ArticlePDF Available

Twenty Years of Dynamic Systems Approaches to Development: Significant Contributions, Challenges, and Future Directions


Abstract and Figures

Abstract— After more than 20 years of theory and empirical research, dynamic systems (DS) approaches to development have yielded new insights into and understanding of processes of stability and change. Despite this progress, these approaches have only begun to realize the promise they hold for the field. In the brief articles in this section, 4 of the most prominent DS developmentalists provide critical evaluations of the DS approach by answering three questions: (a) What are the greatest contributions of the DS approach to development over the past 20 years? (b) What is your evaluation of the progress of DS-inspired empirical research? (c) What are the challenges and necessary directions for DS in the next 20 years? These critical evaluations should illuminate DS theory and research to date and inspire the next generation of researchers to continue this work.
Content may be subject to copyright.
Twenty Years of Dynamic Systems Approaches to
Development: Significant Contributions, Challenges,
and Future Directions
Tom Hollenstein
Queen’s University
ABSTRACT—After more than 20 years of theory and empir-
ical research, dynamic systems (DS) approaches to devel-
opment have yielded new insights into and understanding
of processes of stability and change. Despite this progress,
these approaches have only begun to realize the promise
they hold for the field. In the brief articles in this section,
4 of the most prominent DS developmentalists provide
critical evaluations of the DS approach by answering
three questions: (a) What are the greatest contributions of
the DS approach to development over the past 20 years?
(b) What is your evaluation of the progress of DS-inspired
empirical research? (c) What are the challenges and nec-
essary directions for DS in the next 20 years? These criti-
cal evaluations should illuminate DS theory and research
to date and inspire the next generation of researchers to
continue this work.
KEYWORDS—dynamic systems; development; methodology
Like most people, I periodically pause to take stock of my life
and work. I consider my past achievements and failures and, in
light of that reflection, generate andrevisemyfutureplansand
goals. The same is true for communities of scientists working in
a common domain. Whether in the form of meta-analyses or
review papers, periodic aggregations of the information that has
been produced help us more effectively direct future progress.
Similarly, this special section is a critical self-evaluation, by four
of the top scholars in this area, of the contributions of dynamic
systems (DS) approaches to development over the past 20 years.
Following the pioneering efforts of the early systems theorists
(e.g., von Bertalanffy, 1968), psychologists began to hone
systemic theories into more formalized models of development.
The rise of these views reflected the transformation of the nat-
ure–nurture debate into a more integrated appreciation of the
multiplicity and complexity of forces that shape development.
Sharing common organizational and systems terminology, these
approaches include developmental systems theory (Ford &
Lerner, 1992), the ecological framework (Bronfenbrenner, 1979),
contextualism (Dixon & Lerner, 1988), the transactional perspec-
tive (Sameroff, 1983), and the epigenetic view (Gottlieb, 2007).
Of all of these systemic accounts of development, the DS
approach has emerged as the most prevalent and dominant in
developmental psychology in terms of the number of proponents
and volume of direct empirical tests (Fogel, 1990, 1993, 1995;
Fogel & Thelen, 1987; Granic, 2005; Granic & Hollenstein,
2003, 2006; Lewis, 2000, 2005; Lewis & Granic, 2000; Smith &
Thelen, 1993; Spencer & Scho
¨ner, 2003; Spencer et al., 2006;
Thelen, 1989; Thelen & Smith, 1998; van Geert, 1991, 1994,
1998a, 1998b; van Geert & Steenbeek, 2005; Witherington,
2007; see Figure 1).
Part of the reason DS has been more successful than other sys-
temic approaches is that it is based on formal systems properties
documented in the physical sciences. DS explanations of devel-
opment emphasize change over time by incorporating principles
of self-organization, multiply determined and softly assembled
behavior, feedback loops, attractors, phase transitions, and
embodiment (e.g., Lewis, 2000; Smith, 2005; Spencer et al.,
2006; van Geert, 1998a, 1998b, 2000; van Geert & Steenbeek,
2005). Theoretical accounts of development from a DS
Correspondence concerning this article should be addressed to
Tom Hollenstein, Department of Psychology, Queen’s University,
62 Arch St., Kingston, ON K7L 3N6, Canada; e-mail: tom.hollen-
ª2011 The Author
Child Development Perspectives ª2011 The Society for Research in Child Development
DOI: 10.1111/j.1750-8606.2011.00210.x
Volume 5, Number 4, 2011, Pages 256–259
perspective range from a focus on the most fundamental real-time
dynamics (e.g., van Geert, 1997a, 1997b; van Geert & Steenbeek,
2005; van Geert & van Dijk, 2002) to self-organizing processes of
neural and emotional development (e.g., Lewis, 2005; Lewis,
Lamey, & Douglas, 1999). DS theory has been applied to specific
classes of developmental phenomena (e.g., dynamic field theory:
Spencer, Simmering, Schutte, & Scho
¨ner, 2007), identified as a
metatheory (e.g., Granic & Hollenstein, 2006; Granic & Patter-
son, 2006; Lewis, 2000; Witherington, 2007), and promoted as a
new grand theory of development (e.g., Spencer et al., 2006).
Empirical investigations based on the DS approach have been
used to study a wide range of developmental phenomena includ-
ing motor development (Thelen & Ulrich, 1991,1995), the A-not-
B error (Thelen, Scho
¨ner, Scheier, & Smith, 2001), object recog-
nition (Smith & Thelen, 2003), spatial cognition (Simmering &
Spencer, 2008), embodiment and representational states (Spen-
cer & Scho
¨ner, 2003), language development (Bassano & van
Geert, 2007; van Geert, 1991, 1995), peer interactions (Martin,
Fabes, Hanish, & Hollenstein, 2005; Steenbeek & van Geert,
2007, 2008), mother–infant communication (de Weerth & van
Geert, 1998, 2002; Fogel, 2006; Hsu & Fogel, 2001, 2003), brain
development (Lewis, 2005), developmental transitions (Granic,
Hollenstein, Dishion, & Patterson, 2003; Lewis, Zimmerman,
Hollenstein, & Lamey, 2004), antisocial and externalizing behav-
ior (Dishion, Nelson, Winter, & Bullock, 2004; Granic & Lamey,
2002; Granic, O’Hara, Pepler, & Lewis, 2007; Hollenstein, Gran-
ic, Stoolmiller, & Snyder, 2004), adolescent emotional transac-
tions (Hollenstein, 2007; Hollenstein & Lewis, 2006;
Lichtwarck-Aschoff, Kunnen, & van Geert, 2009), and identity
development (Lichtwarck-Aschoff, van Geert, Bosma, & Kunnen,
2008). Thus, from the pioneering work of Fogel and Thelen
(1987) to the most recent cutting-edge research by Spencer, van
Geert, Lewis, and others, the DS approach is poised to advance
developmental theory and methods well into the 21st century.
As I explained above, it is necessary to critically evaluate the
work to date in order to realistically assess the promise of DS
approaches and their likelihood of fulfilling that promise. Four of
the top DS scholars have contributed to this critical evaluation.
These scholars represent four distinct theoretical and methodo-
logical orientations; thus, their viewpoints and discussion will
represent the subtle diversity in the area. Alan Fogel was one of
the first developmentalists to introduce DS approaches, and his
articles and books continue to be influential in the field. He is
best known for his work on mother–infant dynamics and infant
emotional expressions. Paul van Geert, the most prolific contrib-
utor, has published on DS theory and techniques for 20 years on
a variety of developmental phenomena (e.g., the development of
syntax, infant expressivity, and social interactions), using both
simulation and observational techniques. John P. Spencer, a stu-
dent of Esther Thelen, has continued her motor development
research, extending DS concepts to the study of embodied cogni-
tion with an emphasis on the development of visuospatial cogni-
tion and working memory. Marc Lewis has provided numerous
detailed theoretical and empirical accounts of socioemotional
development by applying DS principles, especially to the rela-
tions between real-time and developmental-time scales. His
more recent work integrates neural dynamics in order to model
the emergent properties of socioemotional habits and personality
over the course of development.
Each of the four scholars will answer three questions:
1. What are the greatest contributions of the DS approach to
development over the past 20 years?
2. What is your critical evaluation of the progress of DS-inspired
empirical research?
3. What are the challenges and necessary directions for the next
20 years?
The goal of this collection is ultimately to guide research over
the next two decades. The next generation of scholars will have
to continue this work in the context of an increasing need for a
comprehensive account of developmental processes of change
and stability. A member of the next generation of DS theorists,
David Witherington, therefore also provides a commentary on
the senior DS scholars’ responses. From these four contributions
and the commentary, it is clear that the achievements far out-
weigh the failures of the past 20 years, but there is still much
work to be done to fully realize the promise of a DS approach to
Bassano, D., & van Geert, P. (2007). Modeling continuity and
discontinuity in utterance length: A quantitative approach to
changes, transitions and intra-individual variability in early
grammatical development. Developmental Science,10, 588–612.
Figure 1. Frequency of dynamic systems (DS) publications over the past
20 years (obtained via Psycinfo).
Child Development Perspectives, Volume 5, Number 4, 2011, Pages 256–259
20 Years of Dynamic Systems 257
Bronfenbrenner, U. (1979). The ecology of human development:
Experiments by nature and design. Cambridge, MA: Harvard
University Press.
de Weerth, C., & van Geert, P. (1998). Emotional instability as an
indicator of strictly timed infantile developmental transitions.
British Journal of Developmental Psychology,16(Pt. 1), 15–44.
de Weerth, C., & van Geert, P. (2002). Changing patterns of infant
behavior and mother–infant interaction: Intra- and interindividual
variability. Infant Behavior & Development,24, 347–371.
Dishion, T. J., Nelson, S. E., Winter, C. E., & Bullock, B. M. (2004).
Adolescent friendship as a dynamic system: Entropy and deviance
in the etiology and course of male antisocial behavior. Journal of
Abnormal Child Psychology,32, 651–663.
Dixon, R. A., & Lerner, R. M. (1988). A history of systems in
developmental psychology. In M. H. Bornstein & M. E. Lamb
(Eds.), Developmental psychology: An advanced textbook (2nd ed.,
pp. 3–50). Hillsdale, NJ: Erlbaum.
Fogel, A. (1990). The process of developmental change in infant
communicative action: Using dynamic systems theory to study
individual ontogenies. Hillsdale, NJ: Erlbaum.
Fogel, A. (1993). Developing through relationships: Origins of
communication, self and culture. Chicago: University of Chicago
Fogel, A. (1995). Development and relationships: A dynamic model of
communication. Advances in the Study of Behavior,24, 259–290.
Fogel, A. (2006). Dynamic systems research on interindividual
communication: The transformation of meaning-making. Journal of
Developmental Processes,1, 7–30.
Fogel, A., & Thelen, E. (1987). The development of early expressive and
communicative action: Re-interpreting the evidence from a dynamic
systems perspective. Developmental Psychology,23, 747–761.
Ford, D. H., & Lerner, R. M. (1992). Developmental systems theory: An
integrative approach. Newbury Park, CA: Sage.
Gottlieb, G. (2007). Probabilistic epigenesis. Developmental Science,10,
Granic, I. (2005). Timing is everything: Developmental psychopathology
from a dynamic systems perspective. Developmental Review,25,
Granic, I., & Hollenstein, T. (2003). Dynamic systems methods for
models of developmental psychopathology. Development and
Psychopathology,15, 641–669.
Granic, I., & Hollenstein, T. (2006). A survey of dynamic systems
methods for developmental psychopathology. In D. Cicchetti & D.
J. Cohen (Eds.), Developmental psychopathology (pp. 889–930).
New York: Plenum.
Granic, I., Hollenstein, T., Dishion, T. J., & Patterson, G. R. (2003).
Longitudinal analysis of flexibility and reorganization in early
adolescence: A dynamic systems study of family interactions.
Developmental Psychology,39, 606–617.
Granic,I.,&Lamey,A.V.(2002).Combining dynamic systems and
multivariate analyses to compare the mother–child interactions of
externalizing subtypes. Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology,30,
systems analysis of parent–child changes associated with
successful ‘‘real-world’’ interventions for aggressive children.
Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology,35, 845–857.
Granic, I., & Patterson, G. R. (2006). Toward a comprehensive model of
antisocial development: A dynamic systems approach.
Psychological Review,113, 101–131.
Hollenstein, T. (2007). State space grids: Analyzing dynamics across
development. International Journal of Behavioral Development,31,
Hollenstein, T., Granic, I., Stoolmiller, M., & Snyder, J. (2004). Rigidity
in parent–child interactions and the development of externalizing
and internalizing behavior in early childhood. Journal of Abnormal
Child Psychology,32, 595–607.
Hollenstein, T., & Lewis, M. D. (2006). A state space analysis of
emotion and flexibility in parent–child interactions. Emotion,6,
Hsu, H. C., & Fogel, A. (2001). Infant vocal development in a dynamic
mother–infant communication system. Infancy,2, 87–109.
Hsu, H. C., & Fogel, A. (2003). Stability and transitions in mother–
infant face-to-face communication during the first 6 months: A
microhistorical approach. Developmental Psychology,39, 1061–
Lewis, M. D. (2000). The promise of dynamic systems approaches for an
integrated account of human development. Child Development,71,
Lewis, M. D. (2005). Bridging emotion theory and neurobiology through
dynamic systems modeling. Behavioral and Brain Sciences,28,
Lewis, M. D., & Granic, I. (2000). Emotion, development, and self-
organization: Dynamic systems approaches to emotional
development. New York: Cambridge University Press.
Lewis, M. D., Lamey, A. V., & Douglas, L. (1999). A new dynamic
systems method for the analysis of early socioemotional
development. Developmental Science,2, 457–475.
Reorganization in coping behavior at 1½ years: Dynamic systems
and normative change. Developmental Science,7, 56–73.
Lichtwarck-Aschoff, A., Kunnen, S., & van Geert, P. (2009). Here we go
again: A dynamic systems perspective on emotional rigidity across
parent–adolescent conflicts. Developmental Psychology,45, 1364–
Lichtwarck-Aschoff, A., van Geert, P., Bosma, H., & Kunnen, S. (2008).
Time and identity: A framework for research and theory formation.
Developmental Review,28, 370–400.
Martin,C.L.,Fabes,R.A.,Hanish,L.D., & Hollenstein, T. (2005). Social
dynamics in the preschool. Developmental Review,25, 299–327.
Sameroff, A. J. (1983). Developmental systems: Contexts and evolution.
In W. Kessen (Ed.), History, theory, and methods (4th ed., Vol. 1,
pp. 237–294). New York: Wiley.
Simmering, V. R., & Spencer, J. P. (2008). Generality with specificity:
The dynamic field theory generalizes across tasks and time scales.
Developmental Science,11, 541–555.
Smith, L. B. (2005). Cognition as a dynamic system: Principles from
embodiment. Developmental Review,25, 278–298.
Smith, L. B., & Thelen, E. (1993). A dynamic systems approach to
development: Applications.Cambridge,MA:MITPress.
Smith, L. B., & Thelen, E. (2003). Development as a dynamic system.
Trends in Cognitive Sciences,7, 343–348.
Spencer, J. P., Clearfield, M., Corbetta, D., Ulrich, B., Buchanan, P., &
Schoner, G. (2006). Moving toward a grand theory of development:
In memory of Esther Thelen. Child Development,77, 1521–1538.
Spencer, J. P., & Scho
¨ner, G. (2003). Bridging the representational gap
in the dynamic systems approach to development. Developmental
Science,6, 392–412.
¨ner, G. (2007).
What does theoretical neuroscience have to offer the study of
Child Development Perspectives, Volume 5, Number 4, 2011, Pages 256–259
258 Tom Hollenstein
behavioral development? Insights from dynamic field theory. In J.
M. Plumert & J. P. Spencer (Eds.), The emerging spatial mind (pp.
320–361). New York: Oxford University Press.
Steenbeek, H. W., & van Geert, P. (2007). A theory and dynamic
model of dyadic interaction: Concerns, appraisals, and
contagiousness in a developmental context. Developmental Review,
27, 1–40.
Steenbeek, H. W., & van Geert, P. (2008). An empirical validation of a
dynamic systems model of interaction: Do children of different
sociometric statuses differ in their dyadic play? Developmental
Science,11, 253–281.
Thelen, E. (1989). Self-organization in developmental processes: Can
systems approaches work? In M. Gunnar & E. Thelen (Eds.),
Systems and development: The Minnesota Symposia on Child
Psychology (Vol. 22, pp. 17–171). Hillsdale, NJ: Erlbaum.
Thelen, E., Scho
¨ner, G., Scheier, C., & Smith, L. B. (2001). The
dynamics of embodiment: A field theory of infant perseverative
reaching. Behavioral and Brain Sciences,24, 1–86.
Damon, R. M. Lerner, & N. Eisenberg (Eds.), Handbook of child
psychology (Vol. 1, pp. 563–634). New York: Wiley.
Thelen, E., & Ulrich, B. D. (1991). Hidden skills: A dynamic systems
analysis of treadmill stepping during the first year. Monographs of
the Society for Research in Child Development,56(Serial No 223),
van Geert, P. (1991). A dynamic systems model of cognitive and
language growth. Psychological Review,98, 3–53.
vanGeert,P.(1994).Dynamic systems of development: Change between
complexity and chaos.NewYork:PrenticeHallHarvester
van Geert, P. (1995). Dimensions of change: A semantic and
mathematical analysis of learning and development. Human
Development,38, 322–331.
van Geert, P. (1997a). Nonlinear dynamics and the explanation of
mental and behavioral development. Journal of Mind and
Behavior,18, 269–290.
van Geert, P. (1997b). Que sera
˜: Determinism and nonlinear
dynamic model building in development. In A. L. Fogel, C. D. P.
Maria, & J. Valsiner (Eds.), Dynamics and indeterminism in
developmental and social processes (pp. 13–38). Hillsdale, NJ:
van Geert, P. (1998a). A dynamic systems model of basic developmental
mechanisms: Piaget, Vygotsky, and beyond. Psychological Review,
105, 634–677.
van Geert, P. (1998b). We almost had a great future behind us: The
contribution of non-linear dynamics to developmental-science-in-
the-making. Developmental Science,1, 143–159.
van Geert, P. (2000). The dynamics of general developmental
mechanisms: From Piaget and Vygotsky to dynamic systems
models. Current Directions in Psychological Science,9, 64–68.
van Geert, P., & van Dijk, M. (2002). Focus on variability: New tools to
study intra-individual variability in developmental data. Infant
Behavior & Development,25, 340–374.
van Geert, P., & Steenbeek, H. (2005). Explaining after by before: Basic
aspects of a dynamic systems approach to the study of
development. Developmental Review,25, 408–442.
von Bertalanffy, L. (1968). General system theory: Foundations,
development, applications. New York: George Braziller.
Witherington, D. C. (2007). The dynamic systems approach as metatheory
for developmental psychology. Human Development,50, 127–153.
Child Development Perspectives, Volume 5, Number 4, 2011, Pages 256–259
20 Years of Dynamic Systems 259
... As previously discussed, psychological phenomena are shaped by the holistic interaction between factors in the dynamic system at specific times (Hollenstein, 2011;Smith & Thelen, 2003). The diabetes management dynamic system is defined by the temporal patterns of diabetes self-efficacy and self-care behavior, which are also connected with other unmeasured constructs (e.g. ...
... First, studies often report only the average effect of the dynamic association among constructs, with an assumption that such findings can be generalized to all individuals in a certain population (Molenaar & Nesselroade, 2014. Second, studies often interpret the isolated dynamic associations among constructs, rather than in addition to interpreting the holistic dynamic pattern (Butner et al., 2021;Hollenstein, 2011;Smith & Thelen, 2003). However, the isolated interpretation of coefficients might not match the holistic picture of the dynamic because the local effects may cancel each other out or exacerbate each other over time. ...
Full-text available
Common ways to test associations between two repeatedly measured constructs have two primary limitations. Studies often report the average effects and ignore the heterogeneity. Independently interpreted autoregression and cross-lagged coefficients (i.e., local effects) may not match the holistic dynamic patterns (i.e., considering all coefficients simultaneously). Our paper aims to address the limitations by introducing vector plots to visualize holistic person-specific dynamic patterns. We utilized a case example of 14-day daily diary data of diabetes self-efficacy and self-care from 200 emerging adults with type 1 diabetes. A dynamic structural equation model was used to generate person-specific coefficients. Vector plots and eigenvalues were generated to visualize person-specific holistic patterns. We found heterogeneity in both local and holistic dynamic patterns. Most participants (N = 178) had mismatching local and holistic patterns. Our study provided important evidence that failing to capture person-specific holistic dynamic patterns might result in incomplete interpretations of dynamic associations. Keywords: person-specific, holistic, dynamic systems, vector plot, cross-lagged model
... As such it seems to align well with Mueller's (2014) recent plea for a relational developmental systems approach to HAI. There are indeed many elements in enactive thought that also made their way into dynamic systems approaches to developmental psychology (e.g., Smith & Thelen, 2003;Thelen & Smith, 1996), and other related areas such as language and skill development or family systems (for overviews, see Lewis [2000] and Hollenstein [2011]). What may be especially appealing for anthrozoology/HAI, however, is enactivism's explicit and clear biological rooting of the relational dynamic principles that account for human and animal functioning to such a large extent. ...
Full-text available
Anthrozoology continues to advance forward in research and in professionalization of animal assisted interventions. What the discipline is still lacking, however, is a unified theoretical framework “explaining how and why relationships between humans and animals are potentially therapeutic” ( Kruger & Serpell, 2010 ). We propose such a framework, inspired by enactivism ( Varela, Thompson, & Rosch, 1992 ), to integrate the most prominent psychological constructs and biological facts that are currently known in anthrozoological research. Mutual, fully embodied attunement of behavior between living systems is the central concept we put forward in this paper. We address how, in the context of humans and many other animals, meaning production, communication, reflexivity, as well as the shaping of affectivity and behavioral routines all follow from this central principle. The interconnection of key anthrozoological issues and theories—including attachment theory, social support theory, and the biophilia hypothesis— are discussed in direct relation to the mutual, embodied attunement of behavior between humans and animals. We also sketch how this theoretical model may open new domains for doing research.
... This investigation builds upon prior studies that have investigated child development outcomes utilizing a dynamic systems approach (1,34,85), emphasizing that child skill development in various domains occurs as a result of interactions between internal systems (e.g., child language skills) and external systems (e.g., supportive parenting). By testing a series of SEM models with a large longitudinal dataset from fragile families, our results provide additional compelling support for feedback loops and phase transitions as evidenced by the crosslagged associations and shifts in association magnitude over time (86,87). Further, by focusing on a sample of interest based on familial risk this investigation draws targeted attention to intervention approach considerations warranted including timeliness of parent-driven vs. child-driven parent outcomes. ...
Full-text available
It has been well-established that development occurs in the context of a transactional framework, with bidirectional parent-child interactions influencing both proximal and distal outcomes. In particular, child vocabulary development is sensitive to parenting qualities including warmth, sensitivity, and control as well as parental stimulation including language input and access to learning enrichment activities. Similarly, these parenting qualities are influenced by and influence children's development of pro-social behaviors. Given the foundational role of both language and pro-social skills for academic achievement and the establishment of healthy relationships across the lifespan, a comprehensive understanding of the magnitude, stability, and reciprocity of such interactions across childhood has the potential to better inform early intervention and prevention practices and highlight risk and resilience factors. This study investigated the concurrent and successive transactional relationships between child pro-social behavior, child emergent language, and parenting qualities within a large, longitudinal sample. This study utilized Waves 3, 4, and 5 of the Fragile Families and Child Well Being Study (FFCWBS), corresponding to focal child age 3, 5, and 9 years, respectively. A series of Structural Equation Modeling (SEM) with full-information likelihood (FIML) estimation ( n = 3,422) including child prosocial behavior, receptive vocabulary, and supportive parenting behaviors was tested and compared. Our findings indicate significant, positive associations over time between child pro-social behavior and receptive vocabulary, and parenting quality across all three stages of early child development. The steady decline in magnitude of these associations over time highlights the importance of synergistic parent-child interactions in toddlerhood as an early opportunity to propel these developmental outcomes and supportive parenting behaviors. Patterns of change in child pro-social behavior skills and parenting qualities remained positive and relatively stable, while observed growth in child receptive vocabulary skills increased in magnitude over time. Additional investigation of indirect effects specified the role of receptive vocabulary, as well as the bolstering role of prosocial behavior, in eliciting responsive parenting qualities over time.
... At least six months of breastfeeding helps to prevent developmental delay (36). From the perspective of dynamic systems, motor proficiency affects children, movement and the environment task (34,41,42). The effect of providers, the home environment by creating space and providing toys to children helps improve motor development (43). ...
Full-text available
Introduction: Active lifestyle during pregnancy will have a constant impact on mother and Infant. The research aimed to investigate the effects of maternal activity during pregnancy on the child's cognitive development during the three months after birth. Materials and Methods: In this experimental study, 40 mother-child pairs were selected and randomly divided into two experimental group and control group. The experimental group benefited from 16 sessions of 50 minutes of physical intervention and control group did not have regular physical activity. Finally, the infants of two groups were evaluated by Ages-Stage questionnaire (ASQ 3) in two periods of one and three months. In order to examine the hypothesis, they were used repeated measure analysis of variance and independent t test for the investigation of differences between the two groups. All statistical analysis was conducted with SPSS-22 software. Results: The results showed that maternal physical exercise in the experimental group improved the problem solving skills and the main effect of time (F=27.55, P=0.001) and group (F=78.13, P=0.001) was significant. Conclusion: The obtained results confirmed that physical activity during pregnancy can increase the infant's cognitive development.
... One of the more common theoretical orientations applied to emotional development is a dynamic systems (DS) theoretical framework (Hollenstein, 2011;Smith & Thelen, 2003;Witherington & Margett, 2011). From a DS perspective, novel skills and habits emerge, stabilize, and consolidate over time within the inner workings of a complex system (Thelen & Smith, 1994. ...
In this chapter, we review several theories of emotional development. For each, we address definitions and basic tenets, we ask what “develops” and how emotions change with age. What is particularly noteworthy is that although there are several emotional development theories, none ascribes to a single emotion theory. Moreover, no single emotional development theory guides contemporary research. In the second half of the chapter, we review other conceptual frameworks and theories that are not emotion theories per se but are widely used to guide research on emotional development. Throughout this chapter, we provide illustrative empirical examples for aspects of each theory. In many ways, this chapter is a primer on emotion development theory rather than an exhaustive review of each theory. We end with a recommendation calling for empirical evidence to guide theory development.
... A mechanistic worldview seems to prevail in many areas. It By contrast, the dynamic systems (DS) perspective, promoted by the pioneering work of Thelen (1989) and Thelen and Smith (1994), has exerted a growing influence on developmental research over the last decades, as, for example, documented in a special issue of Developmental Review (see Howe/Lewis 2005) and a special section of Child Development Perspectives (see Hollenstein 2011). Some core elements of a DS view on human development will be briefly outlined below. ...
Full-text available
Change is the most prominent aspect of research endeavors in developmental and educational psychology. To date, preferred methods for studying change, especially those that rely on quantitative methodologies, are based on sample-based correlational analyses conducted with longitudinal panel studies. In this article we argue that research designs need to move beyond a between-person research strategy because dynamic processes occur within individual children and adolescents. The aim is to provide developmental and educational researchers with a guide to gathering and analyzing data so as to be able to answer questions about processes of change and development from a within-person perspective. Our discussion of current practices and our guidance on future research is based on a dynamic systems view on development.
Full-text available
The body, unconsciousness, and consciousness can be considered three stages of evolutionary mind from a phylogenetic perspective, which can be further framed as three hierarchies of mind based on dynamic systems theory. These three hierarchies interact via intrapersonal information flow, working in tandem to manage an individual well. Within a dyadic system, two minds with multiple hierarchies can interact through several basic communication forms (i.e., body-to-body, body-to-unconsciousness, body-to-consciousness, unconsciousness-to-unconsciousness, unconsciousness-to-consciousness, and consciousness-to-consciousness) based on interpersonal information flow. In actual exchanges, these forms are blended and become richer due to intrapersonal information flow. In psychoanalytic therapy, analysts should focus on intrapersonal information flow to enhance patients' self-regulation while emphasizing therapist-patient interaction to execute mutual regulation. Overall, the therapist-patient and mother-infant interaction constitutes a complex communication process.
Families, communities and societies influence children's learning and development in many ways. This is the first handbook devoted to the understanding of the nature of environments in child development. Utilizing Urie Bronfenbrenner's idea of embedded environments, this volume looks at environments from the immediate environment of the family (including fathers, siblings, grandparents and day-care personnel) to the larger environment including schools, neighborhoods, geographic regions, countries and cultures. Understanding these embedded environments and the ways in which they interact is necessary to understand development.
Effective caregiver-infant communication occurs when interactive partners successfully coordinate multiple modalities (e.g., body movements, affect, eye gaze). The complex interplay of multiple modalities during caregiver-infant interactions is difficult to capture, which has made a comprehensive, evidence-based understanding of caregiver-infant communication difficult to achieve. We present a novel methodological approach to address this challenge by combining an Interactive Partner Swap (IPS) paradigm with a longitudinal design, detailed multimodal coding, and data visualization via state space grids (SSGs). We demonstrate the utility of our approach by presenting three sets of SSGs which reveal both dyadic flexibility and stability in caregiver-infant peek-a-boo interactions across three levels: micro (moment-to-moment), meso (interactive context), and macro (infant development). By using SSGs to explore the patterns that hold and others that differ systematically across interactive partner and infant development, our novel approach promises to offer critical first steps to creating a more detailed understanding of the dynamics of early multimodal communication.
Full-text available
This paper presents a dynamic systems methodology for the study of interindi- vidual communication in social systems. Since dynamic social systems are fluid, changing, emergent, developing, and yield created information in a meaning-making process, it fol- lows that dynamic systems research best serves scientific discovery by substantiating these same processes in the method. The dynamic systems methods presented here place the sci- entist in the system, not knowing the answer, but working through a dynamic process of en- gagement with the system, toward an emergent understanding of the patterns of communi- cation and their changes over time with respect to the limitations of the observer's method and point of view.
This article argues that the process of development as such explains a great deal of the forms and properties of individual developmental trajectories, without the necessity of having to rely on either external or internal factors or causes. Both the problem of developmental change (dissimilarity) and invariance (similarity) can be explained by employing a dynamic systems conceptualization of development. It is shown that dynamic systems models on the one hand and those of the genuine developmental models in psychology on the other, share a set of important general properties that are able to explain both the universal and the idiosyncratic aspects of developmental processes. The concept of mental and behavioral ecology, which may serve as a starting point for specific theories of development of cognition, social behavior, personality and so forth, is discussed. It is concluded that both long-term and short-term developmental patterns will be shown to follow similar abstract dynamical principles.
In the last twenty to thirty years, a new way to understand complex systems has emerged in the natural sciences - an approach often called non-linear dynamics, dynamical systems theory, or chaos theory. This perspective has allowed scientists to trace the emergence of order from disorder and complex, higher-order forms from interactions among lower-order constituents. This is called self-organization, and is thought to be responsible for change and continuity in physical, biological, and social systems. Recently, principles of self-organizing dynamic systems have been imported into psychology, especially developmental psychology, where they have helped us reconceptualize basic processes in motor and cognitive development. Emotion, Development, and Self-Organization is the first book to apply these principles to emotional development. The contributors address fundamental issues such as the biological bases of emotion and development, relations between cognition and emotion in real time and development, personality and individual differences, interpersonal processes, and clinical implications.
There are indications that periods of disorganization/instability/regression accompany developmental transitions in early infancy. The goal of the present study was to validate a pattern of 10 strictly timed periods of emotional instability found through maternal reports by van de Rijt-Plooij & Plooij (1992a), by means of ethological observations. A longitudinal study was carried out on four mother-infant pairs which were followed up weekly during a period of 15 months. The results failed to support the 10-period pattern. Possible explanations for these findings are presented, together with a discussion about methodological aspects of the data analysis., 20 October 1995, 14 November 1996
To understand the way children develop, Bronfenbrenner believes that it is necessary to observe their behavior in natural settings, while they are interacting with familiar adults over prolonged periods of time. His book offers an important blueprint for constructing a new and ecologically valid psychology of development.
In this paper, we consider how concepts from dynamic systems (such as attractors, repellors, and self-organization) can be applied to the study of young children’s peer relationships. We also consider how these concepts can be used to explore basic issues involving early peer processes. We use the dynamical systems approach called state space grid (SSG) analysis and consider how it can be expanded beyond the study of dyads to the study of larger social groups and networks. In particular, we explore the role of homophily—that is, behavioral and sex similarity—as factors in the self-organization of young children’s social groups. A dynamic systems approach allows for consideration of peer processes difficult to assess using more traditional approaches.
Dynamic systems theory conceives of development as a self-organizational process. Both complexity and order emerge as a product of elementary principles of interaction between components involved in the developmental process. This article presents a dynamic systems model based on a general dual developmental mechanism, adapted from Piaget and Vygotsky. The mechanism consists of a conservative force, further strengthening the already-consolidated level, and a progressive force, consolidating internal contents and procedures at more advanced levels. It is argued that this dual mechanism constitutes one of the few basic laws of learning and change, and is comparable to the laws of effect and of contiguity. Simulation studies suggest that this dual mechanism explains self-organization in developmental paths, including the emergence of discrete jumps from one equilibrium level to another, S-shaped growth, and the occurrence of co-existing levels.