Development is a process that creates growth and brings in progress or positive change. It includes economic and social progress, such as an increase in people’s income and literacy. It also involves the improvement of living conditions, such as sanitation and health. Nobel prize winner Amartya Sen developed a view of development that became the basis for the human development index (HDI).
Theorists have different assumptions about what causes people to develop. Some assume that people’s growth is the result of innate or immutable traits or characteristics, while others believe that environmental factors are more important.
Some theorists believe that development is a continuous process that improves skills over time, such as height growth or learning to read. Other theorists believe that development happens in unique stages or steps, such as an infant’s transition to object permanence or the completion of a psychosocial crisis.
Many of the assumptions about development involve culture, and it is important to understand the cultural context of development. For example, some theories of development have assumed that all humans share the same needs for security and a sense of meaning. However, it is becoming increasingly clear that cultures vary in the ways they meet these needs, and there is no one “normal” way to develop as a human. A key question is whether the differences between cultures are simply due to their history and culture, or whether there are underlying similarities that can be understood and studied.