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PSY100- Nov 22, 2011.docx

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Dan Dolderman

PSY100 Human Development Love is a wondrous state, deep, tender, and rewarding. Because of its intimate and personal nature it is regarded by some as an improper topic for experimental research. But, whatever our personal feelings may be, our assigned mission as psychologists is to analyze all facets of human and animal behavior into their component variables. So far as love or affection is concerned, psychologists have failed in this mission. The little we know about love does not transcend simple observation, and the little we write about it has been written better by poets and novelists. But of greater concern is the fact that psychologists tend to give progressively less attention to a motive which pervades our entire lives. Harry Harlow, 1957 Developmental Psychology 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? Innate human nature cultural psychology (eg. need to belong), or looking at early stages of life (if you can study babies and know how they function who havent been affected that much by external forces you can get a clear picture of innate human nature) 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 Babies e.g., teratogens (e.g., alcohol, viruses, drugs, etc.) can cause abnormal development in the womb; many chemicals pervasive in the environment are now found in fetuses e.g., stress & mothers emotional state birth weight, cognitive & physical development can pick up effects years down the road infant development In womb is affected by mothers stress levels which is affected by their family e.g., cultural practices (e.g, sleeping on backs vs. fronts) crawling babies are affected by environment it surrounds, by mother, chemicals present in the womb etc we expected babies to be protected in the womb but thats not true; their bodies absorb all the toxics that we use and havent even tested we treat babies based on their gender if you put infants on back you reduce SIDs but it has an impact on their physical and motor development (dont develop muscle eg) Babies 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 & nurture The role of the environment some examples of children growing up in extreme circumstances have profoundly depended our understanding of the role of the environment in human development eg. studies of children growing up in Romanian (and other) orphanages, and other situations of neglect o dont reach out to social contact (because theyve just been lying there, dont reach out to others or look at others) o facial muscles arent coordinated in way ours are (never learned how to make emotional expressions) o since our brains are plastic we can change our Stories so when kids adopted they can still change, but not completely you can make up for lost time but not 100% Feral Children when raised by animals - behave like animals afraid of people, eat raw meat, run around naked (werent raised in our culture); if brought back into our culture they can gain some stuff back since brains are plastic but they never develop the emotional sophistication and language Genie she was 13 but she didnt develop like she should of so looked 6-8 grew up in extreme deprivation darkness, no social contact, nothing didnt understand language emotionally disengaged from the world she was able to get some language, through lots of therapy extreme cases like these show us that being human is, like pretty much everything weve learned about, more like a skill than an innate ability; its something we learn through PRACTICE, being bathed in language, cultural practices & affection being functionally human is something we BECOME, rather than merely something we ARE human is an ongoing process of interactions; fixed sense is just a starting point- what we do is dependent on environment and as we go we get to shape our own destiny but it is never fixed- it never stops o people in their 90s could still change their personalityThe Importance of Social Contact a key theme in developmental psychology is that humans are profoundly social beings our identity, schemas, biases everything is not our own- we have absorbed this through out surroundings, family etc brain get programmed with stimulation it receives around it, brain gets built with environment around it 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 e.g., holding out arms, smiling, crying, settling down when held adults respond almost automatically; e.g., picking up, exaggerated expressions, higher pitched voices First social smile occurs 4-6 weeks of age.(and its a good thing it does.) Infants are social beings Even very young infants have highly INTERactive relationships. E.g., emotional attunement: Infants as young as 10 weeks get extremely upset when
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