What is Social Development?
•Abranch of Developmental Psychology
•Subfield that studies "changes over time in the child's understanding of attitudes toward, and actions
•Includes affective, cognitive and social aspects of development
•Social Psychology focuses on how we relate to others and how others influence our behaviours, feelings
Why are Children studied?
Because of an interest in children (questions such as "what is my child supposed to do at this age?")
o Practical and Theoretical implications
•Because of an interest in adults (questions about the nature and product of development- in order to
understand why adults behave the way they do).
•Evolutionary Development of the field
•Three periods of social development research:
o Emergence: Baby biographies-same questions as today but different methods
o Middle Period:
• Maturationalist approach: Chart and describe the unfolding of endowed characteristics
• Environmentalist approach: Watson (Behaviourism)- experimentally and objectively
determine how the child learns
• Socialization: Psychoanalytic and sociological theory- how do adults contribute to child
growth and development
o Modern Era
• Structuralist approach: Piaget, Kohlberg-Social processes are important and child is an
• Normative-descriptive focus resulting in Stage theories
Transformations in Social Developmental Research
Specifying developmental processes- The search for processes. Mediational processes in social
development: Structural reorganization of thought and action (Piaget, Kohlberg) as developmental change
•Expanded view of regulatory Processes: -socialization (shift away from exclusive top down processes)
-Self regulation (coping with stress, emotional regulation, individual difference in temperament)
•Expanded units of social experience:
o Diadic units of analysis (mom-child-Bowlby's theory)
o Shift away from "Early Determinism"- studies of children brought up in orphanges
o Peers- bidirectional influences
•Incorporating contextual variations into social processes
o Bronfenbrenner- The Ecology of Human Development
o Still major challenge for researchers
Methods of Study:
•Change over time is primary concern
o Longitudinal designs (study same people over time)
• Good- Within Subjects design- age differences are not attributable to between subject
• Bad- practice effects (repeated measures), practical difficulties, attrition
o Cross sectional designs (study different people at one time) • Good-no practice effects (no repeated measures), no practical difficulties, no attrition
• Bad- between subjects design-age differences are attribtuable to between subject
differences-sampling; Cohort effects due to confounding
• Meta analyses of studies of distinct age groups
Goals of Research:
• Exploration: to determine whether or not a phenomenon exists
• Description: examining a phenomenon to more fully define it or to differentiate it from other phenomena
• Prediction: identifying relationships that enable us to speculate about one thing by knowing about some
• Explanation: Examining cause and effect relationships
Descriptive methods are always popular as a result of:
• Urgent and applied need for descriptive information about age changes
• Influence of Ethology (description, classification and analysis of animal behaviour)
Electronic recording which permits observation and analysis of complex behaviour
What is Naturalistic Observation?
The study of behaviour in its natural setting (field study):
• First step in understanding behaviour. More natural and realistic than experiment or questionnaire.
Appropriate for studying children because they are prone to behaving differently in an unnatural setting.
• Its main limitation is the lack of control over any of the variables involved.As a result it is suitable for
intial development of hypotheses and ideas that are than followed up by experimentation.
Basic Types of Observational Methods:
• Diary descriptions: Recording of developmental changes that occur. Demand prolonged and frequent
contact with the child.
• Specimen descriptions: Similar, in the sense that they are narrative records. They provide, however,
more complete detail about a single episode of occurrence of a particular behaviour. Does not require
prolonged and frequent contact with the child.
• Time Sampling: Narrow down amount recorded to selected aspects of behaviour, as they occur within a
specified interval of time. Behavioural categories are identified in advance and then the observer records
the frequency of occurrence within each time interval. More data oriented and objective.
• Event Sampling: Similar to time sampling, however, time aspect is removed and replaced by event.
Involves recording each instance of a particular behaviour as it occurs-has become major technique in
• Rating Scales: Select behaviours, develop scales, and rate child's behaviour. Observer judged against
specific criteria. Very good for experimental work, lacks detail and richness.
Classification According to How Data is Collected:
• Narrative types: diaries and specimen descriptions
Checklist notation: requires observer to impose some structure by selecting and defining behaviour
ahead of time. Time and event sampling-although they can be combined with some narration as well.
• Rating scales
• Make a clear distinction between what is actually seen or heard and conclusions drawn from it.
• Interpret what you observe from the child's viewpoint.
• Draw no conclusions which cannot be positively justified by the actual observation.
• Describe in writing, the purpose and procedure involved in your observation.
• Be sure you have approval to make the observation you are about to make.
• Get advice about where to position yourself if you are not to interact with child. • Take down exact words and behaviours whenever possible
• Record: Name and description of infant, Date and Time of observation, Context
• Be as objective as possible as an observer. Watch out from:
o Observer bias- we expect and see what we want to see
o Confirmation bias- we seek information that confirms our beliefs while neglecting other
o We become accustomed to certain things and take them for granted. Therefore, we fail to notice
their significant and importance.
o We assume that other people are like ourselves and interpret behaviour based on our own
o Halo Effect: Saying good things about people we like and bad things about people we don’t like
Biological basis of social behaviour: we are born 'prewired' or predisposed to behave
Evolutionary theory 1: Natural Selection -well equipped to cope with environmental challenges to survival.
Genetic environment: biological structure we receive for this purpose. Different species have different genetic
makeups according to their environmental needs.
1. The most fit species to meet environmental challenges are the ones that will ultimately survive.
The most adaptive characteritics within species will prevail thus strengthening own species in the long run
through reproduction of the fittest. Ex/weak ones not able to secure a partner will have low reproduction
success so genetic pool will be geared to having stronger children because stronger males survive. Today
is high intelligence so greater likliehood at graduating and making money so will be healthier and live
• extension of evolutionary theory to social behaviour.
• An attempt to organize the facts about the adaptive significance of social behaviour in animals and in
human beings. Ex/behaviour-cognitive traits, attitudes not physical traits. Psychological traits involved in
social behaviour and their adaptive skills necessary for survival.
• The systematic study of the biological basis of all forms of social behaviour, including sexual and
parental behaviour in all kinds of organisms including humans. Otherwise humanity would not survive.
People are predisposed this way.
• Behaviour is dominated by a gentically based urge to produce the mazimum numbers of successful
offspring, either directly or by favouring one's next of kin. Only will occur if we are really motivated, out
of our control, genetically based motivation to reproduce. Genetic structure is there to ensure that is going
Three aspects of evolutionary theory
• Evolution concepts apply as much to behaviour as to structural characteristics. If have asperger's
syndrom and intelligence innormal range but low communication skills, will have a hard time keeping a
job, and relating to people around them, will not get married. If don’t have these social skills then will
'fail' because do not have opportunity to pass on genes.
• The adaptation of a species is always to a particular kind of environment (ecological niche). Ex/human
in different parts of the world, they will not survive in other parts of the world ie/blackouts ran to hotels.
• Arigid dinstinction between what is innate and what is acquired is meaningless ain this account. Nature
vs nurture controversy. We are biologically fit to speak, unlike other species, will be exposed then can
How are organisms predisposed for social behaviour?
• Fixed action patterns- simple stereotyped actions that are activated by certain quite specific stimuli.
These are prewired0part of an individuals' genetic endowment and are usually functional early in life otherwise will not survive. If child has to be taught everything in the mean time they may not survive/
ex/breathing will know how to otherwise not survive. Other species fish know how to swim. These are
different from reflexes because they can be modifies by environment. The knee jerk reflex if do enough
time, then leg will become habituated and not jerk so temporally habituate.
The reaction to reflex gradually changes and becomes adaptive.
• Each species has its own fixed action patterns necessary for survival based upon environmental
food (rooting response)-when mouth touched baby moves head from side to side to find the
o Smiling-enhances attractiveness of infant and ensures further attention leading to whole chain of
o Crying-built in social signaling device. Complex response; timing determines message and could
thus convey different information
• Smiling and crying are not reflexes because they are not habituated. They gradually
change and modify. When one month cries it is not deliberate but when 4 or 5 years, it is
deliberate so mom can come. So gradually see crying is acceptable to learning, associative
learning looks at stimuli and consequences-actions and reactions-so cries in a purposeful way.
Different types of crying means different things. Smiling is spontaneous and not that reactive.
Child smiles from time to time and triggers parents smile then becomes a social smile.
Characteristics we inherit through genetic transmission consist of:
Features common to species-ex/nose, eyes. If any different then sex differences but all are common
• Features that distinguish us as individuals ie/eye colour, skin colour, thin, heavy
o Psychological differences-can all speak, different levels of intelligences, different personality
• Developmental process common to species- blueprint that unfolds in a particular order for all of us.
Ie/grow before puberty.
• Variation in this process that distinguishes us as individuals. Ie/puberty starts around same age, very few
early and later year but has variation.
Method: map out genes, measure psychological traits. Manipulate genes.Animal breeding.
Behavioural genetics (50 years old)
• Assessment of relative contribution of heredity and environment to differences among individuals.
• No attempt to determine general rules regarding the degree to which a specific psychological feature is
• Variation in heritable features is influenced by genetic differences. They are correlation studies between
genetic differences and using to predict psychological traits.
• Comparison between the extent of genetic and environmental influences
• Assessment of psychological features for people with various degrees of genetic similarity. Ie/siblings
are closer to one another than strangers.
High kinship :closer siblings so more similar genes. r=high
Low kinship: cousins. r=low
Individual closer to one another genetically are also closer together psychologically, so trait of emotionality has
a heritable component.
• Genetically related individuals-siblings- should be similar phenotypically (result of the operation of
genetic influences, functioning in a given environment) to the extent that genes influence behavioural
patterns. • Evidence for this notion comes from various sources including the prevalence of schizophrenia among
family members. Sibling live together so learn same things. Cousins are not brought up in same home so
one home may be very emotional and will learn different things.
• The problem with this type of research is that you cannot separate environmental from genetic
Twin Studies (1):
• Monozygotic (one egg-share 100% of their genes) and dizygotic (two eggs- share about 50% of their
genes) twins are compared.
o M-high kinship. D-low kinship. Brought up in same environment. Which solves the
environmental problem. High kinship and low kinship don’t live together-different sets of family.
• Assumption (not without reservations) is that twins share the same environments. So no problem of
• Difference between MZ twins are due to environment whereas such differences between DZ twins are
due to a combination of environmental and hereditary factors.
• Heritability factors have been found for IQ, personality, behaviour problems, vocational interests and
Twin Studies (2):
• Problem: the assumption that all twins share the same environment is incorrect. In fact MZ twins are
more likely to share the same environment than DZ twins. Genetic and environmental similarity are
• Extension of this design is to study twins reared apart and make similar comparisons. sTudies show that
atleast in some personality measures MZ twins reared apark are more similar than CZ twins reared
together showing a strong herditary component for personality traits
o If a trait was completely heritable than both MZ in reared together and reared apart will be high.
DZ will be same as one another, not very low for reared together and reared apart if trait is
completely heritable. Ie/eye colour.
o If a learned trait ie/ language, religion. Kids reared together will have high values-in same room.
r=high for MZ and DZ reared together because similar values. r=low for MZ and DZ reared apart
will have larger differences.
o Important genetic and important environment ie/intelligence: highest r value would MZ reared
togher-same genes, same parents, same home. Lowest will be DZ reared apart, one set of pair would
be less predictive of the other pair. The remaining boxes will be moderate r values. MZ reared apart
higher (genetics) than DZ reared together (environment).
• Comparison of adopted children to biological and adoptive parents. Eye colour will be from genetic
parents but language will be from adoptive parents.
• Biological parents cannot always participate in research and often adoptive parents are selected because
the environment they provide is similar to that of the biological parents. Ie/racially
• Strong evidence for heritability of intelligence; weak and inconclusive evidence for personality traits.
• All psychological traits show some evidence of genetic influence.
• Nonshared environmental influences are of greater importance than shared environmental influences.
Ex/ poor family don’t have enough bus tickets. Rich family bought children cars-good one and bad brand.
rich kid with bad car will be high risk for low self-esteem. Poor family weren't to poor, had food, were
brought up equitably, personality change will be much lower. They have to be treated fairly, necessary not exactly same thing to meet their needs. Ie/one academic-help tuition, one low academic skills-help to find
o Shared influences-child shares with all of their siblings. Ie/neighborhood, religion, housing, pet
etc. all these things are shared influences.
o Nonshared environment: ie/favouritism for a child, have different extra circular, different peer
group, gender differences, birth order-first child is monopolizing attention of parents.
• Within the range of 'good enough parenting' children's development depends primarily on heredity.-
average expectant competency. Ie/sending child to school, having books in house, encouraging child to
• Children's genetic makeup directly affects their rearing environment.
• Genetic factors influence environmental measures.
Critical analysis. Pick a question and answer using empirical research articles.Atleast 10 recent articles that
answer that one question, otherwise the subtopics will be difficult.
-Ask a question and answer-a question not dealt in class or txtbook. Narrow down questions. Cross cultural
difference in attachment, other factors
-not be review articles because you are writing a review article.
Recent:if topic was studied in 80's so can pick articles in 80s if hasn’t been studied since, must state it.