Chapter 8: Social and Personality Development in Early Childhood
I. Theories of Social and Personality Development
A. Psychoanalytic Perspectives – (optional reading – not on the exams)
B. Social-Cognitive Perspectives
1. Define the viewpoint held by Social-Cognitive Theories.
- Assumption that social and emotional changes in the child are the result of (or facilitated by) enormous growth in
cognitive abilities that happens during preschool years.
i. Person Perception
2. (a) Define person perception: the ability to classify others according to categories such as age, gender, and race.
(b) Why are preschoolers’ observations and categorizations of people inconsistent?
- Perception of others is based on recent events
- Perception of others is based on observable characteristics
- Perception of others is often based on their own characteristics (e.g. remembering those who are similar to you in terms of
race or age more easily)
(c) Define the cross-race effect and age when it is established.
- A phenomenon in which individuals are more likely to remember the faces of people of their own race than the faces of people
of a different race.
- Established around age 5
ii. Understanding Rule Categories
3. (a) What is the difference between social conventions and moral rules?
- Social conventions have nothing to do with our fundamental sense of right and wrong, whereas violations of moral rules may
greatly trouble/upset us.
(b) When do children appear to understand this difference?
- Around 2-3 years
- Develops as a consequence of preschoolers’ increasing capacity for classification and adults’ tendency to emphasize moral
transgressions more than social-convention violations when punishing children.
iii. Understanding Others’ Intentions
4. What influences preschoolers’ judgments of others’ intent according to the research findings by Nelson (1980)? See third
- Preschoolers don’t fully understand intent or intentions because they focus on outcomes of actions (limited in ability to
base judgments entirely on intentions)
- Ex. They might not understand if something is a mistake, they will just look at the result of the mistake
- *Children can make judgments about a person’s intentions when faced with abstract problems and when personally
motivated by desire to avoid punishment.
II. Family Relationships and Structure
5. (a) Compare attachment at 12 months and at 2-3 years of age
- 12 months: attachment to at least 1 caregiver
- 2-3 years: attachment is just as strong, but attachment behaviors are less visible
- They feel more secure wandering further from the parents’ as a “safe base” when not afraid/under stress - They can deal with potential anxiety due to separation by creating shared plans with parents
(b) How does attachment change when preschoolers are approximately 4 years old?
- Attachment more easily affects behavior: securely attached children display fewer behavior problems (-mixed-
ambivalent attached children are more prone to displaying outward-focused behavioral problems)
(c) Preschoolers’ compliance is context-dependent. Identify two contexts or situations that are associated with high
compliance and two contexts or situations that are associated with low compliance.
- High compliance:
- More compliance with safety requests (“Don’t touch that, it’s hot!”)
- More compliance with prohibitions about care of objects (“Don’t tear up the book.”)
- Low compliance:
- Low compliance with requests to delay (“I can’t talk to you now, I’m on the phone.”)
- Lower compliance with instructions of self-care (“Please wash your hands now.”)
B. Parenting Styles
- 4 aspects of family functioning:
- clarity/consistency of rules
- level of expectations (maturity demands)
- communication between parent and child
i. The Authoritarian Type – See lecture notes
ii. The Permissive Type – See lecture notes
iii. The Authoritative Type - See lecture notes
iv. The Uninvolved Type - See lecture notes
v. Canadian Parenting Styles - (optional reading – not on the exams)
vi. Parenting and Child Discipline
Note: The definition of discipline will be discussed in the lecture templates.
6. (a) Identify the two key problems that make it difficult to establish what constitutes effective discipline.
- Difficulty establishing harmful or beneficial effects of various forms of discipline (e.g. physical vs. verbal
- Research has not concluded how intense and frequent effective discipline needs to be
(b) What do Canadian child-care advocates suggest in terms of the most appropriate child discipline methods? (See top of
- Use of minimal nonphysical interventions in context of a loving family relationship
- Proactive parenting: improving parenting skills, anticipating/limiting situations which require intervention
(c) Define inductive discipline: a discipline strategy in which parents explain to children why a punished behavior is wrong
- This helps most preschoolers gain control of their behavior and learn to look at situations from perspectives other than
(d) Identify the research findings related to the effectiveness of inductive discipline.
- Inductive discipline not equally inductive for all parents
- Children with difficult temperaments or physically active, risk-taking natures: greater need for firm
discipline, less benefit from inductive discipline
- 4 dimensions of parent-child relationships
- positive Research Report: “Disciplining Children: The Canadian Perspective” (p. 215)
Note: Paragraphs one, two, and three of this “Research Report” is covered in the lecture templates.
7. Read the final/fourth paragraph in this “Research Report”. According to Joan Durrant (2004), Canada’s law on permitted
spanking of children leaves many questions unanswered. Identify what remains unanswered, according to Durrant.
- How should parents distinguish between physical punishment and physical abuse?
- What is an acceptable degree of and circumstance for physical discipline?
- Open handed only?
- So long as there is not mark/bruise?
- How many slaps?
- How calm do parents need to be before physical punishment?
- Does child need to remain motionless in awkward stance?
C. Ethnicity, Socioeconomic Status, and Parenting Styles
- Parenting styles may be depending on cultural context: if cultural context changes, the best type of parenting style
changes with it
8. (a) Identify the research findings on Asian American parenting
- Asian American parents are typically more authoritarian
- Positive correlation found between authoritarian parenting style and high-scoring children
- No associated negative outcomes found
(b) Identify the research findings on Aboriginal child-rearing practices in Canada
- Permissive style parenting
- No negative outcomes found
D. Family Structure - (optional reading – not on the exams)
9. Summarize all four paragraphs in this section (pp. 221 to 222 and Figure 8.6).
- Divorce slowing declining since all-time peak: 1987 (50% divorces by 14 years, 25% by 4 years)
- Divorce more likely during prime child-rearing period
- Divorce: traumatic for children (some negative effects may have been result of factors present before divorce: difficult
temperament of child, marital conflict between parents)
- Divorce not a single variable: children affected by multitude of divorce-related factors (poverty, parental conflict,
disruptions of daily routine)
- Most children in two-parent homes or post-divorce homes are doing well (children in post-divorce homes tend to show
more prosocial behavior)
- Children in two-parent homes: lower anxiety, emotional disorder, hyperactivity, inattention, conduct disorder,
- Children in post-divorce homes: higher prosocial behavior
- Few years after parents’ divorce: decline in grades, increased defiant/aggressive behavior (later: more likely to engage in
- This is even truer for children living in step-parent families
- Negative effects of divorce persist for many years (even into adulthood for some: more risk for mental health problems)
- Divorced parents: lack financial resources/emotional support for child to succeed in post-secondary education, children
struggle with fears of intimacy in relationships, more likely to rely on social assistance income
- Effects: more pronounced for boys (maybe delayed effects in girls?)
- Research: girls may have equal/greater long-term negative effects
F. Understanding the Effects of Family Structure and D