Continuity and Stage in Human Development

  • Jerome Kagan
Part of the Perspectives in Ethology book series (PEIE, volume 3)


Although change is as common as continuity in morphological or psychological development, the psychologist is particularly friendly to the latter idea and assumes, unless shown otherwise, that the psychological structures formed by early experience remain untransformed. This mental set is also applied to rate of development, for many developmental psychologists have tried to show that infants who attain the maturational milestones of object permanence, walking, or the first spoken word earlier than others retain that precocity for several years or longer, despite the fact that entomologists have not suggested that different rates of morphogenesis from larva to pupa to butterfly are of much consequence in explaining variations in the functioning of the adult form. Since there is little robust evidence favoring either the maintenance of early psychological structures or initial precocity, it is reasonable to ask why the Western psychologist has been so receptive to arguments for continuity.


Psychological Development Chinese Child Referent Group Psychoanalytic Theory Object Permanence 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Dennis, W. (1938). Infant development under conditions of restricted practice and minimum social stimulation. J. Genet. Psychol. 53:149–158.Google Scholar
  2. Fiske, J. (1883). The Meaning of Infancy, Houghton Mifflin, Boston.Google Scholar
  3. Fraiberg, S. (1975). The development of human attachments in infants blind from birth. Merrill-Palmer Quarterly 21:315–334.Google Scholar
  4. Kagan, J. (1971). Change and Continuity Infancy, Wiley, New York.Google Scholar
  5. Kagan, J. (1976). Emergent themes in human development. Am. Sci. 64:186–196.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  6. Kagan, J., and Moss, H. A. (1962). Birth to Maturity, Wiley, New York.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Kagan, J., Kearsley, R. B., Zelazo, P. R. & Minton, C. (1976). The course of early development, unpublished manuscript.Google Scholar
  8. Macfarlane, J. W. (1963). From infancy to adulthood. Childhood Education 39:336–342.Google Scholar
  9. Macfarlane, J. W. (1964). Perspectives on personality consistency and change from the guidance study. Vita Humana 7:115–126.Google Scholar
  10. McCall, R. B., Eichorn, D. H., and Hogarty, P. S. (1976). Transitions in early mental development, unpublished manuscript.Google Scholar
  11. Millar, W. S. (1974). The role of visual holding cues in the simultanizing strategy in infant operant learning. Br. J. Psychol. 65:505–518.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Oppenheimer, J. (1967). Essays in the History of Embryology and Biology, MIT Press, Cambridge, Mass.Google Scholar
  13. Schaffer, H. R. (1974). Cognitive component of the infant’s response to strangeness. In Lewis, M., and Rosenblum, L. (eds.), The Origins of Fear, Wiley, New York, pp. 11–24.Google Scholar
  14. Yang, R. K., and Halverson, C. F. (1976). A study of the inversion of intensity between newborn and preschool behavior. Child Devel. 47:350–359.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Plenum Press, New York 1978

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jerome Kagan
    • 1
  1. 1.Harvard UniversityCambridgeUSA

Personalised recommendations