Quantitative development may be a result of internal processes but also competition, cooperation or integration with other societies. An increase of the same characteristics that typify individual development in this sense can indicate social development too, although of course, different examples apply: dynamism (mobility, cultural exchange, internal social processes); complexity and differentiation (of knowledge and skills); organisation and integration (of various segments within society); the width of perspective (e.g. taking into account the effects on other societies or the environment); refinement (in art, philosophy, science or spirituality); diversity and versatility (e.g. multicultural coexistence and cooperation); flexibility (e.g. an ability to incorporate or adapt to changes); creativity (e.g. technological and other innovations); internal control (e.g. autonomy, self-governance); productivity (efficiency in utilising resources).

The demise of the native Americans can be an example of how these characteristics can affect the very survival of a society. One such characteristic is increased mobility. When the Europeans arrived in America, the indigenous societies were almost wiped out. Disease was a major factor. The Europeans did not die (at least not in such great numbers) because they were more mobile, so their immune system was more exposed and better adapted to various diseases. Another feature is integration. Upon their arrival, the Spanish were by far outnumbered, were not familiar with the terrain and could not rely on regular supplies. Yet, they managed to conquer the natives, largely because of infighting and disunity. One more characteristic is an increase in complexity (knowledge). In the above example, what also assisted the Spanish was superior war technology. This is not by any means a justification for the conquest and atrocities committed by the Europeans. It is rather an attempt to understand why it could happen on the first place.