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Midterm Definitions

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Diane Glebe

baby biography a detailed record of an infant’s growth and development over a period of time. (p. 8) benefits-to-risks ratio a comparison of the possible benefits of a study for advancing knowledge and optimizing life conditions versus its costs to participants in terms of inconvenience and possible harm. (p. 34) case study a research method in which the investigator gathers extensive information about the life of an individual and then tests developmental hypotheses by analyzing the events of the person’s life history. (p. 15) clinical method a type of interview in which a participant’s response to each successive question (or problem) determines what the investigator will ask next. (p. 12) cohort a group of people of the same age who are exposed to similar cultural environments and historical events as they are growing up. (p. 27) cohort effect age-related difference among cohorts that is attributable to cultural/ historical differences in cohorts’ growingup experiences rather than to true developmental change. (p. 29) confidentiality the right of participants to concealment of their identity with respect to the data that they provide. (p. 34) confounding variable some factor other than the independent variable that, if not controlled by the experimenter, could explain any differences across treatment conditions in participants’ performance on the dependent variable. (p. 22) congenital adrenal hyperplasia (CAH) genetic anomaly that causes the adrenal glands to produce unusually high levels of androgen from the prenatal period onward; often has masculinizing effects on female fetuses. (p. 20) correlation coefficient numerical index, ranging from –1.00 to +1.00, of the strength and direction of the relationship between two variables. (p.20) correlational design a type of research design that indicates the strength of associations among variables; though correlated variables are systematically related, these relationships are not necessarily causal. (p.19) cross-cultural comparison a study that compares the behaviour and/or development of people from different cultural or subcultural backgrounds. (p. 25) cross-generational problem the fact that long-term changes in the environment may limit the conclusions of a longitudinal project to that generation of children who were growing up while the study was in progress. (p. 30) cross-sectional design a research design in which subjects from different age groups are studied at the same point in time. (p. 27) dependent variable the aspect of behaviour that is measured in an experiment and assumed to be under the control of the independent variable. (p. 21) development systematic continuities and changes in the individual over the course of life. (p. 2) developmental continuities ways in which we remain stable over time or continue to reflect our past. (p. 2) developmental psychology branch of psychology devoted to identifying and explaining the continuities and changes that individuals display over time. (p. 2) developmentalist any scholar, regardless of discipline, who seeks to understand the developmental process (e.g., psychologists, biologists, sociologists, anthropologists, educators). (p. 2) diary study a questionnaire method in which participants write answers to specified questions in a diary or notebook, either at specified times or when prompted by an electronic pager. (p. 11) direct tuition teaching young children how to behave by reinforcing “appropriate” behaviours and by punishing or otherwise discouraging inappropriate conduct. (p. 24) double standard view that sexual behaviour that is appropriate for members of one gender is less appropriate for members of the other gender. (p. 37) ecological validity state of affairs in which the findings of one’s research are an accurate representation of processes that occur in the natural environment. (p. 22) ethnography method in which the researcher seeks to understand the unique values, traditions, and social processes of a culture or subculture by living with its members and making extensive observations and notes. (p. 16) experimental control steps taken by an experimenter to ensure that all extraneous factors that could influence the dependent variable are roughly equivalent in each experimental condition; these precautions must be taken before an experimenter can be reasonably certain that observed changes in the dependent variable were caused by manipulation of the independent variable. (p. 22) experimental design a research design in which the investigator introduces some change in the participant’s environment and then measures the effect of that change on the participant’s behaviour. (p. 21) field experiment an experiment that takes place in a naturalistic setting such as home, school, or playground. (p. 22) holistic perspective unified view of the developmental process that emphasizes the important interrelationships among the physical, mental, social, and emotional aspects of human development. (p. 5) hypothesis a theoretical prediction about some aspect of experience. (p. 9) ideographic development individual variations in the rate, extent, or direction of development. (p. 3) independent variable the aspect of the environment that an experimenter modifies or manipulates in order to measure its impact on behaviour. (p. 21) informed consent the right of research participants to receive an explanation, in language they can understand, of all aspects of research that may affect their willingness to participate. (p. 34) innate purity idea that infants are born with an intuitive sense of right and wrong that is often misdirected by the demands and restrictions of society. (p. 7) invariant developmental sequence a series of developments that occur in one particular order because each development in the sequence is a prerequisite for the next. (p. 15) learning relatively permanent change in behaviour (or behavioural potential) that results from experiences or practice. (p. 2) longitudinal design a research design in which one group of subjects is studied repeatedly over a period of months or years. (p. 29) maturation developmental changes in the body or behaviour that result from the aging process rather than from learning, injury, illness, or some other life experience. (p. 2) microgenetic design a research design in which participants are studied intensively over a short period of time as developmental changes occur; attempts to specify how or why those changes occur. (p. 31) natural (or quasi-) experiment a study in which the investigator measures the impact of some naturally occurring event that is assumed to affect people’s lives. (p. 23) naturalistic observation a method in which the scientist tests hypotheses by observing people as they engage in everyday activities in their natural habitats (e.g., at home, at school, or on the playground). (p. 13) nonrepresentative sample a subgroup that differs in important ways from the larger group (or population) to which it belongs. (p. 30) normative development developmental changes that characterize most or all members of a species; typical patterns of development. (p. 3) observer influence tendency of participants to react to an observer’s presence by behaving in unusual ways. (p. 13) original sin idea that children are inherently negative creatures who must be taught to rechannel their selfish interests into socially acceptable outlets. (p. 7) practice effects changes in participants’ natural responses as a result of repeated testing. (p. 30) protection from harm the right of research participants to be protected from physical or psychological harm. (p. 34) psychophysiological methods methods that measure the relationships between physiological processes and aspects of children’s physical, cognitive, social, or emotional behaviour/development. (p. 17) random assignment control technique in which participants are assigned to experimental conditions through an unbiased procedure so that the members of the groups are not systematically different from one another. (p. 22) reliability the extent to which a measuring instrument yields consistent results, both over time and across observers. (p. 10) scientific method the use of objective and replicable methods to gather data for the purpose of testing a theory or hypothesis. It dictates that, above all, investigators must be objective and must allow their data to decide the merits of their thinking. (p. 10) selective attrition nonrandom loss of participants during a study that results in a nonrepresentative sample. (p. 30) self-fulfilling prophecy phenomenon whereby people cause others to act in accordance with the expectations they have about those others. (p. 9) sequential design a research design in which subjects from different age groups are studied repeatedly over a period of months or years. (p. 30) structured interview or structured questionnaire a technique in which all participants are asked the same questions in precisely the same order so that the responses of different participants can be compared. (p. 11) structured observation an observational method in which the investigator cues the behaviour of interest and observes participants’ responses in a laboratory. (p. 14) tabula rasa the idea that the mind of an infant is a “blank slate” and that all knowledge, abilities, behaviours, and motives are acquired through experience. (p. 7) theory a set of concepts and propositions designed to organize, describe, and explain an existing set of observations. (p. 9) time-sampling a procedure in which the investigator records the frequencies with which individuals display particular behaviours during the brief time intervals that each is observed. (p. 14) timing-of-puberty effect finding that people who reach puberty late perform better on visual/spatial tasks than those who mature early. (p. 20) validity the extent to which a measuring instrument accurately reflects what the researchers intended to measure. (p. 10) visual/spatial abilities abilities to mentally manipulate or otherwise draw inferences about pictorial information. (p. 5) Chapter 2 accommodation the process of modifying existing schemes in order to incorporate or adapt to new experiences. (p. 54) active/passive issue a debate among developmental theorists about whether children are active contributors to their own development or, rather, passive recipients of environmental influence. (p. 67) behaviourism a school of thinking in psychology that holds that conclusions about human development should be based on controlled observations of overt behaviour rather than speculation about unconscious motives or other unobservable phenomena; the philosophical underpinning for the early theories of learning. (p. 46) chronosystem in ecological systems theory, changes in the individual or the environment that occur over time and influence the direction development takes. (p. 64) cognitive development age-related changes that occur in mental activities such as attending, perceiving, learning, thinking, and remembering. (p. 51) contextual model view of children as active entities whose developmental paths represent a continuous, dynamic interplay between internal forces (nature) and external influences (nurture). (p. 70) continuity/discontinuity issue a debate among theorists about whether developmental changes are quantitative and continuous, or qualitative and discontinuous (i.e., stagelike). (p. 67) developmental stage distinct phase within a larger sequence of development; a period characterized by a particular set of abilities, motives, behaviours, or emotions that occur together and form a coherent pattern. (p. 68) disequilibriums imbalances or contradictions between one’s thought processes and environmental events. On the other hand, equilibrium refers to a balanced, harmonious relationship between one’s cognitive structures and the environment. (p. 54) eclectics those who borrow from many theories in their attempts to predict and explain human development. (p. 71) ecological systems theory Bronfenbrenner’s model emphasizing that the developing person is embedded in a series of environmental systems that interact with one another and with the person to influence development. (p. 62) ego psychoanalytic term for the rational component of the personality. (p. 42) empathy the ability to experience the same emotions that someone else is experiencing, or in more advanced forms, the ability to understand another person’s emotional state or psychological experience. (p. 61) environmental determinism the notion that children are passive creatures who are moulded by their environments. (p. 49) ethology the study of the bioevolutionary bases of behaviour and development. (p. 58) exosystem social systems that children and adolescents do not directly experience but that may nonetheless influence their development; the third of Bronfenbrenner’s environmental layers or contexts. (p. 64) falsifiability a criterion for evaluating the scientific merit of theories. A theory is falsifiable when it is capable of generating predictions that could be disconfirmed. (p. 41) family social system the complex network of relationships, interactions, and patterns of influence that characterizes a family with three or more members. (p. 65) fixation arrested development at a particular psychosexual stage that can prevent movement to higher stages. (p. 43) habits well-learned associations between stimuli and responses that represent the stable aspects of one’s personality. (p. 46) heuristic value a criterion for evaluating the scientific merit of theories. A heuristic theory is one that continues to stimulate new research and discoveries. (p. 41) id psychoanalytic term for the inborn component of the personality that is driven by the instincts. (p. 42) information-processing theory a perspective that views the human mind as a continuously developing symbol-manipulating system, similar to a computer, into which information flows, is operated on, and is converted into output (answers, inferences, or solutions to problems). (p. 56) instinct an inborn biological force that motivates a particular response or class of responses. (p. 42) macrosystem the larger cultural or subcultural context in which development occurs; Bronfenbrenner’s outermost environmental layer or context. (p. 64) mechanistic model view of children as passive entities whose developmental paths are primarily determined by external (environmental) influences. (p. 70) mesosystem the interconnections among an individual’s immediate settings or microsystems; the second of Bronfenbrenner’s environmental layers or contexts. (p. 64) microsystem the immediate settings (including role relationships and activities) that the person actually encounters; the innermost of Bronfenbrenner’s environmental layers or contexts. (p. 63) modern evolutionary theory the study of the bioevolutionary basis of behaviour and development with a focus on survival of the genes. (p. 60) natural selection an evolutionary process, proposed by Charles Darwin, stating that individuals with characteristics that promote adaptation to the environment will survive, reproduce, and pass these adaptive characteristics to offspring; those lacking these adaptive characteristics will eventually die out. (p. 58) nature/nurture issue the debate among developmental theorists about the relative importance of biological predispositions (nature) and environmental influences (nurture) as determinants of human development. (p. 66) observational learning learning that results from observing the behaviour of others. (p. 48) operant learning a form of learning in which voluntary acts (or operants) become either more or less probable, depending on the consequences they produce. (p. 47) organismic model view of children as active entities whose developmental paths are primarily determined by forces from within themselves. (p. 70) parsimony a criterion for evaluating the scientific merit of theories; a parsimonious theory is one that uses relatively few explanatory principles to explain a broad set of observations. (p. 41) psychosexual theory Freud’s theory that states that maturation of the sex instinct underlies stages of personality development, and that the manner in which parents manage children’s instinctual impulses determines the traits that children display. (p. 42) psychosocial theory Erickson’s revision of Freud’s theory that emphasizes sociocultural (rather than sexual) determinants of development and posits a series of eight psychosocial conflicts that people must resolve successfully to display healthy psychological adjustments. (p. 44) punisher any consequence of an act that suppresses that act and/or decreases the probability that it will recur. (p. 47) qualitative change changes in kind that make individuals fundamentally different than they were before; the transformation of a prelinguistic infant into a language user is viewed by many as a qualitative change in communication skills. (p. 68) quantitative change incremental change in degree without sudden transformations; for example, some view the small yearly increases in height and weight that 2to 11-year-olds display as quantitative developmental changes. (p. 68) reciprocal determinism the notion that the flow of influence between children and their environments is a two-way street; the environment may affect the child, but the child’s behaviour also influences the environment. (p. 50) reinforcer any consequence of an act that increases the probability that the act will recur. (p. 47) repression a type of motivated forgetting in which anxiety-provoking thoughts and conflicts are forced out of conscious awareness. (p. 42) scheme an organized pattern of thought or action that a child constructs to make sense of some aspect of his or her experience; Piaget sometimes uses the term cognitive structures as a synonym for schemes. (p. 53) sensitive period a period during which an organism is quite susceptible to certain environmental influences; outside this period, the same environmental influences must be much stronger to produce comparable effects. (p. 60) sociocultural theory Vygotsky’s perspective on development, in which children acquire their culture’s values, beliefs, and problem- solving strategies through collaborative dialogues with more knowledgeable members of society. (p. 56) superego psychoanalytic term for the component of personality that consists of one’s internalized moral standards. (p. 42) unconscious motives Freud’s term for feelings, experiences, and conflicts that influence a person’s thinking and behaviour, but lie outside the person’s awareness. (p. 42) zone of proximal development Vygotsky’s term for the range of tasks that are too complex to be mastered alone but can be accomplished with guidance and encouragement from a more skillful partner. (p. 56) active genotype/environment correlations the notion that our genotypes affect the types of environments that we prefer and seek out. (p. 105) adoption design study in which adoptees are compared with their biological relatives and their adoptive relatives to estimate the heritability of an attribute, or attributes. (p. 96) alleles alternative forms of a gene that can appear at a particular site on a chromosome. (p. 81) amniocentesis a method of extracting amniotic fluid from a pregnant woman so that fetal body cells within the fluid can be tested for chromosomal abnormalities and other genetic defects. (p. 91) attribution retraining therapeutic intervention in which helpless children are persuaded to attribute failures to their lack of effort rather than a lack of ability. (p. 96) autosomes the 22 pairs of human chromosomes that are identical in males and females. (p. 79) behavioural genetics the scientific study of how genotype interacts with environment to determine behavioural attributes such as intelligence, personality, and mental health. (p. 95) bipolar disorder a psychological disorder characterized by extreme fluctuations in mood. (p. 103) canalization genetic restriction of phenotype to a small number of developmental outcomes; a highly canalized attribute is one for which genes channel development along predetermined pathways, so that the environment has little effect on the phenotype that emerges. (p. 103) carrier a heterozygous individual who displays no sign of a recessive allele in his or her own phenotype but can pass this gene to offspring. (p. 82) chorionic villus sampling (CVS) an alternative to amniocentesis in which fetal cells are extracted from the chorion for prenatal tests. CVS can be performed earlier in pregnancy than is possible with amniocentesis. (p. 91) chromosome a threadlike structure made up of genes; in humans there are 46 chromosomes in the nucleus of each body cell. (p. 76) codominance condition in which two heterozygous but equally powerful alleles produce a phenotype in which both genes are fully and equally expressed. (p. 82) conception the moment of fertilization, when a sperm penetrates an ovum, forming a zygote. (p. 75) concordance rate the percentage of cases in which a particular attribute is present for one member of a twin pair if it is present for the other. (p. 96) congenital defect a problem that is present (though not necessarily apparent) at birth; such defects may stem from genetic and prenatal influences or from complications of the birth process. (p. 85) crossing-over a process in which genetic material is exchanged between pairs of chromosomes during meiosis. (p. 76) deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) long, double-stranded molecules that make up chromosomes. (p. 76) dizygotic (or fraternal) twins twins that result when a mother releases two ova at roughly the same time and each is fertilized by a different sperm, producing two zygotes that are genetically different. (p. 78) dominant allele a relatively powerful gene that is expressed phenotypically and masks the effect of a less powerful gene. (p. 81) Down syndrome a chromosomal abnormality (also known as trisomy-21) caused by the presence of an extra 21st chromosome; people with this syndrome have a distinctive physical appearance and are moderately to severely retarded. (p. 87) empathic concern a measure of the extent to which an individual recognizes the needs of others and is concerned about their welfare. (p. 100) evocative genotype/environment correlations the notion that our heritable attributes affect others’ behaviour toward us and thus influence the social environment in which development takes place. (p. 105) fragile-X syndrome abnormality of the X chromosome caused by a defective gene and associated with mild to severe mental retardation, particularly when the defective gene is passed from mother to child. (p. 90) genes hereditary blueprints for development that are transmitted unchanged from generation to generation. (p. 76) genetic counselling a service designed to inform prospective parents about genetic diseases and to help them determine the likelihood that they would transmit such disorders to their children. (p. 90) genotype genetic endowment that an individual inherits. (p. 75) germline gene therapy a procedure, not yet perfected or approved for use with humans, in which harmful genes would be repaired or replaced with healthy ones, thereby permanently correcting a genetic defect. (p. 94) heritability the amount of variability in a trait that is attributable to hereditary factors. (p. 95) heterozygous having inherited two alleles for an attribute that have different effects. (p. 82) homozygous having inherited two alleles for an attribute that are identical in their effects. (p. 81) independent assortment the principle stating that each pair of chromosomes segregates independently of all other chromosome pairs during meiosis. (p. 78) introversion/extroversion the opposite poles of a personality dimension: introverts are shy, anxious around others, and tend to withdraw from social situations; extroverts are highly sociable and enjoy being with others. (p. 100) kinship the extent to which two individuals have genes in common. (p. 96) meiosis the process in which a germ cell divides, producing gametes (sperm or ova) that each contain half of the parent cell’s original complement of chromosomes; in humans, the products of meiosis contain 23 chromosomes. (p. 76) mitosis the process in which a cell duplicates its chromosomes and then divides into two genetically identical daughter cells. (p. 76) monozygotic (or identical) twins twins who develop from a single zygote that later divides to form two genetically identical individuals. (p. 78) mutation a change in the chemical structure or arrangement of one or more genes that has the effect of producing a new phenotype. (p. 89) neurotic disorder an irrational pattern of thinking or behaviour that a person may use to contend with stress or to avoid anxiety. (p. 103) nonshared environmental influence (NSE) an environmental influence that people living together do not share which should make these individuals different from one another. (p. 98) passive genotype/environment correlations the notion that the rearing environments that biological parents provide are influenced by the parents’ own genes, and hence are correlated with the child’s own genotype. (p. 105) phenotype the ways in which a person’s genotype is expressed in observable or measurable characteristics. (p. 75) phenylketonuria (PKU) a genetic disease in which the child is unable to metabolize phenylalanine; if left untreated, it soon causes hyperactivity and mental retardation. (p. 92) polygenic trait a characteristic that is influenced by the action of many genes rather than a single pair. (p. 84) range-of-reaction principle the idea that genotype sets limits on the range of possible phenotypes that a person might display in response to different environments. (p. 104) recessive allele a less powerful gene that is not expressed phenotypically when paired with a dominant allele. (p. 81) schizophrenia a serious form of mental illness characterized by disturbances in logical thinking, emotional expression, and interpersonal behaviour. (p. 102) selective breeding experiment a method of studying genetic influences by determining whether traits can be bred in animals through selective mating. (p. 95) sex-linked characteristic an attribute determined by a recessive gene that appears on the X chromosome; more likely to characterize males. (p. 83) shared environmental influence (SE) an environmental influence that people living together share which should make these individuals similar to one another. (p. 98) sickle-cell anemia a genetic blood disease that causes red blood cells to assume an unusual sickled shape and to become inefficient at distributing oxygen. (p. 83) simple dominant-recessive inheritance a pattern of inheritance in which one allele dominates another so that only its phenotype is expressed. (p. 81) twin design (or twin study) study in which sets of twins that differ in zygosity (kinship) are compared to determine the heritability of an attribute. (p. 96) ultrasound method of detecting gross physical abnormalities by scanning the womb with sound waves, thereby producing a visual outline of the fetus. (p. 92) X chromosome the longer of the two sex chromosomes; normal females have two X chromosomes, whereas normal males have but one. (p. 79) Y chromosome the shorter of the two sex chromosomes; normal males have one Y chromosome whereas females have none. (p. 79) zygote a single cell formed at conception from the union of a sperm and an ovum. (p. 76) acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS) a viral disease that can be transmitted from a mother to her fetus or neonate and that results in a weakening of the body’s immune system and, ultimately, death. (p. 122) age of viability a point between the 22nd and 28th prenatal weeks when survival outside the uterus is possible. (p. 118) amnion a watertight membrane that surrounds the developing embryo, serving to regulate its temperature and to cushion it against injuries. (p. 114) anencephaly a birth defect in which the brain and neural tube fail to develop or develop incompletely and the skull does not close. (p. 133) blastocyst name given to the ball of cells formed when the fertilized egg first begins to divide. (p. 114) chorion a membrane that, as above, becomes attached to the uterine tissues to gather nourishment for the embryo. (p. 115) cleft lip a congenital disorder in which the upper lip has a vertical (or pair of vertical) openings or grooves. (p. 127) cleft palate a congenital disorder in which the roof of the mouth does not close properly during embryonic development, resulting in an opening or groove in the roof of the mouth. (p. 127) diethylstilbestrol (DES) a synthetic hormone, formerly prescribed to prevent miscarriage, that can produce cervical cancer in adolescent female offspring and genital-tract abnormalities in males. (p. 125) embryo name given to the prenatal organism from the third through the eighth week after conception. (p. 114) fetal alcohol effects (FAE) a group of mild congenital problems that are sometimes observed in children of mothers who drink sparingly to moderately during pregnancy. (p. 125) fetal alcohol spectrum disorder (FASD) term used to describe congenital problems commonly observed in the offspring of mothers who consumed alcohol during pregnancy. (p. 125) fetal alcohol syndrome (FAS) a group of serious congenital problems commonly observed in the offspring of mothers who abuse alcohol during pregnancy. (p. 125) fetus name given to the prenatal organism from the ninth week of pregnancy until birth. (p. 116) genital herpes a sexually transmitted disease/infection that can infect infants at birth, causing blindness, brain damage, or even death. (p. 122) germinal period/period of the zygote first phase of prenatal development, lasting from conception until the developing organism becomes firmly attached to the wall of the uterus (also called period of the zygote). (p. 114) implantation the burrowing of the blastocyst into the lining of the uterus. (p. 114) lanugo fine hair covering the fetus’s body that helps vernix stick to the skin. (p. 118) neonate a newborn infant from birth to approximately 1 month old. (p. 136) neural tube the primitive spinal cord that develops from the ectoderm and becomes the ce
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