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Lecture 2

PSYC 412 Lecture Notes - Lecture 2: John Bowlby, Cerebrum, Neuroanatomy

Course Code
PSYC 412
Melanie Dirks

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Contextual events in the family or school environment exert influence over an
individual’s course of development
Therefore, a given child’s problems must be considered in relation to multiple
levels of influence—individual, family, community, and culture
His problem in school might be connected to the negative comments and pressure he
is getting from his parents and teacher
Possible interrelated causes of his behavior:
Biological Influences
oPrenatal history such as major illness, injuries, marital problems or undue
stress that might have affected the mother’s pregnancy
oJorge has a tendency towards behavioral inhibition
Children with fear and anxiety (affected by levels of stress
hormones) are more likely to have inherited it from their parents
(had same problems during their childhood)
oInfluenced by child-rearing styles used by his parents
Further influences his approach to new tasks, reaction to criticism,
or relation to others
oMay have inherited one or more genes that influence his phonological
Not being able to recognize and process sounds and thus suffer
form a reading disorder
Emotional Influences
oHis inability to regulate feelings of arousal, distress, or agitation can
surface without warning
Don’t know its origin
As infants, its how we first communicate and we learn to regulate
these emotions as we adapt
To reduce or regulate the force of emotions, children seek comfort
from caregivers—learn to self-regulate
oJorges school refusal and phobia may have emerged at a younger age
from anxiety about his mother’s availability that grew into insecurity
Behavioral and Cognitive Influences
oJorges lack of progress may be a function of criticize from parents or
being singled out by a teacher
oChanging aspects of his environment (attention he receives) can help
oAnother factor could be teasing or rejection by peers
oCognitive influences – his interpretation of events
Children with fears and worries tend to be self-defeating
Jorge expects to fail and be ridiculed at school, needs attention
Family, Cultural, and Ethnic Influences

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oFamily and peer relationships, social settings, and larger cultural and
ethnic identity play a big role in understanding Jorge’s difficulties
Like his parents lack of sensitivity at recognizing his special
limitations, and his mothers expectations from him
oAll children require a parenting style sensitive to their unique needs and
abilities to help them develop self-control
oAlso important consider how Jorges behavior might be affected by
culturally specific norms and standards
Children from cultural minority groups face challenges in adapting
to their receiving culture—a process known as “acculturation”
oThey can learn to balance these opposing demands and expectations,
especially while living in a bicultural environment
Adapting to both their heritage and their receiving cultures
oOpportunities and necessities for proper development in children requires
a basic quality of life that includes a safe community, good schools, proper
health and nutrition, access to friends their own age and developing close
These can emerge as very significant issues for children
undergoing parental divorce or living in poverty
Study of abnormal child behavior requires an appreciation of developmental
processes as well as individual and situational events that can have a major bearing on
the course and direction of a particular child’s life.
Theory – a language of science that allows us to assemble and communicate existing
knowledge more comprehensively
It permits educated guesses and predictions about behavior based on samples of
knowledge  explore possible explanations
Etiology – the study of the causes of childhood disorders
oConsiders how biological, psychological, and environmental processes
interact to produce the outcomes that are observed over time
oBiological: structural brain damage or dysfunction, neurotransmitter
imbalances, and genetic influences
oPsychological and environmental: environmental toxins, early
experiences, learning opportunities, disciplinary practices, family systems,
and sociocultural contexts
oThere's are not causes but risk factors and correlates associated with
certain disorders
Developmental Psychopathology Perspective
Developmental Psychopathology is an approach to describing and studying disorders
of childhood, adolescence, and beyond in a manner that emphasizes the importance of
developmental processes and tasks

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Provides a useful framework for organizing the study of abnormal child psychology
around milestones and sequences in physical, cognitive, social-emotional, and
educational development
oEmphasizes the role of developmental processes, the importance of context,
and the influence of multiple and interacting events in shaping adaptive and
maladaptive development
To understand maladaptive behavior, one must view it in a relation to what is
normative for a given period of development
By looking at extremes and variations in developmental outcomes – language and
peer relations and how they function
oThis perspective emphasizes the importance and complexity of biological,
familial, and sociocultural factors in predicting and understanding
development changes
Helps raise new questions and looking at familiar problems in different ways
Three assumptions derived from a developmental psychopathology
1. Abnormal Development Is Multiply Determined
a. Look beyond the child’s current symptoms and consider
developmental pathways and interacting events that, overtime,
contribute to the expression of a particular disorder
b. Emphasize on the need to satisfy variables to those of the most
importance, but
i. Focusing on one primary explanation rather than
identifying and allowing for several possible explanations
does not work
2. Child and Environment Are Interdependent
a. As the environment influences children, children can also
influence their environment
b. Transaction: the dynamic interaction of child and environment
i. Regards both children and the environment as active
contributors to adaptive and maladaptive behavior
ii. Disorders emerge from a combination of these factors
3. Abnormal Development Involves Continuities and Discontinuities
a. Some forms of abnormal child development may be continuous or
discontinuous across childhood, adolescence, and adulthood, in
either a consistent or a transformed manner
b. Continuity – implies that developmental changes are gradual and
quantitative and that future behavior patterns can be predicted from
earlier patterns
c. Discontinuity – implies that developmental changes are abrupt and
qualitative and that future behavior is poorly predicted by earlier
d. The degree of continuity or discontinuity will vary as a function of
changing environmental circumstances and transactions between
the child and the environment will affect the childs
developmental course and direction
Changes, Typical and Atypical
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