Philosophy Dictionary of Arguments

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Author Item Summary Meta data
Upton I 4
Stability/Change/developmental psychology/Upton: Theorists who believe in stability in development often argue from a nativist stance, emphasising the role of heredity for the development of psychological characteristics. We inherit aspects of our personality, for example, in much the same way that we inherit eye colour. From this perspective we cannot change our psychological self, only learn to control it. >Nativism.
Empiricism: From an empiricist viewpoint, stability in psychological characteristics stems from the impact of early experiences that cannot be overcome. An individual is shy not because of a genetic predisposition, but because during early experiences of interacting with others they encountered considerable stress, leading them to avoid social interaction. >Periods of development/psychological theories, >Psychoanalysis/psychological theories.
Upton I 5
VsNativism/VsNativism: The alternative viewpoint is that there is potential for change throughout the life span. Later experiences are believed to be able to influence development just as early ones do. The majority of contemporary theorists accept this perspective.
For a discussion: Baltes (2003)(1) argues that, while adults are able to change, their capacity to do so is less than that of a child and diminishes over time. On the other hand, Kagan (2003)(2) argues that personality traits such as shyness have a genetic basis; yet he also provides evidence that even these inherited traits can be subject to change over time.


1. Baltes, P. B. (2003). On the incomplete architecture of human ontogeny: selection, optimization and compensation as foundation for developmental theory, in: Staudinger U. M. and Lindenberger, U. (eds) Understanding Human Development. Boston: Kluwer.
2. Kagan, J (2003) Biology, context and developmental enquiry. Annual Review of Psychology, 54: 1–23.


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Explanation of symbols: Roman numerals indicate the source, arabic numerals indicate the page number. The corresponding books are indicated on the right hand side. ((s)…): Comment by the sender of the contribution.
The note [Author1]Vs[Author2] or [Author]Vs[term] is an addition from the Dictionary of Arguments. If a German edition is specified, the page numbers refer to this edition.
Developmental Psychology
Upton I
Penney Upton
Developmental Psychology 2011


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Ed. Martin Schulz, access date 2019-09-18
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