Development is a multifaceted process that enables countries to achieve a better quality of life. It encompasses economic growth through higher productivity, political systems that represent the interests of all social groups and protect people’s rights and the integrity of the environment.
Some theorists, like Freud, Erikson and Piaget, believe that human development occurs in stages. These theories, which are often referred to as discontinuous or stage-based, assume that developmental change occurs in a series of crises, with each phase requiring the completion of the previous one. These theories may be valid in certain cultures, but they do not always reflect the universal nature of human behavior and the complexities of the human experience.
Other theorists, such as Vygotsky and information processing theorists, believe that development is a continuous process called gradual or continuous-change. These theorists assume that development happens through interactions between innate mental abilities, brain processes and environmental experiences. These interactions allow for the acquisition of new, more advanced skills. These theorists see the development of consciousness as an example of emergent properties, where changes in a system occur without direct control from its components.
Still other theorists, such as Baltes and Lindenberger, follow a lifespan perspective on human development. Lifespan theorists believe that development is a continuum of change, and no single age period characterizes, dominates or defines a particular aspect of the human experience. These theorists also recognize that different dimensions of development can change at different rates.