10 Developmental Psychology
STEP 4 Review the Knowledge You Need to Score High
Developmental psychology—study of physical, intellectual, social, and moral changes across the life span from conception to death.
Three controversies of developmental psychology are:
1. Nature—nurture controversy—deals with the extent to which heredity and the environment each influence behavior.
2. Continuity—discontinuity controversy—deals with the issue of whether development is a gradual, continuous process or a sequence of separate stages.
3. Stability—change controversy—deals with the issue of whether or not personality traits present during infancy endure throughout the life span.
Research methods of developmental psychologists include experiments, naturalistic observations, correlational studies, and case studies. These designs are conducted to assess change over time:
• Cross-sectional—different age groups are tested at the same time.
• Longitudinal—same participants are tested multiple times with the same or similar tests.
• Cohort sequential—combines cross-sectional and longitudinal to correct for cohort effect.
Cohort effect—observed group differences based on the era when people were born and grew up, exposing them to particular experiences that may affect results of cross-sectional studies.
Critical period—a time interval during which specific stimuli have a major effect on development that the stimuli do not produce at other times.
Prenatal development—period of development that begins with fertilization, or conception, and ends with birth.
Zygote—a fertilized ovum with the genetic instructions for a new individual, normally contained in 46 chromosomes.
Embryo—the developmental prenatal stage (from about 2 weeks through 2 months after fertilization) when most organ development begins.
Fetus—the developing human organism from about 9 weeks after conception to birth when organ systems begin to interact; sex organs and sense organs become refined.
Teratogen—harmful substances (drugs or viruses) during the prenatal period that can cause birth defects.
Fetal alcohol syndrome (FAS)—a cluster of abnormalities that occurs in babies of mothers who drink alcoholic beverages during pregnancy, which includes low intelligence, small head with flat face, misshapen eyes, flat nose, and thin upper lip, as well as some degree of intellectual impairment.
Neonate—newborn baby from birth to 1 month old; shows reflexive behavior.
Reflex—the simplest form of behavior. Reflexes of neonate include the following:
• Rooting reflex—the newborn’s tendency to move its head when stroked on the cheek, turn toward the stimulus as if searching for a nipple, and open its mouth.
• Sucking—the automatic response of drawing in anything at the mouth.
• Swallowing—automatic contraction of throat muscles that enables food to pass into the esophagus without choking.
• Grasping reflex—infant closes his or her fingers tightly around an object put in hand.
• Moro or startle reflex—when exposed to a loud noise or sudden drop, the neonate automatically arches his or her back, flings his or her limbs out, and quickly retracts them.
As the infant matures, developing voluntary control over behaviors, many reflexes disappear.
Habituation—decreasing responsiveness with repeated presentation of the same stimulus.
Development proceeds from head to tail, from the center of the body outward, enabling baby to lift its head, roll over, sit, creep, stand, and walk—usually in that order. Proliferation of dendrites at a rapid rate is a major way the brain changes during childhood.
Puberty—the early adolescent period, marked by accelerated growth and onset of the ability to reproduce.
Primary sex characteristics—the reproductive organs (ovaries, uterus, and testes) and external genitals (vulva and penis).
Secondary sex characteristics—the nonreproductive sexual characteristics, including developed breasts in females; facial hair, Adam’s apple, and deepened voice in males; and pubic hair and underarm hair in both.
Menarche—first menstrual period at about age marks female fertility. Male fertility is marked by ejaculation of semen with viable sperm at about age 14. Adolescent brain changes include selective pruning of dendrites and development of emotional limbic system and frontal lobes.
Our physical abilities peak by our mid-20s.
Menopause—the cessation of the ability to reproduce accompanied by a decrease in production of female sex hormones; occurs at about age 50.
Schema—framework of basic ideas and preconceptions about people, objects, and events based on past experience in long-term memory.
Assimilation—process by which we incorporate new information into our existing cognitive structures or schemas.
Accommodation—process by which we modify our schemas to fit new information.
Piaget’s theory of cognitive development involves four sequential and discontinuous stages:
1. Sensorimotor stage—Piaget’s first stage (0—2 years) during which the infant experiences the world through senses and action patterns; progresses from reflexes to object permanence (awareness that objects still exist when out of sight) and symbolic thinking.
2. Preoperational stage—Piaget’s second stage of cognitive development (2—7 years) during which the child represents and manipulates objects with symbols (language) and is egocentric.
• Egocentrism—seeing the world from one’s own perspective; the inability to see reality from the perspective of another person, characteristic of the preoperational child.
• Animism—belief of a preoperational child that all things are living.
• Artificialism—the belief of the preoperational child that all objects are made by people.
3. Concrete operational stage—Piaget’s third stage of cognitive development (7—12 years) during which the child develops simple logic and masters conservation concepts.
• Conservation concepts—changes in the form of an object do not alter physical properties of mass, volume, and number.
4. Formal operational stage—Piaget’s fourth stage of cognitive development (12+ years) during which the child begins to think logically about abstract concepts and engages in hypothetical thinking.
Lev Vygotsky’s sociocultural theory of cognitive development emphasized the role of the environment (nurture) and gradual growth (continuity) in intellectual functioning.
Internalization—the process of absorbing information from a specified social environmental context.
Zone of proximal development (ZPD)—the range between the level at which a child can solve a problem working alone with difficulty, and the level at which a child can solve a problem with the assistance of adults or more-skilled children.
Alzheimer’s disease—a fatal degenerative disease in which brain neurons progressively die, causing loss of memory, reasoning, emotion, control of bodily functions, and then death.
Moral development—growth in the ability to tell right from wrong, control impulses, and act ethically.
Lawrence Kohlberg’s theory of moral development: moral thinking develops in stages as cognitive abilities develop, with three levels divided into six sequential stages:
• Preconventional level—when at the preoperational stage of cognitive development, individuals do the right thing to:
stage 1—avoid punishment, obey authority
stage 2—further self-interests, gain reward
• Conventional level—when at the concrete operational stage of cognitive development or formal operational stage for most people:
stage 3—conform, live up to expectations of others
stage 4—maintain law and order, do your duty
• Postconventional level—reached by only some people in the formal operational stage.
stage 5—social contract, to promote society’s welfare
stage 6—to promote justice
Carol Gilligan criticized Kohlberg’s study because it focused on males, and women rarely reach Kohlberg’s highest stage. She said women follow an ethic of care, rather than justice.
Social development looks at the influence of others on the development of a person.
Culture—behaviors, ideas, attitudes, and traditions transmitted from one generation to the next within a group of people who share a common language and environment.
Bonding—creation of close emotional relationship between mother (or parents) and baby shortly after birth.
Attachment—a close emotional bond or relationship between the infant and the caregiver.
Harry Harlow found monkeys separated from their mothers sought comfort from a soft cloth-covered substitute (surrogate) rather than a bare wire substitute with a feeding bottle, showing attachment isn’t based on feeding.
Mary Ainsworth’s “strange situation” research categorized a type of attachment based on how a baby reacted to, and after, temporary absence of mother:
• Secure attachment—after absence baby is happy to see mother, receptive to her contact. Securely attached babies tend to become socially competent children.
• Insecure attachment—after absence baby is angry and rejecting of mother, avoids her, ignores her, or behaves inconsistently.
Temperament—an infant’s natural disposition to show a particular mood at a particular intensity for a specific period.
Self-awareness—consciousness of oneself as a person.
Social referencing—observing the behavior of others in social situations to obtain information or guidance.
Diana Baumrind identified four parenting styles that affect emotional growth of children:
1. Authoritarian parenting style—sets up absolute and restrictive rules accompanied by punishment for disobedience.
2. Authoritative parenting style—focuses on flexible rules for which reasons are generally given. Parents are warm and nurture independence within guidelines.
3. Permissive parenting style—sets no firm guidelines for behavior and tends to give in to demands of the child.
4. Uninvolved parenting style—makes few demands, shows low responsiveness and little communication.
For individualistic cultures, the most self-reliant, socially competent children with the highest self-esteem tend to have warm, authoritative parents.
Erik Erikson’s Theory of Psychosocial Development looks at development across the life span in a social context in eight sequential stages during which we are faced with a crisis to resolve.
Gender—the sociocultural dimension of being biologically male or female.
Gender roles—sets of expectations that prescribe how males and females should act, think, feel.
Gender identity—person’s sense of being male or female.
Gender stability—child’s understanding that sex identity is stable over time.
Gender consistency—child’s understanding that his or her sex won’t change even if he or she acts like the opposite sex.
Gender schema—mental set of what society considers appropriate behavior for each of the sexes.
Gender role stereotypes—broad categories that reflect our impressions and beliefs about males and females.
Androgyny—the presence of desirable masculine and feminine characteristics in one individual.