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Chapter 1

Chapter 1-Introduction to Developmental Psychology and Its Research Strategies.docx

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Department
Psychology
Course
PSYC 2450
Professor
Anneke Olthof
Semester
Fall

Description
Chapter 1: Introduction to Developmental Psychology and Its Research Strategies What is Development?  Development refers to systematic continuities and changes that occur between conception and death o Systematic implies that the changes are orderly, patterned, and relatively enduring o Continuities are ways in which we remain the same or continue to reflect our past  Development sciences are multidisciplinary but development psychology is the largest of disciplines What Causes Us to Develop?  2 important processes underlying development: o Maturation: refers to biological unfolding of the individual according to species-typical biological inheritance and an individual’s biological inheritance  Human maturational biological program calls for us to become capable of walking and uttering first words by about 1; to reach sexual maturity between 11-15, to age and die on roughly similar schedule  Partly responsible for psychological changes like increasing ability to concentrate, solve problems, and understand another person’s thoughts or feelings  One reason for humans being so alike is that our common species heredity guides all of us through many of the same developmental changes at similar times in our lives o Learning: process through which our experiences produce relatively permanent changes in our feelings, thoughts, and behaviours  Many of our abilities and habits require learning and we often learn to feel, think, and behave in new ways through observations of and interactions with parents, teachers, etc. as well as from events that we experience  Most developmental changes are the product of both these processes What Goals Do Developmentalists Pursue?  3 major goals: o Describe: Developmentalists carefully observe the behaviour of people of different ages, seeking to specify how people change over time  Though there are typical paths people follow, no two people are exactly alike. To adequately describe development, it is necessary to focus on both typical patterns of change (normative development) and on individual variations in patterns of change (ideographic development) o Explain: hope to determine why people develop as they do and why some don’t follow the same path as others  Centres both on normative changes within the individual and on variations in development between individuals o Optimize: applying what they have learned in attempts to help people develop in positive directions  Is the practical side of study of human development  Many believe that these optimization goals will increasingly influence research agendas in the future as Developmentalists show greater interest in solving real problems and communicating the practical implications of their findings to the public and policymakers Some Basic Observations about the Character of Development  D have learned that the first 12 years are important for setting the stage for adolescence and adulthood  Human development is best described as a continual and cumulative process  Focus of D is on the first 5 periods of life: o Prenatal, infancy and toddlerhood, preschool, middle childhood, and adolescence  Still a young discipline with many unresolved issues  Used to be the case that D were split into 3 categories: o Those who studied physical growth and development, including bodily changes and the sequencing of motor skills o Those who studied cognitive aspects f development, including perception, language, and thinking o Those who concentrated on psychosocial aspects of development, including emotions, personality, and the growth of interpersonal relationships  Now know that this is misleading, as researchers who work in any of these areas know that changes in one aspect can have implications in other aspects o E.g. popularity in public school is dependent on social skills, as well as various aspects of cognitive and physical development  Development is a holistic process  Plasticity refers to a capacity for change in response to positive or negative life experiences  Course of development can change abruptly if important aspects of a person’s life change o Allows children to overcome negative, early experiences  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 cultural socialization has a strong influence on attributes and competencies that individuals display  Societal changes also influence development o E.g. wars, the Internet, etc. Human Development in Historical Perspective  Contemporary Western societies can be described as “child-centered” o Parents focus much of their lives on children, spend a great deal of money to care for and educate them, excuse children from shouldering the full responsibilities of adulthood until attaining the legal age, when they have presumably gained the wisdom and skill to adapt to adult life  Not always thought of this way Childhood in Premodern Times  Early days of recorded history children had few, if any, rights and their lives were not always valued by their elders o Ancient Carthaginians often killed children as religious sacrifices and embedded them in the walls of buildings to strengthen them o Until the 4 century CE Roman parents were legally entitled to kill their deformed, illegitimate, or otherwise unwanted infants  Even wanted children were treated harshly by today’s standards o E.g. Spartan children strictly trained for battle  For several centuries CE children were viewed as family possessions that had no rights and whom parents were free to exploit as they saw fit th o Wasn’t until 12 century CE that legislation equated infanticide with murder  During the medieval era, children were not coddled to the extent of modern day one o Were dressed in miniature versions of adult clothing and worked alongside them o Medieval law generally made no distinction between childhood and adult offences o Childhood was still considered a distinct phase of life, and children were thought to have certain needs above and beyond those of adults Toward Modern-Day Views on Childhood th th  During 17 and 18 centuries, attitudes toward children and child rearing began to change  Religious leaders of the time stressed that children were innocent and helpless souls who should be shielded from behaviour of adults o One method of accomplishing this was to send young people to school  Primary purpose of schooling was to instill proper moral and religious education though it was now recognized that teaching important subsidiary skills would transform the innocents into servants and workers who would provide society with a good labour force  Still considered family possessions but parents were now discouraged from abusing their children, urged instead to treat them with more warmth and affection  Formal recognition of adolescence as distinct phase of life came during early years of the 20 century  Spread of industry through Western society is most responsible for invention of adolescence o As immigrants took over the jobs that had formerly been filled by children and teenagers, young people became economic liabilities rather than assets o Increasingly complex technology of industrial operations placed a premium on obtaining an educated labour force o Laws were passed in late 19 century to restrict child labour and make schooling compulsory o Since children were now being surrounded by people their own age and separated from adults they began to develop their own peer cultures which resulted in teenagers being viewed as their own class of individual  After WWII, adolescent experience broadened as increasing numbers of high school graduates postponed marriages and careers to pursue college and university educations o Increased life span is part of the reason for this, as it created an opportunity to take time for exploration in adolescence o Is not unusual for people to delay their entry into the adult world until their mid- to late- 20s, which society condones by requiring workers to obtain increasingly specialized training to pursue their chosen careers th  Likely that part of the reason attitudes towards children changed in the 17 and 18 century was due to the thinking of social philosophers o Lots of debate on issues that pretty much comprised the nature vs. nurture issue  These debates produced different perspectives on children and child rearing o Hobbes believed that children were inherently selfish egoists that must be restrained by society (original sin) o Rousseau believed that children are born with an intuitive sense of right and wrong that society often corrupts (innate purity)  Opposing beliefs like the above 2 led to much different beliefs on how to raise children: o Original sin proponents called for active control of their children while innate purity ones believed in giving children freedom  John Locke believed that the mind of an infant is a blank slate (tabula rasa) and that children have no inborn tendencies. This meant that how children turned out was completely dependent on their experiences o He was in favour of disciplined child rearing to ensure that they would develop good habits and acquire fewer bad ones  These philosophers also differ on question of child’s participation in their own development: o Hobbes believed that they were passive subjects to be molded by parents, due to their naturally selfish interests o Locke also believed that the child’s role is passive due to the infant’s mind being a blank slate o Rousseau believed that children were actively involved in the shaping of their own intellects and personalities  Period in the late 19 century when investigators began observing developments of their own children and publishing these data in works known as baby biographies o Most influential was Darwin as he believed that young, untrained infants share many characteristics with their nonhuman ancestors (not true) and advanced the idea that the development of the individual child retraces the entire evolutionary history of the species  Left much to be desired: o Different BB emphasized very different aspects of their children’s behaviour making it difficult to compare different baby biographies o Parents aren’t totally objective to their children’s behaviour o Based on only a single child Development of Children’s Rights in Canada  Issues regarding children’s rights evolved to match the development of the concept of childhood  C public policy on rights of children shows the struggle that societies face in their efforts to cope with evolving concept of childhood and inherent changes in the responsibilities of parents and society  Howe identifies 3 changes in C policy that reflect historical changes outlined above: o Children moved from being viewed as family property to dependents in need of state protection o This gave way to recognition that children were semi-independent individuals with rights of their own o Currently moving towards a recognition that children are entities in their own right and should be afforded the economic security guaranteed to other members of society Origins of a Science of Development  Hall conducted the first large-scale scientific investigation of children and is .:. considered the father of developmental psychology as a research discipline: o Was interested in children’s thinking and developed the questionnaire to explore children’s minds o Discovered their understanding of the world grows rapidly during childhood and that logic of young children isn’t very logical at all  Freud came up with the very popular psychoanalytic theory  Theory is a set of concepts and propositions that describe and explain some aspect of experience  Hypotheses are tested by collecting data Research Strategies: Basic Methods and Designs Research Methods in Child and Adolescent Development Scientific Method  Scientific method refers to use of objective and replicable methods to gather data for the purpose of testing a theory  Offers protection from flawed reasoning by evaluating the merits of various theoretical pronouncements against the objective record Gathering Data: basic Fact Finding Strategies  Useful measures must have 2 important qualities: o Reliability—reliable if it yields consistent info over time and across observers  Interrater reliability—measure produces comparable estimates from independent observers  Temporal stability—yields similar results for individuals from one testing to another shortly after o Validity—valid if it measures what it is supposed to measure. It must be reliable before it can be valid. Researcher must demonstrate thy are measuring the attribute they say they are measuring before Self-Report Methodologies Interviews and Questionnaires  Researchers ask the child, or parents, questions pertaining to such aspects of development as the child’s behaviour, feelings, beliefs, or characteristic methods of thinking o Questionnaire involves putting questions on paper and asking participants to respond to them while interviews require respondent to respond orally  If procedure is a structured interview or structured questionnaire all who participate in the study are asked the same questions in th
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