9.1 What shapes us during childhood? Develo psy: study of changes over life span in physiology, cognition, emotion
and social behavior. consistency of pattern suggests that genes determine order .
Development starts in womb: sperm + egg zygoteembryofetus
o Hormonal influences IQ, weight, cognitive and behavioral outcomes
o Exposure teratogens: harm embryo or fetus, “monster makers,”
Bio and environment influence developmental milestones: environment influences what happens throughout
development, developmental milestones reached at different paces depending on culture. Dynamic systems
theory: development is self-organizing process, new forms of behavior emerge through consistent interactions
between biological being and cultural/environmental contexts, developmental advances is through active
exploration and feedback from environment
Brain development promotes learning: mind develops adaptively, new and useful skills appear at appropriate
times. Born with sense of taste, touch, sight, smell, sound. At birth, brain is sufficiently developed to support
basic reflexes, but further development necessary for cognitive development to occur.
o Myelination and neuronal connections: specific areas with brain mature and become functional;
regions of brain learn to communicate with one another through synaptic connections. Myelination
helps brain circuits mature, increasing speed with which fibers transmit signals. Myelinated axons
form synapses with other neurons. Synaptic pruning: synaptic connection in brain that are used are
preserved, those that are not used are lost. Few synaptic connections made if brain not stimulated by
environment. Though most neurons formed at birth, brain’s physical development continues through
growth of neurons and new connections; size increase due to myelination, new synaptic connections.
o Sensitive learning periods: time periods when specific skills develop most easily; e.g. language
Children develop attachment and emotion regulation: socioemotional development includes maturation of
skills and abilities that enable people to live successfully in world with other people. Emotion regulation:
productively expressing and coping with emotions without hurting yourself or others, not inborn, shaped by
environment, bonding with caregivers. Attachment: strong emotional connection that persists over time and
across circumstances, adaptive, facilitates survival for infant and parental investment.
o Attachment in other species: birds attach themselves to adult; imprinting. Monkeys prefer soft mother
to feeding mother, contact comfort more important than mother-as-food theory. Some keys behaviors
are not genetically programmed, they are learned from caregiver.
o Attachment style: separation anxiety occurs in all human cultures. Secure attachment: infant
confident enough in unfamiliar environment as long as caregiver is present. Insecure attachment:
avoiding contact with caregiver, alternating between approach and avoidance behaviors.
o Chemistry of attachment: infant sucking triggers release of oxytocin, stimulates biological processes in
mother that move milk into ducts.
9.2 As children, how do we learn about the world?
Perception introduces the world: Primarily through senses, observe/evaluate objects/events
o Infant research techniques: preferential-looking technique – which thing they find more interesting.
Orienting reflex: tendency to pay more attention to new stimuli
o Vision: visual acuity measures; infants respond to high-contrast better
o Auditory perception: can perceive sound and know where it is coming from, some memory/preference
Memory improves during childhood: ribbon/kicking experiment showed infants knew better when oler
o Infantile amnesia: inability to remember events from early childhood
o Inaccurate memory: source amnesia and confabulation
Piaget emphasizes stages of cognitive development: four stages of development: sensorimotor, preoperational,
concerete operational, formal operational. It is not that children know less than adults, just that their views of
how the world works are based on different sets of assumptions. We form new schemas during each stage of
development, each stage builds on previous one through two learning processes: assimilation: placing new
experience into existing schema, and accommodation: create new schema or dramatically alter existing one to
include new info that would not fit into old schema. o Sensorimotor stage (birth to 2 years): infants acquire info about world through senses and motor
skills, reflexive responses develop into more deliberate actions through development and refinement of
schemas. Object permanence: understanding that object continues to exist even when it can’t be seen.
o Preoperational stage (2-7 years): children think symbolically about objects, but they reason based on
intuition and superficial appearance rather than logic. Lack of conservation skills due to centration;
cannot think about more than one detail of problem-solving a task at a time because child centers o
only one detail of problem, limiting ability to think logically. Egocentrism: tendency to view world
through own experiences
o Concrete operational stage (7-12 years): children begin to think about and understand logical
operations, no longer fooled by appearances.
o Formal operational stage (12 years – adulthood): think abstractly, formulate/test hypotheses through
deductive logic, using info to systematically find answers to problems
o Challenges to Piaget’s theory: framework leaves little room for differing cognitive strategies/skills
among individuals/cultures. Children move between stages, different areas in brain responsible for
different skills, development does not follow strict stages. Not all adults are formal operational
thinkers, some still concrete operational. Piaget underestimated age at which skills develop.
o Understanding the laws of nature: physics: infants use movement to infer that objects moving together
are continuous, whereas two stationary objects may or may not be continuous
o Understanding the laws of nature: mathematics: children understand quantity – concepts more than and
less than – in terms of length, not in terms of numbers, e.g. lines of marbles. Different results when
M&Ms were used
We learn from interacting with others:
o Theory of mind: ability to explain and predict others’ behavior as result of recognizing their mental
state. Infants know actions can be intentional
o Moral reasoning and moral emotions: moral development is way people learn to decide between
behaviors with competing social outcomes, choices that affect others. Moral reasoning depends on
cognitive processes. Preconventional: earliest level of moral development, self-interest and event
outcomes determine what is moral. Conven