Baltes Reading - Research in Human Development 5(2 6979...

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Research in Human Development, 5 (2), 69–79, 2008 ISSN: 1542-7609 print/1542-7617 online DOI: 10.1080/15427600802034744 The Contributions of Paul B. Baltes to the Transformation of the Field of Child Development: From Developmental Psychology to Developmental Science Richard M. Lerner Institute for Applied Research in Youth Development Tufts University The scientific contributions and professional leadership of Paul B. Baltes were key bases for the emergence of “developmental science,” an integrative, multidisci- plinary approach to human development that uses dynamic, developmental systems models to describe, explain, and optimize the course of human life. This article explains how, from the late 1960s through the 1980s, Baltes promoted this transfor- mation by influencing changes in the theories, concepts, and methods central in the field of child development. The enduring influence of the work of Baltes on child development theory and method is documented by reference to the publication of the sixth edition of the Handbook of Child Psychology . This handbook serves as a sample case of the cutting edge of contemporary developmental science and of the continued impact of Baltes’ scholarship on research and applications aimed at understanding and promoting positive human development across the life span. The purpose of this article is to explain how the intellectual and professional leadership of Paul B. Baltes was a central basis for nothing less than a funda- mental revision in the understanding of the nature of the basic process of human The preparation of this article was supported in part by grants from the National 4-H Council and the John Templeton Foundation. I thank Alexandra Freund, Nicole Zarrett, Erin Phelps, Jacqueline V. Lerner, and two anonymous reviewers for their comments. Address correspondence to Richard M. Lerner, Institute for Applied Research in Youth Development, 301 Lincoln Filene Building, Tufts University, Medford, MA 02155. E-mail: [email protected]
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70 LERNER development and, as well, of the methods used to study development. He sought to establish the centrality of a life-span, dynamic, individual-context relational conception of development, to develop methods to study longitudinally changing individual-context relations, and to bring his conception of development and the empirical means to study it to the cutting edge of science. Baltes was successful. His contributions constitute the culmination of a broader history of changes in the study of human development, one that can be marked by the evolution of the terms used prototypically to describe the main focus of scholarly work in this field, at least in the United States, that is, from child psychology, to developmental psychology, to, now, developmental science (Cairns & Cairns, 2006; Lerner, Theokas, & Bobek, 2005; Magnusson, 1999, 2000). Although there may be many ways to recount this history, in this article I focus
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Baltes Reading - Research in Human Development 5(2 6979...

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