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PSY100.Lecture (9).docx

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University of Toronto St. George
Dan Dolderman

PSY100: Development What Is Human Nature? -biology vs. culture, nature vs. nurture -given that they are always intertwined, how can we know whether there is such a thing as “innate” human nature, and what that would look like? Babies -prenatal and infant development progress in highly predictable ways and are, largely, the result of genetic “programming” -of course, even prenatal and infant development are affected by environmental factors  teratogens (ex. alcohol, viruses, drugs, etc.) can cause abnormal development in the womb; many chemicals pervasive in the environment are now found in fetuses  stress and mother’s emotional state (affected by external factors)  birth weight, cognitive and physical development  cultural practices (ex. sleeping on backs vs. fronts)  crawling, learned that babies sleeping on their stomach have a higher chance of dying; however, if you spend a lot of time as in infant on your stomach, develop muscles that help you crawl and they start to crawl faster -brain development (myelination, formation of connection between neurons) is also dependent on proper environmental stimulation, nutrition, etc. -so, even at the earliest ages, human development is an interaction between nature and nurture The Role of the Environment -some examples of children growing up in extreme circumstances have profoundly deepened our understanding of the role of the environment in human development -ex. studies of children growing up in Romanian (and other) orphanages, and other situations of neglect  hundreds of children living in a room, little human contact, no toys or playtime  kids were underdeveloped, did not know how to express emotions properly Feral Children -raised by animals  Victor: the “Wild Boy of Aveyron;” captured 1797; escaped, re-emerged 1800, development was stunted and was able to learn some things but plateaued early -Genie:  in 1970; mother and young girl escape from abusive husband and go to welfare office in LA, girl is 4 ½ feet tall, 59 pounds, thought to be 6-8  turns out she’s 13  unable to walk, skip, climb, or do anything requiring the full extension of her limbs  for more than ten years, she’d been locked in a tiny, dark room, tied to a chair and caged at night, no human contact except for beatings if she made noise  she understood just a few years and could only form brief sentences, showed few signs of emotion or interest in connecting with those around her  for four years, she was cared for and formed close relationships with psychologists, who attempted to rehabilitate her with therapy, education, etc. she was able to learn some vocabulary, and formed some social connections, but her development was brutally stunted and she made meaningful, but limited progress, at 18 her mother regained, custody, cut off all contact with her caretakers, later lost custody again, and Genie disappeared into a world of institutional care for the severely disabled -extreme cases like these show us that being human is, like pretty much everything we’ve learned about, more like a skill than an innate ability; it’s something we learn through practice, being bathed in language, cultural practices and affection -being “functionally human” is something we become, rather than merely something we are The Importance of Social Contact -the way we function has a lot to do with the attention and care we have received -a key theme in developmental psychology is that humans are profoundly social beings -who we are depends to an extraordinary degree on the human contact we have throughout our lives, from learning language to developing a sense of emotional security, to adopting the beliefs, habits, and general ‘way of being’ of our families -the central part of this process is the formation of attachment Attachment -attachment is the bond that develops between the caregiver and child; the emotional connection -babies are designed to form attachments, and elicit attachment-forming behaviours from adults  ex. holding out arms, smiling, crying, settling down when held  adults respond automatically; ex. picking up, exaggerated expressions, higher pitched voices  first “social smile” occurs 4-6 weeks of age  show social attunement very young Infants Are Social Beings -even very young infants have highly interactive relationships -ex. emotional attunement: infants as young as ten weeks get extremely upset when their mothers stop showing any facial expressions of emotion, the implications of this are huge -ex. maternal depression in first two months  insecure attachment, poor emotional regulation, learned helplessness, even depression later in life (it’s akin to early trauma), leads to emotional deficits that have to be compensated for later on -by eight months, infants of unresponsive mothers are developing avoidant behavioural coping strategies One Place Where Behaviourism Breaks Down -some very common parenting wisdom is to reward the good, punish/ignore the bad so it extinguishes -but this doesn’t work in infants, letting them “cry it out,” leaving them alone during tantrums, trying to avoid “making them whiney”  these strategies backfire, creating a child who feels scared, alone, unloved and powerless, upsetness results in social isolation, more than anything kids need social contact and connection, especially important when they’re upset, the parenting strategy of ignoring upset children to prevent them being clingy, leads to them being clingy because it creates insecurity -the long-term implications are huge  emotion regulation, security, dysfunctional behaviours, relationship problems, poor goal pursuit, lower achievement Attachment -attachment is like an emotional memory, laying the foundation for our emotional systems, our basic sense of security and trust in others -becomes your understanding of relationships and yourself -attachment experiences build associative networks that reflect these experiences, forming our ‘schemas’ for ourselves and other Where Does Attachment Come From? What Is Love? -the dominant perspectives in the mid-20 century were Freudian, and drive theories, that emphasized the biological functions of the mother (food source) -“The position commonly held by psychologists and sociologists is quite clear: The basic Harlow’s Monkeys -for three years, they separated sixty rhesus monkeys from their mothers -when the researchers went to change the cloth pads on the bottom of the cage, the monkeys would freak out -also noticed that monkeys that were raised in cages without the pads did very poorly -just a bit of cloth for comfort led to a lot of difference -created fake moms, one was made of wire, the other was covered in cloth -in both conditions, the monkeys spent more time with the cloth mom -it doesn’t matter who feeds them -who do they run to when afraid?  run virtually 100% of the time to cloth mom  after a few seconds, once they have security, they become less afraid of the thing that is scaring them The Lasting Effects of the Early Years -but do the early years last? -what are the long-term consequences of a warm, loving, responsive relationship with mom and/or dad, vs. a distant one Quality of Parenting -gentleness, touch, eye contact, verbal interaction, etc. -quality of environment: stress, exhaustion, time, opportunity, etc. -infant temperament: crying, sleeping, clinging, volatility, etc. Ainsworth’s Strange Situation: Attachment Styles -series of experiences that are structured for a child and the researcher watches what the kid does -mom and child come into psychologist’s room and they are observed  does the child cling to the mother, ignore her, cling to the mother and then start exploring when feeling more secure  stranger enters  mom leaves the room  mom comes back -the quality of the parent-child interaction, in conjunction with the child’s temperament, determines the child’s basic emotional climate, such as her sense of security o
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