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1 - Introduction

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  15 October 2009

Robert Plomin
Affiliation:
Pennsylvania State University
John C. DeFries
Affiliation:
University of Colorado, Boulder
David W. Fulker
Affiliation:
University of Colorado, Boulder
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Summary

The goal of this book is to explore the origins of individual differences in behavioral development during infancy and early childhood. A key phrase is “individual differences.” When developmentalists look at infancy and early childhood, they are usually absorbed by the dramatic changes that members of our species undergo during this fast-moving period of development. For example, Jean Piaget, the most influential figure in developmental psychology since the 1960s, described cognitive changes in terms of the transition from the sensorimotor actions of infancy to the representational abilities of early childhood, seen most clearly in the blossoming of language. However, Piaget was concerned only with average developmental trends, not with differences among children.

In contrast, when we look at children, we see children, not the child. That is, our interest centers on the development of individual differences among children rather than universal or normative (average) aspects of our species' development. A powerful theory of development must be able to explain individual differences, if for no other reason than that such differences exist – individual differences represent a major part of the phenomenon to be explained. There are, however, other reasons for studying individual differences: Descriptions and explanations of normative aspects of development bear no necessary relationship to those of individual differences; questions concerning the origins of individual differences are more easily answered than questions concerning the etiology of normative aspects of development; and the developmental issues of greatest relevance to society are issues of individual differences.

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Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 1988

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  • Introduction
  • Robert Plomin, Pennsylvania State University, John C. DeFries, University of Colorado, Boulder, David W. Fulker, University of Colorado, Boulder
  • Book: Nature and Nurture during Infancy and Early Childhood
  • Online publication: 15 October 2009
  • Chapter DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/CBO9780511527654.002
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  • Introduction
  • Robert Plomin, Pennsylvania State University, John C. DeFries, University of Colorado, Boulder, David W. Fulker, University of Colorado, Boulder
  • Book: Nature and Nurture during Infancy and Early Childhood
  • Online publication: 15 October 2009
  • Chapter DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/CBO9780511527654.002
Available formats
×

Save book to Google Drive

To save content items to your account, please confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your account. Find out more about saving content to Google Drive.

  • Introduction
  • Robert Plomin, Pennsylvania State University, John C. DeFries, University of Colorado, Boulder, David W. Fulker, University of Colorado, Boulder
  • Book: Nature and Nurture during Infancy and Early Childhood
  • Online publication: 15 October 2009
  • Chapter DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/CBO9780511527654.002
Available formats
×