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Biopsychosocial Approach to Development

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  • 0:02 Human Development
  • 1:12 Biological Factors
  • 2:07 Psychological Factors
  • 2:55 Social Factors
  • 3:52 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Dana Dance-Schissel

Dana teaches social sciences at the college level and English and psychology at the high school level. She has master's degrees in applied, clinical and community psychology.

The biopsychosocial approach explains human development as a result of biological, psychological and social forces. This lesson will examine this topic and end with a quiz to help you see what you have learned.

Human Development

Take a look through some old photos of yourself. You may have many photographs of when you were a baby and young child. Compare those to a photograph of you today. How have you changed? You are probably taller, heavier and may look quite different than you did in your earliest days of life. This ongoing process of maturing is called human development.

Human development occurs constantly throughout the lifespan as we grow and change. Developmental psychologists examine the different forces that impact how we grow and develop throughout life. The biopsychosocial approach to development is based on the idea that biological, psychological and social factors are all affecting the way we develop.

To understand the biopsychosocial approach to development, let's imagine a developing person in the center of a triangle. One edge of the triangle is filled with biological factors. The second edge is made up of psychological factors. Finally, the third side of the triangle consists of social factors. These three sides push and pull on that individual as he develops. Now let's look at what each factor contributes to overall development.

Biological Factors

Take another look at a recent photo of yourself. What color is your hair? How about your eyes? Are you tall? How about your skin tone? Now, think about your relatives. Do you see a resemblance or any similarities? A lot of who we are is the result of genetics. Children receive genetic material from their mother and from their father. This is why you may have features similar to one or both parents.

Genes represent biological factors, or ingrained aspects of a person, in development. Some of these are easily seen, such as hair color and skin tone. Biological factors can also be unseen, such as genetic abnormalities and risks for certain problems or diseases. For example, if one of your parents had diabetes, you have an increased risk for developing it. Developmental psychologists working from a biopsychosocial perspective believe that part of who we become is the result of genes or biological forces.

Psychological Factors

Now that we have examined your appearance, let's look at your behavior. How do you approach new situations? How do you deal with stress? Are you a pretty relaxed person or are you high-strung and always on the go? Your answers to these questions help to describe the psychological factors, or the thought processes behind a person's behavior, that contribute to who you are.

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