Definition of Lifespan Development

Developmental psychology uses the term lifespan development to encompass all of the development that occurs from birth throughout life 1. Lifespan development covers all stages of development and progress from the birth of a person to his death and is studied in a variety of ways. However, it can be broken down for better understanding and study.


Development can be broken down into three major components that can overlap at times: biological, cognitive and psychosocial.

Biological Development

Biological development is the development of the body, the processes and changes that occur.

Cognitive Development

Cognitive development consists of all the mental processes and developments that occur, including problem solving, logic, reason and imagination/creativity.

Psychosocial Development

Psychosocial development is the development and changes in emotions, personality and social interactions.

Periods of Life

To further simplify the concept of lifespan development, life is broken down into periods. These periods are determined by the developmental stages and changes, as they can be grouped together. For instance, the period of birth to age 2 is a period of lifespan development because the development here is clearly related and a recognizable stage in development that forms the foundations for the following stage, from age 2 to age 6. In each stage, the three components of development can be studied.