Development is a noun that refers to growth, change, or improvement. It can also refer to a particular event or piece of news that’s breaking. The United Nations rates countries’ development by looking at things like their wealth, education, and life expectancy. Development can also be used to describe an economic trend, such as when a country’s agricultural production increases. It’s common to hear about developments in the news or on social media, and it can even be used in a business context. For example, an employee may be given a development plan that helps them to improve their performance.
The field of human development, or lifespan development, is the scientific study of how people grow and develop throughout their lives. It includes research on the physical and neurophysiological processes of growth, cognition, language, emotion, personality, and morality.
Several theories of development have been proposed. Some, like psychoanalyst Erikson’s, assume that there are specific challenges or crises that each person must face as they go through different stages of their life. These are sometimes called psychosocial or developmental crises.
Other theorists, like Vygotsky and information processing theorists, believe that each person’s environment has an impact on their growth and development. Some of these theories are culturally bound, so it’s important to understand how development differs across cultures. Other theorists, like Piaget or Erickson, assume that certain pathways of development are universal, so everyone goes through the same types of changes at the same time.