Ch. 1 Adult Development and Aging
Why study Adult Development and Aging?
2. Personal: thinking about their own development and aging. One can control or optimize
to some extent his/her own development throughout adult years.
3. Service: wanting to know how to help others
What is Developmental Psychology?
-Development: combined effects of the accumulation of experiences and the consequences
of time-related biological processes that affect behavior and physiology throughout the life
span of individuals. The term development applies to changes in behavior that vary in a
predictable and orderly way with increasing age.
-Developmental change must be relatively durable and distinct from temporary fluctuations
in behavior caused by mood
-Development carries potentials and limits; it may include gains as well as losses in
-Study of development: 2 aims
1. Ontogeny or Intraindividual change: the origins and development of behavior
within the individual. Intraindividual is the change that occurs over different age groups.
Can be studied cross-sectionally (comparing groups of differ ages at single time or
longitudinally (group of individuals over time)
2. Interindividual differences: the goal is to describe and try to explain factors
that contribute to the differences between individuals as they grow older. How and why
individuals develop and change as they grow older, and how and why individuals show
different patterns of development and change.
-Developmental psychology: the study of age-related Interindividual differences and
age-related intraindividual change. The main goals of developmental psychology are to
describe, explain, predict, and improve or optimize age-related behavior change.
-The specific events or processes that occur during an interval of time are the real
determinants of development and aging; time and age itself does not directly cause change
-nonevents: events that we don’t personally or directly experience can affect the path of
development. That is we might have developed differently if we had grown up in a different
neighborhood or country.
-in developmental psych, behavior (just about anything people do) is the focus of study
Theoretical issues in the study of adult development and aging
-development includes gains as well as loss of behaviors
Development as Gains and Losses
-no age period is more important than another
-Profound changes continue to occur throughout the life span
Quantitative and Qualitative Change
-Quantitative: gradual and continuous. Differences in amount or degree
-Qualitative: stagewise. Changes are differences in kind of behavior
Development as Co-Construction of Biology and Culture
-Development is a co-construction of cultural factors interacting with genetic and
-Biogenetic: the presence of particular genes and genetic variations “protects: against
particular diseases and insults associated with lifestyle and environment events up to a
point. The presence of other genes and genetic variations in combination with particular
environmental risks (stressful experiences, unhealthy lifestyles) increases vulnerability to
particular diseases or accelerates normal aging processes.
-Biobehavioral: negative effects on dev. Include untreated high cholesterol or chronic
stress. Positive effects on dev. Include exercise, and healthy diet
-Behavioral-cultural: negative effects include particular events in the culture that result
in anger, depression, or withdrawl. Positive effects include opportunities experiences within
the culture that promote social and cognitive engagement
-Health span: the section of the life span during which the person is effectively or
Stagewise change and continuous change
-Change takes place on multiple levels (biogenetic, behavioral, and biocultural)
-The notion of stages of development is controversial; researchers disagree about whether
distinct stages of development occur during the adult years and about the criteria that
might indicate the presence of stages
-A stage theory is a description of a sequence of qualitative changes. Stage theories
require 4 assumptions:
1. Stage 1 must always precede stage 2
2. Each successive stage consists of integration and extension of a previous stage
3. The transition from one stage to another is abrupt
4. Each stage represents an organized whole characterized by several particular
behaviors or competencies
-Thus the sudden or abrupt appearance of an entire set of behaviors at a particular time in
the life of most individuals would be strong evidence for stage wise development.
-Nonstage theories posit that development is always continous.
-Mechanisms cause an increase, a decrease, or stability in a behavior over the life span
-Although adulthood has been traditionally characterized as aperiod of relative continuity ,
new studies have revealed substantial diversity among adults (interindiviual differences),
as well as substantial variability within the same person across time (intraindividual
change) and across tasks or situations (intraindividual change)
Plasticity and Cognitive Reserve Capacity
-Plasticity: potential modifiability of an event or process.
- A primary focus of much of the current research in adult development and aging is to
describe and explain the conditions that affect the individual’s potential and limits to
effectively adapt to chan ging events and the mechanisms or processes that affect the
success of adaptation
-3 types of plasticity: