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PSYCH 2AA3 (402)


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McMaster University
Richard B Day

May 7 , 2013 Psych 2AA3: Child Development Introduction Introduction - Developmental psychology: origin of skills and knowledge  How do we become adults who do and know certain things?  How did we become these competent adults?  Infancy and childhood: rapid growth  School age and adolescence are more important in a social context - Child development: skills and milestones  Chronological point of view  Evaluating a child in terms of are they meeting milestones? - Change over time  The most important concept  How skills are changing overtime?  How does knowledge and understanding change over time?  Once a skill is learned there is no undoing of what you have learned Continuity – Discontinuity Issue - Continuity:  Describes change as being continuous  Quantitative change  Change in amount  Example: the number of words in a child’s vocabulary, memory - Discontinuity:  Stages of development – stage theories  Qualitative change – example, the quality of the child’s movement  Change in kind or type  Change is not in the amount of information but the sheer nature of their thinking changes from one point to another  Example: cognitive development Nature versus Nurture - Genetically pre-programmed or Tabula Rasa (Locke), idea that children are born into the world as a blank state. Everything that is learned from the child comes from the environment, example learning a specific motor skill, language, things that we have to learn from others in our culture  Development involves interaction between internal and external forces (Rousseau)  We as a species are specifically tuned to learn a language (babbling or sign babbling), specifics of the language depends on environment  Children who are physically more prepared for a certain skill with a supporting environment  Milestones dictated by inborn developmental plan (Hall)  Behaviourism (Watson)  Children can be trained through manipulation of the environment  “Little Albert”: infant who was the subject of conditioning experiments o Child who has not been exposed to fire is not afraid of the fire o Child who had not been exposed to monkeys or dogs was not afraid of the animals when they were presented to him o Fear of an animal may be experimentally set up by stimulating the infant with a loud sound just at the moment of presentation o The conditional fear of the rat transferred to the rabbit, dog and other previous animals o Fear was generalized o Simple conditioned fear (Pavlovian conditioning) can make a child afraid od something he wasn’t previously afraid of and generalize to others that were similar o Fears can also be extinguished o Shows how effective conditioning can be Internal and External Influences - Maturation  Genetically programmed sequential patterns of change  Growing, changing, developing  Maturation is a specific aspect of development  Genetically pre-programmed sequences  Programmed into our DNA  Universal to the species  Occurs on the same time frame for everyone regardless of environment  Limited room for environmental modification  Has to occur in the same sequence - Sequential  Relatively impervious to environmental influences - Timing of experience  Example: language, vision  Experience may be needed to trigger genetic programs  If the experience does not happen within this period the brain will re- wire  Timing matters in terms of toxins being introduced in utero  Critical periods  You must have a certain experience within a certain window or else your brain will never acquire that skill  Goslings and imprinting: when goslings become attached to, and follow, their mother (Lorenz)  Sensitive periods  Wider window  Less rigid than critical periods  Time frame in which you are most ready to learn a certain skill  Example: adults who pick up another language do not master it to the same extend, accents, etc.  A time when a particular experience can be best incorporated into the maturational process  We can’t experimentally test the boundaries therefor, we refer to most periods as sensitive periods  Example: Jeannie, if the child does not acquire these skills we can’t determine whether the damage was prior to being locked away or after - Behavioural genetics  Study of genetic contributions to behaviour or traits, e.g., intelligence or personality  Study looking at identical (100% identical) and fraternal twins (50% identical)  If identical twins have stronger correlations we can say that there is a genetic underlying mechanisms underlying this behaviour  Heredity affects a broad range of behaviours  Height, body shape, tendency towards obesity  General intelligence  Spatial visual ability  Alcoholism, schizophrenia, depression  Temperament – emotionality, activity, sociability  Example: divorce has shown to be correlated however this can be related to personality factors, intelligence (communication and problem solving), etc.  There are a lot of things that cannot be pinned down to a single gene  Complex interplay of genes - Gene-Environment interaction  Infant modifies their environment based on their response, makes selections about different events and the environment starts to change  Child’s genetic heritage may predict something about the environment  Heritage may affect the way a child behaves with other people  Children’s interpretations of their experiences are influenced by genetic tendencies  Example: parents of misbehaved children tend to drink more, both parent and child are players in this interactions, creates a cycle The Ecological Perspective - Ecology – context in which each child develops  How the culture or context shapes the child  Urie Bronfenbrenner  Children are raised in a complex social ecology  How the environment (immediate family and extended environment) and experiences shape how the child develops?  Larger environment (dominant culture), social issues that surround you  Individualism: world is made up of inde
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