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Western University
Psychology 2410A/B
Adam Cohen

“The baby, assailed by eyes, ears, nose, skin, and entrails at once, feels it all as one great blooming, buzzing, confusion...” William James - Principles of Psychology One of the most striking things of human development is how striking similar you are to yourself Where does knowledge come from? • Knowledge came form outside world (empiricism) • Was in the mind/brain all along (nativism) • Was constructed in the mind/brain, by the mind/brain (constructivism) The origins of knowledge are a function of genetic based learning mechanisms Themes in Developmental Psychology • Nature Nurture Issues • Genes, environment (physical, social, cultural, linguistic, economic, historic) • Genes are not blueprints, they are more like recipes • Instructions on taking ingredients to build an organism • Environment provides ingredients • These two things are inherently co-tangled • If you change the recipe or the ingredients you are going to change the organism • Genes expect an environment and vice versa • Two sub-issues of Nature/Nurture Issue • Common Abilities (CA) • There is a nature component as well a nurture component and the common ability is dependent on 100% nature and 100% nurture • Examples: walking, speaking, thinking, reading*, seeing, music* • These tend to be species typical • Reading however is not species typical • Reading is not a common ability but it depends on them • Examples of Non-Common Abilities: UV light, certain kinds of navigation • Individual Differences • For any common abilities we are going to see individual differences for that common ability • Differences in CA are underwritten by differences in nature, differences in nurture, or both • CA still depends 100% on genes and 100% on environment • Continuity/ Discontinuity Issue • Is child development a continuous (growing tree) or a discontinuous process (butterfly development)? • Example 1: Height - continuous/discontinuous? • Zoomed out it looks continuous, however zoomed in it looks discontinuous • Depends on how you look at it • Example 2: Liquid Conservation Task - continuous/discontinuous? • Inference drawn from task is that this reasoning is discontinuous • However only 2 age groups tested, if you look at all ages it may be continuous • Answer depends on how often you look as well as how you look at it • Active/Passive Child Issue • Passive: world is acting on the child • Active: child is acting on the world and by doing so
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