Chapter 1: Introduction to Developmental Psychology and Its
January 11 th
What is Development?
Development: refers to systematic continuities and changes in the individual that
occur between conception (father’s sperm penetrates mother’s ovum creating new
organism) and death.
- These changes are systematic meaning they are orderly, patterned, and
- Continuities: refers to the ways in which we remain the same or continue to
reflect our past.
Developmental Psychology: branch of psychology devoted to identifying and
explaining the continuities and changes that individuals display over time.
- Developmentalist: refers to any scholar regardless of discipline who seeks to
understand the developmental process.
What Causes Us To Develop?
Maturation: refers to the developmental changes in the body or behaviour that
result form the aging process rather than from learning, injury, illness or some other
life experience. (i.e. increasing ability to concentrate, solve problems, and
understand another person’s thoughts or feelings.)
Learning: relatively permanent change in behaviour (or behavioral potential) that
results from ones experiences or practice.
- Changes in our thoughts, feelings and behaviors.
- We change in response to our environments, particularly in response to the
actions and reactions of the people around us.
What Goals do Developmentalists Pursue?
- Three major goals of the developmental sciences are to describe, to explain
and to optimize development.
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
- Explain development by determining why people develop as they typically
do and why some people develop differently then others.
- Optimize development by applying what they have learned in attempts to
help people develop in positive directions.
Character of Development
Prenatal period = Conception – birth
Infancy = Birth – 1 8 months
Toddler period = 18 months – 3 years
Preschool period = 3 – 5 years
Middle childhood = 5-12 or so years (until onset of puberty)
Adolescence = 12 or so – 20 years
A Holistic Process: unified view of developmental process that emphasizes the
important interrelationships among the physical, mental, social,
and emotional aspects of human development.
Plasticity: capacity for change; developmental state that has the potential to be
shaped by experience.
Historical/Cultural Context: Each culture, subculture, and social class transmits a
particular pattern of beliefs, values, customs, and skills to its younger generations,
and the content of this socialization has a strong influence on the attributes and
competencies that individuals display.
- Development is also influenced by societal changes: wars, technological
breakthroughs (internet), gay or lesbian movement.
History of Development
Childhood in Pre-modern Times
- In the past children were not treated as well; Romans were entitled to kill
their deformed or unwanted children. After it was outlawed to kill children,
children were left to die and be sold as servants; even wanted children were
treated harshly by today’s standards.
- In Sparta Rome men were treated harshly to toughen them for war and in
Carthage Rome and Sparta for several years they treated infanticide as
acceptable and not equal to the killing of a child. - Medieval times brought more equality to children and there was no
difference between adult and children offences.
Toward Modern-Day Views on Childhood
- During the 17 and 18 centuries, attitudes towards children and child
rearing began to change. Schools were made and the primary purpose was to
provide moral and religious education. Children were still considered family
possessions, but abuse was looked down upon.
- Formal recognition of adolescence as a distinct phase of life came in the 20 th
century- happened because the increasing complex technology of industrial
operations placed value on obtaining an educated labour force. Laws were
placed in the late 19 century to restrict child labor and make schooling
compulsory. Teens were placed in the same setting and all hanging out and
its then they became known as their own distinct class.
Early Philosophical Perspectives on Childhood
Original Sin (Thomas Hobbes): idea that children are inherently negative creatures
who must be taught to rechannel their selfish interests into socially acceptable
Innate Purity (Jean Jacques Rousseau): idea that infants are born with an intuitive
sense of right and wrong that is often misdirected by the demands and restrictions
Tabula Rasa (John Locke): the idea that the mind of an infant is a “blank state” and
that all knowledge, abilities, behaviours and motives are acquired through
- Locke and Hobbes maintained children should be passive in their own
development and parents mould them. Rousseau on the other hand believed
children should be active participants in their own development- described
child as motivated explorer.
Baby Biographies: a detailed record of an infant’s growth and development over a
period of time. (i.e. Charles Darwin and his theory of evolution: studied his son and
noted that untrained infants share many characteristics with their non-human
ancestors, illustrating further the descent of man) Development of Children’s Rights In Canada
3 changes that affected the development of children’s rights in Canada are:
- Moved from being viewed as family property to dependents in need of state
- The recognition that children were semi-independent individuals with rights
of their own.
- Moving toward recognition that children are entities in their own right and
should be afforded the economic security guaranteed to other members of
Origins of Science of Development
- Stanley Hall: considered to be the founder of developmental psychology- he
set out in the late 19 century to collect more objective info on samples, he
developed the questionnaire.
- Sigmund Freud: developed one of the first theories to explain development –
Theory: a set of concepts and propositions designed to organize, describe, and
explain an existing set of observations.
Hypothesis: a theoretical prediction about some aspect of experience.
Research Methods in Child and Adolescent Development
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, investigators
must be objective and must allow their data to decide the merits of their thinking.
Reliability: the extent to which a measuring instrument yields consistent results,
both over time and across observers.
Validity: the extent to which a measuring instrument accurately reflects what the
researchers intended to measure.
Interviews & Questionnaires: (structured) a technique in which all participants are
asked the same questions in precisely the same order so that the responses of
different participants can be compared.
The Clinical Method: a type of interview in which a participant’s response to each
successive question or problem determines what the investigator will ask next. Observational Methodologies
Naturalistic Observation: method in which the scientist tests hypotheses by
observing people as they engage in everyday life activities. (i.e. schools, public parks
Time Sampling: a procedure in which the investigator records the frequencies with
which individuals display particular behaviours during the brief time interv