The Importance Of Human Development

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Historically, human development was seen as taking place in infancy and childhood, thus assuming that further development is not very interesting. Most personality characteristics (e.g., intelligence, social competence) were seen as fully developed by young adulthood without undergoing significant changes thereafter. With more refined empirical studies on human development it became obvious that individual behavior can significantly change until very old age (Baltes, Staudinger, & Lindenberger, 1999). Therefore, an important issue of modern developmental psychology is to study stabilities and change of human development over the life span.
Changes in human behavior over the life span include biological processes (e.g., hormonal production in puberty; biological changes in old age) which are interrelated with socio-cultural factors (e.g., changing social roles and "developmental tasks"; see Havighurst, 1972). The nature-nurture dichotomy has been shown to be implausible not only from a biological perspective on development (Lewkowicz, 2011) but also from a developmental psychological approach (Shonkoff & Philips, 2003). However, the role of the individual person who actively constructs his/her development in specific socio-cultural contexts has not gained sufficient attention in developmental research. The neglect of culture in present developmental research is astounding since even a historical perspective on changes of developmental tasks in a society such as the
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