Systems Theory and Cascades in Developmental Psychopathology

UNCG Author/Contributor (non-UNCG co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
Roger Mills-Koonce, Associate Professor (Creator)
The University of North Carolina at Greensboro (UNCG )
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Abstract: In the wake of prominent theoreticians in developmental science, whose contributions we review in this article, many developmental psychologists came to endorse a systems approach to understanding how the individual, as it develops, establishes functional relationships to social ecological contexts that from birth to school entry rapidly increase in complexity. The concept of developmental cascade has been introduced in this context to describe lawful processes by which antecedent conditions may be related with varying probabilities to specified outcomes. These are understood as processes by which function at one level or in one domain of behavior affect the organization of competency in later developing domains of general adaptation. Here we propose a developmental sequence by which the developing child acquires regulative capacities that are key to adjustment to a society that demands considerable control of emotional and cognitive functions early in life. We report empirical evidence showing that the acquisition of regulative capacities may be understood as a cascade of shifts in control parameters induced by the progressive integration of biological, transactional, and socioaffective systems over development. We conclude by suggesting how the developmental process may be accessed for effective intervention in populations deemed “at risk” for later problems of psychosocial adjustment.

Additional Information

Language: English
Date: 2010
Child Development, Theory, Developmental Cascade

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