A developmental psychologist studies the development of the human mind from infancy through adulthood. The field was originally only concerned with children, but has expanded to encompass all of the psychological aspects of human development. These psychologists can work in a wide variety of places and an equally wide variety of tasks. Some are primarily involved in research work, while others work closely with children who suffer from various psychological issues. They are concerned with all aspects of the development of the mind, from moral reasoning to social behavior.
A developmental psychologist may pursue any of several different career paths. Many psychologists conduct research at universities, using the resources at their disposal to pursue their ideas and theories. Often, these researchers are also professors, teaching the next generation of psychologists. Some developmental psychologists work with patients and medical professionals in hospitals. Many specialize in one particular group or population, such as infants or the elderly.
Different psychologists are involved in many different pursuits, from counseling to police work. Unlike many others, a developmental psychologist is most likely to be involved in a theoretical, research-based pursuit. They study such subjects as adolescent development and the acquisition of motor and language skills. Often, they apply their research into seeking solutions to various developmental disorders.
Almost every developmental psychologist acquires a master's or doctoral degree in the field. Most colleges do not offer specific bachelor's degrees in developmental psychology, but many college psychology programs offer a specialization in developmental psychology. A developmental psychologist typically goes through extensive general training in psychology, from the biological basis of psychology to abnormal psychology. They then take further training specific to the development of the human mind through the various phases of life.
The concept of "nature vs. nurture," which attempts to explain the various effects of innate behavior and the environment on one's mind, is integral to many aspects of a developmental psychologist's work and research. In everything from theoretical situations to specific cases, it is important to know whether one's behavior is primarily based on his environment or on some innate, genetic behavioral traits. Developmental psychologists place particular emphasis on this concept in both research and clinical work.
Careers in developmental psychology offer a wide range of potential activities and work environments. A developmental psychologist can choose to work in a lab, hospital, private clinic, or any of several other places. Developmental psychologists are also able to work with all sorts of people as the field is interested in psychological development at all stages of life. The wide range of options makes developmental psychology a popular career choice, so competition for jobs can, at times, be intense.