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Is development continuous or discontinuous?

Continuous development views development as a cumulative process, gradually improving on existing skills ( [link] ). With this type of development, there is gradual change. Consider, for example, a child’s physical growth: adding inches to her height year by year. In contrast, theorists who view development as discontinuous believe that development takes place in unique stages: It occurs at specific times or ages. With this type of development, the change is more sudden, such as an infant’s ability to conceive object permanence.

Continuous and Discontinuous development are shown side by side using two separate pictures. The first picture is a triangle labeled “Continuous Development” which slopes upward from Infancy to Adulthood in a straight line. The second picture is 4 bars side by side labeled “Discontinuous Development” which get higher from Infancy to Adulthood. These bars resemble a staircase.
The concept of continuous development can be visualized as a smooth slope of progression, whereas discontinuous development sees growth in more discrete stages.

Is there one course of development or many?

Is development essentially the same, or universal, for all children (i.e., there is one course of development) or does development follow a different course for each child, depending on the child’s specific genetics and environment (i.e., there are many courses of development)? Do people across the world share more similarities or more differences in their development? How much do culture and genetics influence a child’s behavior?

Stage theories hold that the sequence of development is universal. For example, in cross-cultural studies of language development, children from around the world reach language milestones in a similar sequence (Gleitman&Newport, 1995). Infants in all cultures coo before they babble. They begin babbling at about the same age and utter their first word around 12 months old. Yet we live in diverse contexts that have a unique effect on each of us. For example, researchers once believed that motor development follows one course for all children regardless of culture. However, child care practices vary by culture, and different practices have been found to accelerate or inhibit achievement of developmental milestones such as sitting, crawling, and walking (Karasik, Adolph, Tamis-LeMonda,&Bornstein, 2010).

For instance, let’s look at the Aché society in Paraguay. They spend a significant amount of time foraging in forests. While foraging, Aché mothers carry their young children, rarely putting them down in order to protect them from getting hurt in the forest. Consequently, their children walk much later: They walk around 23–25 months old, in comparison to infants in Western cultures who begin to walk around 12 months old. However, as Aché children become older, they are allowed more freedom to move about, and by about age 9, their motor skills surpass those of U.S. children of the same age: Aché children are able to climb trees up to 25 feet tall and use machetes to chop their way through the forest (Kaplan&Dove, 1987). As you can see, our development is influenced by multiple contexts, so the timing of basic motor functions may vary across cultures. However, the functions themselves are present in all societies ( [link] ).

Photograph A shows two children wearing inner tubes playing in the shallow water at the beach. Photograph B shows two children playing in the sand at a beach.
All children across the world love to play. Whether in (a) Florida or (b) South Africa, children enjoy exploring sand, sunshine, and the sea. (credit a: modification of work by “Visit St. Pete/Clearwater”/Flickr; credit b: modification of work by "stringer_bel"/Flickr)

Questions & Answers

I am here for the first time just here to learn...
michael Reply
hi I'm new on here first time
Lisa
Suppose an individual with OCD experiences obsessive thoughts about germs, contamination, and disease whenever she encounters a doorknob. What might have constituted a viable unconditioned stimulus? 
la Reply
What are factors that influence learning?
Enos Reply
Environment Heredity(I am not sure about heredity)
Tusita
Helpful. .. thanks
Enos
Sure, anytime
Tusita
I have other questions also
Enos
Based on the factors affecting learning, how do we improve learning
Enos
I think that addressing that everyone learns in their own time
James
Peer group influence can also be another reason
Sorie
Also knowing what's going on at home. what pressure are the parents putting on them.
James
am I close or no
James
also is there a lack of care? going one more step. with peer groups do an activity that shows how much they have in common
James
under what schedule of reinforcement do animals learn from ?
Phelisa Reply
the role of emotional intelligence in a courtship behavior
Caren Reply
1
describe the task and roles of industrial psychologist in solving the problems
Solomzi Reply
hi I'm Vaishnavi and I'm new to psychology:)
Vaishnavi Reply
what is motivation
Muhammad Reply
getting passionate about something and strive for success
Leanne
observation and method based
Winter Reply
the meaning of science
Winter
soul is the Greek word for psyche
Winter
psychology is scientific research of the human brain.
Winter
Psychology is a study of human mind and behaviour
Vaishnavi
psychology is a social science which aim at studying the mind as it affect the behavior of an individual.
Prince
write and explain four psychosexual stages of personality development
MPHID Reply
I'm asking on behalf of someone How can a guy get over his weakness for girls? Like the person have soft spot for every girl and he thinks he love them then suddenly stuff change.... Like a switch
Ajayi Reply
yes
Beverly
whats the age of the boy?
Beverly
16 or 17
Ajayi
lol. it gets over with time. it's not something that can be changed instantly. and for teenagers.. anyone of opposite sex is a tasty lollipop.
Alex
yes in time it will go away but could also take years
Beverly
maybe because he doesn't really have mind of making decisions at the moment on what he need and what he doesn't want
Nwokwu
maybe he's trying to find someone to love because he's either lacked loved and feel that's the only way to feel loved or he's lonely and feels a girl can make it better . either he's got deal with the core issue
Jonan
its natural. I think it should be like this. girls also have weakness toward guys. but you can overcome on few things like concept of beauty. first step is realisation which will grow in you. also discipline help in these things.
Sujeet
what are cluster A disease?
Saee Reply
because psychology is a natural science as well as a science. it's a interdisciplinary subject
Kamakshi Reply
yes absolutely we cabt out Psychology completely into science dur to its various measuring aspects
utkarsh
cannot* put*
utkarsh
Assess the relationship between heredity and environment in human development
Newman Reply
जिवन कक्षा विकासाच्या एकूण किती अवस्था आहेत
Digambar Reply
what happened Digambar?
sakshi
?
Reina
Is here anybody exactly awared about the medicine used for the schizophrenia?
Fazil
plz can i know if io psychology in demand ou it's better to continu in human resourses management?
Reina
there are many drugs used to alleviate the symptoms, but none are used for curing the disorder itself.
Rupert

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Source:  OpenStax, Psychology. OpenStax CNX. Feb 03, 2015 Download for free at https://legacy.cnx.org/content/col11629/1.5
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