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From birth to death, individuals are learning, improving, growing, and changing, and developmental psychologists try to perceive or understand the “why” and “how” behind the changes individuals undergo. Developmental psychology is a field of study that focuses on individuals’ growth and change across their lifespan — however, people develop socially, physically, mentally, and emotionally over time.

Learn more about developmental psychology, including types, research, and treatment when necessary.

Theories of development psychology

As developmental psychology grew over time, varied researchers proposed theories about how to understand the process of human development. Depending on their training or coaching, developmental psychologist may focus on a selected theory or approach inside the field.
Here are some of the main branches of developmental psychology.

1) Attachment Theory

Attachment theory, originally developed by psychologist or psychoanalyst John Bowlby, establishes the importance of a steady, supportive, and loving caregiver in infant and child development.
If a child doesn’t establish such a connection, or if they expertise parental separation or loss, they may still have a hard time with healthy attachments as they get older.

2) Psychosocial Developmental Theory

Psychosocial development theory is an expansion of Sigmund Freud’s original 5 stages of development. Erikson, a 20th-century psychologist, and psychoanalyst, developed or formulated the eight-stage life cycle theory in 1959 on the supposition that the environment plays an essential role in self-awareness, human adjustment, development, and identity
Erik Erikson’s 8 stages of psychosocial development

  1. Trust vs. Mistrust
  2. Autonomy vs. Shame
  3. Initiative vs. Guilt
  4. Industry vs. Inferiority
  5. Identity vs. Role Confusion
  6. Intimacy vs. Isolation Love
  7. Generativity vs. Stagnation
  8. Ego Integrity vs. Despair

3) Cognitive Developmental Theory

In addition to speedy physical growth, young kids additionally exhibit vital development of their cognitive abilities. Piaget thought that children’s ability to grasp or understand objects—such as learning that a rattle makes a noise once shaken—was a cognitive skill that develops slowly as a child matures and interacts with the atmosphere. Today, developmental psychologists think Piaget was incorrect. Researchers have found that even very young kids perceive objects and how they work long before they have experience with those objects.

4) Moral development theory

Piaget claimed that logic and morality develop through constructive stages. Increasing on Piaget’s work, Lawrence Kohlberg determined that the method of moral development was mainly involved with justice, and it continued throughout the individual’s time period.
He instructed 3 levels of moral reasoning; pre-conventional moral reasoning, conventional moral reasoning, and post-conventional moral reasoning. The pre-conventional moral reasoning is typical of kids and is characterized by reasoning that’s based on rewards and punishments related to totally different courses of action. Conventional moral reason happens throughout late childhood and early adolescence and is characterized by reasoning based on the rules and conventions of society. Lastly, post-conventional moral reasoning is a stage during which the individual sees society’s rules and conventions as relative and subjective, instead authoritative.

Treatment of development psychology

Psychologists and alternative counseling or guidance professionals approach treatment from a range of philosophies, and a developmental psychologist focuses on human development that happens throughout the period. All areas of growth and development are studied, as well as social, cognitive, intellectual, physical, perceptual, and emotional. Professionals in developmental psychology take their knowledge or data of the ways in which individuals grow and change throughout life and apply that understanding to help clients to make healthy changes toward their overall goals.


Developmental psychologists may also directly diagnose and treat varied conditions. For example, a developmental psychologist could refer a parent to a speech-language pathologist or physical therapist if their kid isn’t meeting the usual developmental milestones (such as walking or talking) by the typical age. They could also diagnose somebody with a learning disability or help an older adult in hospice care (end-of-life care) who feels unsatisfied and unhappy when they or look back at their life.

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