Chapter 1: Independent Questions
I. The Scientific Study of Human Development
1. Define developmental psychology.
the scientific study of age- related changes in our bodies, behaviour, thinking, emotions, social
relationships, and personalities
A. Philosophical Roots
2. Identify the key ideas offered by:
(a) The doctrine of original sin,
For centuries, the Christian doctrine of original sin has influenced Western world views on
human development. This doctrine teaches that all humans are born with a selfish and stubborn
nature because of the sin of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden. Even when people do good
works, this doctrine says, they do so for selfish reasons. For example, a man may give money to
charity so that others will admire him.
Rousseau claimed that all humans have innate goodness. This view asserts that all human
beings are naturally good and seek out experiences that help them grow (Ozman & Craver, 1986).
Rousseau believed that, just as an acorn contains everything necessary to make an oak tree,
children have within themselves everything they need to grow up to be com- petent and moral
adults. Like acorns, children need only nutrition and protection to reach their full potential. For
Rousseau, the goal of human development is to achieve one’s inborn potential. “Good” behaviour
results from growing up in an environment that doesn’t interfere with the individual’s attempts to
do so. In contrast, “bad” behaviour is learned from others or happens when a person experiences
frustration in his efforts to express the innate goodness with which he was born. Therefore, like
the original sin view, the innate goodness perspective suggests that development involves a
struggle between internal and external factors.
John Locke proposed that the mind of a child is a blank slate. Locke said, “I imagine the
minds of children as easily turned, this or that way, as water” (Ozman & Craver, 1986, p. 62).
The blank slate view suggests that adults can mould children into whatever they want them to be.
Therefore, differences among adults can be explained in terms of differences in their childhood
environments. Thus, from this per- spective, development—whether its results are good or bad—
takes place because of external, environmental factors acting on a person, whose only relevant
internal characteristic is the capacity to respond.
(d) If you attended an elementary school that endorsed a policy to reduce teacher control
because students are viewed as naturally possessing the desire or internal motivation to invest
the necessary time and effort to maximize their own learning, this policy would best reflect
the philosophical ideas of ___b______. (Choose between 2 a, b, or c)
B. The Study of Human Development Becomes a Science Since the 1930s many academics outside of philosophy (for examples, biology, psychology,
sociology, neurology, and family studies) have been reframing early philosophical ideas into
scientific theories that can be tested/evaluated using scientific research methods. This section
reviews some of the early scientific theories that have influenced contemporary scientific theories
(which we’ll review in chapter two).
3. (a) What important idea or concept did Darwin’s theory of evolution contribute to
Charles Darwin and other evolutionists believed they could understand the development of
the human species by studying child development. Many, including Darwin, kept detailed
records of their own children’s early development (called baby biographies), in the hope of
finding evidence to support the theory of evolution (Charlesworth, 1992). These were the first
organized studies of human development.
Darwin’s theory of evolution is the source of many important ideas in modern developmental
psychology. For example, the concept of developmental stages comes from evolutionary
theory. However, critics of baby biographies claimed that studying children for the purpose
of proving a theory might cause observers to misinterpret or ignore important information.
(b) Identify two important ideas that Hall contributed to developmental psychology.
Stanley Hall of Clark University wanted to find more objective ways to study development.
He used questionnaires and interviews to study large numbers of children. His 1891 article titled
“The Contents of Children’s Minds on Entering School” repre- sented the first scientific study of
child development (White, 1992). Hall agreed with Darwin that the milestones of childhood were
similar to those that had taken place in the development of the human species. He thought that
develop- mentalists should identify norms, average ages at which milestones are reached. Norms,
Hall said, could be used to learn about the evolution of the species as well as to track the
development of individual children.
(c) Explain Watson’s theory of behaviourism.
the view that defines development in terms of behaviour changes caused by environ- mental
(d) Which early philosophical idea is Watson’s scientific theory of Behaviourism applying?
(Choose between 2a, b, or c)
(e) Gesell put forth the idea of maturation. Define maturation.
the gradual unfolding of genetically programmed sequential patterns of changes
(f) Piaget spent SIX decades studying _______studying the development of logical thinking
in children____________. (fill in the blank)
C. A Brief History of the Roots of Psychology in Canada – (optional reading – not on the midterm exam)
II. Contemporary Developmental Psychology As I mentioned above, chapter two presents a review of the contemporary scientific theories we’ll
study throughout the course. The purpose of this section is to outline how the early scientific
theories you reviewed in question #3 are different from the more contemporary scientific
4. Identify and explain THREE ways that contemporary developmental psychology has
The life expectancy has increased
Things like mid-life crisis’s and divorce
Other sciences influence the study of human development
A. The Lifespan Perspective
5. (a) Define the lifespan perspective.
the current view of develop- mentalists that changes hap- pen throughout the entire human
lifespan and that changes must be interpreted in light of the culture and context in which they
occur; thus, interdisciplinary research is critical to underst