Emphasizing Individuality in Development Models of Change

Ram, Nilam, Department of Psychology, University of Virginia
Pianta, Robert, Curry School of Education, University of Virginia
Knock, Steven
Schmidt, Karen, Department of Psychology, University of Virginia
Salthouse, Timothy, Department of Psychology, University of Virginia
Baltes, Paul B.
McArdle, John
Nesselroade, John, Department of Psychology, University of Virginia

The articulation of lifespan developmental theory has made great strides in the past decade. In recent years there has also been considerable growth in analytical design and modeling procedures. However, these theoretical and methodological advancements have not yet been fully integrated within the study of behavioral change over the lifespan. We present two "alternative" methods that may allow for more precise articulation and testing of hypotheses regarding how developmental processes that are universal are expressed in idiosyncratic ways and how individual structures re-organize across the lifespan. Using simulations and empirical data, we demonstrate the potential utility of these methods for examining increases in intellectual ability thought to occur in adulthood (e.g., gains in domain-specific knowledge and expertise) and differences (and changes) in emotional complexity over the lifespan (e.g., differentiationdedifferentiation). More generally, we illustrate how questioning "traditional" notions of factorial invariance and how "combining" idiographic and nomothetic approaches may allow us to link our theoretical predictions and our data more closely.

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PHD (Doctor of Philosophy)
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