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Exam definitions

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University of Toronto St. George
Mark Schmuckler

Definitions  Child development o A field of study that seeks to account for the gradual evolution of the child’s cognitive, social and other capacities first by describing changes in the child’s observed behaviours and then by uncovering the processes and strategies that underlie these changes  Maturation o A genetically determined process of growth that unfolds naturally over a period of time  Behaviourism o A school of psychology that holds the theories of behavior must be based on direct observations of actual behavior and not on speculations about such unobservable things as human motives  Classical conditioning o A type of learning in which individuals learn to respond to unfamiliar stimuli in the same way they are accustomed to respond to familiar stimuli if the two stimuli are repeatedly presented together  Operant conditioning o A type of learning in which learning depends on the consequences of behavior; rewards increase the likelihood that a behavior will recur, whereas punishment decreases that likelihood  Cognitive social learning theory o A learning theory that stresses learning by observation and imitation mediated by cognitive processes and skills  Piagetian theory o A theory of cognitive development that sees the child as actively seeking new information and incorporating it into his knowledge base through the processes of assimilation and accommodation  Sociocultural theory o A theory of development, proposed by Lev Vygotsky, that sees development as evolving out of children’s interactions with more skilled others in their social environment  Information processing theories o Theories of development that focus on the flow of information through the child’s cognitive system and that are particularly interested in the specific operations the child performs between input and output phases  Psychoanalytic theory of development o Freud’s theory that development, which proceeds in discrete stages, is determined largely by biologically based drives shaped by encounters with the environment and through the interaction of three components of personality – the id, ego and superego  Id o The person’s instinctual drives; the first component of the personality to evolve, the id operates on the basis of the pleasure principle  Ego o The rational, controlling component of the personality, which tries to satisfy needs through appropriate, socially acceptable behaviours  Superego o The personality component that is the repository of the child’s internalization of parental or societal values, morals and roles  Oedipus complex o A primary dynamic of the phallic stage of Freudian development theory, in which the boy is sexually attracted to his mother, is a rival with his father and fears his father’s retribution  Electra complex o A primary dynamic of Freud’s phallic stage, in which a girl resents her mother for having deprived her of a penis and transfers her affections to her father  Psychosocial theory o Erikson’s theory of development that sees children developing through a series of stages largely through accomplishing tasks that involve them in interaction with their social environment  Dynamic systems theory o A theory that proposes that individuals develop and function within systems and that studies the relationships among individuals and systems and the processes by which these relationships operate  Ecological theory o A theory of development that stresses the importance of understanding not only the relationships between the organism and various environmental systems but the relations between such systems themselves  Microsystem o In Bronfenbrenner’s ecological theory, the context in which children live and interact with the people and institutions closest to them ,such as parents, peers and school  Mesosystem o The interrelations that occur among the components of the microsystem with which the child interacts  Exosystem o The collection of settings that impinge on a child’s development but in which the child does not play a direct role  Macrosystem o The system that surrounds the microsystem ,mesosystem and exosystem, and that represents the values, ideologies and laws of the society of culture  Chronosystem o The time-based dimension that can alter the operation of all other levels, from microsystem through macrosystem  Ethological theory o A theory that holds that a behaviour must be view and understood as occurring in a particular context and as having adaptive or survival value  Life span theory o A theory that sees development as a process that continues throughout the life cycle, from infancy through adulthood and old age  Scientific method o The use of measurable and replicable techniques in framing hypothesis and collecting and analyzing data to test a theory’s usefulness  Sample o A group of individuals who are representative of a larger population  Representativeness o The degree to which a sample actually possesses the characteristics of the larger population in represents  National survey o A method of sampling in which a very large, nationally representative group of people are selected for a particular study  Self-report o Information that people provide about themselves, either in a direct interview or in some written form, such as a questionnaire  Direct observation o A method of observation in which researchers go into settings in the natural world to observe behaviours of interest  External validity o The degree to which the results of an experiment can be easily generalized outside the immediate context of the study  Specimen record o A technique by which researchers record everything a person does within a given period of time  Event sampling o A technique by which investigators record subjects’ behavior only when an event of particular interest occurs, not at other times  Time sampling o A technique by which researchers record any of a set of predetermined behaviours that occur within a specified time period  Structured observation o A form of observation in which researchers structure a situation so that behaviours they wish to study are more likely to occur (giving a child a really difficult task so that they ask their parents for help)  Converging operations o A research strategy in which a variety of research techniques are used to investigate or converge upon a particular experimental or research result (the kid afraid of snakes – ask his friends, his parents, watch his behavior, etc.)  Correlational method o A research design that permits investigators to establish relations among variables as well as the strength of those relations  Correlation coefficient o A numerical measure of how closely two factors are related to each other (-1 to +1)  Laboratory experiment o A research design that allows investigators, through controlling variables and treatments and assigning participants randomly to treatments, to determine cause and effect  Experimental group o In a formal experiment, the group that is exposed to the treatment, that is, the independent variable  Control group o In a formal experiment, the group that is not exposed to the treatment, that is, the independent variable  Random assignment o The technique by which researchers assign individuals randomly to either an experimental or control group  Independent variable o The variable, or factor, that researchers deliberately manipulate in a formal experiment  Dependent variable o The variable, or factor, that researchers expect to change as a function of change in the independent variable  Ecological validity o The degree to which a research study accurately represents events and processes that occur in the natural world  Laboratory analogue experiment o An experiment in which investigator
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