In defense of change processes

Karen E. Adolph, Scott R. Robinson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Nativist and constructivist approaches to the study of development share a common emphasis on characterizing beginning and end states in development. This focus has highlighted the question of preservation and transformation - whether core aspects of the adult end state are present in the earliest manifestations during infancy. In contrast, a developmental systems approach emphasizes the process of developmental change. This perspective eschews the notions of objective starting and ending points in a developmental progression and rejects the idea that any particular factor should enjoy a privileged status in explaining developmental change. Using examples from motor development and animal behavior, we show how a developmental systems framework can avoid the pitfalls of the long and contentious debate about continuity versus qualitative change.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1648-1653
Number of pages6
JournalChild development
Issue number6
StatePublished - Nov 2008

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Education
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology


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