Relational developmental systems (RDS) is a metatheory or metamodel that provides the conceptual and methodological foundations for numerous classic and contemporary theories of life-span human development. The ascendency of this perspective in developmental science—particularly since the 1980s—has been described as a paradigm shift within the field. Theories sharing the RDS perspective conceive of the developing person as situated within simultaneous and interdependent biological, psychological, and sociocultural contexts represented as dynamic, changing systems. Influence between these systems over time is mutual, reciprocal, and cumulative, leading to phase- or stagelike changes in the individuals and their relations with these contexts across the life span. In this view, individuals play an active role in their own development, the uniqueness of the individual life course is recognized, and significant ...

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