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Chapter 2-15

PSYC251 Chapter 2-15: Course Notes

Course Code
PSYC 251
Stanka A Fitneva

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Chapter 1
Reasons to Learn About Child Development:
-Raising Children
oPrevalence rates for spanking in Canada range from 50%-66%
oSpanking makes problem behaviours worse and longer lasting
oAlternatives include expressing sympathy and finding positive alternatives
Turtle technique- think through situation until ready to emerge from ‘shell’
-Choosing Social Policies
Make informed decisions about children and social policy questions that affect children
in general
Trust in children’s courtroom testimony
oEstimate that tens of thousands of children testify in court in Canada, many are
young (in 2009, more than 40% of children who were victims of sexual offences
in Canada were under 11)
oDoes biased questioning affect the accuracy of young children’s memory?
34% of 3-4 year olds eventually corroborated with at least one of social
worker’s false beliefs
when 3-5 year olds are not asked leading questions, their testimony is
usually correct, however when leading questions are asked, especially
repeatedly, testimony is often inaccurate
anatomically correct props increased number of inaccurate claims
-Understanding Human Nature
developmental scientists have methods that enable them to observe, describe and explain
the process of development
good example of how science can increase understanding of human nature comes from
studies of how children’s ability to overcome the effects of early maltreatment is affected
by its timing (age of which maltreatment occurs)
oRomanian orphanage
Children had little contact with caregivers
When adopted, enabled study to examine long-term effects of early
deprivation and potential recovery
At 6 years, physical development had improved considerably, but those in
orphanage longest weighed less; intellectual deficits followed same
pattern; as well as social development and abnormal brain activity (low
levels of neural activity in amygdala)
The timing of experiences influences their effects
Historical Foundations of the Study of Child Development
Early philosopher’s views of children’s development
oSome of the earliest recorded ideas about children’s development were those of
Plato and Aristotle
Interested in how development is influenced by nature and nurture
Both believed that long term welfare of society depended on proper
raising of children; careful upbringing was essential; Rearing of boys
particularly demanding
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Plato: self-control and discipline most important goals of education
Children have innate knowledge
Aristotle: agreed discipline was necessary, but more concerned with fitting
child-rearing to the needs of the individual child
Knowledge comes from experience (blank slate- Locke)
oLocke believed most important goal of child-rearing is the growth of character –
parents need to set good examples of honesty, stability, and gentleness, avoid
indulging the child
Discipline before freedom
oRousseau believed that parents and society should give children maximum
freedom from the beginning
Children learn primarily from their own spontaneous interactions with
objects and other people
Argued children should not receive formal education until age 12, when
they reach ‘age of reason’
Social Reform Movements
oDuring the Industrial Revolution, many children in Europe, Canada, and US
worked as poorly paid labourers with no legal protections
The Earl of Shaftesbury attempted social reform- brought partial success
(law forbidding employment of children under 10)
Darwin’s Theory of Evolution
o“A Biographical Sketch of an Infant” presented findings of motor, sensory, and
emotional growth in his infant son
oevolutionary theory influences thinking of modern developmentalists on a wide
range of topics: infant attachment, innate fear of natural dangers, sex differences,
aggression and altruism, mechanisms underlying learning
The Beginnings of Research-Based Theories of Child Development
oFirst theories of child development that incorporated research findings were
formulated at end of 19th century and beginning of 20th
Freud’s psychoanalytic theory: proposes that biological drives, especially
sexual ones, are a crucial influence on development
Watson’s behaviourist theory: children’s development is determined by
environmental factors, especially the rewards and punishments that follow
the children’s actions
Enduring Themes in Child Development
Nature and Nurture
oNature: our biological endowment (gene) that influences every aspect of our
makeup, from broad characteristics such as physical appearance, personality,
intellect, mental health, to specific preferences such as propensity for thrill-
oNurture: the wide range of environments, both physical and social, that influence
our development, including the wombs in which we spend prenatal period, the
homes in which we grow up, the schools we attend, the people with whom we
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oNot an either/or question, it is a joint effort through the constant interaction of
genes and enviro
oDevelopmental outcomes emerge from the constant bidirectional interaction of
nature and nurture
The Active Child
oHow do children shape their own development?
oFirst begin to shape development through their selection of what to pay attention
Infants particularly drawn to faces, especially mother (at first, mothers
face not accompanied by any visible emotion, but by end of 2nd month
infants smile and coo more when focusing intently on mother’s face)
oBetween 1-2 often talk alone to self in room, internally motivated to learn
oFantasy play- how to cope with fears, interact with others
oOlder children play- teaches self-control, turn-taking, adhering to rules,
controlling emotions in the face of setbacks
Continuity/Discontinuity: how is development continuous, how is it discontinuous
oSome see development as a continuous process of small changes, others see the
process as a series of sudden, discontinuous changes
oDiscontinuous viewpoint: children of different ages seem qualitatively different
Stage Theories: approaches that propose that development involves a
series of discontinuous, age related phases
A child’s entry into a new stage involves relatively sudden, qualitative
changes that affect a child’s thinking or behaviour in broadly unified ways
and move the child from one coherent way of experiencing the world to a
different coherent way of experiencing it
Piaget’s Cognitive Development theory: the development of
thinking and reasoning
o4 stages of cognitive growth between birth and adolescence
recently, researchers have discovered that most developmental changes are
gradual rather than sudden, and that development occurs skill by skill, task
by task, rather than in a broadly uniformed way
less dramatic than stage theory, but supported by evidence
oa child will often behave in accord with one proposed stage
on some tasks, but in accord with a different proposed stage
on other tasks (variable, difficult to view child as being
“in” either stage)
Mechanisms of development (how does it occur)
oInteraction of genome and enviro
oEffortful attention: voluntary control of emotions and thoughts; includes
processes such as inhibiting impulses, controlling emotions, focusing attention
oAnterior cingulate is brain structure involved in setting and attending to goals, and
the limbic area plays are role in emotional reaction
oSpecific genes influence the production of key neurotransmitters
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