Life course refers to human development from birth to death. It is a term used predominantly by sociologists. Life span has been the term used predominately by psychologists. The life course/life span paradigm focuses on the examination of the relationship between individual development over a lifetime under changing historical, cultural, and social contexts. The life course/life span approach emerged in the 1960s and 1970s.

Key principles of a life span developmental approach include the following:

  • Development is lifelong: Each period of the life span is influenced by what happened before and will affect what is to come. Each period has its own unique characteristics and value; none is more or less important than the other.
  • Development depends on history and context: Each person develops within a specific set ...
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