Article

Life-Span Development

Kathleen Stassen Berger

in Psychology

ISBN: 9780199828340
Published online November 2011 | | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/obo/9780199828340-0079
Life-Span Development

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Life-span development studies human development from the moment of conception to the last breath. The goal is not to describe characteristics of any particular time period but to trace and predict the processes of “dynamic interaction”—how the present connects to a person’s past and future. Life-span science is relatively new, flourishing since about 1970 as a distinct area in psychology, but it has deep roots in developmental research on children and the elderly. The concept that early family experiences affect later life is implicit in a century of child-rearing research, especially from a psychoanalytic or behavioral perspective, and the idea that genes affect all of life, including intelligence and personality, has been central to the biological understanding of human life for decades. Life-span development acknowledges these genetic and early family influences but also holds that culture, cohort, and contexts are powerful. A basic tenet is that change is always possible: people are affected but not determined by their genes and early childhood. Life-span psychology overlaps with many other disciplines, especially anthropology, life-course sociology, intergenerational family studies, and social history. Since life-span development is relatively new as a distinct field within psychology, with major foundations and discoveries in the past few years, current research and theory are particularly valuable. Both interdisciplinary and contemporary articles are often published in the latest issues of thousands of academic journals. Students and scholars who already understand the basic tenets of life-span may wish to jump to the Journals section and go online to seek the abstracts of the most recent issues of these journals, as well as to peruse other journals with life-span development in mind.

Article.  7739 words. 

Subjects: Psychology ; Cognitive Psychology ; Developmental Psychology ; Health Psychology ; History and Systems in Psychology ; Educational Psychology ; Social Psychology

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