III The Evolution of Dynamic, Relational Developmental Systems-Based Models

The circular functions process—represented as individuals context relations— is only one instance of the dynamic relations within the relational developmental system. Such coactions exist among all variables within and across the integrated levels of organization comprising the ecology of human development. In a dynamic, developmental system, changes in any one variable are products and producers of changes at all levels. Just as there are individuals context circular functions between, say, the physical and/or behavioral attributes of an individual and others in the ecology of the individual, there are also dynamic coactions between a family and the community, between the community and cultural, between culture and the physical ecology, and between the physical ecology and time (or history).

My understanding of dynamic, relational developmental systems evolved across the years following the publication of my first peer-reviewed theory paper, “Nature, nurture, and dynamic interactionism,” in the journal Human Development (Lerner, 1978). My growth was due in large part to the col- leagueship I had, and still have, with Bill Overton (e.g., Lerner & Overton, 2017), by the opportunity' I had, given to me by Bill Damon, to edit Volume 1 of the 1998, fifth edition of the Handbook oj Child Psychology, and by my subsequent editing with Bill of the sixth edition of this handbook (2006), my editing of the seventh edition, retitled the Handbook of Child Psychology and Developmental Science (2015), and my editing of several other handbooks (e.g., Lerner, 2010; Lerner, Easterbrooks, & Mistry, 2013; Lerner 8c Steinberg, 2009; Lerner, Jacobs, & Wertlieb, 2003; Molenaar, Lerner, & Newell, 2014) and other edited collections (e.g., Lerner, Lerner, & Benson, 2011; Lerner & Benson, 2013). These experiences provided me with a continuing education because of the opportunity' to edit and learn from some of the premier dynamic, developmental systems theorists in the world: For example, Paul B. Bakes, Patrick Bateson, Jochen Brandtstadter, Urie Bron- fenbrenner, Jeremy I. M. Carpendale, Glen H. Elder, Jr., Kurt W. Fischer, Christopher B. Forrest, Gilbert Gottlieb, Gary Greenberg, Neal Halfon, Mae-Wan Ho, Evelyn Fox Keller, Michael Lewis, Robert Lickliter, David Magnusson, Michael Mascolo, George F. Michel, Jayanthi Mistry, Peter С. M. Molenaar, David S. Moore, John R. Nesselroade, Willis F. Overton,

Ken Richardson, Peter T. Saunders, Linda Smith, Esther Thelen, Elliot Turiel, Han L. J. van der Maas, Paul van Geert, Wayne F. Velicer, Douglas Wahlsten, Seymour Wapner, and David C. Witherington.

The knowledge I gained from the scholarship of these colleagues is reflected within and across the publications included in this section. After the Lerner (1978) article, I discussed how dynamic individualOcontext relations provided the basis of children and adolescents being producers of their own development (Lerner, 1982), how changes in these dynamic relations constituted the basic process of development (Lerner, 1991), and how key features of the structure and function of a dynamic, relational developmental system provided specific ideas about the study of developmental processes and the methods used to study them (Lerner, 1996). These ideas were extended by the contributions made in other areas of scholarly activity'— evolutionary biology; epigenetics, methodology involving person-centered and, as well, person-specific (idiographic) procedures, systems science, and econometric tools—and provided ideas (e.g., the Specificity' Principle; Bornstein, 2017) for research, program evaluation, and applications that were aimed at promoting social justice (Lerner, Agans, DeSouza, & Her- shberg, 2014). In addition, the growing emphasis in my theoretical work on specificity and person-specific (idiographic) concepts and methods was discussed in regard to the description, explanation, and optimization of human development and was illuminated by research pertinent to adolescent^ family relationships (Lerner, Lerner, & Chase, 2019).


Bornstein, M. H. (2017). The specificity principle in acculturation science. Perspectives in Psychological Science, 12(1), 3-45.

Damon, W.. Ik Lerner, R. M. (Eds.). (2006). Handbook of child psychology (6th ed.). Hoboken, NJ: Wiley.

Lerner, R. M. (1978). Nature, nurture, and dynamic interactionism. Human Development, 21, 1-20.

Lerner, R. M. (1982). Children and adolescents as producers of their own development. Developmental Review, 2, 342-370.

Lerner, R. M. (1991). Changing organism-context relations as the basic process of development: A developmental contextual perspective. Developmental Psychology, 21, 27-32.

Lerner, R. M. (1996). Relative plasticity, integration, temporality, and diversity in human development: A developmental contextual perspective about theory, process, and method. Developmental Psychology, 92(4), 781-786.

Lerner, R. M. (Ed). (1998). Theoretical models of human development. Vol. 1: Handbook of child psychology (5th ed.), Editor-in-Chief: William Damon. New York: Wiley.

Lerner, R. M. (Ed.). (2010). Handbook of life-span development. Hoboken, NJ: Wiley.

Lerner, R. M. (Ed.). (2015). Handbook of child psychology and developmental science (7th ed.), Hoboken, NJ: Wiley.

Lerner, R. M., Agans, J. P., DeSouza, L. M., tk Hershberg, R. M. (2014). Developmental science in 2025: A predictive review. Research in Human Development, 11, 255-272.

Lerner, R. M., & Benson, J. B. (Eds.), (2013). Embodiment and epigenesis: Theoretical and methodological issues in understanding the role of biology within the relational developmental system. Advances in Child Development and Behavior, 44 & 45. London, England: Elsevier.

Lerner, R. M., Easterbrooks, A. M., & Mistry, J. (Eds.). (2013). Handbook of psychology. Vol. 6: Developmental psychology (2nd ed.). Editor-in- Chief: I. B. Weiner. Hoboken, NJ: Wiley.

Lerner, R. M., Jacobs, E, Sc Wertlieb, D. (Eds.). (2003). Handbook of applied developmental science. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.

Lerner, R. M., Lerner, |. V, Sc Benson, J. B. (Eds.). (2011). Positive youth development: Research and applications for promoting thriving in adolescence. London, England: Elsevier.

Lerner, R. M., Lerner, J. V, & Chase, P. A. (2019). Toward enhancing the role of idiographic-based analyses in describing, explaining, and optimizing the study of human development: The sample case of adolescent О family relationships. Journal of Family Theory & Review, 11, 495-509.

Lerner, R. M., & Overton, W. F. (2017). Reduction to absurdity: Why epigenetics invalidates all models involving genetic reduction. Human Development, 60(2-3), 107-123.

Lerner, R. M., & Steinberg, L. (Eds.). (2009). Handbook of adolescent psychology (3rd ed.). Hoboken, NJ: Wiley.

Molenaar, P. С. M., Lerner, R. M., & Newell, K. (Eds.). (2014). Handbook of developmental systems theory and methodology. New York, NY: Guilford.

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