Developmental Psychology

What is the meaning of "Development"?

"Development" in Psychology is defined by three conditions:

  • Change: qualitative, step forward, long lasting
  • Over time: the course of life
  • Perspective: bring up the individual to its best

What is the aim of "Developmental Psychology"?

Developmental Psychologists analyse the conditions of development and give evidence for the likelihood of a developmental path under certain circumstances.

The modern Developmental Psychology is strongly based on results of empirical research and combines the knowledge about

  • Development of brain (from prenatal over whole life-span)
  • Development of cognitive abilities (perception, attention, thinking, language, psychomotor, intelligence)
  • Development of self/personality
  • Development of motivational, emotional, and social competence
  • Interaction of development and environment (psychosocial development, developmental tasks, transitions in life course, critical life events)
  • Influence of cultural background

Key questions of Developmental Psychology

Although Developmental Psychology takes the whole course of life into account, the main focus is on childhood and youth, including the prenatal and infant period:

  • What innate abilities does in infancy process?
  • What are the developmental tasks of childhood?
  • What changes mark the transition from adolescence to adulthood?

Core concepts of Developmental Psychology

Below there are some examples for core concepts from prenatal period to adolscence:

  • Prenatal development and genetically designed abilities to facilitate survival in infancy.
  • Nature and nurture work together to master cognitive development, language acquisition, and establishing social relationships in childhood.
  • New challenges growing out of physical and cognitive development, as well as socio-emotional pressures in adolescence.


  • Siegler, R.S., DeLoache, J.S., & Eisenberg, N. (2011): How Children Develop (3rd Ed.). Worth Publishers.