What Is Maturation in Psychology?

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In psychology, maturation is the process of development in which an individual matures or reaches full functionality. Originally, maturation examined only biological forces, such as the aging process, involved in a child’s changes in behavior. Maturation theories evolved to include cognitive development as a result of biological maturation and environmental experiences. Modern concepts of maturation theorize that it is the process of learning to cope and to react in emotionally appropriate ways.

Along with growth and learning, maturation is one of three processes that play a central role in a person’s development. Maturation does not necessarily happen along with aging or physical growth, but is a part of growth and development.

The concept of maturation was pioneered by Arnold Gesell in the 1940s. He emphasized nature’s role in human development. In developmental psychology, the concept of maturation was advanced by Jean Piaget. For him, simply growing up played a crucial role in children’s increasing capacity to understand their world, posing that children cannot undertake certain tasks until they are psychologically mature enough. Today, cognitive theories of development do not adopt a strictly biological perspective. Instead, maturation relates to the interplay between genetics and socio-environmental influences. Also, maturation is no longer seen as being limited to childhood.