Development is a process by which nations, regions, local communities, or individuals improve their economic well-being and quality of life according to targeted goals and objectives. It includes eradicating poverty, hunger, disease and illiteracy; providing sustainable economic growth with social development and environmental protection; and promoting human rights, international peace and security.
A key challenge is to ensure that the benefits of development are distributed broadly and fairly, rather than accruing primarily to the wealthy. This requires a different approach to development, based on understanding what improvements in people’s lives actually mean and how they are measured. It also involves moving away from a single yardstick, such as GDP per capita, to a range of indicators that focus on individual choices, capabilities and freedoms.
The science of development, sometimes called lifespan psychology or developmental science, is the scientific study of how humans change and remain the same throughout their lives. It encompasses research into physical and neurophysiological processes, cognitive development, personality, morality, and our relationships with other people.
There are many different theories of development, influenced by what researchers assume about the way humans work and their environment. Some, such as Piaget and his neo-constructivist theories, believe that humans play an active role in their own development. Others, such as behaviorists and information processing theorists, see humans as more passive in the developmental process. All of these theories are classified as meta-theories, meaning that they are assumptions about the nature of humans and their development.