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Characteristics of developmental psychology, developmental psychology as a science

Age psychology is a branch of psychological science that studies the facts and patterns of human development, the age dynamics of its psyche.

The object of study of developmental psychology is a normal, healthy person developing and changing in ontogenesis. Development Psychology highlights age-related changes in people's behavior and seeks to explain these changes, to reveal the patterns of people gaining experience and knowledge1. The focus is on “various forms of mental organization typical of individual periods of a person’s life path” 2. Age psychology sets as its task the study of holistic psychic development “throughout the entire space of human life from birth to death,” the super task is the study of “a changing, developing individual in a changing world” 3.

The subject of developmental psychology is age periods of development, causes and mechanisms of transition from one age period to another, general patterns and trends, the pace and direction of mental development in ontogenesis.

The following sections of developmental psychology are distinguished: infant psychology, early childhood psychology, preschool psychology, primary school psychology, adolescent psychology, youth psychology, middle-aged psychology, old age psychology (gerontopsychology).

The most important component of developmental psychology has been and remains child psychology. D.B. Elkonin, in his Introduction to Child Psychology, defined its subject as a study of the process of becoming a “subject of diverse human activity” from a helpless newborn1.

At the turn of the XIX-XX centuries. It is precisely as child psychology that age psychology has emerged as an independent field of knowledge. The book “The Soul of a Child” by the German biologist V. Preyer, published in 1882, is considered the starting point of systematic scientific research on mental development in childhood.

Over the past time, the very concept of the subject of child psychology (the understanding of what should be studied) has repeatedly been transformed, which was closely associated with a change in the research methodology2. Initially, in the second half of the XIX - early XX centuries, the task of scientists was to collect and accumulate specific data, empirical information, study the phenomenology of mental development in childhood. It was a search for answers to questions about what exactly happens in children's development, when and in what sequence new skills and competencies appear in a child in one respect or another. Methods of objective observation, ascertaining, slice experiment (C. Darwin, V. Preyer, A. Gesell) answered this task. Later, the question arose of systematization, the streamlining of factology, the identification of some general laws of mental development. The solution to this problem is associated with the names of S. Hall (theory of recapitulation), A. Gesell (theory of maturation), L. Theremin (normative tradition of studying children).

In the 1920-1930s. the outwardly observed behavior of the child has become the main object of study from the standpoint of classical behaviorism. It was considered important to establish the reactions of children of different ages and adults to identical stimuli, to describe the differences in response to the external environment.

Researchers are increasingly beginning to take up questions about the factors, conditions, and driving forces of development. The desire to penetrate the essence of child development was realized in the transition to methods of comparative study of mental development in norm and pathology, methods of cross-cultural research, experimental genetic research and led to the creation of a number of theories - 3. Freud, A. Wallon, E. Erickson and other

In domestic psychology, the main tasks of child developmental psychology were identified by L.S. Vygotsky (1896-1934). In the work “The Problem of Age”, he pointed out the need to study the characteristics of each age, the main types of normal and abnormal development, the structure and dynamics of child development in their diversity1.

Theoretical problems of developmental psychology:

- the study of the driving forces, sources and mechanisms of mental development throughout the life course of a person;

- periodization of mental development in ontogenesis;

- the study of age-related features and patterns of the course (occurrence, formation, change, improvement, degradation, compensation) of mental processes (perception, memory, attention, etc.);

- the establishment of age-related capabilities, features, patterns of implementation of various types of activities, the assimilation of knowledge;

- a study of the age development of the individual, including in specific historical conditions.

The significance of developmental psychology is significant in theoretical terms. Recall that almost all the major scientists who have left their mark on science have also dealt with issues of developmental psychology. Studying the psychology of a child is the key to understanding the psychology of an adult. L.S. Vygotsky assigned child psychology a fundamental role in solving the problem of creating a “new” psychology, emphasizing that “the only right way is to go in the study of the psyche from a child to an adult” 2. The way of transforming psychology is “from a descriptive and fragmentary ascertaining psychology into a scientific explanatory, generalizing system of knowledge about a person’s behavior, about the mechanisms of his movement and development, about educational management of his development, formation and growth”.

The practical significance of developmental psychology is primarily associated with the scientific elaboration of questions about the normative development of a healthy child, about typical age-related problems, ways and means of solving them, the stages of formation of an adult full-fledged personality, citizen, professional, and parent.

Practical tasks of developmental psychology:

- determination of age norms of mental functions, identification of psychological resources and creative potential of a person;

- the creation of a systematic monitoring service for the progress of mental development, children's mental health, and assistance to parents in problematic situations;

- age and clinical diagnosis;

- Performing the functions of psychological support, assistance in crisis periods of human life;

- the most optimal organization of the educational process, continuing education (including oriented to middle-aged and elderly people).

Developmental Psychology as a Science

Table 1



Object Developing, changing in ontogenesis normal, healthy person

Subject Age periods of development, causes and mechanisms of transition from one age

period to another, general patterns and trends, pace and focus of the mental

development in ontogenesis

Theoretical - The problem of driving forces, sources and mechanisms of mental development throughout the course of a person’s life

tasks (problems) - The problem of periodization of mental development in ontogenesis

- The problem of age-related characteristics and patterns of mental processes

- The problem of age-related opportunities, features, patterns of implementation of various activities, knowledge acquisition

- The problem of age development of personality, etc.

Practical tasks - Determination of age norms of mental functions, identification of psychological resources and creative potential of a person

- Age and clinical diagnosis

- Monitoring the progress of the mental development of children, providing parents in problem situations

- Psychological support, assistance in crisis periods of human life

- Organization of the process for people of all age categories, etc.

Age psychology is closely related to other branches of psychological science.
It is based on ideas about the human psyche, developed in general psychology, uses a system of basic concepts of general psychology. At the same time, the study of the origin and initial stages of the formation of higher mental functions (for example, memory or thinking) leads to a deeper understanding of the developed forms of complex mental processes.

The study of the transformation of mental processes in children acts as a special method of cognizing the mechanisms of the mental - the genetic method. However, the subject of genetic psychology does not coincide with that in developmental psychology. The focus of genetic psychology is the development of mental processes as such; for developmental psychology, a developing person is important.

Developmental psychology and educational psychology have much in common, especially in their historical development. The real unity of pedagogical and developmental psychology is explained by the general object of study - a person developing and changing in ontogenesis. But in pedagogical psychology, the foreground is the education and upbringing of the subject in the process of the targeted influence of the teacher, and age psychology is interested in how development proceeds in a wide variety of socio-cultural situations.

Mental development of a person occurs within various social communities: families, groups of peers in the yard or in kindergarten, in the school class. As a subject of communication and interpersonal interaction, a developing individual partially forms the subject of social psychology.

The correlation of typical and individual, general and peculiar, normal and abnormal, deviating series of development creates common fields for developmental psychology and psychology of comparative, differential, pathopsychology and clinical psychology.

Age psychology has diverse connections with a wide range of fields of science and culture. It is based on knowledge from the fields of natural sciences, medicine, pedagogy, ethnography, sociology, gerontology, cultural studies, art criticism, linguistics, logic, literary criticism and other fields of science. And, in turn, developmental psychology, revealing the laws of the age formation of the psyche, makes them a common asset.
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Characteristics of developmental psychology, developmental psychology as a science

  1. Prerequisites for the formation of developmental psychology and developmental psychology into an independent area of ​​psychological science
    The design of developmental psychology (child or developmental psychology) as an independent branch of scientific knowledge dates back to the second half of the 19th century. Two directions were united, until that time developing in parallel and independent of each other. These are studies of child development that have been associated with science and medicine, as well as ethnographic studies of childhood and language, mainly
  2. Isolation of developmental psychology and developmental psychology into an independent field of psychological science
    Isolation of developmental psychology and developmental psychology into an independent area of ​​psychological
  3. The formation of age (child) psychology as an independent field of psychological science
    In the psychological teachings of past eras (in the period of antiquity, in the Middle Ages, in the Renaissance), many important questions of the mental development of children1 have already been posed. In the works of the ancient Greek scientists Heraclitus, Democritus, Socrates, Plato, Aristotle, the conditions and factors of the formation of the behavior and personality of children, the development of their thinking, creativity and abilities were considered,
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  9. Research methods in developmental psychology and developmental psychology
    The complex of research methods that scientists use to study the process of age development consists of several blocks of methods. One part of the methodology is borrowed from general psychology, the other from differential psychology, the third from social psychology. The methods used in genetic research (observation, tests, experiment) are closely related to the methods of general psychology, but have
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    Modern psychology is an extensive system of scientific disciplines, among which a special place is occupied by age-related psychology or, more correctly, the psychology of human development, associated with the study of the age-related dynamics of the development of the human psyche, ontogenesis of mental processes and psychological qualities of a person that changes qualitatively over time. Age concept
  12. Developmental psychology and developmental psychology - an interdisciplinary branch of scientific knowledge
    In recent decades, developmental psychology (developmental psychology) has changed both in content and in interdisciplinary relationships. On the one hand, it exerts influence on other scientific disciplines, and on the other, it itself is influenced by them, assimilating everything that expands its substantive content. Biology, genetics, developmental physiology. These disciplines are important above all.
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