How significant and important is childhood?
What role do childhood events play in determining adult personality?
• Do early experiences leave irreversible effects?
• Is the a continuity from childhood to adulthood and if so-what are the features of this
We put a lot of effort, money and focus on early childhood education because matter the most.
Neural plasticity takes places greatly here, as older changes little.
TheoreticalAnswers: Freud-childhood really matters
• Neurons are only acquired during early childhood even through symptoms may not
appear until much later. Children brought up in difficult families, ad child has reason to
become anxious because cant predict whats going to happen in day to day life will become
• The child is psychologically father to the man. Childhood is going to determine what
adulthood is like. Contrary, childhood is important in ways your are raised will determine
your future in the same way parents determine what you will be like.
• There is straightforward continuity between childhood and adulthood.
• One can work backwards to reconstruct childhood experiences or work forward to predict
future adult psychopathology.
• Empirical investigations have failed to show such a clear and direct association.
TheoreticalAnswers: Erikson: Child acquires a sense of trust or mistrust through feeding
experiences- emphasis on general personal relationship qualities rather than on specific
experiences that may cause adult psychopathology.
Lorenz: Critical periods represent developmental phases of maximum susceptibility to certain
kinds of influence.
-Sensitive periods are concerned with probabilities of certain forms of learning being higher
within certain age ranges.
-Bowlby: attachment must take place during a critical period or otherwise there will be
irreversible effects on subsequent relationships.
-Empirical investigations of children who were institutionalized before being adopted at various
ages have not confirmed this strict time limit.
-some kids did well and some didn't, in the middle so not clear. Factors- environment with warm
parents increased the likelihood of success.
Stressful experiences at 'non' critical points in development- ie/birthday party for 1 year old.
• Highly stressful experiences may produce serious psychopathology at the time. Crying
excessively, temper tantrums, not communicating, hard to console.
• Single experiences rarely produce long term consequences on their own whereas long
term and lasting experiences are far more likely to produce chronic psychopathology. Ie/
lose loved ones, break up with spouses, be rejected, don’t accomplish their goals.
• Even chronic psychopathology as a result of long term deprivation can often be reversed
through significant changes in life circumstances and parenting practices.
Reversal of harm to children as result of parental divorce: -children are negatively affected when divorce occurs but considerable individual differences
( including sex and age) in nature and degree of harm.
-The effect is not limited to the family environment.
-Many children adjust within a few years but there are considerable individual and contextual
Research has yet to establish a clear pattern of long term effects.
Risk and Protective Factors:
• Risk factors are factors that increase the probability of undesirable outcomes as a result of
exposure to stress. All kids will be exposed to stress, minimum amount of parents parent to
shield the child away from harm. Undesirable long term outcomes from this stress, then yes
more undesirable outcomes are likely. If fewer risk than lower likelihood of outcome.
• Protective factors have the opposite effect by protecting children against undesirable
outcomes. Will reduce stress. With few risk factors, lots of protective factors fewer stress.
• The combination of these factors will determine where on a continuum ranging from
resilient to vulnerable a child may reside. Normal stress will produce negative likelihood.
Combinations are negative effect. Protective factors can reduce risk factors so then positive
outcomes. Thus depends on the continuum not a dichotomy.
-good public policy, good schooling, lack of poverty are many factors among others for
• Important factors are: sex, temperament, intelligence, birth condition- born maturely and
healthy, family harmony-stress free, close attachments, parental caregiving styles,
availability of substitute caregivers, separation, numb