Chapter 1 Human Development

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University of Guelph
Family Relations and Human Development
FRHD 1010
Susan Chuang

FRHD*1010 th th September 9 – 26 2013 Chapter 1: The science of human development Understanding How & Why  The science of human development seeks to understand how & why people change over time  Developmentalists recognize that growth over the life span is multidirectional, multicontextual, multicultural, multidisciplinary, and plastic  Developmental studies is a science The Scientific Method 1. Begin w/ curiosity: Pose a question 2. Develop a hypothesis: A scientific prediction that can be tested 3. Test the hypothesis: Design & conduct research to gather empirical evidence (data) 4. Draw conclusions: Use the evidence to support or refute hypothesis 5. Report the results: share data, conclusions & alternative explanations Replication: Repeating the procedures & methods of a study w/ different participants  This is often a 6 step and an important one The Nature-Nurture Controversy Nature: Refers to the genes people inherit Nurture: Refers to environmental influences beginning w/ the health & diet of the embryo’s mother & continuing lifelong including family, school, community & society  Some people think traits are inborn and that children are innately good or bad while other people stress nurture, blaming/crediting parents or circumstances, drugs or food etc.  Developmentalists say that neither is accurate  Question is “how much” not “which” b/c both affect characteristic  Genes do predispose people to be influenced by environment but the impact of environment depends partly on genetic vulnerability  A new discipline within genetics, epigenetics, explores the many ways environmental forces alter genetic expression A VIEW FROM SCIENCE “ Sudden infant death”  “SIDS” until the mid-1990s, causes 10s of thousands of 2-6 month old babies to die  Genetic & environmental factors  “Back to sleep” campaign of telling mothers to lay their babies on their backs to sleep cut the SIDS rate dramatically  Caused infants to crawl later so now its encouraged that babies have “tummy time” when they are awake in order to develop muscles  Beyond sleeping position other risks include low birth weight, brain-stem abnormality that produces little serotonin, cig smoke, soft blankets/pillow and bed sharing (sleeping in parents bed)  Combo of nature & nurture 1 The Life-Span Perspective Life-Span Perspective: An approach to the study of human development that takes into account all phases of life, not just childhood or adulthood  Age periods are only a rough guide to “change over time”  This is very apparent in adulthood  Emerging adulthood defined as ages 18-25 is not a period excepted by scholars  Many prefer dividing adulthood into early adulthood ages 20-40, middle adulthood to 40-65 and late adulthood said to begin at 60, 65 or 70 Development is Multidirectional  Multiple changes, in every direction, characterize the life span  If any human trait were charted over time, it would be clear that traits appear & disappear w/ increases decreases & zigzags  Traditional idea is that development advances till 18, steadies, than declines  This has been refuted by some life-span research  Sometimes discontinuity is evident: Change can occur rapidly & dramatically or sometimes continuity is found where growth is gradual and some characteristics seem to not change at all Almost every zygote is XY or XX, male or female, and chromosomal sex us lifelong  There is simple growth, radical transformation, improvement & decline as well as stability, stages & continuity day to day, year to year, and generation to generation  The direction of change varies over the life span but each characteristic follows a distinct pattern  Losses in some specific skills & abilities occur at the same time as gains in others  E.g when babies start talking they lose some ability to distinguish sounds from other languages Critical Period: A time when a particular type of developmental growth (in body or behaviour) must happen if it’s ever going to happen  E.g a human embryo grows arms & legs, hands, feet, fingers & toes each over a critical period between 28-54 days after conception  After that its too late Sensitive Period: A time when a certain type of development is most likely to occur or happens most easily, although it may still happen later w/ more difficulty  E.g if children done start talking between age 1-3, they might learn later but grammar might be impaired Development is Multicontextual  Development takes place in many contexts, including physical surroundings (climate, noise, population density etc.) and family configurations (married couple, single parent etc.) Ecological Systems Ecological Systems approach: The view that in the study of human development, the person should be considered in all the contexts and interactions that constitutes a life.  Urie Bronfenbrenner led the way to considering contexts  Believed that each person is affected by how many social contexts and interpersonal interactions 2  Studies people in natural settings all his life and before he died renamed his approach bioecological theory to highlight the important role of biology  Says that systems within the body affect all external systems  This approach recognizes 3 nested levels that surround individuals and affect them 1. Microsystems: each persons immediate surroundings (e.g. family, peers) 2. Exosystems: Local institutions (e.g. school & church) 3. Macrosystems: Larger social setting (e.g. cultural values, economic policies & political processes)  Also stressed is historical conditions and therefore included the chromosystem (literally “time system”)  He included a 5 systems mesosystem, consisting of the connections among the other systems  Very complex system and the historical context and socioeconomic contexts need to especially be considered Historical Context Cohort: A group defined by the shared age of its members born around the same time and move through life together experiencing the same historical events and cultural shifts  Ages 18-25 are a sensitive period for consolidation of social values  Therefore experiences and circumstances during emerging adulthood have an impact lifelong  Sometimes demographic characteristics rather than political issues reflect the historical context The Socioeconomic Context Socioeconomic Status (SES): A person’s position in society as determined by income, wealth, occupation, education and place of residence  Many factors make your SES  In the US, poverty usually relates to food costs and family size  SES brings both positives & negatives – all affecting health, housing, nutrition, knowledge & habits  Nations differ in their response to SES Development is Multicultural Culture: A system of shared beliefs, norms, behaviours and expectations that persist over time & prescribe social behaviours & assumptions  Culture is a powerful social construction, a concept constructed by society Social Constriction: An idea that's based on shared perceptions, not on objective reality. Many age related terms such as childhood, adolescence, yuppie and senior are social constrictions  Social constructions affect how people think & behave and what they value, ignore & punish Deficit or Just Difference?  People tend to believe their nation/culture is a little better than others  This good in that people who like themselves tend to be prouder, happier & more willing to help strangers  Can be bad if it reduces respect and appreciation for others Difference-equals-deficit error: The assumption that people unlike us (difference) are inferior (deficit) 3  This error is a reason why the multicultural approach is necessary  Various ways of thinking & acting aren’t wrong or right or better or worse  The scientific method is needed for accurate assessments  A multicultural understanding requires recognition that some differences signify strengths not weaknesses  A multicultural perspective helps researchers realize that whether a difference is an assets or not depends partly on the cultural context Learning within a culture  Russian developmentalist Lev Vygotsky, notice adults from many cultures of the soviet union and Europeans of many religions taught their children whatever beliefs and habits they might need as adults  He believed in guided participation is a universal process used by mentors to teach cultural knowledge, skills and habits  Guided participation can occur via school but most often happens informally through “mutual involvement in several widespread cultural practices w/ great importance for learning, narratives, routines & play  E.g book reading Ethnic & Racial Groups  Easy to confuse culture, ethnicity & race  People of an ethnic group share certain attributes and usually origin, religion & language  Ethnic groups often share a culture but isnt required  Ethnicity os a social construction, affected by the social context, not a direct outcome of biology  Nurture not nature Race: A group of people regarded as distinct from other groups on the basis of appearance typically skin colour OPPOSING PERSPECTIVES Using the word “race”  The term race has been used to categorize people on physical basis (outward appearance mostly)  Historically, North Americans thought race was real, an inborn biological characteristic  Races were categorized by colour  Social scientists now convinced that race is a social construction and that colour terms exaggerate minor differences  Genetic analysis confirms the concept that race is based on a falsehood  Although most genes are identical in every human those genetic differences that distinguish 1 person from another are poorly indexed by appearance  Racism continues today in less obvious ways  Since race is a social construction that leads to racism, some social scientists want to abandon the term  Ethnic & cultural differences may be significant for development but racial differences aren’t  A study used by 141 nations found that only 15% use the word race and almost all of them were once slave-holding nations  To avoid racism one option is to avoid using the word race thereby becoming color-blind > Conversely, race must be identified for documenting data of medical, educational and economic conditions to reflect disparities along racial lines. To overcome racial disparities, race must be recognized 4 Development is Multidisciplinary  Scientists often specialize studying 1 phenomenon in 1 species at 1 age  This specialization provides deeper understanding  Human development requires insights and info from many scientists, past & present in many disciplines  Out understanding of every topic comes from multidisciplinary research Genetics & Epigenetics  Every trait – both psychological & physical – is influenced by genes  Research from many disciples has revealed the limitations of genetic research  Genes affect every aspect of behaviour but even identical twins w/ identical genes, differ biologically, socially & psychologically  Therefore genes alone don't determine development Epigenetic: Referring to the effects of environmental forces on the expression f an individual’s, or a species’, genetic inheritance  All human genes are epigenetic st  Some “epi” influences occur in the 1 hours of life as biochemical elements silence certain genes – methylation  The degree of methylation for people changes over the life span, affecting genes  Epigenetic research is especially important in treating diseases that impair the brain and devastate human development Multidisciplinary Research on Depression  Depression is partly genetic & neurological – certain brain chemicals make people sad/uninterested in life  No doubt that depression is developmental – depression increases & decreases throughout the life span  Child-rearing practices have an affect as well  Typically depressed mothers smile & talk to infant less than other mothers and as a result infants become less active & verbal  A person w/ depressing relationships and experiences is likely to develop brain patterns characteristic of depression and vice-versa 12 Facto
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