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PSYC 251 Study Guide - Midterm Guide: Chromosome, Zygote, Ovulation

Course Code
PSYC 251
Elizabeth Kelley
Study Guide

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Lecture 2
Friday Sep 13th 2:30pm
Why study development?
Help parents raise children
Influence social policy
oE.g. Advise toy companies
Understand human nature
oAlthough we no longer think individual development affects development
evolutionarily, this can still help us understand human nature.
Talk about social psychology, cognitive processes, brain, language…
Historical Foundations (dont need to know in too much depth)
Historical Figure View on Child Development
Plato -There is too much knowledge in the world for kids to learn it all
-Kids are born with innate conceptual knowledge.
Aristotle -All knowledge arises from experience.
Rousseau -Children born with an innate sense of justice and morality
-Parents shouldn’t corrupt this, should allow them to develop naturally.
Locke -Tabula rasa (blank slate).
-The environment writes all the knowledge onto child.
Beginnings of Research
Psychology wasn’t really a discipline until late 1800s, early 1900s.
Kids were simply seen as smaller adults, not differentiated in any way.
Child Development as a science was driven by 2 forces:
1) Social Reform (during Industrial Revolution)
a. Reformers enacted legislation to limit child labour that was harming children.
b. Made wellbeing of children a national concern.
c. Universal school began late 1800s.
2) Theory of evolution
a. Scientists noted similarities between evolutionary change in species and age-related
changes in human behaviour.
b. Darwin said autogeny reflects phylogeny. That is, development as individuals affects
evolution as a species.
c. Scientists began writing ‘Baby biographies, which included detailed systemic
observations of children.
G. Stanley Hall Theories based on evolutionary theory. Founded 1st scientific journal for child
Alfred Binet Devised first mental tests – intelligence tests for schools  IQ test.
Freud Emphasized importance of early experience for behaviour in adulthood.
Watson Founder of behaviorism. Importance of punishment/reward. ‘Little Albert.
James Baldwin First influential Canadian.
Early Theories – Form the basis for contemporary theories.

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GESELL: Biological-Maturational
oLooked at physical maturation.
oLORENZ: Ethological theory, built out of Gesell’s theory.
How children develop based on evolutionary pressures (imprinting, etc.)
FREUD: Psychodynamic-Psychosexual
oFirst stage theory. Said development was discontinuous – children move from one stage
to another and stages are very different (Stages WILL NOT BE TESTED).
oBig problem: his theory was not testable (e.g. can’t test for unconscious processes)
oERIKSON: Psychosocial (developed from Freud’s theory)
Stages = developing sense of identity, as separate from one’s parents.
Stages become more and more complex with age.
If conflict at each stage is not worked out, individual will become stuck.
WATSON: Learning-Classical Conditioning
oSKINNER – operant conditioning.
oBANDURA – social cognitive (you don’t need to experience yourself, you can watch
someone else experience punishment/reinforcement). Bobo doll.
Focused on getting rid of aggression in T.V.
PIAGET: Cognitive-Developmental
VYGOTSKY: Contextual/Sociocultural
oSociety, culture you group up in (not just immediate context).
Perspective Key Assumptions: Development is… Illustrative Theories
Biological Determined by biological factors. -Maturational: development as natural unfolding of a
biological plan.
-Ethological: childrens and parents behaviour has
adapted to meet specific enviro. Challenges.
Psychodynamic Determined by how a child resolves
conflicts at different ages. -Freuds theory: conflict between primitive biological
forces and societal standards of right/wrong.
-Eriksons theory: challenges posed by the formation of
trust, autonomy, initiative, industry and identity.
Learning Determined by environment. -Skinner’s operant conditioning: role of reinforcement and
-Banduras social cognitive theory: childrens efforts to
understand the world using reinforcement, punishment
and other’s behaviour.
developmental Reflective of childs efforts to
understand the world. -Piagets theory: the different stages of thinking that result
from childrens changing theories of the world.
Contextual Influenced by immediate & more distant
environments, which influence each
-Vygotskys theory: the role of parents (and other adults) in
conveying culture to the next generation.
See notes: cheat sheets of different perspectives Slides 6-8.
Dynamic systems approach

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1) Genes can influence how the neurons work in the brain, which in turn influences behaviour, which in
turn influence our environment.
Genes  brain  behaviour  environment
2) Our environment influences our behaviour, which influences neural activity, influencing genes.
Next to impossible to determine the influence of genes vs. environment.
Note: it’d very difficult to test using this
perspective as an overarching theory. Most use
it as a guiding principle, but then test at one
specific level (e.g. whats the influence of
genes on neurons, environment on behaviour,
Four Major Themes
1) How well can developmental outcomes be predicted from early life?
Continuous vs. Discontinuous nature. Are early aspects of development (childhood) consistently
related to later aspects (adulthood)?
a. Continuous: e.g. small tree grows into big tree.
i. Not much elemental change, just growth.
ii. Personality doesn’t change, just matures.
b. Discontinuous: e.g. caterpillar, chrysalis in cocoon, butterfly.
i. Child is very different from one stage to the next, qualitatively different and
different stages.
ii. Piaget saw cognitive development as completely different at each stage.
iii. Stage theorists very influential (Freud, Erikson, Kohlberg).
2) How do heredity and environment influence development? (Nature vs. Nurture)
a. Genes vs. physical and social influence
i. Used to be – is nature or nurture responsible for development? Now it is – how
do nature and nurture interact to affect development? Both are important and
both affect development.
b. Timing of experiences often crucial (critical periods).
c. Snowballing effects. Starts with difficult genes, born to parents who had difficultly,
parents are not sensitive, child gets more difficult, parents clamp down harder, etc. More
and more engrained over course of development.
d. E.g. PKU. If you change the environment you can completely change the outcome.
3) What role do children play in their own development? (Active vs. passive child)
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