PSYC 3850 Chapter Notes - Chapter 5: Tabula Rasa, Developmental Stage Theories, Black Slate

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Chapter 5: Basic Principles of Early Development
Human Development: Terminology, Concepts, and Theory
Concepts and Terms
o Life status refers to one’s physical, psychological and behavioral attributes, as well as to talents and abilities
All of these personal elements are influenced by genetic material inherited from parents plus environmental
circumstances that have nourished or impeded development
o Parents transmit genetic material to their offspring that strongly influences what the offspring become
o Genetic material is likened to a computer chip that encodes a number of messages, these messages are activated to influence
many aspects of physical and psychological growth:
Genotype: the genetic message makeup of an individual
o Established at conception by combining the sperm and ovum
o Genotype is usually constant
o Constancy fails when mutation/other error in cell division occurs
o Genotype NOT readily accessible for actual inspection (unlike the phenotype)
Phenotype: observable physical traits, may be used to draw inferences about the genotype
o Phenotype is the observable result of interaction between the genotype and the environment
Growth matrix: the result of interactions between heredity and environment, partially observable (it includes the
phenotype), also includes all the internal aspects of a child that generate e a given response in a particular situation
o Combination of phenotype and genotype
o Growth matrix changes as interactions occur between organism and its environment
Maturation: any development or change in the status or underlying process of a behavioral trait that takes places in the
demonstrable absence of specific practical experience
o Also occurs in absence of specific instruction (this is what distinguishes maturation from learning)
Learning: changes associated with specific practice or instruction
Readiness (readiness for an experience): exists when a child is at a point in development (including previous
maturation and learning) where he or she might be expected to profit from a particular situation
o Example: “reading readiness”- the point in a child’s development at which one could expect progress as a
result of exposure to reading experience or instruction
o Developmental readiness includes both maturation and previous learning (no magic formula to predict specific
amounts of each)
o If you have deficient maturational or previous learning, child would be inadequate to establish readiness
Developmental Theories
o Different theories about human growth and development
Preformationist Perspective (had an early following)
o The human organism is preformed before birth; the foundation elements of human behavior are intact from the beginning and do
NOT qualitatively develop or change during life
o Denied importance of growth and development
o This theory is similar to homuncular theory of human reproduction: a completely formed, tiny person existed in the sperm
Tiny person called a homunculus, began to grow in size at conception but did not change in the sense that tissue changes
occurred qualitatively (i.e. formation of various organs)
o Environmental effects on human development were discounted
o Neither new growth nor directional influence of development did much to change the preformed organism
Predeterministic Perspective
o Similar to that of the preformationists- outcome of both theories essentially the same: environmental influence was thought to be
minimal
Growth patterns are viewed as innate or internally regulated
o However some significant differences between two theoretical positions
Qualitative growth and tissue differentiation played substantial role in theories of predeterminism
Predeterminism has doctrine of recapitulation (G. Stanley Hall)
Recapitulation: the development of the child from conception to maturity progressed through all of the evolutionary
phases of the human race (popular theory around turn of the century)
Tabula Rasa Perspective
o Tabula rasa: approaches that emphasize the prepotency of environmental influences
Term means blank slate, popularized by John Locke in 17th century
Emphasizes extreme environmental impact
Opposite from the preformationist/predeterministic theories
Minimizes influence of internal factors (heredity), environment seen as playing predominant role in all aspects of
development
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Document Summary

Chapter 5: basic principles of early development: life status refers to one"s physical, psychological and behavioral attributes, as well as to talents and abilities. Phenotype: observable physical traits, may be used to draw inferences about the genotype: phenotype is the observable result of interaction between the genotype and the environment. Learning: changes associated with specific practice or instruction. If you have deficient maturational or previous learning, child would be inadequate to establish readiness. Developmental theories: different theories about human growth and development. Preformationist perspective (had an early following: the human organism is preformed before birth; the foundation elements of human behavior are intact from the beginning and do. Not qualitatively develop or change during life: denied importance of growth and development, this theory is similar to homuncular theory of human reproduction: a completely formed, tiny person existed in the sperm.

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