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DSST Lifespan Developmental Psychology Study Guide

Updated: Feb 14

DSST Lifespan Developmental Psychology Exam Outline

If you're preparing for the DSST Lifespan Developmental Psychology exam, you're in the right place!

Our study guide offers a comprehensive overview of the exam content and valuable tips to help you prepare effectively.

Read on to learn what to expect on test day and how to approach your preparation!


Table of Contents


1. The Study of Lifespan Development

Father doing pushups with boy.
The Study of Lifespan Development (11% - 13%)

Models and Theories

Lifespan developmental psychology utilizes various models and theories to examine behaviors, dispositions, skills, and traits across different stages of life.

For example, Erikson's psychosocial theory explores how individuals navigate eight stages of development, each presenting unique challenges and tasks.


Methods of Study

Researchers employ diverse methodologies in lifespan developmental psychology, including longitudinal studies, cross-sectional studies, and case studies.

These methods allow researchers to gather data on how individuals change and grow over time.


Ethical Considerations

Ethical guidelines, such as those established by the Society for Research in Child Development and the American Psychological Association, ensure that research in lifespan developmental psychology is conducted ethically.

These guidelines protect the rights and well-being of research participants.


DSST Lifespan Developmental Psychology Trivia Question # 112


2. Biological Development

Boy on rocket toy.
Biological Development (17% - 19%)

Genetic Factors and Counseling

Genetics is vital in determining an individual's physical and psychological traits.

Genetic counseling helps individuals understand their genetic risks and make informed decisions about their health.


Prenatal Development and Birth

The prenatal period is crucial for fetal development, and maternal health significantly impacts the fetus.

For example, exposure to alcohol or tobacco during pregnancy can lead to various developmental issues.


Physical Development and Health

Proper nutrition is essential for physical growth and development, especially during rapid brain growth.

High-quality protein intake is crucial for sustaining growth rates.


Motor Development

Motor development is influenced by brain development and myelinization, which enhances nerve impulse conduction.

As the brain develops, motor skills become more refined.


Sexual Development

Sexual development begins in childhood, and children may become curious about their bodies.

Caregivers need to provide age-appropriate information and guidance.


Neurological Development

Neurological development involves the formation of neurons and synapses.

As the brain matures, more synapses are created, enhancing cognitive abilities.


Sensory Development

Sensory experiences play a crucial role in brain development.

Stimulating auditory, visual, and kinesthetic responses help fine-tune brain circuitry.


Aging Process

Aging is a natural part of life characterized by physical decline.

Lifestyle factors such as diet and exercise can influence aging and overall health.


Dying and Death

Dying and death are complex processes that individuals experience differently.

How people cope with death can impact their quality of life and well-being.


DSST Lifespan Developmental Psychology Trivia Question # 722


3. Perception, Learning, and Memory

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Perception, Learning, and Memory (13% - 20%)

Perceptual Development

Perceptual development involves how infants learn about the world through sensory stimuli.

For example, infants learn to recognize their caregivers' voices and faces.


Learning, Conditioning, and Modeling

Learning refers to changes in behavior due to experience and reinforcement.

Conditioning involves learning through association, while modeling involves learning by observing others.


Memory Development

Memory development involves the retention of information over time.

For example, infants may remember where a favorite toy is located.


Executive Functioning

Executive functioning refers to the skills needed to organize and act on information.

This includes skills such as planning, problem-solving, and self-control.


Attention and Information Processing

Attention allows the brain to focus on and process information.

Infants learn to pay attention to important stimuli, such as their caregiver's voice, and ignore irrelevant stimuli.


DSST Lifespan Developmental Psychology Trivia Question # 135


4. Cognition and Language

Mother and daughter doing yoga.
Cognition and Language (19% - 21%)

Cognitive Developmental Theory

As proposed by Piaget, cognitive development theory outlines four stages of cognitive development in children, including the sensorimotor, preoperational, concrete operational, and formal operational stages.



Problem-solving refers to individuals' active attempts to achieve goals that are not easily attainable.

For example, a child may use trial and error to solve a puzzle.


Mental Abilities

Mental abilities encompass a person's intelligence, including their ability to reason, learn, and adapt to new situations.


Intelligence and Intelligence Testing

Intelligence is understanding complex ideas, adapting to the environment, and learning from experience.

Intelligence testing aims to measure these abilities through various assessments.


Language Development and Theories

Language development theories, such as B.F. Skinner's behaviorist theory suggests that language emerges from imitation and reinforcement.

Children learn language by imitating the speech they hear and being reinforced for their efforts.


Social Cognition

Social cognition, as proposed by Albert Bandura's social learning theory, is based on three core concepts: observational learning, imitation, and modeling.

This theory suggests that individuals learn from observing others and imitating their behaviors.


DSST Lifespan Developmental Psychology Trivia Question # 179


5. Social, Emotional, and Personality Development

Girl swinging from hands.
Social, Emotional, and Personality Development (34% - 36%)

Personality Development

Explores theories and stages of personality development, attachment, emotional growth, and how gender roles evolve.


Social Behaviors

Examines peer interactions, aggressive and pro-social behaviors, moral growth, and the development of sexual attitudes.


Family Life Cycle

It covers stages from courtship to parenting, addressing issues like sibling dynamics and abuse within families.


Extra-Familial Settings

Considers the impact of environments outside the family, such as daycare, school, and nursing homes, on development.


Singlehood, Cohabitation, and Marriage

Explores living arrangements and the adjustments made in different relationship phases.


Occupational Development and Retirement

Examines career progression stages and the transition into retirement.


Adjustment and Life Stress

Discusses how individuals cope with internal and external stressors.


Bereavement and Loss

Covers the grieving process and coping mechanisms for loss.


6. Conclusion

Mother and daughter holding hands.

DSST Lifespan Developmental Psychology

Are you ready to learn more about the fascinating world of Lifespan Developmental Psychology?

Our Lifespan Developmental Psychology prep course covers everything from prenatal development to genetic behavioral influences.

With our help, you can access the course content and study resources you need to ace this test and earn college credit.

So what are you waiting for? Start studying today!


7. Student Resources


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