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Social Sci LibreTexts

1.0: Prelude to Lifespan Development

  • Page ID
    12030
  • Originally concerned with infants and children, Developmental Psychology has expanded to include adolescence and more recently, aging and the entire life span. Previously, the message was once you are 25, your development is essentially completed. Our academic knowledge of the lifespan has changed and although there is still less research on adulthood than on childhood, adulthood is gaining increasing attention. This is particularly true now that the large cohort known as the baby boomers are beginning to enter late adulthood. The assumption that early childhood experiences dictate our future is also being called into question. Rather, we have come to appreciate that growth and change continues throughout life and experience continues to have an impact on who we are and how we relate to others. We now recognize that adulthood is a dynamic period of life marked by continued cognitive, social, and psychological development.

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    Figure 1.1 Source

    You will also discover that developmental psychologists investigate key questions, such as whether children are qualitatively different from adults or simply lack the experience that adults draw upon. Other issues that they deal with is the question of whether development occurs through the gradual accumulation of knowledge or through shifts from one stage of thinking to another; or if children are born with innate knowledge or figure things out through experience; and whether development is driven by the social context or something inside each child. From the above explanation you may be thinking already that developmental psychology is related to other applied fields. You are very right. The field informs several applied fields in psychology, including, educational psychology, psychopathology, and forensic developmental psychology. It also complements several other basic research fields in psychology including social psychology, cognitive psychology, and comparative psychology. Lastly, it draws from the theories and research of several scientific fields including biology, sociology, health care, nutrition, and anthropology.