The Developmental Psychology of Planning: Why, How, and When Do We Plan?

By Sarah L. Friedman; Ellin Kofsky Scholnick | Go to book overview

Preface

Planning is defined as formulating in advance an organized method for action. As such, planning skill is central to all human behavior. But much of the research on planning has focused on the cognitive processes that enable mature individuals to plan. This book is a continued exploration of the developmental course of planning and an attempt to situate cognitive aspects of planning in the context of other psychological processes and in the context of the social and cultural environment.

People do not plan all the time, and planning does not occur in every situation. There are developmental differences in planning skill and in the motivation to plan. Even among adults, attitudes, beliefs, and goals lead to variations in engagement in the planning process. Moreover, different social groups place different value on planning different events. Planning also has a different meaning at different junctures in the life course. Therefore, this book fills a gap in the literature by exploring how, when, and why we plan. It brings together the contributions of developmental, organizational, and social psychologists to address these issues, tapping planning with tasks that vary from formal problem solving to handling the demands of daily life.

Historically, planning was originally construed as a unitary psychological process, and various writers interpreted it to mean representation, or strategy choice, or strategy execution, and so on. More recently, however, researchers have begun to realize that planning is the orchestration of diverse and interdependent cognitive and motivational processes that are influenced by context and that are brought together in the service of reaching a goal. These processes and their orchestration follow a complex developmental trajectory. This volume is designed to elaborate on and take off from themes found in Blueprints for Thinking, a volume we edited with Rodney Cocking in 1987. In the earlier volume the focus was on defining the components of planning and placing planning in a developmental framework. In this volume, greater attention is paid to the reasons for planning and the conditions under which planning occurs.

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