The Process of Development


The process of human growth and development is an important subject because it can explain a lot about what makes people different. For example, two children born in the same town and year to families with similar socioeconomic statuses may grow up to have very different personalities. This is because of the many environmental and genetic factors that affect their development. The study of developmental psychology can help us understand these differences and learn how to support people throughout the various stages of their lives.

Some theorists, such as Piaget and Erickson, assume that pathways of development are normative and universal — that everyone experiences the same cognitive tasks in the same way at about the same age, for example, or that adolescence is a time of searching for identity, regardless of culture or other individual characteristics. Others, however, such as the behaviorists and Vygotsky, argue that there are culturally specific processes of cognitive development.

Other researchers, such as those in the field of sociobiology, evolutionary biology, ethological science, and neuroscience, have focused on how genes and the environment interact to influence development. They have also looked at the way that different cultures shape development and the ways that individual differences such as gender, race, and personality influence developmental processes.

The United Nations has defined sustainable development as a process of economic growth and development, social progress, the eradication of poverty, hunger, disease and illiteracy, the creation of jobs, and environmental protection and restoration. This definition emphasizes that these elements must be integrated to achieve sustainable development and promote the well-being of all people in a global community.