Nature vs. nurture – concepts and definitions
-- Inborn, biological givens -- Physical and social world
-- Based on genetic inheritance -- Influence biological and
Continuous and discontinuous growth patterns
Continuous developmental changes, like growth in stature, involve fairly
gradual and predictable progress toward adult characteristics.
When developmental change is discontinuous, however, researchers may
identify not only milestones of development, but related age periods often
Stages of growth patterns
PIAGET’S STAGES OF COGNITIVE DEVELOPMENT (Piaget’s theory)
STAGE PERIOD OF DESCRIPTION
Sensorimotor Birth – two years old Infants “think” by acting on the world
with their eyes, ears, hands and mouth.
They invent ways of solving sensorimotor
problems as pulling the lever to hear the
sound of the music box or finding the
Preschool children use symbols to
Preoperation 2-7 years represent their earlier sensorimotor
al discoveries. Development of language and
make- believe play takes place. THINKING
LACKS THE LOGIC OF TWO REMAINING
Concrete 7-11 years Children’s reasoning becomes LOGICAL
Operational and better organized. School – aged
children understand that a certain amount
of lemonade or play-dough remains the
same even after its appearance changes.
They also can organize the objects into
hierarchies of classes and subclasses.
However, thinking falls short of adult
intelligence. It is not abstract yet.
Form 11 years on The capacity for abstract, systematic
al thinking enables adolescents, when faced
Oper with a problem, to start with a
ation hypothesis, deduce testable inferences,
and isolate and combine variables to see
which inferences are confirmed. Evaluate
the logic of verbal statements without
referring to real world circumstances.
Brain development: changes in the brain across development and effects of
nature / nurture
- Basics of hardware and function
- Changes and development
- Use it or lose it
- Nature or nurture (gender, race, and intelligence genes)
Neuron: cells of brain and nervous system designed to quickly send and receive
Synapse: small gaps between neurons that signals submit across
Gila: Cells that provide structure for the brain and support the neurons. Help
manufacture myelin, distribute nutrition, minimize toxins and dispose of dead
Neurotransmitters: Chemicals that assist in transfer of messages across
synapses from one neuron to another
- The early development of neurons is related to GENE EXPRESSION and
- Overabundance of neurons and synapses are produced during early
- At birth there are more synapses than an adult brain.
- Neurons with axons that make the best connection that are ACTIVE
- Changes in the brain as a while: the brain increases weight from birth
- At birth: roughly 400 grams
- 11 months: 850 grams
- 3 years old: 1,100 grams
- Adulthood: 1,450 grams (about three pounds)
- Growth is due to increased size of neurons and increase in the
- Axons and synapses as well as more gila tissues (especially myelin)
- Synaptic connections are based on experience ▯4
- In general, the bigger the brain of a species, the more intelligent
animals of that species are likely to be.
- Changes in the size, structure, and connection patterns of the brain
during the course of child’s development profoundly contribute to
change in the child’s thinking
- These changes are both quantitative and qualitative.
USE IT OR LOSE IT!
- The brain operates on the “use it or lose it” principle
- Only those connections and pathways that are frequently used are
retained. Most of us keep enough synapses to do very well in life
The impact of early experience on brain development:
- There is a strong relationship between brain size and early
- Children raised in environmentally deprived facilities (such as the
Romanian orphanages) experience fewer sounds, colors, pictures,
interactions, and sights. Their brain is smaller than those of children
who grow up in sensually rich environments with meaningful
- Abused and neglected children have brains that are 20-30% smaller
than most children their age.
USE IT OR LOSE IT: LANGUAGE!
- At 3 months the brain has potential to distinguish several hundred
spoken sounds ▯5
- Over the next few months the brain organizes itself to recognize only
the sounds it hears
- During early childhood, the brain retains its ability (PLASTICITY) to
discriminate sounds it has discarded (the ones not recognized yet)
- PLASTICITY à the ability of growing nerve cells to choose many
alternative routes and wiring connections, as well as the ability of
mature nerve cells to revise or alter their connections when
- Physical exercise is one of the only things that has been shown in
several studies to delay cognitive decline (loss of connections
associated with age)
BOTTOM LINE: EXPIERENCE AS A DETERMINANT
- The experiences that children have will determine which synapses
are maintained and which one are pruned (GREENOUGH, BLACK AND
- Good experiences help any brain develop well (LALLY, 1998)
- IN THE BRAIN, AS IN BEHAVIOR, DEVELOPMENT INVOLVED A COMPLEX
INTERPLAY OF GENETICS AND EXPERIENCE.
- Men and women operate differently: the brains of men and women
are not identical.
- Men’s brains tend to be more lateralized- that is, the two
hemispheres operate more independently during specific mental
tasks like speaking or navigating around one’s environment while for
same kinds of tasks, females tend to use both of their cerebral
hemispheres more equally.
- Males tend to have slightly larger brains
- Males tend to rely more on gray matter (associated with information
processing) and women tend to use more white matter (associated
with making connections)
- Males of all ages tend to perform better than females on tasks like
mental rotation while females of all ages tend to perform better at
certain verbal tasks and at identifying emotional expression in
another person’s face.
WHY DO WE HAVE THESE DIFFERENCES?
- Testosterone – studies find that preschool girls whose mothers had
higher levels of testosterone during their pregnancy tend to gravitate
towards more “boyish toys”
- Pre-school boys with high levels of testosterone are more aggressive
in social interactions than boys with lower levels and girls
- Parent’s attitudes about gender shape children’s attitudes. One way
this occurs is through how parents decorate their children’s room.
RACE AND IQ
- IQ is well measured, and a good indicator of future outcomes
- *IQ is highly heritable, and that race differences are largely genetic
- Public policy initiatives and environmental context has little effect
- Findings from a 2012 study:
1. The importance of environment for IQ
- Children who are adopted from working class to middle class
homes gain between 12-18 points in intelligence
2. Race differences
- The IQ gap between White/Caucasian Americans and African
Americans has declined .33 of standard deviation (or about 5
points) in recent years.
- *We as scientists must be careful to consider context in our data as
Gene effects à ▯7
- The case of the Serotonin transporter gene: 5-HTTLPR and the
dopamine processing/ availability alleles
- E.g., Serotonin transporter short allele linked with depression,
anxiety, and lower self-regulation
Ten things that EVERY child needs:
3. Stable relationship
4. Safe, healthy environment
5. Self- Esteem
6. Quality Care
Understand (define/ describe) each level of the human ecological system
Human Ecology – about the relationships between people and their
environment, the environment is viewed as an ecosystem.
BUBOLZ AND SONTAG!
1. Families interact with their environment to form an ecosystem
2. Families carry out the following good of itself as well as the good of society:
- Biological sustenance
- Economic maintenance
- Psychological and nurturance functions
3. All peoples of the world are interdependent on the resources of the earth:
there is a balance between
- Cooperation and integration in the ecosystem
- With demands of the individual for autonomy
Underlying values –
- Survival: maintenance and sustainability are important features of
- Four great virtues that contribute to the “ultimate good”
Other virtues that contribute to the quality of life –
- Education and learning
- Loving and nurturing relationships
- Productive work and work environments
- Experiences and symbolic systems that sustain means and a sense of
Scholars and practitioners, acting on these values, are expected to attend to
the problems of groups and subcultures who lack power, self-determination,
and access to resources
Humans should be responsible to other living species and the nonliving
CONCEPTS OF THE HUMAN ECOLOGICAL SYSTEM à
- Interaction between humans and their natural environment, including
à physical- biological, social-cultural, and human built.
- Family Ecosystem à family system interacting with its environment
- Environment – totality of surroundings and context – the surroundings
include – physical, biological, social, economic, political, aesthetic,
- Adaptation – behavior of living systems, including families that
change – the state or structure of the system, the environment, or
both. Adaptation is recursive: humans adapt to environment and
FAMILY ECOLOGICAL CONCEPTS à
- Inclusive definition – includes persons related by blood, marriage or
adoption. Also includes sets of interdependent but independent
persons who share common goals, common resources, and a
commitment to each other. Family members are simultaneously
autonomous and dependent.
- Needs – Requirements for survival
- Values– human conceptions about what is good, right and
worthwhile. They are an integral part of family processes.
- Decision making – central cybernetic control system of family
organization. The decision – making process involves – recognition of
the need to make a decision, identification, evaluation, and
comparison of alternatives, choice of alternative.
- Human development – ongoing process of interrelated change in
ability to perceive, conceptualize and act. Development is dynamic.
Development usually leads to greater levels of sophistication. ▯11
- Quality of Human Life – extent to which basic needs are met and
values realized, synonymous with well being.
- Quality of Environment – capacity for supplying human and non
human resources – and the capacity for sustaining life and the non-
Bronfenbrenner’s Ecological Systems Theory
Child development involves interacting within a complex system of
relationships affected by multiple levels of the environment
I’LL LOVE YOU FOREVER (that stupid video we watched in class that had the
mom always creeping the sons room) – the environment is not a static force
that uniformly affects individuals à it is actually ever changing.
WHO IS THIS GUY?! à Basically he is one of the most popular kids in school, who
studied ecological theorists. He believed that à a child’s biological disposition
(where they are at) and environmental forces come together to shape the
For actual HUMAN DEVELOPMENT to occur you need these two things –
1. One or more adults must love child unconditionally
2. Adults must encourage and spend time in joint activities
Microsystem – nested environment where child is with parents, teachers and
anyone having most immediate effect on child
Mesosystem – provides connections between child’s immediate settings and
child’s surroundings – home, neighborhood, school, child-care, etc.
Exosystem – surrounds mesosystem and refers to social settings that affect
child but do not include the child – parents work place, or help services in the
community – does not cross the child’s path directly.
Macrosystem – outermost layer envelops micro system, meso system, and
consists of things that influence and sometimes support child within
environment – culture, norms, customs, and laws.
Chronosystem – refers to the sociohistorical conditions of the child,
environment is ever changing, and important life events change relationships.
- Expanded Freud’s views and create psychosocial theory that
emphasized ego as positive force of development ▯12
- He recognized that normal development must be understood in
relation to cultural context in which it occurs
Age + VS. -
Birth-1 year Basic trust VS Mistrust
1-3 years Autonomy VS shame and doubt
3-6 years Initiative VS guilt
6-11 years Industry VS inferiority
Adolescence Identity VS identity confusion
Emerging Inti VS isolation
Adulthood ma .
Adulthood Generativity VS stagnation
Old age Integrity VS despair
- The healthy personality development is determined by how parents
manage their child’s early sexual and aggressive drives
- Three parts of personality – id, ego, and superego. (the relations
between three determine an individuals basic personality)
- Freud’s Five psychosexual stages:
- Oral (birth – 1 year)
- Anal (1-3 years)
- Phallic (3-6 years)
- Latency (6-11 years)
- Genital (Adolescence)
Over the course of childhood, sexual impulses shift focus from oral to anal and
to genital regions of the body ▯13
To advance to a subsequent stage, a child needs to receive the correct amount
of gratification. Family relationships and early experiences are crucial to later
The theory was criticized for its overemphasis on sexuality and for being
culturally specific to 19 century Victorian society.
- Development occurs in stages as children actively manipulate and
explore the environment.
- Central to Piaget’s theory is the biological concept of adaptation
- A child’s mental structures adapt to understand the external world
and to achieve a sense of mental balance or equilibrium
- CHART ONE FIRST PAGE OF HIS THEORY FOR AGES.
Information- processing approach
- Human mind is viewed as a symbol – manipulating system through
which information flows
- The theory also used disgrams or flow charts to map problem –
solving steps for task completion
- Just like Piagets theory à this approach regards children as active
beings who modify their thinking in response to the environment. But
there are no stages.
Family Dynamics – what does dynamic mean? What are the elements
mentioned in lecture?
The importance of FAMILY DYNAMICS IN DEVELOPMENT:
- Family: a network of interdependent relationships; each person
influences the behavior of others in direct and indirect ways
- Development is shaped by the family, focusing on structural aspects
(family stability, divorce, structure)
- The developmental pathways are also considered directly or
indirectly influenced by the parental characteristics or the family’s
- *Family development is INTERDEPENDENT. Development also changes
the family and parent roles.
8 major changes in family life over the last 150 years (LERNER ET AL, 2000) ▯14
1. Dramatic decrease in 2- parent family
2. Decrease in family size as parents have few children.