This entry explores individual differences across the life span. The entry first explores two major approaches to studying development, briefly discussing their merits and limitations. The entry then explores research on individual differences in specific areas of psychology, including executive function (EF) in young children, cognitive plasticity in adults, and personality factors related to health. The entry ends with a summary highlighting the value of an individual difference approach to the study of life-span development.

Two Major Approaches to Development

Traditionally, there have been two major approaches to the study of development, a norm-based approach investigating differences between groups who differ primarily on the basis of age and an individual difference–based approach examining how characteristics of individuals and their environment affect outcomes over the life course. Historically, ...

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