is the study of the physical, cognitive
(thinking) and social
changes that people go through from conception onwards.
Beginning of Developmental Psychology as a Field of
Interest in the development of
children became popular in the nineteenth century,
during the industrialization of Europe and North America. At this
time, people's lives could be divided into periods - childhood
and adulthood. As well, schooling became popular. At first, child
psychologists looked at issues such as the labor force and studied
items such as the acceptable time per day that a child could work
without damaging themselves. This sort of data was used to clarify
basic questions about human development
and how to study it. In the late nineteenth century, child psychology
became an institutionalized research and practice.
The core concern of child psychologists
is the steps of development that children go through. There are
three fundamental questions that psychologists ask about the process
1) Continuity: Psychologists are interested
in whether development of children is a gradual process of change,
or if it is made up of periods of rapid change and the sudden
onset of new thoughts and behaviors.
2) Sources of development: Psychologists
are interested in what parts of development are influenced by
genes and what parts are influenced from the environment
within which the child grows up.
3) Individual differences: Psychologists
are interested in how people differ and how they come to develop
the characteristics that make them unique.
Nature vs. Nurture:
For years, there has existed a debate
about whether nature (biology/genetic make-up) has a predominant
role in child
development or whether the nurture (the environment in which
the child grows up) does. Nature refers to the inherited biological
characteristics of an individual, such as their genes. Nurture
refers to the influences in the environment that affect
a child, such as the social environment of their family and their
school. Modern psychologists suggest that we cannot look at these
things exclusively. Both nature influences how one perceives the
environment and vice versa.
There are four major ways that
psychologists approach child development. These are:
1) The Biological Maturation Framework:
According to this framework, the sources of development
are biological, coming from things that have been inherited from
parents and that exist in the child's genetic make-up.
2) The Environmental Learning Framework: According
to this framework, development occurs and is influenced from outside
factors, coming from the child's environment.
3) The Constructivist Framework:
This viewpoint considers both environment and biological influences
that are working together in the child's development.
4) The Cultural-Context framework: This framework
sees both the importance of biological and of environmental factors,
and also looks at how these interact within a certain culture.
of Children & Teens