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ERIC Number: ED283608
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 1987-Apr
Pages: 20
Abstractor: N/A
Equifinality and Multifinality: Diversity in Development from Infancy into Childhood.
Feiring, Candice; Lewis, Michael
The conceptualizations of morphogenic processes suggested by systems theorists provide a useful framework for describing growth and development in complex adaptive self-directing organisms. These processes involve changes in (1) a system's structure, state, or functioning; (2) discontinuities in development; and (3) at least two kinds of developmental paths--equifinality and multifinality. Equifinality holds that a given outcome can be reached from any number of different developmental paths. Multifinality holds that similar initial conditions may lead to dissimilar outcomes. An example of equifinality is seen in a sample of children who were observed interacting with their mothers at 3 and 24 months. At 3 months the groups differed on several social behaviors, but at 24 months they differed on only one. Thus, individual differences observed at 3 months did not lead to differences at 24 months. Multifinality is explored in a longitudinal study of children assessed for attachment classifications at the age of 1 and for emotional functioning at the age of 6. Measures revealed that 6-year-old boys who were securely attached to their mothers exhibited fewer behavior problems, but that female behavior at 6 years did not significantly differentiate among attachment groups. Thus similar initial conditions led to dissimilar outcomes. Equifinality, multifinality, and stability may be useful principles for developmental research (BN)
Publication Type: Speeches/Meeting Papers; Opinion Papers
Education Level: N/A
Audience: Researchers
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Grant or Contract Numbers: N/A