When studying developmental psychology, the first thing to understand is that it’s all about the scientific approach targeted at explaining how both kids and adults tend to change over time. Many theories involved in this discipline are focused on the right development during childhood, as this life period is characterized by most changes. Basically, developmental psychologists study a number of important theoretical fields, including social, biological, cognitive, emotional, and other processes.
The empirical research in this field is dominated by well-known and talented psychologists from such Western cultures as Europe and North America. However, Japanese scientists also made their major contribution into this discipline in the 80s. There are 3 basic goals of developmental psychology that should be mentioned, including explaining, describing, and optimizing people’s development. To describe it, people should focus on the typical patterns and ways of changing (normative) and personal variations in such patterns (idiographic).
Normative development is considered as a cumulative and ongoing process, but people can change only if the major aspects or circumstances of their lives also change, and their capacity for changes is plasticity. For instance, Rutter found out that somber babies who lived in understaffed orphanages tended to become more affectionate and cheerful if they were placed in the adoptive homes that were socially stimulating.
When explaining development, people should consider the relative contributions of both nurture and nature. The latter one is connected with the process of biological maturation, while nurture is about the impact on the environment, including the process of learning via different experiences. One of the main reasons why people’s development is quite similar is that our common DNA guides us through similar developmental changes at the same periods of our lives.
Finally, developmental psychology has quite interesting origins. As a discipline, it didn’t exist until the industrial revolution that required educated workers, and it resulted in the social construction of kids as a major stage in people’s lives. The earliest interests of psychologists were targeted at studying the minds of children to make their learning and education more efficient.
When studying developmental psychology, the first thing to understand is that it’s all about the scientific approach targeted at explaining how both kids and adults tend to change over time. Many theories involved in this discipline are focused on the right development during childhood, as this life period is characterized by most changes.