Skip to main content

Research Repository

Advanced Search

The myth of normative development

Forbes, Samuel H.; Aneja, Prerna; Guest, Olivia

The myth of normative development Thumbnail


Prerna Aneja

Olivia Guest


Over the past decade, the field of psychology has come under increasing fire for the replicability of purported findings, for the transparency of the methods used, and for the generalisability of the claims. In general, these criticisms have focused on the methodological and statistical aspects of published work. Herein, we highlight the importance of diversity of both our participant samples in empirical studies and of our researchers within developmental psychology as a barrier to generalisability. Far beyond being a purely methodological question, for example, of heterogenous sampling, ignoring the importance of context and environment in development implies risking failing to comprehend pivotal facets of development. Importantly, we discuss the harms done to our science's theoretical contributions as a direct result of defining and maintaining misplaced “norms” or “normative” developmental scenarios. Finally, we outline how even small steps by individuals can be impactful, such as ceasing to request unsubstantiated comparisons to the Western “norm” in peer review.


Forbes, S. H., Aneja, P., & Guest, O. (2022). The myth of normative development. Infant and Child Development,

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Dec 7, 2022
Online Publication Date Dec 23, 2022
Publication Date Dec 23, 2022
Deposit Date Jan 3, 2023
Publicly Available Date Dec 24, 2023
Journal Infant and Child Development
Print ISSN 1522-7227
Electronic ISSN 1522-7219
Publisher Wiley
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Public URL


You might also like

Downloadable Citations