Looking for the best developmental psychology books? We have created this list for you. Developmental psychology is the study of psychological phenomena that change at any point in the life span. This seemingly uncontroversial rendition, however, contains several terms that require elaboration, if not clarification. Notably, all of the key terms of the definition—viz., developmental, study, psychological phenomena, change, and life span—may be interpreted differently and perhaps even contested by notable developmental scholars. Accordingly, the field of developmental psychology may actually be described as containing multiple legitimate clusters of developmental psychologies. Although these clusters share some common assumptions, interests, and themes, they differ—sometimes dramatically so—from one another in these and other respects.
Developmental psychology is a vast and diverse field of psychology. Some developmental psychologists conduct research on conception, the early breaths of life, and the unfolding maturation of infants. Many others focus on children, their steady growth, accumulating cognitive and social skills, and awakening independence. Development of adolescents is equally of interest: the gravity of pubescence, the search for achievement, and the hovering influences of peers and schools. Developmental psychology is also about launching into adulthood, initiating and nurturing mature relationships, propagating families, and pursuing specializations and careers. Recently, some scholars have addressed concerns about settling into midlife, with shifting constraints and redefined opportunities. Finally, there have been long-standing developmental interests in aging throughout late life, a long period in which many changes are more likely to be losses than gains.
After scouring a wide range of textbooks, handbooks, and journals, one’s impression may very well be that developmental psychology is about the sum of all of the above—and more. Indeed, it concerns the normative changes that occur during these phases of life, but it is also about the differences and variations in individuals’ lives—the diversity of development—as well as the biological and cultural conditions that occasion unique developments. Given the breadth of the field, however, the published works in developmental psychology are more selective about the issues, theories, and methods to which they attend.