What are some theories of human development


Chapter 1: Human Development: How Can Uniqueness Be Explained?

  • 1.1 What is development?
  • 1.2 Describe development
  • 1.3 Explain development
  • 1.4 “Inside” and “outside” control - which factors shape our development?
  • 1.5 What types of developmental influences can be distinguished?
  • 1.6 The structure of this book

Human development enables and creates individuality. Developmental psychology seeks the general in human development. How can both be combined? How can the emergence and permanent change of an individual person over the entire lifespan be explained? Even if general patterns of change (e.g. development phases) can be identified - how and why do they come about? Are they universal? This is what development theories try to achieve: universal explanations of human development. They systematize the role and interaction of internal and external conditions (“factors”) and the processes that regulate their influence and these interactions.

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Chapter 2: From inductive to orderly description: phases of development

  • 2.1 Description of development and development processes: development tasks
  • 2.2 Psychosexual Stages: Building Blocks of a Universal Development Theory?
  • 2.3 Psychosocial Crises: The Diversity of Developmental Processes
  • 2.4 Sequential Logic: The development of thinking follows the laws of thinking

It makes sense to first describe development systematically if you want to explain it. Many (“classic”) development theories start right here and organize the individual diversity of development processes in “phases”. A closer look at some of the more popular theories reveals several problems. A first difficulty is that it depends on the circumstances, the context and the constellation: development tasks that are universally required of all in one culture do not play a role in another (e.g. learning to read). Few developmental sequences appear to be universal, especially those whose order is logically imperative. A second difficulty is how to empirically test whether a developmental phase or task actually occurs under all conditions and in the same form; Cross-sectional and longitudinal designs have advantages and disadvantages, respectively.

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Chapter 3: Development as Socialization

  • 3.1 Developing for Social Interaction: Moral Development
  • 3.2 Development through social interaction: How formative is early attachment experience?

Human development must enable and ensure that people work together with others in order to fulfill the tasks that (excess) life places on them. This means that the respectively applicable rules of living together must be learned. The development of morals is an example of how the developmental context influences individual development. At the same time, it is a challenge for development theories not to generalize the perspectives of a certain (e.g. individualistic) cultural context to other cultures without being examined. The special importance that other people have for individual development, especially at the beginning of life, seems at first glance to be a sure candidate for a universal developmental condition: It is plausible that early attachment experiences also influence later developmental steps. However, it has been shown that context conditions can also have a considerable influence here.

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Chapter 4: Natural Development: The Biological Perspective

  • 4.1 Biological growth: maturation
  • 4.2 Nature and culture: the "plant / environment problem"
  • 4.3 Evolutionary principles: Development is itself a product of evolution

The search for universal laws that control human development suggests looking for biological processes that regulate development. A large number of findings and arguments indicate that the gene system in particular controls development. But neither the development of the body nor the brain is independent of the context, but inevitably reflects it. Genes and environmental conditions interact with one another in many ways: Development is the result of very complex interactions. This also applies to the development history (evolution) of the genetic constellation of humans: development, development processes and development processes are themselves evolution products. The flexibility of a long childhood reduces the species' dependence on a specific developmental context. The long lifespan of humans opens up other ways of transgenerational transmission of information.

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Chapter 5: Development over the Lifespan: Development Processes

  • 5.1 From the description to the explanation of development: a summarizing interim conclusion
  • 5.2 Self-regulation: the actional development perspective
  • 5.3 Self-regulation: the development of the self
  • 5.4 Life course as a psychological problem: developmental regulation theories
  • 5.5 Development as problem solving: adaptation and equilibration

The perspective that development extends over the entire lifespan of people (and not only takes place in certain - early - phases) opens up a view of types of development processes that are seldom dealt with in classical theories. Only when a number of prerequisites are met can people intentionally influence their own development. Even then, framework conditions play a role, but at the same time own development goals also play a role. This action-based development perspective not only directs our attention to the development of the self, but at the same time draws attention to the fact that development processes can create (secure) stability: In middle and older adulthood, dealing with blockages and losses becomes an important part of development regulation. This suggests that solving problems could be a possible common denominator of development processes.

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Chapter 6: Development Systems: Dynamic Adaptation on Nested Levels

  • 6.1 The complexity of development contexts: development influences and development conditions on different levels
  • 6.2 Development dynamics: development as a development condition
  • 6.3 Development systems: the complexity of conditions, consequences and processes

Development cannot be defined as a universal sequence of certain states, because context conditions make adaptation requirements ("problems"), the processing of which constitutes development. Context conditions, in turn, are embedded in more comprehensive conditions: Development conditions are to be thought of as nested systems of different levels of influence and abstraction levels of conditions. The conditions of development also include the current state of development and the course of development to date. This turns development into a dynamic system of systematic changes on different levels that influence and condition one another.

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