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Chapter 1

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McMaster University
Jennifer Ostovich

Child Development: Text book notes Section 1: September 5 - October 3 rd Introduction: Themes in Developmental Psychology 1.1, 1.2, 1.3 1.1 Setting the Stage Historical Views of Children and Childhood - Plato believed that experience couldn’t be source of knowledge b/c human senses are too fallible - Argued that children are born with innate knowledge of many concrete objects ie. Animals and ppl as well as abstract concepts of courage, love and goodness - Believed that children’s sensory experiences trigger knowledge they’ve had since birth - Aristotle denied existence of innate knowledge- knowledge rooted to perceptual experience - Contrasting opening resurfaced during Age of Enlightenment- John Locke ‘child is a blank state’ and experience moulds person into unique individual - Jean Jacques Rousseau believed that newborns are endowed with an innate sense of justice, morality that unfolds naturally as the child grows Origins of a New Science - One event that triggered as a science was the Industrial Revolution - Child who no longer needed constant care- at about 5-7 years- considered an adult and entered world of work - During IR many children were maimed or killed while working in factories for little pay - Reformers worked hard to enact legislation that would limit child labour and put more children in schools - Other event was the publication of Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution - Some scientists of the day noted similarities between Darwin’s description of evolutionary change in species and age related changes in human behaviour- Prompted many scientists to write baby biographies: detailed systematic observations of individual children - Stanley Hall took lead of this new science who generated theories of child development based on evolutionary theory and conducted studies to determine age trends in children’s beliefs and feelings about a range of topics - Founded the first English scientific journal where scientists could publish findings from child-development research - James Baldwin set up first psych lab in Canada. He felt that a theoretical basis for experimentation was important and seems to have felt that the baby biographies were stifling to theory being too much focused on observation - Canadian Pyschological Association (CPA) founded in late 1930s - Society for Research in Child Development (SRCD) founded in 1933 and now main professional organization for child-development researchers to improve children’s lives - Progress in developmental psychology was halted during WW2, female roles became more prominent in this field after the war - Applied developmental science uses developmental research to promote health development, particularly for vulnerable children and families Application of current research  Ensuring that the consideration of policy issues and options is based upon factual knowledge  Serving as advocates for children; can alert policy makers to children’s needs and can argue for family policy that addresses those needs  Evaluate the impact of government policys on children and families  Create programs that work 1.2 Foundational Theories of Child Development - In child development, a theory is an organized set of ideas to explain and make predictions about development - A theory leads to hypothesis that we can test in research The Biological Perspective - Intellectual and personality development as well as physical and motor development proceed according to a biological plan - Arnold Gesell: Maturational Theory- child development reflects a specific and prearranged scheme or plan within the body - Development is a simple unfolding of a biological plan - Theory discarded b/c little to say about influence of the environment - Ethological Theory: views development from an evolutionary perspective. Many behaviours are adaptive, they have survival value - Believe that some kinds of learning occur only at certain stages - A critical period in development is the time when a specific type of learning can take place; before or after the critical period the same learning is difficult or even impossible - E.g. Imprinting chicks; critical period lasts about a day. Underlying mechanism to follow moving object is biological but experience is essential for triggering the programmed adaptive behaviour The Psychodynamic Perspective - Oldest perspective in CD Freud - Using patient’s case histories, Freud created the first psychodynamic theory which holds that development is largely determined by how well people resolve conflicts they face at different ages - Argued that personality includes 3 primary components that emerge at distinct ages - Id is a reservoir of primitive instincts and drive: present @ birth - Ego is the practical rational component of personality: emerges during 1 year of life. Ego tries to channel the id’s impulsive demands into more socially acceptable channels - Superego: the ‘moral agent’ in the child’s personality. Emerges during preschool years as children begin to internalize adult standards from right and wrong - Believed that development was structured in psychosexual stages and that we all go through 5 stages of development: Oral (birth – 2 years), anal (2-3), phallic (3-7), latency (7 to puberty), and genital (11 through adulthood) - Conflicts at any stage could lead to fixation- mental energies being taken up in activities reminiscent of that stage - Lasting impacts: Early experiences can have enduring effects on children’s development. Second, children often experience conflict b/w what they want to do and what they know they should do Erikson - Emphasized psychological and social aspects of conflict rather than the biological physical aspects - Psychosocial Theory: development comprises a sequence of stages each defined by a unique crisis or challenge - Proposed that development could continue throughout life - Propsoed that earlier stages of PSD provide the foundation for the later stages - Refer to page 10 for Erikson’s eight stages of psychosocial development The Learning Perspective - Infant’s mind is a blank slate on which experience writes John Watson was first theorist to apply this approach to child development Early Learning Theories - Watson’s research based on Pavlov’s classical conditioning - Applied classical conditioning procedures to humans e.g. conditioning fear in children - However associating something with a natural response is only one way of learning - B.F. Skinner studided opererant conditioning in which the consequences of behaviour determine whether that behaviour is repeated in the future. Two kinds of consequences esp influential: reinforcement and punishment - Reinforcement: a consequence that increases the future likelihood of the behaviour that it follows - Positive reinforcement = giving a reward for an action. - Negative reinforcement = Rewarding people by taking away unpleasant things - Punishment: a consequence that decreases the future likelihood of the behaviour that follows - Punishment suppresses a behaviour either by imposing something aversive or by withholding a pleasant event - Drawback punishment doesn’t explain what the desired action is - Imitation or Observational Learning: children learning by just observing Social Cognitive Theory - Bandura developed much of the basis of the social cognitive theory and used the Bobo doll study - This showed that observation doesn’t always lead to imitation - Showed abusive action towards Bobo doll and children imitated action - More likely to imitate when the behaviour they see is rewarded and if the person is popular, smart, talented, etc - Calls theory cognitive because believes that children are actively trying to understand what goes on in their world, and social because along with what other ppl do is an important source of info about the world - Argues that experience give children a sense of self efficacy – beliefs about their own abilities and talents - Overall, Skinner, Bandura and all learning theorists share the view that experience propels children along their developmental journeys The Cognitive- Development Perspective - Focuses on how children think and how their thinking changes over time - John Piaget: believed that children naturally try to make sense of their world. In efforts to comprehend the world, children act like scientists and create theories which are tested day to day PIAGET’S FOUR STAGES OF COGNITIVE DEVELOPMENT Stage Approximate Age Characterisitics Sensorimotor Birth to 2 years Infant’s knowledge of the world is based on senses and motor skills. By the end of the period, infant uses mental representations Preoperational 2 to 6 years Child learns how to use symbols such as words and numbers to represent aspects of the world, but relates to the world only thru his or her perspective Concrete Operational 7 to 11 years Child understands and applies logical operations to experiences, provided they are focused on the here and now Formal Operational Adolescence and Beyond Adolescent or adult thinks abstractly, speculates on hypothetical situations and reasons deductively about what may be possible The Contextual Perspective - These people and institutions fit together to form a culture- the knowledge, attitudes and behaviour associated with a group of people - Culture can refer to a particular country of people, to specific point in time, or to groups of individuals who maintain specific identifiable cultural traditions - A culture provides the context in which a child develops and is an important influence - Lev Vygotsky: focused on ways that adults convey to children the beliefs, customs, and skills of their culture i.e. most parents in Canada want child to go to university to earn degree to get successful job CHARACTERISTICS OF DEVELOPMENTAL PERSPECTIVES:SUMMARY Perspective Key Assumptions Illustrative Theories Biological Development is determined Maturational Theory: emphasizes primarily by biological factors development as a natural unfolding of a biological plan Ethological Theory: emphasizes that children’s and parent’s behaviour has adapted to meet specific enviro challenges Psychodynamic Development is determined Freud’s Theory: emphasizes the primarily by how a child resolves conflict b/w primitive biological conflicts at different ages forces and societal standards for right and wrong Erikson’s Theory: emphasizes the challenges posed by the formation of trust, autonomy, initiative, industry, and identity Learning Development is determined Skinner’s operant conditioning: primarily by a child’s environment emphasizes role of reinforcement and punishment Bandura’s social cognitive theory: emph child’s efforts to understand their world using reinforcement, punishment, and other’s behaviour Cognitive Developmental Development reflects children’s Piaget’s theory: emphasizes the efforts to understand the world different stages of thinking that result from children’s changing theories of the world Contextual Development is influenced by Vygotsky’s theory: emph the role of immediate and more distant parents and other adults in environments, which typically conveying culture to the next influence each other generation 1.3 Themes In Child Developmental Research Early Development is Related to Later Development but Not Perfectly - The continuity vs discontinuity issue is really about the relatedness of development: Are early aspects of development consistently related to later aspects? - In reality neither of these views are accurate - Development is not perfectly predicatable Development is Always Jointly Influenced by Heredity and Environment - Nature vs Nurture: What roles do biology and environment play in development? - Virtually no aspects of child development are due exclusively to either heredity or environment - Development is shaped by both; nature and nurture interact - Major goal is to understand how they jointly determine children’s development Children Influence Their Own Development - Active-passive chi
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