Developmental Psychology: How Nature and Nurture Interact

Developmental Psychology: How Nature and Nurture Interact

Developmental Psychology: How Nature and Nurture Interact

Developmental Psychology: How Nature and Nurture Interact

Synopsis

This clear and authoritative text provides a trenchant critique of dichotomous thinking and goes on to describe and exemplify an alternative view of development, showing the power of ecological and dynamic systems perspectives. Thematic chapters identify the classic assumptions of the nature-nurture debate and present the reader with new ways of thinking about these issues. The book begins with material that may be familiar to students, then leads them into areas of thought which may be less familiar but which are important and significant aspects of current research and debate in the field. The author shows how an alternative, ecological systems perspective can be used to form more coherent critiques of major theorists like Skinner, Piaget, Vygotsky, and Gibson.

Excerpt

Development psychology has made huge progress in recent years. The child is now recognized to be an active agent in complex interactions with a multi-layered social and physical environment: transactionalism rules. But underneath this liberal gloss a set of traditional assumptions remain. We retain the belief that causes of development are due either to the structure of genes or to the structure of environment, the ancient nature/nurture, organism/environment dichotomies. These and related assumptions have massive implications for theories of development. I will show how they are delaying and distorting theory-building in human development. They obstruct a properly ecological, systems perspective because this requires that the organism and environment form a single system, not a dichotomy. They fail to offer a means of showing how two exclusive forms of cause could manage to combine. And most of all they preclude the possibility of an interactionism in which change is produced by interactions themselves, basic to other domains of science, not by regulators in the form of genetic instructions or environmental structure. We need a view which escapes this conceptual straitjacket.

There is one. It is based upon principles which apply to all natural processes. It shows how we do not need to invoke regulators, how we can be 'ecological' about people and can admit of the enormous complexity and uncertainty in development whilst still retaining a scientific rationale. It is an ecological, dynamic systems view.

The aim of this book is to make as clear as I can the enormous difficulties the traditional assumptions lead to and to persuade you of the value of grasping a new framework. I want to change your head, to adopt a new paradigm. My version of this paradigm, like any developmental product, emerged from a complex flux of interacting causal influences.

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