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Developmental psychology is the scientific study of change across the life span. This field examines change in a broad range of topics including: motor skills, problem solving abilities, conceptual understanding, acquisition of language, moral understanding, and identity formation.
Questions addressed by developmental psychologists include the following. Are children qualitatively different from adults or do they simply lack the experience that adults draw upon? Does development occur through the gradual accumulation of knowledge or through shifts from one stage of thinking to another? Are children born with innate knowledge or do they figure things out through experience? Is development driven by the social context or by something inside each child?
Many theoretical perspectives attempt to explain development, among the more common are:
Jean Piaget’s Stage Theory, Lev Vygotsky’s Social Contextualism, and the information processing framework.
Developmental psychology informs several applied fields, including:
educational psychology, school psychology, child psychopathology, and developmental forensics. Developmental psychology complements several other basic research fields in psychology including social psychology, cognitive psychology, and comparative psychology.
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