PSYCH 2AA3 – TEXTBOOK
Historical views on children and childhood
o believed that experience could not be the source of knowledge because human
senses are too fallible.
o He argued that children are born with an innate knowledge of many concrete
objects. Their experiences simply trigger knowledge they already have.
o denied the existence of innate knowledge, believing instead that knowledge is
rooted in perceptual experience.
o Children acquire knowledge piece by piece based on the information provided
by their senses.
o The human infant is a tabula rasa aka blank slate.
o Experience mouls the infant into a unique individual
o Parent should instruct, reward and discipline young children, gradually relaxing
their authority as children grow.
- Jean-jacques Rousseau
o Newborns are born with an innate sense of justice and morality that unfolds
naturally as the child grows.
o As this unfolds, childen move through the developmental stages: infancy,
childhood and adolescence
o Parents should be responsive and receptive to children’s needs.
o Shared view with Plato that children are born with knowledge.
Origins of a new science
- During industrial revolution, families moved to cities, kids and parents worked in
factories, it was dangerous for children
- Reformers worked hard to change laws, get more kids in school
o came out with his theory of evolution
o His focus on the origin of species started interest in the origins of human
behaviour in children. o Some scientists of the day noted similarities between Darwin’s description if
o evolutionary change in species and age-related changes in human behaviour.
o Prompted scientists including Darwin to write the baby biographies
- Stanley Hall
o Generated theories based on evolutionary theory, conducted studies to
determine age trends in children’s beliefs and feelings about a range of topics
- Alfred Binet
o Begun to devise to first mental tests
o Suggested that experiences of early childhood seemed to account for patterns of
behaviour in adulthood
- John B Watson
o Begun to write and lecture on the importance of reward and punishment for child-
- Canadian research
o Dates from the late 1800s
o Important figure is James Mark Baldwin.
Known for research at Uof T
Set up the first psych lab in Canada which began research in 1891.
Felt that a theoretical basis for experimentation was important and baby
biographies were too focused on observation.
He performed experimental research
o CPA founded in the late 1930s
- In 1933 society for research in child development was formed .(SRCD)
- It is now the main organization for child development researchers.
- Progress in developmental psychology was stopped by WW2, ppl abandoned research
to join the war effort
- After the war women became more prominent in the CPA
- Psychology grew and by the 1950s and 1960s, developmental psych was thriving.
- Applied developmental science
o Uses developmental research to promote healthy development, particularly for
vulnerable children and families. o Some scientists with this interest ensure that the consideration of policy issues
and options is based on factual knowledge derived from research.
o Others contribute by serving as advocates for children
o Others create programs that work
Foundational Theories of Child Development
- In child development a theory is an organized set of ideas that is designed to explain
and make predictions about development.
- Theory leads to a hypothesis.
- Five theoretical perspectives have guided most research on children and their
- The Early Biological Perspective
o Development proceeds according to a biological plan
o Maturational Theory
Proposed by Arnold Gesell
Child dev’p reflects a specific and prearranged scheme or plan within the
Experience matters little
Encouraged parents to let children develop naturally
Discarded because it had little to say about the impact of environment on
o Ethological theory
Views development from an evolutionary perspective
Behaviours are adaptive, they have survival value
Assume these behaviours are inherited
Ethologists believe that all animals are biologically programmed in sucha
way that some kinds of learning occur only at certain ages.
o Critical period: time when a specific type of learning can take place; before or
after the critical period the same learning is difficult or even impossible.
• Theorized that chicks are biologically programmed to follow the
first moving object they see after hatching- usually the mother. • First step in imprinting- creating an emotional bond with the
• When the mother was removed and replaced with another moving
object, the chicks would follow that object and treat it as “mother”.
• The chick had to see the moving object within about a day of
hatching or it would not imprint on the moving object.
- The Psychodynamic Perspective
o Oldest perspective on child dev’p
o Tracing its roots to Freud
o Created the first psychodynamic theory : development is largely determined by
how well people resolve conflicts at different ages.
o Personality has 3 different components:
Id: reservoir of primitive instincts and drives
• Present at birth
Ego: practical, rational
• Emerges during the 1 year of life when infants learn they can’t