1.1 Principles of Development

There are several underlying principles of development to keep in mind:

  • Development is lifelong and change is apparent across the lifespan (although this text ends with adolescence). And early experiences affect later development.

  • Development is multidirectional. We show gains in some areas of development, while showing loss in other areas.

  • Development is multidimensional. We change across three general domains/dimensions; physical, cognitive, and social and emotional.

    • The physical domain includes changes in height and weight, changes in gross and fine motor skills, sensory capabilities, the nervous system, as well as the propensity for disease and illness.

    • The cognitive domain encompasses the changes in intelligence, wisdom, perception, problem-solving, memory, and language.

    • The social and emotional domain (also referred to as psychosocial) focuses on changes in emotion, self-perception, and interpersonal relationships with families, peers, and friends.

      • All three domains influence each other. It is also important to note that a change in one domain may cascade and prompt changes in the other domains.
  • Development is characterized by plasticity, which is our ability to change and that many of our characteristics are malleable. Early experiences are important, but children are remarkably resilient (able to overcome adversity).

  • Development is multicontextual.2 We are influenced by both nature (genetics) and nurture (the environment) - when and where we live and our actions, beliefs, and values are a response to circumstances surrounding us. The key here is to understand that behaviors, motivations, emotions, and choices are all part of a bigger picture.3

Now let’s look at a framework for examining development.

  1. Lifespan Development: A Psychological Perspective by Martha Lally and Suzanne Valentine-French is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 3.0 (modified by Jennifer Paris)↩︎

  2. Introduction to Lifespan, Growth and Development by Lumen Learning is licensed under CC BY 4.0↩︎