In defense of change processes

Child Dev. Nov-Dec 2008;79(6):1648-53. doi: 10.1111/j.1467-8624.2008.01215.x.


Nativist and constructivist approaches to the study of development share a common emphasis on characterizing beginning and end states in development. This focus has highlighted the question of preservation and transformation-whether core aspects of the adult end state are present in the earliest manifestations during infancy. In contrast, a developmental systems approach emphasizes the process of developmental change. This perspective eschews the notions of objective starting and ending points in a developmental progression and rejects the idea that any particular factor should enjoy a privileged status in explaining developmental change. Using examples from motor development and animal behavior, we show how a developmental systems framework can avoid the pitfalls of the long and contentious debate about continuity versus qualitative change.

Publication types

  • Comment
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Brain / physiology
  • Child
  • Child Behavior
  • Child Development*
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Motor Skills / physiology
  • Psychological Theory*