The Different Theories of Development


The word development often conjures up ideas of progress and growth. It describes a good change that happens when individuals, groups and societies improve their abilities to use resources, take advantage of opportunities, and cope with challenges. The goal of development is to help people live happy and productive lives in harmony with nature and each other. Poverty is an obstacle to all the goals of development, from personal freedom to a clean environment.

Several theories of development have been developed over the years. Some of these theories differ significantly in assumptions about the causes of development. For example, some theorists have assumed that development is mainly caused by nature (genes and biology) while others have believed that nurture is more important. Many researchers have found that both factors play a role in human development.

A popular theory is Erikson’s developmental stagesExternal link:open_in_new, which describe the changes people go through as they move from childhood to adulthood. The stages include the attention stage, where people notice behavior; the retention stage, where they remember behavior; the reproduction stage, where they try out behaviors to see how they work; and the motivation stage, when people want to perform certain behaviors.

Other theorists have linked development to the culture in which people live. This sociocultural theoryExternal link:open_in_new explains how the various aspects of a culture impact development. It is important to keep in mind that the cultural context of development varies greatly, and it may be difficult to apply developmental theories from one culture to another.