Understanding Development

Development is a broad term that describes changes in the way people live. It includes both economic and social improvements, and is generally understood as a measure of people’s quality of life. This understanding has implications for individuals seeking to improve their lives, as well as countries wishing to put themselves on a path of development.

Many different approaches have been used to study human development. One important difference is whether a particular approach emphasizes continuity or discontinuity in development. For example, the stage theories of Freud, Erikson, Piaget and Kohlberg assume that developmental change takes place in stages that are qualitatively distinct from each other and that unfold in a set, universal sequence. This type of development is often referred to as discontinuous or linear.

Other approaches, such as the behaviorists, Vygotsky and information processing theorists, focus on the continuous nature of development. They believe that children acquire advanced skills by practicing them over time. They also consider the role of culture and experience in development. These theories are known as continuous or incremental.

Development is a multidisciplinary topic, and it requires the research methods and knowledge bases of many different academic disciplines. This is particularly true because of the vast number of theories and models that can be applied to studying development. For example, many scholars have looked at how a person’s temperament and personality affect his or her development. Others have studied the effects of environmental factors on development.