Development Through the Lifespan (7th Edition)
Book PrefaceDevelopment Through the Lifespan (7th Edition)
My decision to write Development Through the Lifespan was inspired by a wealth of professional and personal experiences. First and foremost were the interests and concerns of hundreds of students of human development with whom I have worked in over three decades of college teaching. Each semester, their insights and questions have revealed how an understanding of any single period of development is enriched by an appreciation of the entire lifespan. Second, as I moved through adult development myself, I began to think more intently about factors that have shaped and reshaped my own life course—family, friends, mentors, co-workers, community, and larger society. My career well-established, my marriage having stood the test of time, and my children launched into their adult lives, I felt that a deeper grasp of these multiple, interacting influences would help me better appreciate where I had been and where I would be going in the years ahead. I was also convinced that such knowledge could contribute to my becoming a better teacher, scholar, family member, and citizen. And because teaching has been so central and gratifying to my work life, I wanted to bring to others a personally meaningful understanding of lifespan development.
The years since Development Through the Lifespan first appeared have been a period of unprecedented expansion and change in theory and research. This seventh edition represents these rapidly transforming aspects of the field, with a wealth of new content and teaching tools:
■ Diverse pathways of change are highlighted. Investigators have reached broad consensus that variations in biological makeup and everyday tasks lead to wide individual differences in paths of change and resulting competencies. This edition pays more attention to variability in development and to recent theories—including ecological, sociocultural, dynamic systems, and epigenesis—that attempt to explain it. Multicultural and cross-cultural findings, including international comparisons, are enhanced throughout the text. Biology and Environment and Cultural Influences boxes also accentuate the theme of diversity in development.
■ The lifespan perspective is emphasized. As in previous editions, the lifespan perspective—development as lifelong, multidimensional, multidirectional, plastic, and embedded in multiple contexts—continues to serve as a unifying approach to understanding human change and is woven thoroughly into the text.
■ The complex bidirectional relationship between biology and environment is given greater attention. Accumulating evidence on development of the brain, motor skills, cognitive and language competencies, temperament and personality, emotional and social understanding, and developmental problems underscores the way biological factors emerge in, are modified by, and share power with experience. The interconnection between biology and environment is integral to the lifespan perspective and is revisited throughout the text narrative and in the Biology and Environment boxes with new and updated topics.
■ Inclusion of interdisciplinary research is expanded. The move toward viewing thoughts, feelings, and behavior as an integrated whole, affected by a wide array of influences in biology, social context, and culture, has motivated developmental researchers to strengthen their ties with other fields of psychology and with other disciplines. Topics and findings included in this edition increasingly reflect the contributions of educational psychology, social psychology, health psychology, clinical psychology, neurobiology, pediatrics, geriatrics, sociology, anthropology, social service, and other fields.
■ Links among theory, research, and applications are strengthened. As researchers intensify their efforts to generate findings relevant to real-life situations, I have placed greater weight on social policy issues and sound theory- and research-based applications. Further applications are provided in the Applying What We Know tables, which give students concrete ways of building bridges between their learning and the real world.
■ The role of active student learning is made more explicit. Ask Yourself questions at the end of most major sections have been revised to promote three approaches to engaging with the subject matter—Connect, Apply, and Reflect. This feature assists students in thinking about what they have learned from multiple vantage points. The Look and Listen feature asks students to observe what real children, adolescents, and adults say and do; speak with them or with professionals invested in their well-being; and inquire into community programs and practices that influence lifespan development. In addition, highlighting of key terms within the text narrative reinforces student learning in context.
The basic approach of this book has been shaped by my own professional and personal history as a teacher, researcher, and parent.
It consists of seven philosophical ingredients that I regard as essential for students to emerge from a course with a thorough understanding of lifespan development. Each theme is woven into every chapter:
1. An understanding of the diverse array of theories in the field and the strengths and shortcomings of each. The first chapter begins by emphasizing that only knowledge of multiple theories can do justice to the richness of human development.
As I take up each age period and domain of development, I present a variety of theoretical perspectives, indicate how each highlights previously overlooked aspects of development, and discuss research that evaluates it. Consideration of contrasting theories also serves as the context for an evenhanded analysis of many controversial issues.
2. A grasp of the lifespan perspective as an integrative approach to development. I introduce the lifespan perspective and illustrate its assumptions throughout the text, in an effort to help students construct an overall vision of development from conception to death.
3. Knowledge of both the sequence of human development and the processes that underlie it. Students are provided with discussion of the organized sequence of development along with processes of change. An understanding of process— how complex combinations of biological, psychological, and environmental factors produce development—has been the focus of most recent research. Accordingly, the text reflects this emphasis. But new information about the timetable of change has also emerged. In many ways, the very young and the old have proved to be more competent than they were believed to be in the past. In addition, many milestones of adult development, such as finishing formal education, entering a career, getting married, having children, and retiring, have become far less predictable. Current evidence on the sequence and timing of development, along with its implications for process, is presented for all periods of the lifespan.
4. An appreciation of the impact of context and culture on human development. A wealth of research indicates that people live in rich physical and social contexts that affect all domains of development. Throughout the book, students travel to distant parts of the world as I review a growing body of cross-cultural evidence. The text narrative also discusses many findings on socioeconomically and ethnically diverse people within the United States. Furthermore, the impact of historical time period and cohort membership receives continuous attention. In this vein, gender issues—the distinctive but continually evolving experiences, roles, and life paths of males and females—are granted substantial emphasis. Besides highlighting the effects of immediate settings, such as family, neighborhood, and school, I make a concerted effort to underscore the influence of larger social structures— societal values, laws, and government policies and programs— on lifelong well-being.
5. An understanding of the joint contributions of biology and environment to development. The field recognizes more powerfully than ever before the joint roles of hereditary/ constitutional and environmental factors—that these contributions to development combine in complex ways and cannot be separated in a simple manner. Numerous examples of how biological dispositions can be maintained as well as transformed by social contexts are presented throughout the book.
6. A sense of the interdependency of all domains of development— physical, cognitive, emotional, and social. Every chapter emphasizes an integrated approach to human development. I show how physical, cognitive, emotional, and social development are interwoven. Within the text narrative, and in the Ask Yourself questions at the end of major sections, students are referred to other sections of the book to deepen their grasp of relationships among various aspects of change.
7. An appreciation of the interrelatedness of theory, research, and applications. Throughout this book, I emphasize that theories of human development and the research stimulated by them provide the foundation for sound, effective practices with children, adolescents, and adults. The link among theory, research, and applications is reinforced by an organizational format in which theory and research are presented first, followed by practical implications. In addition, a current focus in the field—harnessing knowledge of human development to shape social policies that support human needs throughout the lifespan—is reflected in every chapter. The text addresses the current condition of children, adolescents, and adults in the United States and elsewhere in the world and shows how theory and research have combined with public interest to spark successful interventions. Many important applied topics are considered, such as family planning, infant mortality, parental employment and child care, adolescent pregnancy and parenthood, domestic violence, exercise and adult health, religiosity and well-being, lifelong learning, grandparents rearing grandchildren, caring for aging adults with dementia, adjustment to retirement, successful aging, and palliative care for the dying.
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