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2.1: What is the general idea of “developmental equivalence”?

  • Page ID
    9455
  • Developmental science has three goals: to describe, explain, and optimize human development (Baltes et al., 1977; see Table 2.1). There two target of human development: (1) patterns of normative change and stability and (2) patterns of differential change and stability. Patterns of normative change refer to regular age-graded constellations of intra-individual change, including quantitative changes, often referred to as “trajectories,” and qualitative changes, such as reorganizations or the emergence of new forms. Patterns of normative stability refer to regular age-graded periods of constancy, including quantitative consistency, or flat trajectories, as well as continuity in qualitative organization or functioning. We illustrate what it means to describe, explain, and optimize these kinds of development using examples from the area of children’s motivation for school (Wigfield, Eccles, Schiefele, Roeser, & Davis-Kean, 2006).

    Table 2.1. Goals of Developmental Science

    1. Description of patterns of intra-individual change and stability

    • Depiction of patterns of normative change and stability

    o Delineation of typical quantitative trajectories

    o Delineation of typical qualitative shifts

    • Depiction of differences between people in their developmental pathways

      o Delineation of range of quantitative trajectories

      o Delineation of different kinds of qualitative shifts

    2. Explanation of patterns of intra-individual change and stability

    • Account of the set of causes that produce normative change and stability

    o Specification of influences that generate typical quantitative changes

    o Specification of influences that give rise to typical qualitative shifts

    • Account of the sets of causes that produce different pathways

      o Specification of influences that generate different quantitative trajectories

      o Specification of influences that give rise to different kinds of qualitative shifts

    3. Optimization of intra-individual development

    • Identification of conditions that promote optimal normative and differential development

    o Specification of influences that generate optimal trajectories and qualitative shifts

    o Specification of influences that give rise to resilience

    • Discovery of strategies and levers to create such optimal developmental conditions

    o Discovery of ways to remediate or compensate for non-optimal conditions

    o Discovery of ways to promote occurrence of optimal developmental conditions