The Dilemma of Developmental Psychology

There are three dilemma’s in Developmental Psych which are the source of much debate, but also much research. Le’s dive in shall we …

Nature vs Nurture

There are multiple different views on this but the first one is that nature dominates. This view proposes that we all have inherent growth tendencies which can be influenced by the environment. The second view, nurture, focuses on the importance of the environment including the schooling, peers, nutrition and cultural influences. So, which view is correct? Well, both in their own way… there has been an increase in studies which stress an epigenetic view which describes the relationship between gene expression and the environment. The research involves looking at how our DNA might change as a result of environmental influences. To get a closer look at this the studies often observe sets of twins.

Stability vs Change

This is the debate about the degree to which our traits change over time. Which traits are fixed, which are stable and what would it take for them to change. There is a body of research suggesting that stability commences early in our development, particularly as young children when it comes to our personality. For example, a child may become shy because of negative experiences with people, and this characteristic may flow through to adulthood. There is no clear understanding of stability or change, from a unified perspective. What I can surmise, is we develop tendencies as children, for better or for worse, and we carry these with us into our adult lives, however, if you want to change, you can shift your baseline, but old habits die hard, so you have to be prepared to put in the work.

Continuity and Discontinuity

Is change gradual or abrupt? Those who take more of a nurture emphasis, tend to emphasise that change is a gradual process, like incremental change, it’s a continuous process. Those who take a more nature perspective tend to see it as stages with peaks and troughs. So which is correct? It’s a little bit of both, it’s not as easy as saying one or the other. A more interesting question might be, what is the most effective strategy to cope with change, when it happens whether it’s gradual or in extreme stages.

Applying this information in real life….

Considering these three dilemmas gives me a lot to think about personally. When I am developing my own personal goals and working towards them, it can be useful to consider how each of these play into creating meaningful change. For example, say you want to learn to be an amazing public speaker. You have to recognise the role your environment has played in your current skill level, and how you can supplement this with opportunities to nurture your talent.

In practice, you may have aways been more on the reserved side, been the middle child at the table, with boisterous siblings, then into adulthood, it never felt natural to take the stage and practice. So with that you need to create the environment and the learning opportunities to improve that skill level.

When it comes to stability vs change, it’s useful to consider how this influences relationships. Say you and your partner are working through blocks to your communication style. It’s useful to reflect on how you approach conflict, what part of yo style is a part of who you are, and what part of your style can be adapted to meet the needs of the other. The same approach would be useful in all introspective development strategies.

Our life long development isn’t this or that, it’s often a blend of both.


Image Credit:

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

Create a website or blog at

Up ↑

%d bloggers like this: