What Is Developmental Psychology?

Developmental psychology analyzes the process of change in each stage of human life. It encompasses all physical, social, and psychological aspects of life.
What Is Developmental Psychology?

Last update: 16 October, 2019

Developmental psychology studies changes and continuity processes about people’s behavior. For instance, it studies a human being’s psychological skills throughout their lives, from birth until death.

Developmental psychology studies three stages of development, these stages interact constantly and are studied jointly. There are three factors involved in this study, such as:

  1. First, there’s the biological aspect, the physical development of both the brain and the body.
  2. Second, it studies their cognitive field. Here, it analyzes the mental processes and the person’s ability to learn and adapt.
  3. The third aspect is on a psychosocial level. This compiles the subject’s relationships with their families and social environment, as well as their moral and cultural principles, etc.

In this article, we’ll review some of these elements to better understand what developmental psychology is.

What Is Developmental Psychology?

The main goal of developmental psychology

Developmental psychology uses scientific methods to study each individual. It aims to explore changes and how people deal with them throughout their lives.

Developmental psychology has three main goals:

  1. It aims to describe how humans’ conduct changes throughout human developmental stages.
  2. Then, it tries to identify what caused these changes in conduct and the processes involved.
  3. Based on previous developments, it tries to predict future developments.

According to this field of study, three factors determine our development and those are inheritance and environment, continuity and discontinuity, stability and change. Some changes in a person’s behavior can be explained by how these factors interact with each other.

What Is Developmental Psychology?

A brief history of developmental psychology

Developmental psychology has gone through four great historical stages. The first happened between the 18th century and the 19th century. This was a time for observation. It recorded family gatherings, developmental data during the first stages of life, and numerous studies on children. Also, Darwin’s work, On the Origin of Species, changed the ideas of evolution of the time.

The second historical stage in developmental psychology was a new vision of an old discipline. Thus, now it’s considered an independent field of study.

The third stage is one of reinforcement and development. During this stage, other aspects were included, such as measuring intelligence and creating development centers.

Lastly, the fourth stage involves the growth and expansion of developmental psychology. In this stage, its studies were reviewed and modified following modern theories, with new theories written about human development.

What Is Developmental Psychology?

What are the stages of life?

Developmental psychology divides human lives into six different stages. The first stage is the prenatal stage, which goes from our conception to our birth. The second stage goes from birth until our third birthday. Next, you’ve got the childhood stage. This divides into early and second childhoods. This stage goes on until we’re 12 years old.

Then, you go through adolescence, starting at 12 to 20 years old. Adolescence is divided into preadolescence, adolescence, and late adolescence. This stage is followed by early adulthood, it goes from 20 to 40 years old. Afterward, you reach middle age, between 40 to 65 years old. Lastly, you’ve reached old age, from 65 years old onwards.

Each of these stages in human life has specific elements of physical, psychological and social development. In short, developmental psychology studies people’s behavior and how it relates to each of these stages.

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This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.