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Chapter 1

PSYC*1130 Chapter Notes - Chapter 1: World View, Continuous Function, Educational Assessment

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Developmental Psychology Chapter 1
The Scope and Methods of Developmental Psychology
Developmental psychology can be defined as the discipline that attempts to describe and
explain the changed that occur overtime in though, behaviour, reasoning and functioning of a
person due to biological, individual and environmental influences
Studying Changes with Age:
Newborn has limited means of communication
By 18-24 months - all this has changed; child has formed relationships with others, has learned
a lot about the physical world, ad is about to undergo a vocabulary explosion as language
development leaps ahead
By the time of adolescence the child is a mature, thinking individual actively striving to come
to terms with a rapidly changing and complex society
What is important is the maturation and changes resulting from experience that intervene
between the different ages and stages of childhood: the term maturation refers to those aspects
of development that are primarily under genetic control, and which are relatively uninfluenced
by the environment
With respect to environmental factors, we wouldn’t expect a 5 year old to know calculus
Developmental psychologists study age-related changed in behaviour and development, but
underlying their descriptions of these changes is the clear understanding that increasing age by
itself causes nothing, and so we always need to look for the many factors that cause
development to take place
Concepts of Human Development:
‘folk’ theories of development - ideas held about development that are not based upon
scientific investigation
Folk’ theories of development: Punishment or praise
We all have theories and views on how children should be reared
This views come from our upbringing, our peers’ experiences, our parents’ ideas and etc
This views will influence how we bring up our own children and there is often
intergenerational continuity of childcare practices
Spare the rod and spoil the child
Susanna Wesley’s views originate from a belief that children are born in a state of sin and it is
therefore necessary to use all means to save their souls, almost from birth
All sweetness and light: Like begets like
There are two opposing ‘folk’ theories about child rearing: (1) children need to be punished
regularly in order to develop as pleasant, law-abiding citizen — failure to use harsh physical
punishment carried with it the possibility, if not certainty, that the child will grow up to be
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disobedient, and their very soul may be at risk.; (2) the contrary view is that children are born
inherently good, a view that carries the implication that the use of physical punishment might
be unnecessary, perhaps even harmful
Defining development according to the world views
psychologists, who study children’s development, also have different views of development
The manner in which development is defined and the areas of development that are of interest
to individuals researches, will lead them to use different methods of studying development
The eminent developmental psychology Lerner defines a world view (also called paradigm ,
model or world hypothesis) as ‘a philosophical system of ideas that served to organize a set or
family of scientific theories and associated scientific methods’
They are beliefs we adopt, which are often open to empirical test- that is, we simply believe
Many developmental theories fall under organismic and mechanistic
Organismic world view
According to the organismic world view a person is represented as a biological organism that
is inherently active and continually interacting with the environment, and therefore helping to
shape its own development
World view emphasizes that interaction between maturation and experience that leads to the
development of a new internal, psychological structures for processing environmental input
An analogy is the qualitative change that occurs when molecules of two gases hydrogen and
oxygen, combine to form a liquid, water. Other qualitative changes happen to water when it
changes from frozen (ice) to liquid (water) to steam (vapour). Depending on the temperature
these qualitative changed in the state of water are easily reversed, but in human development
the qualitative changes that take place are rarely, if ever, reversible - that is, each new state
represents an advance on the preceding stage and the individual does not regress to former
The new stage is not simply reducible to components of the previous stage
For example, the organism appears to pass through structural stages during foetal development
In the first stage (period of the Ovum) - cells multiply and form cluster
In the second stage (period of the Embryo) - the major body parts are formed by cell
multiplication, specialization and migration as well as cell death
In the last stage (period of the Foetus) - the body parts mature and begin to operate as an
integrated system
Piaget is the best example of an organismic theories
Piaget suggest that cognitive development occurs in stages and that the reasoning of the child
at one stage is qualitatively different from that at the earlier and later stages
Mechanistic world view
According to the mechanistic world view a person can be represented as being like a machine
(such as a computer), which is inherently passive until stimulated by the environment
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Human behaviour is reducible to the operation of fundamental behaviour units that are
acquired in a gradual, cumulative manner
The frequency of behaviours can increase with age due to various learning processes and they
can decrease with age when they no longer have any functional consequence, or lead to
negative consequences
Ways of Studying Development:
The various strategies that developmental psychologists use can be subdivided in to two
interrelated categories - designs that enable us to study age-related changes in behaviour, and
the associated research methods that are used to collect the information or data about
Designs for studying age-related changes
In all studies which describe behavioural changes with age, one of two general developmental
designs, either the cross-sectional or the longitudinal are used
There is a third approach - the sequential design - which often gives a partial solution for the
limitations imposed by the use of only one method
Cross-sectional designs
Cross-sectional design - a study where children of different ages are observed at a single point
in time
Most common method
It only describes age differences
There is no way to derive an estimate of the continuity or discontinuity of various processes
over age because performance is averaged over different individuals at each age
Longitudinal designs
Longitudinal designs - a study where more than one observation of the same group of children
is made at different points in their development
The data are summarized by plotting the group average as a function of age; but, by looking at
each individual’s data, we can determine if there is a gradual change with age or a sudden shift
in performance more characteristic of stage-like development
Problems with longitudinal designs - cost is high, time consuming, difficult to schedule, takes
time to complete a study
Cohort - a group of people who were raised in the same environment or who share certain
demographic characteristics
Micro-genetic methods
Micro-genetic method - a method that examines change as it occurs and involves individual
children being tested repeatedly, typically over a short period of time so that the density of
observations is high compared with the typical longitudinal study
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