What Are the Three Domains of Human Development?

There are three domains of human development that begin with infancy and continue to develop over a lifetime. In many ways, they can be seen as the body, mind and soul of a person.

The Biological Domain The biological development, also referred to as physical development, is the most visibly obvious domain. This is evident in the bodily changes, the maturation process and outward growth. This domain in human development is when physical strength is built up, a sense of balance is learned, coordination evolves and motor skills are developed. The five senses of sight, taste, hearing, touch and smell also develop within the biological domain. Many changes transpire over the years from infancy to toddler stages, and teen years to adulthood. Within adulthood, there are more changes in a slower progression in biological development from young adulthood to middle age and senior years.

The Cognitive Domain The cognitive domain is the mental part of the developmental process that goes on in the brain. Each person develops at the individual’s own pace so no two people develop at the exact same pace. This cognitive developmental process incorporates thinking, learning and language skills. The mind learns to store memory through thoughts and experiences, then to recall those memories. Cognitive development also includes creativity and imagination. The ability to perceive the environment and surroundings develops within this domain. A large part of the development in this domain happens by the age of 11. However, one stage of the cognitive development continues to evolve through adulthood. The mind grows just like the body as it never stops learning.

The Psychosocial Domain The psychosocial domain is the development of social skills and emotions. It’s how a person feels on the inside as reflected on the outside through social connections. This is where a person’s personality forms although some temperament traits are innate due to genetics. Building friendships and relationships as well as learning to interact with others fall in this category. A person develops feelings, self-esteem and how to get along with others. The person develops a sense to recognize the feelings of others and to have empathy. Social skills allow for communication, community involvement and getting along with others in school and work environments.

Biopsychosocial Development Wrap all three domains together and psychologists refer to it as biopsychosocial development. All three are separate domains in the developmental process, but they influence one another and are dependent on each other. Nutrition and environmental stimulation play a role in all stages of development. If a person doesn’t receive adequate food and nutrients, the biological development will be affected. This, in turn, can affect the cognitive development and the psychosocial domain. Healthy lifestyles with nutrition and environmental influences like exercise can greatly affect the changes in adulthood. Aging progresses quicker in a person who neglects their body. The opposite holds true for a person who eats healthy foods, gets the vitamins and nutrients required and exercises regularly. The physical aspects can reflect the social and emotional domains in that if the person feels good they’re more likely to interact in social settings. This person may also have greater cognitive abilities and thought processes.