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Developmental Psychopathology

Risk And Resilience, The Complexity Of Risk Processes, Resilience And The Role Of Protective Factors


Developmental psychopathology is an approach or field of study designed to better understand the complexities of human development. Its primary goal is to chart the diverse pathways individuals take in the development of psychological difficulties (e.g., aggression, depression, substance use) and normal or optimal psychological health (e.g., self-esteem, scholastic success, moral development). Several key questions guide developmental psychopathology. First, how are individuals similar to and different from each other in the healthy and maladaptive paths they take as they grow older? Second, what accounts for why individuals experience differences in psychological functioning over time? For example, what characteristics within (e.g., genes, personality, perceptions of relationships) and outside (e.g., family relationships, neighborhoods) the individual are responsible for similarities and differences in psychological development over time? Third, what consequences do people's histories of experiences, coping, and adjustment have on their subsequent mental health? Because developmental psychopathology, as an approach, is concerned with answering a broad set of questions, it can be usefully applied to a number of specialty areas in psychology, biology, and sociology.


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