ecology of Human Development has had widespread influence on the way psychologists and others approach the study of human beings and their environments. As a result of this conceptualization of development, these environments—from the family to economic and political structures—have come to be viewed as part of the life course from childhood through adulthood.

Attachment theory



Attachment theory, originally developed by John Bowlby
John Bowlby
Edward John Mostyn "John" Bowlby was a British psychologist, psychiatrist and psychoanalyst, notable for his interest in child development and for his pioneering work in attachment theory.- Family background :...

, focuses on open, intimate, emotionally meaningful relationships. Attachment is described as a biological system or powerful survival impulse that evolved to ensure the survival of the infant. A child who is threatened or stressed will move toward caregivers who create a sense of physical, emotional and psychological safety for the individual. Attachment feeds on body contact and familiarity. Later Mary Ainsworth
Mary Ainsworth
Mary Dinsmore Salter Ainsworth was a Canadian developmental psychologist known for her work in early emotional attachment with "The Strange Situation" as well as her work in the development of Attachment Theory.-Life:...

 developed the Strange Situation Protocol and the concept of the secure base. See also the critique by developmental psychology pioneer Jerome Kagan
Jerome Kagan
Jerome Kagan was born in 1929, and grew up in Rahway, New Jersey, USA. Kagan is currently retired after being a professor at Harvard University in the Developmental program . He is one of the key pioneers of developmental psychology. He is Daniel and Amy Starch Research Professor of Psychology,...

.

Unfortunately, there are situations that inhibit a child from forming attachments. Some babies are raised without the stimulation and attention of a regular caregiver, or locked away under conditions of abuse or extreme neglect. The possible short-term effects of this deprivation are anger, despair, detachment, and temporary delay in intellectual development. Long-term effects include increased aggression, clinging behavior, detachment, psychosomatic disorders, and an increased risk of depression as an adult.

Nature/nurture



A significant issue in developmental psychology is the relationship between innateness and environmental influence in regard to any particular aspect of development. This is often referred to as "nature versus nurture
Nature versus nurture
The nature versus nurture debate concerns the relative importance of an individual's innate qualities versus personal experiences The nature versus nurture debate concerns the relative importance of an individual's innate qualities ("nature," i.e. nativism, or innatism) versus personal experiences...

" or nativism
Psychological nativism
In the field of psychology, nativism is the view that certain skills or abilities are 'native' or hard wired into the brain at birth. This is in contrast to empiricism, the 'blank slate' or tabula rasa view, which states that the brain has inborn capabilities for learning from the environment but...

 versus empiricism
Empiricism
Empiricism is a theory of knowledge that asserts that knowledge comes only or primarily via sensory experience. One of several views of epistemology, the study of human knowledge, along with rationalism, idealism and historicism, empiricism emphasizes the role of experience and evidence,...

. A nativist account of development would argue that the processes in question are innate, that is, they are specified by the organism's genes
Gênes
Gênes is the name of a département of the First French Empire in present Italy, named after the city of Genoa. It was formed in 1805, when Napoleon Bonaparte occupied the Republic of Genoa. Its capital was Genoa, and it was divided in the arrondissements of Genoa, Bobbio, Novi Ligure, Tortona and...

. An empiricist perspective would argue that those processes are acquired in interaction with the environment. Today developmental psychologists rarely take such extreme positions with regard to most aspects of development; rather they investigate, among many other things, the relationship between innate and environmental influences. One of the ways in which this relationship has been explored in recent years is through the emerging field of evolutionary developmental psychology
Evolutionary developmental psychology
Evolutionary developmental psychology, , is the application of the basic principles of Darwinian evolution, particularly natural selection, to explain contemporary human development...

.

One area where this innateness debate has been prominently portrayed is in research on language acquisition
Language acquisition
Language acquisition is the process by which humans acquire the capacity to perceive, produce and use words to understand and communicate. This capacity involves the picking up of diverse capacities including syntax, phonetics, and an extensive vocabulary. This language might be vocal as with...

. A major question in this area is whether or not certain properties of human language are specified genetically or can be acquired through learning
Learning
Learning is acquiring new or modifying existing knowledge, behaviors, skills, values, or preferences and may involve synthesizing different types of information. The ability to learn is possessed by humans, animals and some machines. Progress over time tends to follow learning curves.Human learning...

. The empiricist position on the issue of language acquisition suggests that the language input provides the necessary information required for learning the structure of language and that infants acquire language through a process of statistical learning. From this perspective, language can be acquired via general learning methods that also apply to other aspects of development, such as perceptual learning
Perceptual learning
The term perceptual learning refers to the process of long lasting improvement in performing perceptual tasks as a function of experienceand practice . According to Eleanor Gibson , it refers to the experience-induced changes in the way information is extracted following sensory experience...

. The nativist position argues that the input from language is too impoverished for infants and children to acquire the structure of language. Linguist Noam Chomsky
Noam Chomsky
Avram Noam Chomsky is an American linguist, philosopher, cognitive scientist, and activist. He is an Institute Professor and Professor in the Department of Linguistics & Philosophy at MIT, where he has worked for over 50 years. Chomsky has been described as the "father of modern linguistics" and...

 asserts that, evidenced by the lack of sufficient information in the language input, there is a universal grammar
Universal grammar
Universal grammar is a theory in linguistics that suggests that there are properties that all possible natural human languages have.Usually credited to Noam Chomsky, the theory suggests that some rules of grammar are hard-wired into the brain, and manifest themselves without being taught...

 that applies to all human languages and is pre-specified. This has led to the idea that there is a special cognitive module
Modularity of mind
Modularity of mind is the notion that a mind may, at least in part, be composed of separate innate structures which have established evolutionarily developed functional purposes...

 suited for learning language, often called the language acquisition device
Language acquisition device
The Language Acquisition Device is a postulated "organ" of the brain that is supposed to function as a congenital device for learning symbolic language . First proposed by Noam Chomsky, the LAD concept is an instinctive mental capacity which enables an infant to acquire and produce language. It is...

. Chomsky's critique of the behaviorist model of language acquisition is regarded by many as a key turning point in the decline in the prominence of the theory of behaviorism generally. But Skinner's conception of "Verbal Behavior" has not died, perhaps in part because it has generated successful practical applications.

Mechanisms of development


Developmental psychology is concerned not only with describing the characteristics of psychological change over time, but also seeks to explain the principles and internal workings underlying these changes. Psychologists have attempted to better understand these factors by using models. Developmental models are sometimes computational, but they do not need to be. A model must simply account for the means by which a process takes place. This is sometimes done in reference to changes in the brain
Human brain
The human brain has the same general structure as the brains of other mammals, but is over three times larger than the brain of a typical mammal with an equivalent body size. Estimates for the number of neurons in the human brain range from 80 to 120 billion...

 that may correspond to changes in behavior over the course of the development. Computational accounts of development often use either symbol
Symbol
A symbol is something which represents an idea, a physical entity or a process but is distinct from it. The purpose of a symbol is to communicate meaning. For example, a red octagon may be a symbol for "STOP". On a map, a picture of a tent might represent a campsite. Numerals are symbols for...

ic, connectionist (neural network), or dynamical system
Dynamical system
A dynamical system is a concept in mathematics where a fixed rule describes the time dependence of a point in a geometrical space. Examples include the mathematical models that describe the swinging of a clock pendulum, the flow of water in a pipe, and the number of fish each springtime in a...

s models to explain the mechanisms of development.

Cognitive development



Cognitive development is primarily concerned with the ways in which infants and children acquire, develop, and use internal mental capabilities such as problem solving, memory, and language. Major topics in cognitive development are the study of language acquisition and the development of perceptual and motor skills. Piaget was one of the influential early psychologists to study the development of cognitive abilities. His theory suggests that development proceeds through a set of stages from infancy to adulthood and that there is an end point or goal. Other accounts, such as that of Lev Vygotsky, have suggested that development does not progress through stages, but rather that the developmental process that begins at birth and continues until death is too complex for such structure and finality. Rather, from this viewpoint, developmental processes proceed more continuously, thus development should be analyzed, instead of treated as a product to be obtained.

K. Warner Schaie
K. Warner Schaie
K. Warner Schaie, Ph.D. is an American social gerontologist and psychologist best known for co-founding the Seattle Longitudinal Study in 1956....

 has expanded the study of cognitive development into adulthood. Rather than being stable from adolescence, Schaie sees adults as progressing in the application of their cognitive abilities.

Modern cognitive development has integrated the considerations of cognitive psychology
Cognitive psychology
Cognitive psychology is a subdiscipline of psychology exploring internal mental processes.It is the study of how people perceive, remember, think, speak, and solve problems.Cognitive psychology differs from previous psychological approaches in two key ways....

 and the psychology of individual differences into the interpretation and modeling of development. Specifically, the neo-Piagetian theories of cognitive development showed that the successive levels or stages of cognitive development are associated with increasing processing efficiency and working memory
Working memory
Working memory has been defined as the system which actively holds information in the mind to do verbal and nonverbal tasks such as reasoning and comprehension, and to make it available for further information processing...

 capacity. These increases explain progression to higher stages, and individual differences in such increases by same-age persons explain differences in cognitive performance. Other theories have moved away from Piagetian stage theories, and are influenced by accounts of domain-specific information processing, which posit that development is guided by innate evolutionarily-specified and content-specific information processing mechanisms.

Social and emotional development



Developmental psychologists who are interested in social development examine how individuals develop social and emotional competencies. For example, they study how children form friendships, how they understand and deal with emotions, and how identity develops. Research in this area may involve study of the relationship between cognition or cognitive development and social behavior.

Research methods


Developmental psychology employs many of the research methods
Psychological research methods
A wide range of research methods are used in psychology. These methods vary by the sources of information that are drawn on, how that information is sampled, and the types of instruments that are used in data collection...

 used in other areas of psychology. However, infants and children cannot always be tested in the same ways as adults, so different methods are often used to study their development.

Research design


Developmental psychologists have a number of methods to study changes in individuals over time.

In a longitudinal study
Longitudinal study
A longitudinal study is a correlational research study that involves repeated observations of the same variables over long periods of time — often many decades. It is a type of observational study. Longitudinal studies are often used in psychology to study developmental trends across the...

, a researcher observes many individuals born at or around the same time (a cohort
Cohort (statistics)
In statistics and demography, a cohort is a group of subjects who have shared a particular time together during a particular time span . Cohorts may be tracked over extended periods in a cohort study. The cohort can be modified by censoring, i.e...

) and carries out new observations as members of the cohort age. This method can be used to draw conclusions about which types of development are universal (or normative
Norm (sociology)
Social norms are the accepted behaviors within a society or group. This sociological and social psychological term has been defined as "the rules that a group uses for appropriate and inappropriate values, beliefs, attitudes and behaviors. These rules may be explicit or implicit...

) and occur in most members of a cohort. As an example a longitudinal study of early literacy development examined in detail the early literacy experiences of one child in each of 30 families. Researchers may also observe ways in which development varies between individuals and hypothesize about the causes of variation observed in their data. Longitudinal studies often require large amounts of time and funding, making them unfeasible in some situations. Also, because members of a cohort all experience historical events unique to their generation, apparently normative developmental trends may in fact be universal only to their cohort.

In a cross-sectional study
Cross-sectional study
Cross-sectional studies form a class of research methods that involve observation of all of a population, or a representative subset, at one specific point in time...

, a researcher observes differences between individuals of different ages at the same time. This generally requires less resources than the longitudinal method, and because the individuals come from different cohorts, shared historical events are not so much of a confounding factor
Lurking variable
In statistics, a confounding variable is an extraneous variable in a statistical model that correlates with both the dependent variable and the independent variable...

. By the same token, however, cross-sectional research may not be the most effective way to study differences between participants, as these differences may result not from their different ages but from their exposure to different historical events.

A third study design, the cohort study
Cohort study
A cohort study or panel study is a form of longitudinal study used in medicine, social science, actuarial science, and ecology. It is an analysis of risk factors and follows a group of people who do not have the disease, and uses correlations to determine the absolute risk of subject contraction...

, combines both methodologies. Here, a researcher observes members of different birth cohorts at the same time, and then tracks all participants over time, charting changes in the groups. While much more resource-intensive, the format aids in a clearer distinction between what changes can be attributed to individual or historical environment from those which are truly universal.

Notably, these are all correlation
Correlation
In statistics, dependence refers to any statistical relationship between two random variables or two sets of data. Correlation refers to any of a broad class of statistical relationships involving dependence....

al, not experiment
Experiment
An experiment is a methodical procedure carried out with the goal of verifying, falsifying, or establishing the validity of a hypothesis. Experiments vary greatly in their goal and scale, but always rely on repeatable procedure and logical analysis of the results...

al, designs, and so one cannot readily infer causation
Causality
Causality is the relationship between an event and a second event , where the second event is understood as a consequence of the first....

 from the data they yield. Nonetheless, correlational research methods are common in the study of development, in part due to ethical
Research ethics
Research ethics involves the application of fundamental ethical principles to a variety of topics involving scientific research. These include the design and implementation of research involving human experimentation, animal experimentation, various aspects of academic scandal, including scientific...

 concerns. In a study of the effects of poverty on development, for instance, one cannot easily randomly assign
Random assignment
Random assignment or random placement is an experimental technique for assigning subjects to different treatments . The thinking behind random assignment is that by randomizing treatment assignment, then the group attributes for the different treatments will be roughly equivalent and therefore any...

 certain families to a poverty condition and others to an affluent one, and so observation alone has to suffice.

Pre-natal development



Pre-natal development is of interest to psychologists investigating the context of early psychological development. For example, some primitive reflexes
Primitive reflexes
Primitive reflexes are reflex actions originating in the central nervous system that are exhibited by normal infants but not neurologically intact adults, in response to particular stimuli. These reflexes disappear or are inhibited by the frontal lobes as a child moves through normal child...

 arise before birth and are still present in newborns. One hypothesis is that these reflexes are vestigial and have limited use in early human life. Piaget's theory of cognitive development suggested that some early reflexes are building blocks for infant sensorimotor development. For example the tonic neck reflex may help development by bringing objects into the infant's field of view. Other reflexes, such as the walking reflex appear to be replaced by more sophisticated voluntary control later in infancy. This may be because the infant gains too much weight after birth to be strong enough to use the reflex, or because the reflex and subsequent development are functionally different. It has also been suggested that some reflexes (for example the moro
Moro reflex
The Moro reflex, which is distinct from the startle reflex, is one of the infantile reflexes.It may be observed in incomplete form in premature birth after the 28th week of gestation, and is usually present in complete form by week 34...

 and walking reflexes) are predominantly adaptations to life in the womb with little connection to early infant development. Primitive reflexes reappear in adults under certain conditions, such as neurological conditions like dementia
Dementia
Dementia is a serious loss of cognitive ability in a previously unimpaired person, beyond what might be expected from normal aging...

 or traumatic lesions.

Ultrasound
Ultrasound
Ultrasound is cyclic sound pressure with a frequency greater than the upper limit of human hearing. Ultrasound is thus not separated from "normal" sound based on differences in physical properties, only the fact that humans cannot hear it. Although this limit varies from person to person, it is...

 has shown that infants are capable of a range of movements in the womb, many of which appear to be more than simple reflexes. By the time they are born, infants can recognize and have a preference for their mother's voice suggesting some pre-natal development of auditory perception. Pre-natal development and birth complications may also be connected to neurodevelopmental disorders, for example in schizophrenia
Schizophrenia
Schizophrenia is a mental disorder characterized by a disintegration of thought processes and of emotional responsiveness. It most commonly manifests itself as auditory hallucinations, paranoid or bizarre delusions, or disorganized speech and thinking, and it is accompanied by significant social...

. With the advent of cognitive neuroscience
Cognitive neuroscience
Cognitive neuroscience is an academic field concerned with the scientific study of biological substrates underlying cognition, with a specific focus on the neural substrates of mental processes. It addresses the questions of how psychological/cognitive functions are produced by the brain...

, embryology
Embryology
Embryology is a science which is about the development of an embryo from the fertilization of the ovum to the fetus stage...

 and the neuroscience of pre-natal development is of increasing interest to developmental psychology research.

Infancy



From birth until the onset of speech, the child is referred to as an infant
Infant
A newborn or baby is the very young offspring of a human or other mammal. A newborn is an infant who is within hours, days, or up to a few weeks from birth. In medical contexts, newborn or neonate refers to an infant in the first 28 days after birth...

. Developmental psychologists vary widely in their assessment of infant psychology, and the influence the outside world has upon it, but certain aspects are relatively clear.

The majority of a newborn infant's time is spent in sleep. At first this sleep is evenly spread throughout the day and night, but after a couple of months, infants generally become diurnal
Diurnal animal
Diurnality is a plant or animal behavior characterized by activity during the day and sleeping at night.-In animals:Animals that are not diurnal might be nocturnal or crepuscular . Many animal species are diurnal, including many mammals, insects, reptiles and birds...

.

Infants can be seen to have six states, grouped into pairs:
  • quiet sleep and active sleep (dream
    Dream
    Dreams are successions of images, ideas, emotions, and sensations that occur involuntarily in the mind during certain stages of sleep. The content and purpose of dreams are not definitively understood, though they have been a topic of scientific speculation, philosophical intrigue and religious...

    ing, when REM sleep occurs)
  • quiet waking, and active waking
  • fussing and crying
    Crying
    Crying is shedding tears as a response to an emotional state in humans. The act of crying has been defined as "a complex secretomotor phenomenon characterized by the shedding of tears from the lacrimal apparatus, without any irritation of the ocular structures"...



Infants respond to stimuli differently in these different states.

Habituation (see above) has been used to discover the resolution of perceptual systems, suggesting that infants' basic perceptual abilities develop before acquisition of object permanence.
  • Vision
    Visual perception
    Visual perception is the ability to interpret information and surroundings from the effects of visible light reaching the eye. The resulting perception is also known as eyesight, sight, or vision...

     is significantly worse in infants than in older children. Infant sight, blurry in early stages, improves over time. Color perception similar to that seen in adults has been demonstrated in infants as young as four months, using habituation methods.

  • Hearing
    Hearing (sense)
    Hearing is the ability to perceive sound by detecting vibrations through an organ such as the ear. It is one of the traditional five senses...

     is well-developed prior to birth, however, and a preference for the mother's heartbeat is well-established. Infants are fairly good at detecting the direction from which a sound comes, and by 18 months their hearing ability is approximately equal to that of adults.

  • Smell
    Olfaction
    Olfaction is the sense of smell. This sense is mediated by specialized sensory cells of the nasal cavity of vertebrates, and, by analogy, sensory cells of the antennae of invertebrates...

     and taste
    Taste
    Taste is one of the traditional five senses. It refers to the ability to detect the flavor of substances such as food, certain minerals, and poisons, etc....

     are present, with infants showing different expressions of disgust or pleasure when presented with pleasant odors (honey, milk, etc.) or unpleasant odors (rotten egg) and tastes (e.g. sour taste). There is good evidence for infants preferring the smell of their mother to that of others.

  • Language
    Language development
    Language development is a process starting early in human life, when a person begins to acquire language by learning it as it is spoken and by mimicry. Children's language development moves from simple to complex. Infants start without language. Yet by four months of age, babies can read lips and...

    : infants of around six months can differentiate between phonemes
    Phoneme
    In a language or dialect, a phoneme is the smallest segmental unit of sound employed to form meaningful contrasts between utterances....

     in their own language, but not between similar phonemes in another language. At this stage infants also start to babble
    Babble
    Babble is a British internet telephony service. It was one of the first commercialisations of VoIP technology, appearing in 2004 approximately 6 months after the proprietary Skype opened up interest in telephony over the internet...

    , producing phonemes.

  • Touch
    Haptic perception
    Haptic perception is the process of recognizing objects through touch. It involves a combination of somatosensory perception of patterns on the skin surface and proprioception of hand position and conformation....

     is one of the better-developed senses at birth, being one of the first to develop inside the womb. This is evidenced by the primitive reflexes
    Primitive reflexes
    Primitive reflexes are reflex actions originating in the central nervous system that are exhibited by normal infants but not neurologically intact adults, in response to particular stimuli. These reflexes disappear or are inhibited by the frontal lobes as a child moves through normal child...

     described above, and the relatively advanced development of the somatosensory cortex.

  • Pain
    Pain
    Pain is an unpleasant sensation often caused by intense or damaging stimuli such as stubbing a toe, burning a finger, putting iodine on a cut, and bumping the "funny bone."...

    : Infants feel pain similarly, if not more strongly than older children but pain-relief in infants has not received so much attention as an area of research.


An early theory of infant development was the Sensorimotor stage of Piaget
Jean Piaget
Jean Piaget was a French-speaking Swiss developmental psychologist and philosopher known for his epistemological studies with children. His theory of cognitive development and epistemological view are together called "genetic epistemology"....

's Theory of cognitive development
Theory of cognitive development
Piaget's theory of cognitive development is a comprehensive theory about the nature and development of human intelligence first developed by Jean Piaget. It is primarily known as a developmental stage theory, but in fact, it deals with the nature of knowledge itself and how humans come gradually to...

. Piaget suggested that an infant's perception and understanding of the world depended on their motor development, which was required for the infant to link visual, tactile and motor representations of objects. According to this view, it is through touching and handling objects that infants develop object permanence
Object permanence
Object permanence is the understanding that objects continue to exist even when they cannot be seen, heard, or touched. It is acquired by human infants between 8 and 12 months of age via the process of logical induction to help them develop secondary schemes in their sensori-motor coordination...

, the understanding that objects are solid, permanent, and continue to exist when out of sight.


Piaget's Sensorimotor Stage comprised six sub-stages (see sensorimotor stages for more detail). In the early stages, development arises out of movements caused by primitive reflexes
Primitive reflexes
Primitive reflexes are reflex actions originating in the central nervous system that are exhibited by normal infants but not neurologically intact adults, in response to particular stimuli. These reflexes disappear or are inhibited by the frontal lobes as a child moves through normal child...

. Discovery of new behaviors results from classical
Classical conditioning
Classical conditioning is a form of conditioning that was first demonstrated by Ivan Pavlov...

 and operant conditioning
Operant conditioning
Operant conditioning is a form of psychological learning during which an individual modifies the occurrence and form of its own behavior due to the association of the behavior with a stimulus...

, and the formation of habits
Habit (psychology)
Habits are routines of behavior that are repeated regularly and tend to occur subconsciously. Habitual behavior often goes unnoticed in persons exhibiting it, because a person does not need to engage in self-analysis when undertaking routine tasks...

. From eight months the infant is able to uncover a hidden object but will persevere when the object is moved. Piaget's evidence for an incomplete understanding of object permanence before 18 months was the infant's failure to look for an object where it was last seen. Instead infants continue to look for an object where it was first seen, committing the "A-not-B error
A-not-B error
A-not-B error is a phenomenon uncovered by the work of Jean Piaget in his theory of cognitive development of children. The A-not-B error is a particular error made by infants during substage 4 of their sensorimotor stage.A typical task goes like this: An experimenter hides an attractive toy under...

."

Later researchers have developed a number of other tests which suggest that younger infants understand more about objects than first thought. These experiments usually involve a toy, and a crude barrier which is placed in front of the toy, and then removed, repeatedly. Before the age of eight to nine months, infants' inability to understand object permanence extends to people, which explains why infants at this age do not cry when their mothers are gone ("Out of sight, out of mind").

There are critical period
Critical period
This article is about a critical period in an organism's or person's development. See also America's Critical Period.In general, a critical period is a limited time in which an event can occur, usually to result in some kind of transformation...

s in infancy and childhood during which development of certain perceptual, sensorimotor, social and language systems depends crucially on environmental stimulation. Feral child
Feral child
A feral child is a human child who has lived isolated from human contact from a very young age, and has no experience of human care, loving or social behavior, and, crucially, of human language...

ren such as Genie
Genie (feral child)
Genie is the pseudonym for a feral child who spent nearly all of the first thirteen years of her life locked inside a bedroom strapped to a potty chair. She was a victim of one of the most severe cases of social isolation ever documented...

, deprived of adequate stimulation, fail to acquire important skills which they are then unable to learn in later childhood. The concept of critical periods is also well-established in neurophysiology
Neurophysiology
Neurophysiology is a part of physiology. Neurophysiology is the study of nervous system function...

, from the work of Hubel and Wiesel
Torsten Wiesel
Torsten Nils Wiesel was a Swedish co-recipient with David H. Hubel of the 1981 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine, for their discoveries concerning information processing in the visual system; the prize was shared with Roger W...

 among others. Some feel that classical music, particularly Mozart is good for an infant's mind. While some tentative research has shown it to be helpful to older children, no conclusive evidence is available involving infants.

Babyhood


Intelligence is demonstrated through the use of symbols, language use matures, and memory and imagination are developed. Thinking is done in a non-logical, nonreversible manner. Egocentric thinking predominates.

Socially, toddlers are little people attempting to become independent at this stage, which they are commonly called the "terrible twos
Terrible twos
Terrible twos may refer to the following:* A child development stage which normally occurs around the age of two and consists of toddlers often saying no and throwing temper tantrums....

." They walk, talk, use the toilet, and get food for themselves. Self-control begins to develop. If taking the initiative to explore, experiment, risk mistakes in trying new things, and test their limits is encouraged by the caretaker(s) the child will become autonomous, self-reliant, and confident. If the caretaker is overprotective or disapproving of independent actions, the toddler may begin to doubt their abilities and feel ashamed for the desire for independence. The child's autonomic development will be inhibited, and be less prepared to successfully deal with the world in the future.

Early childhood


Also called "pre-school age," "exploratory age" and "toy age."

When children attend preschool, they broaden their social horizons and become more engaged with those around them. Impulses are channeled into fantasies, which leaves the task of the caretaker to balance eagerness for pursuing adventure, creativity and self expression with the development of responsibility. If caretakers are properly encouraging and consistently disciplinary, children are more likely to develop positive self-esteem while becoming more responsible, and will follow through on assigned activities. As children grow their past experiences will shape who they are, allow them to perceive the world in their own way. It helps a person go through life everyday. (Psychology: The Science of Behaviour, Fourth Canadian Edition by Neil R. Carlson, William Buskist, C. Donald Heth, and Rod Schmaltz). If not allowed to decide which activities to perform, children may begin to feel guilt upon contemplating taking initiative. This negative association with independence will lead them to let others make decisions in place of them.

Late childhood


In late childhood, intelligence is demonstrated through logical and systematic manipulation of symbols related to concrete objects. Operational thinking develops, which means actions are reversible, and egocentric thought diminishes.

Children go through the transition from the world at home to that of school and peers. Children learn to make things, use tools, and acquire the skills to be a worker and a potential provider. Children can now receive feedback from outsiders about their accomplishments. If children can discover pleasure in intellectual stimulation, being productive, seeking success, they will develop a sense of competence. If they are not successful or cannot discover pleasure in the process, they may develop a sense of inferiority and feelings of inadequacy that may haunt them throughout life. This is when children think of themselves as industrious or as inferior.

Adolescence



Adolescence is the period of life between the onset of puberty and the full commitment to an adult social role, such as worker, parent, and/or citizen. It is the period known for the formation of personal and social identity (see Erik Erikson
Erik Erikson
Erik Erikson was a Danish-German-American developmental psychologist and psychoanalyst known for his theory on social development of human beings. He may be most famous for coining the phrase identity crisis. His son, Kai T...

) and the discovery of moral purpose (see William Damon
William Damon
William Damon is a Professor of Education at the Stanford University School of Education, Director of the Stanford Center on Adolescence, and senior fellow at Stanford University's Hoover Institution on War, Revolution, and Peace...

). Intelligence is demonstrated through the logical use of symbols related to abstract concepts and formal reasoning. A return to egocentric thought often occurs early in the period. Only 35% develop the capacity to reason formally during adolescence or adulthood. (Huitt, W. and Hummel, J. January 1998)

It is divided into three parts namely:
  1. Early Adolescence: 10 to 12 years (preteen, tween),
  2. Mid Adolescence: 13 to 15 years and
  3. Late Adolescence: 16 to 19 years


The adolescent unconsciously explores questions such as "Who am I? Who do I want to be?" Like toddlers, adolescents must explore, test limits, become autonomous, and commit to an identity
Identity (social science)
Identity is a term used to describe a person's conception and expression of their individuality or group affiliations . The term is used more specifically in psychology and sociology, and is given a great deal of attention in social psychology...

, or sense of self. Different roles, behaviors and ideologies must be tried out to select an identity. Role confusion and inability to choose vocation can result from a failure to achieve a sense of identity through, for example, friends.

Early adulthood


The person must learn how to form intimate relationships, both in friendship and love. The development of this skill relies on the resolution of other stages. It may be hard to establish intimacy if one has not developed trust or a sense of identity. If this skill is not learned the alternative is alienation, isolation, a fear of commitment, and the inability to depend on others.

A related framework for studying this part of the life span is that of emerging adulthood
Emerging adulthood
Emerging adulthood is a phase of the life span between adolescence and full-fledged adulthood, proposed by Jeffrey Arnett in a 2000 article in the American Psychologist. It primarily applies to young adults in developed countries who do not have children, do not live in their own home, or have a...

, introduced in 2000 by Jeffrey Arnett. Scholars of emerging adulthood are interested not only in relationship development (focusing on the role of dating in helping individuals settle on a long-term spouse/partner), but also the development of sociopolitical views and occupational choice.

Middle age


Middle adulthood generally refers to the period between ages 40 to 60. During this period, the middle-aged experience a conflict between generativity and stagnation. They may either feel a sense of contributing to the next generation and their community or a sense of purposelessness.

Physically, the middle-aged experience a decline in muscular strength, reaction time, sensory keenness, and cardiac output. Also, women experience menopause
Menopause
Menopause is a term used to describe the permanent cessation of the primary functions of the human ovaries: the ripening and release of ova and the release of hormones that cause both the creation of the uterine lining and the subsequent shedding of the uterine lining...

 and a sharp drop in the hormone estrogen
Estrogen
Estrogens , oestrogens , or œstrogens, are a group of compounds named for their importance in the estrous cycle of humans and other animals. They are the primary female sex hormones. Natural estrogens are steroid hormones, while some synthetic ones are non-steroidal...

. Men do have an equivalent to menopause, it is called andropause
Andropause
Andropause or male menopause, sometimes colloquially called "man-opause" is a name that has been given to a menopause-like condition in aging men...

 which is a hormone fluctuation with physical and psychological effects similar to menopause. Lowered testosterone levels result in mood swings and a decline in sperm
Spermatozoon
A spermatozoon is a motile sperm cell, or moving form of the haploid cell that is the male gamete. A spermatozoon joins an ovum to form a zygote...

 count and speed of ejaculation
Ejaculation
Ejaculation is the ejecting of semen from the male reproductory tract, and is usually accompanied by orgasm. It is usually the final stage and natural objective of male sexual stimulation, and an essential component of natural conception. In rare cases ejaculation occurs because of prostatic disease...

 and erection
Erection
Penile erection is a physiological phenomenon where the penis becomes enlarged and firm. Penile erection is the result of a complex interaction of psychological, neural, vascular and endocrine factors, and is usually, though not exclusively, associated with sexual arousal...

. Most men and women remain capable of sexual satisfaction after middle age. Compare Erikson's stages of psychosocial development
Erikson's stages of psychosocial development
Erikson's stages of psychosocial development as articulated by Erik Erikson explain eight stages through which a healthily developing human should pass from infancy to late adulthood. In each stage the person confronts, and hopefully masters, new challenges. Each stage builds on the successful...

.

Old age


This stage generally refers to those over 60–80 years. During old age, people experience a conflict between integrity vs. despair. When reflecting on their life, they either feel a sense of accomplishment or failure.

Physically, older people experience a decline in muscular strength, reaction time, stamina, hearing, distance perception, and the sense of smell. They also are more susceptible to severe diseases such as cancer and pneumonia due to a weakened immune system. Mental disintegration
Disintegration
Disintegration is the eighth studio album by English alternative rock band The Cure, released on 1 May 1989 by Fiction Records. The record marks a return to the introspective and gloomy gothic rock style the band had established in the early 1980s...

 may also occur, leading to dementia
Dementia
Dementia is a serious loss of cognitive ability in a previously unimpaired person, beyond what might be expected from normal aging...

 or Alzheimer's disease
Alzheimer's disease
Alzheimer's disease also known in medical literature as Alzheimer disease is the most common form of dementia. There is no cure for the disease, which worsens as it progresses, and eventually leads to death...

. However, partially due to a lifetime's accumulation of antibodies, the elderly are less likely to suffer from common diseases such as the cold.

Whether or not intellectual powers increase or decrease with age remains controversial. Longitudinal studies have suggested that intellect declines, while cross-sectional studies suggest that intellect is stable. It is generally believed that crystallized intelligence increases up to old age, while fluid intelligence decreases with age.

Parenting



In Western developed societies, mother
Mother
A mother, mum, mom, momma, or mama is a woman who has raised a child, given birth to a child, and/or supplied the ovum that grew into a child. Because of the complexity and differences of a mother's social, cultural, and religious definitions and roles, it is challenging to specify a universally...

s (and women generally) were emphasized to the exclusion of other caregivers, particularly as the traditional role of the father
Father
A father, Pop, Dad, or Papa, is defined as a male parent of any type of offspring. The adjective "paternal" refers to father, parallel to "maternal" for mother...

 was more the breadwinner, and less the direct caregiver of an infant, he has been traditionally viewed as impacting an infant indirectly through interactions with the mother of the child.

The emphasis of study has shifted to the primary caregiver
Primary caregiver
A primary caregiver is the person who takes primary responsibility for someone who cannot care fully for themselves. It may be a family member, a medical professional or another trained professional. Depending on culture there may be other members of the family engaged in care. This concept is very...

 (regardless of gender or biological relation), as well as all persons directly or indirectly influencing the child (the family system). The roles of the mother and father are more significant than first thought as we moved into the concept of primary caregiver.


Affirming a role for fathers, studies have shown that children as young as 15 months benefit significantly from substantial engagement with their father. In particular, a study in the U.S. and New Zealand found the presence of the natural father was the most significant factor in reducing rates of early sexual activity and rates of teenage pregnancy in girls. Covariate factors used included early conduct problems, maternal age at first childbirth, race, maternal education, father's occupational status, family living standards, family life stress, early mother–child interaction, measures of psychosocial adjustment and educational achievement, school qualifications, mood disorder, anxiety disorder, suicide attempts, violent offending, and conduct disorder. Further research has found fathers have an impact on child academic performance, including involved nonresident fathers. However, father absence is associated with a range of negative outcomes for children, including child and later criminal behavior.

Historical antecedents


The modern form of developmental psychology has its roots in the rich psychological tradition represented by Aristotle
Aristotle
Aristotle was a Greek philosopher and polymath, a student of Plato and teacher of Alexander the Great. His writings cover many subjects, including physics, metaphysics, poetry, theater, music, logic, rhetoric, linguistics, politics, government, ethics, biology, and zoology...

, Tabari
Ali ibn Sahl Rabban al-Tabari
Abu al-Hasan Ali ibn Sahl Rabban al-Tabari also given as 810-855 and 783-858 was a Persian Muslim hakim, Islamic scholar, physician and psychologist of Zoroastrian descent, who produced one of the first encyclopedia of medicine. He was a pioneer of pediatrics and the field of child development...

, Rhazes, and Descartes. William Shakespeare
William Shakespeare
William Shakespeare was an English poet and playwright, widely regarded as the greatest writer in the English language and the world's pre-eminent dramatist. He is often called England's national poet and the "Bard of Avon"...

 had his melancholy character Jacques (in As You Like It
As You Like It
As You Like It is a pastoral comedy by William Shakespeare believed to have been written in 1599 or early 1600 and first published in the folio of 1623. The play's first performance is uncertain, though a performance at Wilton House in 1603 has been suggested as a possibility...

) articulate the seven ages of man: these included three stages of childhood and four of adulthood. In the mid-18th century Jean Jacques Rousseau described three stages of childhood: infans (infancy), puer (childhood) and adolescence in Emile: Or, On Education
Emile: Or, On Education
Émile, or On Education is a treatise on the nature of education and on the nature of man written by Jean-Jacques Rousseau, who considered it to be the “best and most important of all my writings”. Due to a section of the book entitled “Profession of Faith of the Savoyard Vicar,” Émile was be...

. Rousseau's ideas were taken up strongly by educators at the time.

In the late 19th century, psychologists familiar with the evolutionary theory of Darwin
Charles Darwin
Charles Robert Darwin FRS was an English naturalist. He established that all species of life have descended over time from common ancestry, and proposed the scientific theory that this branching pattern of evolution resulted from a process that he called natural selection.He published his theory...

 began seeking an evolutionary description of psychological development; prominent here was G. Stanley Hall
G. Stanley Hall
Granville Stanley Hall was a pioneering American psychologist and educator. His interests focused on childhood development and evolutionary theory...

, who attempted to correlate ages of childhood with previous ages of mankind.

A more scientific approach was initiated by James Mark Baldwin
James Mark Baldwin
James Mark Baldwin was an American philosopher and psychologist who was educated at Princeton under the supervision of Scottish philosopher James McCosh and who was one of the founders of the Department of Psychology at the university...

, who wrote essays on topics that included Imitation: A Chapter in the Natural History of Consciousness and Mental Development in the Child and the Race: Methods and Processes. In 1905, Sigmund Freud
Sigmund Freud
Sigmund Freud , born Sigismund Schlomo Freud , was an Austrian neurologist who founded the discipline of psychoanalysis...

 articulated five psychosexual stages
Psychosexual development
In Freudian psychology, psychosexual development is a central element of the psychoanalytic sexual drive theory, that human beings, from birth, possess an instinctual libido that develops in five stages. Each stage — the oral, the anal, the phallic, the latent, and the genital — is characterized...

. Later, Rudolf Steiner
Rudolf Steiner
Rudolf Joseph Lorenz Steiner was an Austrian philosopher, social reformer, architect, and esotericist. He gained initial recognition as a literary critic and cultural philosopher...

 articulated stages of psychological development throughout human life. By the early to mid-20th century, the work of Vygotsky and Piaget
Jean Piaget
Jean Piaget was a French-speaking Swiss developmental psychologist and philosopher known for his epistemological studies with children. His theory of cognitive development and epistemological view are together called "genetic epistemology"....

, mentioned above, had established a strong empirical
Empirical
The word empirical denotes information gained by means of observation or experimentation. Empirical data are data produced by an experiment or observation....

 tradition in the field.

See also


  • Behavioral cusp
    Behavioral cusp
    A behavioral cusp is any behavior change that brings an organism's behavior into contact with new contingencies that have far-reaching consequences...

  • Child development
    Child development
    Child development stages describe theoretical milestones of child development. Many stage models of development have been proposed, used as working concepts and in some cases asserted as nativist theories....

  • Developmental psychobiology
    Developmental psychobiology
    Developmental psychobiology is an interdisciplinary field, encompassing developmental psychology, biological psychology, neuroscience and many other areas of biology. The field covers all phases of ontogeny, with particular emphasis on prenatal, perinatal and early childhood development...

  • Developmental psychopathology
    Developmental psychopathology
    Developmental psychopathology is the study of the development of psychological disorders, such as psychopathy, autism, schizophrenia and depression, with a lifecourse perspective....

  • Developmental Science
    Developmental Science
    Developmental Science is a peer-reviewed scientific journal covering developmental psychology and developmental cognitive neuroscience that was established in 1998. The current editors are Denis Mareschal, Paul C. Quin, and Mark H...

     (peer-reviewed journal)
  • Evolutionary developmental psychopathology
    Evolutionary developmental psychopathology
    Evolutionary developmental psychopathology is an approach to the understanding of psychiatric disorders based on the following:* human adaptations were forged to function in past environments rather than the current environment;...

  • Fuzzy-trace theory
    Fuzzy-trace theory
    Fuzzy-Trace Theory is a theory that is used in several different areas of psychology, such as cognitive, developmental and social psychology. FTT is a theory of memory and cognition with broad ramifications for the study of judgment and decision-making and two decades of empirical support...

  • Microgenetic design
    Microgenetic design
    Microgenetic design is a method of scientific examination in developmental psychology in which the same children are studied repeatedly over a short period of time. In contrast to cross-sectional and longitudinal designs which provide broad outlines of the process of change, microgenetic designs...

  • Ontogenetic parade
    Ontogenetic parade
    In developmental psychology, the ontogenetic parade is the term introduced by Isaac Marks for the predictable pattern of the development of normal childhood fears: emergence, plateau, and decline....

  • Outline of psychology
  • Perceptual narrowing
    Perceptual narrowing
    Perceptual narrowing is a developmental process in which the brain learns to experience the environment through a “fine-tuning” of the senses. The process of perceptual narrowing improves the perception of things that people experience often and causes them to lose the ability to perceive some...

  • Pre- and perinatal psychology
    Pre- and perinatal psychology
    Prenatal and perinatal psychology is an interdisciplinary study of the foundations of health in body, mind, emotions and in enduring response patterns to life...

  • Scale error
    Scale error
    In developmental psychology, a scale error is a serious attempt made by a child to perform a task that is patently impossible because of the extreme differences in the size of the objects involved...

  • Sociometric status
    Sociometric status
    Sociometric status is a measurement that reflects the degree to which someone is liked or disliked by their peers as a group.-Developmental psychology:...


Further reading

  • Bjorklund, D.F. & Pellegrini, A.D. (2000). Child Development and Evolutionary Psychology. Child Development, 71, 1687–1708. Full text
  • Bornstein, M.H. & Lamb, M.E. (2005). Developmental science: An advanced textbook. Mahwah, NJ: Erlbaum, 2005.
  • Johnson-Pynn, J.; Fragaszy, D.M. & Cummins-Sebree, S. (2003). Common territories in comparative and developmental psychology: The quest for shared means and meaning in behavioral investigations. International Journal of Comparative Psychology, 16, 1–27. Full text
  • Lerner, R.M. Concepts and theories of human development. Mahwah, NJ: Erlbaum, 2002.
  • Reid, V.; Striano, T. & Koops, W. Social Cognition During infancy. Psychology Press. 2007

External links