What Is Development?

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A development is a new and improved product, idea or way of doing something. It can also mean a career advancement or promotion. A company can support employee development by providing training, mentoring or stretch assignments. Development can also refer to an area of professional growth, such as communication, flexibility or leadership.

The study of development (also known as lifespan developmental science) explores the ways in which people change and remain the same throughout the course of their lives. This field examines human evolution and change across many domains, including physical and neurophysiological processes, language, cognitive abilities, emotions, personality, morality, and relationships with others.

Some theorists believe that there are certain universal pathways through which everyone passes. For example, Piaget and Erikson believed that all children pass through a similar series of developmental crises in the same order at approximately the same ages. However, there are other theorists who believe that different patterns and pathways of development exist for different individuals and contexts.

The issue of what defines development is a complex one. The term development has traditionally been used to describe economic growth in terms of GDP, wealth, educational and healthcare opportunities and standard of living, but this doesn’t address other issues such as a divide between rich and poor countries or the North/ South dichotomy. Some scholars are exploring the potential of a different approach to development that draws on complexity theory, and which attempts to take into account a wider range of factors than those typically considered in development studies.