Chapter 11: Human Development across the Life Span
-Youdon Tenzin Khangsar
Prenatal period- extends from conception (formation of a zygote) to birth: 9 months.
Placenta- allows 0 a2d nutrients pass into the fetus and waste back to mom’s body.
What are the three stages of prenatal development and what happens in each stage?
1 stage- Germinal (0-2 weeks), where rapid cell division occurs and zygote mass of
multiplying cells, then it slowly migrates from the fallopian tube to the uterine cavity and
implants itself there in the uterine wall and placenta begins to form during this process.
2 stage- Embryonic (2w-2month), where most of the vital organs and bodily system begins to
form, making it a period of great vulnerability and miscarriages are most likely to occur.
Interferences in the development during this phase leads to birth defects.
3 stage- Fetal (2m-birth), where organs continue to develop and gradually function and then it
reaches the “age of viability” meaning the baby can survive at this age (22-26 weeks).
Can maternal nutrition affect the fetus?
Severe maternal malnutrition can increase the risk of birth complications and neurological
defects for the newborn because a developing fetus needs a variety of essential nutrients. It’s
been linked to schizophrenia. Low birth weight linked to increased risk of heart disease and
diabetes in adulthood.
How about maternal drug use?
Most drugs consumed by the mother can pass through the members of the placenta.
Recreational drugs are associated with a variety of physical and cognitive effects.
Alcohol consumption may cause “fetal alcohol syndrome”, where the baby may have a small
head, heart defects and delayed mental and motor developments that is said to be the most
common cause of mental retardation. Not just excessive even normal drinking may cause some
of these negative effects.
Smoking reduces the flow of oxygen and nutrients to the fetus. It may also contribute to slow
cognitive developments, attention deficits, hyperactivity etc.
Which maternal illness can be dangerous to the fetus?
Genital herpes and AIDS can be very dangerous to the fetus, they interfere with prenatal
development. Herpes can cause blindness, deafness and brain damage. AIDS transfer through the
placenta or through breast feeding. It’s a virus that can be passing to generations. How important is prenatal health care?
It is very important. Many of these prenatal dangers can be avoided/ prevented if the mom
receives good care and guidance from a health profession.
How uneven is physical growth during infancy?
Motor development-progression of muscular coordination required for physical activities.
Cephalocaudal trend – the head to foot direction of motor development. Infants tend to
gain control over their upper part of the body before the lower. E.g. Crawling
Proximodistal trend - the centre-outward direction of motor development. Children
gain control over their torso (thorax and abdomen) before their extremities (limbs). E.g.
reaching for things by twisting their bodies only later they learn to extend their arms.
How important is maturation to motor development?
Maturation is development that reflects the gradual unfolding of one’s genetic blueprint.
Exposure or exploration of the baby is the driving force behind the progress.
Developmental norms indicate the median age at which individuals display various behaviours
and abilities. E.g. milestone> some parents freak out because the baby did not meet it when it
really wasn’t a big deal. Only should be of concern if most don’t meet exactly.
How much does culture influence motor development?
Culture can accelerate or slow down the motor development depending on their practice
emergence. E.g. baby in Kenya walking a month early due to active efforts in training.
What is the difference between cross-sectional and longitudinal research used to measure
Temperaments- characteristic mood, activity level and emotional reactivity
Cross-sectional- compare groups of participants of differing age at a single pt in time. E.g. taking
a group of age 6, 8 and 10
Longitudinal- observe one group repeatedly over a period of time. E.g. taking a group of age 6
and measuring as they age, this usually is sensitive and time costly.
What kinds of temperaments have been observed in infancy?
Easy baby: behaviorally active
Slow to warm up: more cautious.
Difficult baby: hard to meet their needs, sleeps all day and stays up all night (cranky).
Mixed (Slow to warm up and difficult baby): belief that anyone can hurt you
Temperaments are generally stable and likely a genetic basis. What are the three patterns of attachments seen in infants?
Attachment: close, emotional bonds that develop between infants and caregivers. There is a
separation anxiety- emotional distress present when infants are separated from their cargivers.
The three patterns of attachments seen are:
Easy baby-secure attachment that fosters self esteem, self reliance and other desirability
traits, slow to warm up- anxious and ambivalent, and difficult- avoidant
Does daycare disrupt attachment processes?
Research suggests that non-maternal care of infants for more than 20 hrs increases insecure
attachment to the mother. But there has been a lot of debates and according to it, daycare is not
harmful but is likely to give beneficial effects on social developments.
What kinds of cultural variations have been observed in attachment patterns?
Cultural variations in child rearing practices have shown to affect the patterns of attachments
seen in a society. E.g. Avoidant attachments were more common in German samples but were
non-existent in Japan sample.
What is the evolutionary significance of attachment patterns?
A parent-child attachment seems to be very crucial to the evolutionary significance of attachment
patterns because it fosters social and emotional developments in children.
What do stage theories have in common?
Stage: a developmental period during which characteristics patterns of behaviour are exhibited
and certain capacities become established. It assumes that-
Individuals must progress through specified stage in a particular order
Progress is strongly related to age
Development is marked by major discontinuities that usher in dramatic transition in
How did Erikson explain personality development?
Erikson proposed that individuals evolve through eight stages over their life span. In each stage,
the person wrestles with two opposing tendencies evoked by that stage’s psychological crisis. It’s
a tug of war that determines the subsequent balance.
Trust vs. Mistrust (1 year)
Autonomy vs. Shame and Doubt (2 - 3)
Initiative vs. Guilt (4 - 6)
Industry vs. Inferiority (6 - puberty)
Identity vs. Confusion (Adolescence)
Intimacy vs. Isolation (Early adulthood)
Generativity vs. Self-Absorbtion (Middle adult)
Integrity vs. Despair (Late adulthood) What are the strengths and weaknesses of Erikson’s Theory?
The strength of Erikson’s theory is that it accounts for both continuity (drawing connections
between early childhood experiences and adult personality) and transition (how new challenges
in social relationship stimulate personality development).
The weakness is that it’s heavily depended on case studies. Thus, it’s not well suited for
explaining the enormous personality differences that exist among people.
What are Piaget’s four major stages of cognitive development?
Piaget proposed that youngster progress through four stages of Cognitive Development
(transition in patterns of thinking, including reasoning, remembering and problem solving).
Sensorimotor period (birth to 2 years)
Preoperational period (2 to 7 years)
Concrete operational period (7 to 11)
Formal operational period (11 to adult)
Assimilation: interpreting new experiences in terms of existing mental structures without
changing them. E.g. First kids think four legs means it’s a dog. Horse is also a doggy for them.