PSYC 100 Study Guide - Determinism, Little Albert Experiment, Egocentrism

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Published on 10 Apr 2013
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Week Four: Developmental Psychology
Why do developmental theories matter?
Early 20th-Century Theories
Learning Theory
Conditioning and Development:
Learning theories (such as Skinner’s and Pavlov’s theories on operant and classical conditioning)
are important/influential to the study of human development because it is impossible to make
claims about the way people learn without simultaneously talking about development
An example of this overlap is the Little Albert experiment classical conditioning was used to
make an infant between 8 and 11 months associate a rat with fear he then generalized this
fear to other stimuli similar to the rat (rabbits, dogs, furry objects, white mask, etc.)
B.F. Skinner (interested in motives of behaviour reinforcement vs. punishment) discovered
that receiving attention, even negative, is a powerful reinforcer for young children, and also that
it is far more difficult to extinguish behaviour that has been intermittently reinforced than
behaviour that has been consistently reinforced; he theorized that we reinforce unwanted
behaviour in children by giving in to their demands, even occasionally
Basically, children’s behaviour is affected by their environment and interactions with it
Piaget’s Steps
Humans develop through a series of four stages that roughly map onto key ages
Cognitive abilities develop in stages and children of similar ages have similar cognitive abilities
and make similar errors in problem-solving tasks
All typical children go through this sequence, and must become proficient/capable at each stage
in order to progress to the next
Progression is marked by the building and rebuilding of schemata (schema: mental framework
or body of knowledge that organizes and synthesizes information about a person, place, or
thing) through the cyclic processes of:
o Assimilation: new information incorporated into existing schema
o Accommodation: new information incongruent, and so modifies existing schema
o Equilibration: so much accommodation has occurred that the original schema no longer
holds true and a new schema must be formed
Sensorimotor Stage (birth 2 years)
Infants build understanding of environment through sensory and motor abilities
Reflexes fade and are replaced by voluntary behaviour
Gain mental concepts such as object permanence
Preoperational Stage (2 6 or 7 years)
Name emphasizes inability of child to perform operations, or reversible mental processes
Substantial development in symbolic representation, and the beginnings of logical reasoning
Egocentrism: often cannot understand that others have knowledge, beliefs, or even visual
perspectives different from their own
Trouble with concept of conservation (quantity stays the same although the container changes)
Concrete Operational Stage (7 11 or 12 years)
Mastering of conservation, multiple-variable problems (e.g. volume) less challenging
Growth in ability to understand feelings and thoughts of others (perspective taking)
Can comprehend more complicated cause-and-effect relationships and logical problem solving
Logic still challenging when not right in front of them (e.g. imagination, different problem)
Formal Operational Stage (adolescence adulthood)
Ability to think about abstract concepts and formulate/test hypotheses logically/scientifically
Cannot apply these forms of reasoning across all domains, only areas of expertise
This stage is not universal many people will end at Stage Three
Doesn’t account for variability in child development (ages too fixed)
Underestimates cognitive capacity of infants
More emphasis on physical environment than social environment
Mechanisms of change (assimilation, accommodation, equilibration) too vague they make
sense but how they work is not clearly defined
Socio-Cultural Theory (Lev Vygotsky)
Places emphasis on environmental factors, including cultural influences
Intersubjectivity: understanding between two individuals of the topic they are discussing
o Joint Attention: ability to share attention with another towards the same object/event
o Social Referencing: tendency of a person to look to another in an ambiguous situation to
obtain clarifying information
Social Scaffolding: mentor or guide supports a learner by matching his or her efforts to a child’s
development level, changing the level of support to fit the child’s current performance as a
child’s competence increases, less guidance is given
o Zone of Proximal Development: increased potential for problem solving an conceptual
ability that exists for a child if expert mentoring and guidance are available
Language as a driving force behind development
o Until age 7, children often talk aloud to themselves (e.g. “I will draw a dog”, then do it)
o Piaget would say this self-talk is an egocentric function children in the preoperational
stage do not understand speech’s true communicative function, just something we do
o Vygotsky would say that this declaration reflects their construction of a mental plan of
action, and is a form of mental progression a way to internalize linguistic processes
before language is mastered and can remain verbal thought rather than speech
More Recent Approaches
How do theories affect the way that we fra me questions or accept answers?
Erikson’s Eight Stages of Crisis
Viewed lifespan development as a series of stages defined by the resolutions to “crises” faced by the
developing child regarding how to deal with his or her environment
1. Trust vs. Mistrust (birth 12 months)
Infant relies totally on others to look after his/her well-being
Positive: if needs are met, infant learns to trust caregivers
Negative: if needs are not met, infant learns mistrust
2. Autonomy vs. Sham and Self Doubt (1 3 years)
Children’s ability to interact with and understand the world increases dramatically
Positive: will gain a sense of autonomy
Negative: if exploration is too often met with punishment or scrutiny by overbearing parents,
sense of shame and doubt in themselves develops
3. Initiative vs. Guilt (3-4 5-6 years)
Since they have begun to achieve control over their actions, children set goals for themselves
Positive: learning a feeling of confidence about their ability to meet their own goals
Negative: feelings of guilt and an inability to control one’s future
4. Industry vs. Inferiority (5-6 years adolescence)
Marked by transition to a more structured lifestyle (school, chores, organized sports)
Positive: adapt to structure and feel sense of accomplishment in succeeding
Negative: gain a feeling of inferiority due to inability
5. Identity vs. Role Confusion (adolescence early adulthood)
Period of important changes crucial to the formation of the adult self
Positive: opinions about what they believe themselves to be, develop concrete sense of identity
Negative: fail to do so and remain confused about their role in life
6. Intimacy vs. Isolation (early adulthood)
People learn to share themselves with others
Positive: if they learn this successfully, they achieve feelings of intimacy and are able to form
and keep meaningful relationships
Negative: failure to learn this leads to a sense of isolation
7. Generativity vs. Stagnation (middle adulthood)
Positive: people develop meaningful relationships and contribute valuable work, leaving them
with a sense of having built a meaningful life and contributing to the next generation
Negative: people isolate themselves, leading to feelings of boredom and meaninglessness
8. Integrity vs. Despair (late adulthood death)
Positive: after positive resolutions in earlier stages, person feels sense of completion and
wholeness, able to understand truths about their life and share wisdom with others
Negative: less positive resolutions lead to sense of despair or a lack of meaning in their lives
James Marcia on Erikson’s Identity Crisis:
Four possible resolutions of teen identity crisis:
Achievement (identity achievement after consideration of alternatives), Moratorium (exploring
options, crisis unresolved), Foreclosure (identity achieved without exploration of alternatives), and
Identity Diffusion (no identity commitment, no exploration)