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Competence Versus Performance

A wide variety of conceptual models have been employed by developmental psychologists in their attempts to understand and predict variability in human behavior and development across the lifespan. One model, competence versus performance, describes a distinction between the concept of competence (the innate psychological or cognitive structures of the mind–brain, or inherent abilities that are hypothesized to govern behavior) and performance (the observable behavior). This entry explains the emergence of the distinction between competence and performance, illustrates some of the ways this dualism has been applied, and describes both how dynamic systems models of development have contributed to understanding competence versus performance and how an understanding of competence and performance have contributed to understanding other psychological phenomena such as resilience.

The Separation of Competence and Performance

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