At its core, developmental psychology is concerned with the study of change. From conception to death, life is a journey of change. Although we begin the journey as a single cell full of potential, along the way, we undergo dramatic changes in our physical attributes, intellectual capacities, personal characteristics, social habits, and skills. In the modules that follow, we will explore how the changes in physical, cognitive, and social development play out across the life span.
CHILDREN AS "LITTLE ADULTS"
Within Western intellectual traditions, developmental questions are fairly recent. Prior to the twentieth century, people were likely to assume that children were simply smaller and less experienced versions of adults. In art and industry, for example, children of the nineteenth century were relegated to the status of "little adults." In paintings from that period, children look more like midgets, complete with adult clothing, expressions, and features, than they do children. Similarly, employment practices of the day placed children as young as 5 years old in jobs that fit with their small physical stature (e.g,, chimney sweep or coal miner), but that we now think of as "adult" jobs.