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Lecture 1

PSYC 251 Lecture Notes - Lecture 1: Limbic System, Romanian Orphans, Pupa


Department
Psychology
Course Code
PSYC 251
Professor
Stanka A Fitneva
Lecture
1

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PSYC 251 January 10, 2018
Lecture 1
Reasons to Study Developmental Psychology
- Informs child-rearing practices
- Informs social policies
- Provides insights into human nature
Informing Child-Rearing Practices
- Learn how to best raise children
- Examples of parenting strategies
o Discipline style
o How to handle emotions in children
- Children who are spanked more are more likely to exhibit poor behaviours that they were
being spanked for in the first place
o Effects of corporal punishment are long-lasting ie. the child will continue acting
out throughout their childhood
- Best discipline style is inductive parenting
o Tell the child that they have done something wrong, why it is wrong, and how
they can do better in the future
- The Turtle Technique
o Taught to preschool children who have trouble regulating their emotions
o Instead of acting out, they are taught to move away from other children and get
down into the turtle pose
o They can then calm down and think through what’s bothering them before
returning to the situation to “solve” it
Informing Social Policies
- Examples
o How effective is health education?
o Should children be allowed to testify in court?
- Young children are more prone to answer leading questions with inaccurate information
- So long as leading questions are avoided, a child can accurately answer the question
- Tells us that the way the question is asked in a legal proceeding can grossly affect the
testimony of a child
- Children can distinguish between imagination and reality so that isn’t a huge issue for
testimony
Providing Insights into Human Nature
- Examples
o How do our experiences shape us?
o What is important in terms of nature and nurture?
o Are we fundamentally good or bad?
- Romanian orphanage study
o Study shows effect of early experiences
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PSYC 251 January 10, 2018
Lecture 1
o Results show that timing of experiences influences how they affect us, too
o People working in the orphanage were instructed to interact with the children as
little as possible; resulted in very little physical and emotional contact
o Children adopted out of Romanian orphanages had increasingly lower IQs than
their English counterparts, depending on what age they were adopted at ie. how
long they were in the Romanian orphanage
Note. English adopted children had IQs of 117, higher than the average,
likely because they were adopted by upper-middle-class parents who
provided them with good education
o The brain can only make up for so much early maltreatment so, even though they
were given enriching opportunities from adopted families, it was too late
Historical Influences
What are the historical foundations of the study of child development?
Early Philosophers
- Plato: kids are born with conceptual knowledge
o Knowledge is there from birth and just needs to be revealed
o Clearly more about “nature”
- Aristotle: all knowledge arises from experience
o More about “nurture”
- Locke: tabula rasa and setting good examples
o Followed Aristotle’s view of development
o Believed that we should be careful with our children because we could write
anything on that slate
- Rousseau: children learn from their own interactions with the world
o Similar to Piaget, who followed him
o Thought that children should explore the world on their own and only introduce
formal education at age 12
Throughout history, children were viewed not as kids, but as little adults
Beginnings of Research
- Began in the 1800s
- Effected by 2 forces
o Social reform that was pushing for good working conditions for children
Labour laws
o Theory of evolution
Development of the child reflects development through evolution
Darwin wanted to show that children developed in a similar way that
species evolved
Has since been disproven
One of the first to write baby biographies
- Sigmund Freud and John B. Watson were influential
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PSYC 251 January 10, 2018
Lecture 1
o Freud = the importance of parenting to later development
o Watson = earliest behavioural psychologist who studied Little Albert
Key Themes in Developmental Psychology
- Nature and Nurture
- Active vs. passive child
- Continuity vs. discontinuity
- Social impact
- Individual differences
- Sociocultural context
- Mechanisms of development
Nature and Nurture
- Nature: genes we receive from our parents
o A mother’s womb is not a part of nature’s influence
- Nurture: physical and social environment
- How do nature and nurture interact to affect development?
- Nature, Nurture, and Schizophrenia
o Shows how nature and nurture interact
o First cousin with schizophrenia doesn’t raise your chances of developing
o As genetic relationship becomes closer, your chances increase
o Having an identical twin with schizophrenia gives you an almost 50% chance of
developing the neurodevelopmental disorder
This rate indicates a genetic component but, also, a 50%
nurture/environmental component
- Epigenetics: the study of stable changes in gene expression mediated by the environment
o Certain environmental experiences can affect what genes are turned on or off
o Epigenetics help explain why identical twins with the same genes can explain
them having different personalities and become different people
o The expression of genes are impacted by the environment, thus creating two
different people who have identical DNA
The Active Child
- Question: How do children shape their own development?
- One of the first active choices babies make are what they prefer to look at
o Babies tend to prefer looking at a face rather than at any other objects in their
field of view
o Shows that infants look at people and thus, that gears their learning towards
people
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