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PSY 1102 Lecture Notes - Object Permanence, Egocentrism

Course Code
PSY 1102
Christine Mountney

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Class 2: Developing Through the Life Span
Developing Through the Life Span
Prenatal Development and the Newborn
Prenatal Development
The Competent Newborn
Developmental Psychology
1. Nature/Nurture: how do genetic inheritance (our nature) and experience (the nurture we
receive) influence our behaviour
2. Continuity/Stages: Is development a gradual, continuous process or a sequence of
separate stages
3. Stability/Change: Do our early personality traits persists through life, or do we become
different persons as we age
Prenatal Development and the Newborn
How, over time, did we come to be who we are? From zygote to birth, development
progresses in an orderly, though fragile, sequence.
A single sperm cell (male) penetrates the outer coating of the egg (female) and fuses to
form one fertilized cell.
Prenatal Development
A zygote is a fertilized egg with 100 cells that become increasingly diverse. At about 14
days the zygote turns into an embryo (a and b).
At 9 weeks, an embryo turns into a fetus (c and d). Teratogens are chemicals or viruses
that can enter the placenta and harm the developing fetus.
The Competent Newborn
Infants are born with reflexes that aid in survival, including rooting reflex, which helps
them locate food.
Offspring cries are important signals for parents to provide nourishment. In animals and
humans such cries are quickly attended to and relieved.
Infancy and Childhood
Infancy and childhood span from birth to the teenage years. During these years, the
individual grows physically, cognitively, and socially.
Infancy: span newborn to toddler
Childhood: span toddler to teenager
Physical Development
Infants‘ psychological development depends on their biological development. To
understand the emergence of motor skills and memory, we must understand the
developing brain.

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Developing Brain
At birth, most brain cells are present. After birth, the neural networks multiply resulting
in increased physical and mental abilities.
The development of the brain unfolds based on genetic instructions, causing various
bodily and mental functions to occur in sequence standing before walking, babbling
before talkingthis is called maturation.
Maturation sets the basic course of development, while experience adjusts it.
Motor Development
First, infants begin to roll over. Next, they sit unsupported, crawl, and finally walk.
Experience has little effect on this sequence.
Maturation and Infant Memory
The earliest age of conscious memory is around 3½ years (Bauer, 2002). A 5-year-old
has a sense of self and an increased long-term memory, thus organization of memory is
different from 3-4 years.
Cognitive Development
Piaget believed that the driving force behind intellectual development is our biological
development amidst experiences with the environment. Our cognitive development is
shaped by the errors we make.
Schemas are mental molds into which we pour our experiences.
Assimilation and Accommodation
The process of assimilation involves incorporating new experiences into our current
understanding (schema). The process of adjusting a schema and modifying it is called

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Piaget‘s Theory and Current Thinking
Sensorimotor Stage
In the sensorimotor stage, babies take in the world by looking, hearing, touching, mouthing, and
grasping. Children younger than 6 months of age do not grasp object permanence, i.e., objects
that are out of sight are also out of mind.
Sensorimotor Stage: Criticisms
Piaget believed children in the sensorimotor stage could not think they do not have any
abstract concepts or ideas.
However, recent research shows that children in the sensorimotor stage can think and
1. Children understand the basic laws of physics. They are amazed at how a ball can stop in
midair or disappear.
2. Children can also count. Wynn (1992, 2000) showed that children stared longer at the
wrong number of objects than the right ones.
After habituating to the image on the left, 4-month-olds stared longer if shown the
impossible version of the cube - where one of the back vertical bars crosses over a front
horizontal bar (Shuwairi et al., 2007)
Preoperational Stage
Piaget suggested that from 2 years old to about 6-7 years old, children are in the
preoperational stagetoo young to perform mental operations.
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