Normative Development

Given that we all experience our lives differently, can normative development exist? According to Baltes, Lindenberger and Staudinger (2006) there are seven basic components of normal healthy human development. This essay will analyse and critique these concepts of healthy human development in combination with the common debates in developmental psychology of nature vs. nurture, activity vs. passivity, continuity vs. discontinuity and universality vs. context specific. Supported by the literature, this discussion will outline certain norms that are attributed to development and will show that such parameters can be very useful tools when determining the need for medical, educational or psychological support in appropriate cases.

According to Sigelman & Rider (2009) human development can be categorised into three domains, physical, cognitive and psychosocial. The domains of physical development and cognitive development are empirically quantifiable and therefore lend themselves more easily to measurement. Psychosocial development is more subjective and abstract and therefore is less easily measured in finite terms. Using these concepts as a guide, two influential theories of development will be compared: Piaget’s constructivist theory of cognitive development (Lourenco & Armando 2006; Sigelman & Rider 2009; van Geert 1998) and Vygotsky’s theory of sociocultural influence (Rodina, 2006; Sigelman & Rider 2009; van Geert 1998). Finally the question of whether normative development can exist in the context of the universal cultural differences will be discussed.

Normative is defined by the Oxford English Dictionary as “establishing, relating to, or deriving from a standard or norm, especially of behaviour” However what is standard or normal? It may be argued that what is considered to be normal for one individual or one group of people may not be considered normal for another (Sigelman & Rider 2009).   Also within any normal measurement, there...