For decades there hasn't been an integrative theory of development, only theories about various developmental domains such as language acquisition, personality, and peer relations. Two leading developmentalists, Donald Ford and Richard Lerner, present the first integrative theory on human development. Through a synthesis of developmental contextualism and the Living Systems Framework, the authors develop a theory that examines how a person carries out transactions with their environment and through that transaction how their biological, psychological, behavioral, and environmental elements change or remain constant. They also offer important implications of Developmental Systems Theory (DST) for research, implications for use in educational and clinical settings, and the usefulness of DST in the formulation of social policy.
By integrating the results from many research investigations into a larger framework, Developmental Systems Theory offers researchers, professionals, and students a better understanding of how multiple elements interact and shape a person's life.
"Developmental Systems Theory will play an important role in the shaping of developmentalists' research agendas in the 1990s. It aims for the main prize: the representation of the complex, dynamic organization of variables across time and contexts. Ford and Lerner's impressive grasp of developmental principles and theory, system thinking, and such key ideas as (1) the distinction and interplay between intraindividual variability and interindividual stability, variability, and change; (2) the unity of structure and function; (3) how useful theory is developed; and (4) the need for strengthening current methodological tools and creating newer, more appropriate ones all are combined to form a volume that belongs in the working libraries of active social, behavioral, and biological scientists."
--John R. Nesselroade, University of Virginia
"This work has a valuable role to play on two levels: first, on the theoretical level, in synthesizing the efforts this century to understand the functioning and evolution of the human being and in proposing an epistemological background and an improved model of the development of the person. It is also important on the practical level, in particular for its effort to cleanse the notion of development from the ideological connotations it often carries. It also opens the way for further developments in the context of systems science. It shows that the classical cybernetic paradigm can still help to make improved modelization in the human sciences."