Document Type

Article - postprint


Psychology (Pitzer)

Publication Date



Developmental systems theory, Nature and nurture, Predispositions, Nativism, Core knowledge


As J. P. Spencer et al. (2009) argue, the theories of some developmental psychologists continue to be nativistic, even though nativism is an inherently nondevelopmental school of thought. Psychologists interested in development study the emergence of human characteristics—including predispositions—and are not content to simply catalogue competences that characterize human newborns; instead, they recognize that all human characteristics, including those present at birth, reflect the circumstances of development. A truly developmental science of behavior requires rejecting the nativism–empiricism debate outright, abandoning ideas such as “core knowledge” and psychological “endowments,” and adopting a process perspective that focuses on how traits emerge from the co-actions of biological and experiential factors. Unlike nativism, the process perspective advocated by J. P. Spencer et al. encourages research that can reveal the developmental origins of psychological characteristics of interest.


The content of this open-access post-print article is the same as that contained in the published article with the following reference:

Moore, D. S. (2009). Probing predispositions: The pragmatism of a process perspective. Child Development Perspectives, 3, 91 – 93.

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© 2009 Society for Research in Child Development

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