Developmental Psychology is a branch of psychology which studies how the human being changes over a life span (McLeod, 2012). It not just focuses on the physical development but also on social, emotional and personality development throughout the lifetime of a human being. The objective of this paper is to understand developmental psychology, its benefits and applications in life. This paper is divided into four sections. The first section includes the introduction, history and goals of developmental psychology. The second section discusses the benefits of developmental psychology. The third section talks about the application of developmental psychology in life. The fourth section concludes the paper.
Developmental Psychology: Introduction, Goals and History
Life-span developmental psychology includes the study of constancy and change in human behaviour throughout the life (Baltes & Paul, 1987). It examines the influence of nature and nurture at the various stages of human development. Throughout the life, human beings go through various life stages of development. External environment influences on the functioning of families as contexts of human development (Bronfenbrenner & Urie, 1986). Developmental psychologists study people’s growth, development and adaption during different stages in their lifetime. Developmental psychology studies the broad range of topics that include cognitive development, motor development, personality development, emotional development, motor skills, social change and moral understanding. Developmental psychology has three major goals – description of the behaviour, identification of the causal factors and optimization of the development.
The first systematic study of children was conducted by G. Stanley Hall who is also called as the “father” of developmental psychology (Keil, N.Dat.) Initially, developmental psychology dealt with only infants and children. But it later expanded its horizon to include the other stages of life such as infants, adolescence and old age. Developmental psychology’s initial appearance was seen more in the literary form in the book “As You Like It” which describes seven stages of a man’s life. John Locke, Jean-Jacques Rousseau, and Charles Darwin, who were the three early scholars, proposed three major theories of human behaviour. Locke proposed that the mind of the new born is like a blank slate where information is inserted through experience. Rousseau introduced the three development stages of a human i.e. infant, childhood and adolescence. Darwin suggested that development happened through evolutionary recapitulation.
Benefits of Understanding Developmental Psychology
The scientific study of developmental psychology started in the late 19th century, however it was only in the early 20th century that psychologists developed new ideas and methods of human behaviour and its development during the different life stages. Below are the four benefits of understanding developmental psychology.
First, one of the advantages to study developmental psychology is to understand what is normal and what is not. Many people consider themselves as normal and like to be called as fairly typical of people in general. Developmental psychology provides the information of the typical behaviours which occurs in a person at a particular time. For e.g. thumb sucking, nail biting and other tantrums are considered as normal behaviour for the children upto a particular age because most children within the same age group show a similar behaviour.
Second, the other benefit is that it helps in understanding human nature. Development is the continuous process in any human being. Hence, studying developmental psychology would help in understanding the process of development and changes in human nature.
Third, it helps in upbringing of the children. Sound knowledge of developmental psychology helps in overcoming the challenges of raising and educating children. Study of developmental psychology discovered parents’ and care takers’ anger management and other negative behaviour and emotions towards their children. This provides better rearing of the children.
Fourth, it also gives better understanding of the self. All human beings start their life as infants who grow to adolescence, then adult and finally old age. Studying developmental psychology gives a better understanding of the different stages and the process of development and changes in each stage.
Applications of Developmental Psychology in Life
The centralized focus of developmental psychology is to deal directly with the human being’s behaviour and development from birth till death. Developmental psychology is applicable in different aspects of life. Developmental psychology is applied in child psychology, cultural psychology, educational psychology, ecological psychology and cognitive psychology. Many of the theories of developmental psychology are applied to understand the environmental and social factors in the physical and emotional development of a human being. It also predicts human behaviour and forecast developmental processes. The result of study of developmental psychology is to understand the cognitive performance in real life scenarios such as workplace and classroom.
Various studies and experiments done by the developmental psychologists, give the important knowledge about the development of infants and children. This information was used by different set of people for different purposes. The scientific methods of developmental psychology applied to the study of children which provides the various solutions of the problems of child care, education, paediatrics and treatment. Parents use this information for better rearing of their children. Teachers use this information to guide and understand youth. Educators use it develop a unique way of teaching so that the learning would be easy and interesting for the children. Various clinics use it to evaluate children’s abilities. It is also used in setting up the curriculum for children as well as adults as per the maturity level of their age group.
Study of developmental psychology is also relevant to the population as median age increases. Hence, it provides the understanding of the aging process and provides senior citizen with the care that is necessary.
Developmental psychology is a branch of psychology of scientific study of the changes of human behaviour and development during different phases of life. Studying and understanding developmental psychology offers several advantages. It provides the basic understanding of which human behaviour is normal and which is abnormal. Generally a person behaves similarly in a particular age group, which provides the information about normality in human beings. Other benefits include, better understanding of children by their parents which helps in their upbringing. It also helps in understanding human nature. Nevertheless, developmental psychology has also various applications in life. It is applied in various others stream of psychology i.e. child psychology, cultural psychology, educational psychology, ecological psychology and cognitive psychology. Also, it helps in providing the information about the aging process and provides senior citizen with the care that is necessary Thus, studying developmental psychology proved to be very beneficial and useful in various different aspects of life, especially when it combines with the other stream of psychology.
Keil, F.C. (N.Dat.). The Origins of Developmental Psychology. Retrieved from http://www.yale.edu/cogdevlab/aarticles/originsdevpsych.pdf
McLeod, S. (2012). Developmental Psychology. Retrieved from http://www.simplypsychology.org/developmental-psychology.html
Baltes & Paul, B. (1987). Theoretical propositions of life-span developmental psychology: On the dynamics between growth and decline. Developmental Psychology, 23(5), 611-626.
Bronfenbrenner & Urie (1986). Ecology of the family as a context for human development: Research perspectives. Developmental Psychology, 22(6), 723-742.