What Is Development?


Development is the process by which people gain knowledge, skills, and opportunities that increase their quality of life. It is a multidisciplinary field that involves the study of many aspects of human development, including physical and neurophysiological processes, cognitive, language, emotional, personality, moral, and psychosocial development.

Normative history-graded influences: The time period that you were born shapes your experiences throughout your life. These influences include historical changes in health, education, employment, and other societal factors.

Non-normative influences: Your environment or the circumstances in which you live also shape your development. These influence may be specific, such as immigration, accidents, or the death of a parent.

Stage theories: The developmental theories of Piaget, Kohlberg, Freud, Erikson, and others assume that human development is a series of discontinuous qualitatively different stages. Each stage is different from the next and develops through a gradual progression.

Organismic meta-theories: The development of humans is compared to the stages of the caterpillar, chrysalis, and butterfly. Unlike the caterpillar, which has one direction of development (from caterpillar to butterfly), people develop in different directions, depending on affordances and opportunities that are available at any given moment.

Development can be viewed as an inevitable process, but it is important to distinguish between development that is good and development that is bad. A good development will create conditions for a continuous flow of new knowledge and skills, while a bad development will cause disruption and destruction in communities.