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PSYC 2450 Chapter Notes -Naturalistic Observation, Developmental Psychology, Participant Observation

Course Code
PSYC 2450
Anneke Olthof

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Developmental Psychology
Chapter 1:
Infant, Children, Adolescence in the Premodern and Modern world
Infants become capable of walking and uttering their first meaningful words at about
the age of 1
Individuals reach sexual maturity between ages of 11 and 15, and then age and die
on roughly similar schedules.
Most developmental changes are the product of BOTH maturation and learning
Normative development: Developmental changes that characterize most or all
members of a species; typical patterns of development
Ideographic development: Individual variations in the rate, extent or, direction of
The first 12 years are an extremely important part of the life span that sets the stage
for adolescence and adulthood.
Human development is a continual and cumulative process as we continue to change
with our final change being when we die.
At a time, developmentalists were divided into three groups: (1) those who studied
physical growth and development, including bodily changes and the sequencing of
motor skills, (2) those who studied cognitive aspects of development, including
perception, language, learning, and thinking and (3) those who concentrated on
psychosocial aspects of development, including emotions, personality, and the
growth of interpersonal relationships.
Now, this classification is known as misleading, for researchers who work in any of
these areas have found that changes in one aspect of development have important
implications for other aspects Holistic Perspective
Prenatal Period Conception to Birth
Infancy First year of Life
Toddler Period 18 months to 3 years
Preschool Period 3 years to 5 years
Middle Childhood 5 years to 12 or so years of age (until the onset of
Adolescence 12 or so to 20 years of age (many developmentalists
define the end of adolescence as the point at which the
individual begins to work and is reasonably independent
of parental sanctions)
Young Adult 20 to 40 years of age
Middle age 40 to 65 years of age
Old age 65 years or older
Plasticity: capacity for a change in response to positive or negative life experiences
a developmental state that has the potential to be shaped by experience

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Since human development is so plastic, children who have horrible starts can often
be helped to overcome their deficiencies.
Development is also influences by societal changes: historic events such as wars,
technological breakthroughs, and social causes such as gay and lesbian movements.
Each generation develops in its own way and each generation changes the world for
succeeding generations. Therefore we cannot assume that developmental patterns
observed in North American or European children (the most heavily studied
population) are optimal, or even that they characterize people developing in eras or
cultural settings (culture has a huge influence on individuals).
It is important to look at the historical and cultural context of humans to appreciate
the diversity of human development
Contemporary Western Societies can be described as “child-centered”: Parents focus
much of their lives on their children.
Childhood and adolescence were not always regarded as the very special and
sensitive periods that we regard them as today.
In early days of recorded history, children had few if any rights, and their elders did
not always value their lives. Carthaginians often killed children as religious sacrifices
and embedded them in the walls of buildings to “strengthen” these structures.
Until the fourth century A.D., Roman parents were legally entitled to kill their
deformed, illegitimate, or otherwise unwanted infants.
Even wanted children were treated with cruelty… for ex. Spartan boys.
Not all early societies treated their children with such harshness however, for
several centuries A.D., children were viewed as possessions.
The medieval era was a bit better for children but they were still not coddled and
indulged to the extent that today’s children are.
During the 17th and 18th centuries, attitudes toward children changed. Religious
leaders preached that children were innocent and helpless souls that should be
guarded from the reckless behavior of adults. This is when children started to be
sent to school.. Primary reason for school was to provide proper moral and religious
education but secondary things suck as reading and writing would transfer the
innocents into “servants and workers” who would provide society “with a good labor
Children were still considered family possessions however people were urged to
treat them with warmth and affection.
Adolescence as a separate entity came to be in the 20th century, most likely due to
the spread of industry in Western societies. (Laws in 19th century to restrict child
labor and make school compulsory)
Due to schooling, teens were spending most of their time with age-mates rather than
adults. Due to this, teenagers developed peer cultures and adolescence was
The reason for the drastic change of people’s attitudes towards children can be that
people’s philosophies of children were changing… there was a new look at trying to
understand questions such as whether children are inherently good or bad etc
Thomas Hobbes his doctrine of original sin held that children are inherently selfish
egoists who must be restrained by society

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Jean Jacques his doctrine of innate purity maintained that children are born with
an intuitive sense of right and wrong that society often corrupts.
John Locke believed that the mind of an infant is a tabula rasa, or a “blank slate”
and that children have no inborn tendencies. Therefore, children are neither
inherently good, nor bad.
Hobbes and Locke believed that children’s roles are passive as they are to be trained
by society to learn to do good.
Rosseau believed that children are actively involved in shaping their own intellects
and personalities.
Since these philosophers had no empirical data to back up their theories, systematic
studies began around the 19th century in the form of baby biographies a detailed
record of an infant’s growth and development over a period of time.
Charles Darwin is the most influential of baby biographers… he made daily records
of the early developments of his son. His interest in child development stemmed
from his earlier interest in evolution.
Due to baby biographers all focusing in different aspects of child development,
parents being objective and possibly, the biographers letting their own assumptions
influence their findings, many biographies were based on single children but a single
child cannot be representative of other children.
Even though there were many shortcomings, baby biographers were on the right
G. Stanley Hall conducted the first large-scale scientific investigation of children and
because of this, he is considered by most, to be the father of developmental
psychology. He developed questionnaires and set out to ask children questions as he
was interested in their thinking. He found that children’s understanding of the world
grows rapidly during childhood and that the “logic” of young children is not very
He later also wrote a book called Adolescence (1904) that was the first work to call
attention to adolescence as a unique phase of the human life span.
At the same time as Hall, a neurologist named Sigmund Freud was using another
fruitful way of retrieving information on the minds of children: Psychoanalytic
A theory is a set of concepts and propositions that describe and explain some aspect
of experience. Theories help us to describe and explain various patterns of behavior
(in psychology). GOOD theories have the ability to predict future events.
Research Methods:
The Scientific method - the use of objective and replicable methods to gather data
for the purpose of testing a theory or hypothesis. It dictates that, above all,
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