A familiarity with seminal developmental theories is important in your role as a developmental psychology professional. As you have learned this week, evolutionary theory explains the adaptive nature of behavior to ensure human survival and development. By understanding the key concepts of this theory, you can more easily recognize when this theory can be applied to understand certain behaviors and processes of development and the kinds of research that would be conducted to support that application.

Suppose, for example, you wanted to explore a contemporary research theme such as the relationship between empathy and adolescent civic engagement. Can evolutionary theory help explain how empathy contributes to civic engagement as an adaptive behavior? You have likely surmised that evolutionary theory cannot be used to adequately explain all elements and processes of human behavior and development.

When you have a strong grasp of the basic tenets, strengths, and weaknesses of key developmental theories, you can make an informed decision as to which theory or theories best apply in understanding a particular set of behaviors. By keeping a journal of sorts, you can document the characteristics of each theory as you learn about it. Your journaling will be a useful reference for you long after you complete this course. The Developmental Theory Template provides a matrix where you can record what you have learned about each theory.

For this Assignment, you will explore key concepts found in evolutionary theory and begin your journaling of this week’s theory.

To prepare

To complete

Begin populating the Developmental Theory Template related to this week’s theory—evolutionary theory. As you begin populating your template, consider the following:

  1. Identify who or what contributed to the development of the theory. Were there key researchers or seminal research that led to the theory?
  2. Record whether the theory emphasizes nature (biology), nurture (environment), or both.
  3. Identify whether the theory emphasizes cognitive, physical, or social-emotional development (or a combination of constructs).
  4. List specific ages or stages of development identified in the theory, or note that the theory marks development as continuous.
  5. List the primary characteristics or features of the theory (its key tenets and concepts). Be sure to include if a particular period of life is emphasized.
  6. List the noteworthy strengths and weaknesses of the theory.
  7. (Optional) Include any notes that you find helpful in understanding and applying the theory, such as potential contemporary themes or fields of research in which the theory could be applied.