Major Trends in the Field

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University of Toronto Mississauga

• Major Trends in the Field of Life-Span Psychology • Development is Multidimensional Physical Cognitive Social Emotional • Development is Variable, not every aspect of someone develops at the same time and rate. Example: child is physically mature but emotionally immature. • Focus on the “whole Life” verses the years between Birth and Puberty. • Continuity (Gradual & Consistent Changes) vs. Discontinuity (Sudden, Abrupt Changes) in Human Development • Development is Cumulative. Early experiences are very influential. • Stability vs. Change in development. Personality Characteristics vs. Environmental Influences (Major Life Events) • Development is often Cyclical and Repetitive. Example: Identity crisis at 18, 30, 40, & 65. • Individual Differences in human development. Early vs. Late Maturation Timing and Rates of development differ between individuals in social abilities, physical maturation, walking, talking, and cognitive abilities. • Cultural Differences in Human Development “Biological Time Clock ” vs. “Social Time Clock ” Appropriate times of marriage, sex, work, and children are all influenced by the social time clock. • Who is considered Old? 1920 55-58 1995 73-80 2020? • Changing Perceptions of Later Life: Adulthood and Old Age • Life Expecthncy – Before 20 century medical advances, average life expectancy was low – Today, twentieth-century life expectancy revolution! •Infectious diseases wiped out •Chronic diseases (heart disease, cancer, etc.) • New Stages – Young-old (60s, 70s) – Old-old (80s and beyond) • Nature (Genes) vs. Nurture (Environment) Debate: Are we shaped by biological/genetic forces or is the environment more influential? • Behaviorism: The Original “Nurture” Theory • Traditional Behaviorism: John Watson and B. F. Skinner – Nurture is all important! – A real science: study observable, measurable responses – If we understand the scientific laws of learning we can produce any behavior we want! • B. F. SKINNER OPERANT CONDITIONING • Conditioning = Learning • Operant Conditioning We behave a certain way because we are reinforced (rewarded) for certain behaviors. • Any behavior that is reinforced is likely to • Any behavior that is not reinforced or is punished is less likely to bed. • Evolutionary Psychology: Nature • Evolutionary psychologists focus on biological predispositions – Inborn, species-specific behaviors influence human development – Speculate about the genetic roots of human behaviors – Survival of the fittest! • Behavioral Genetics: Nature • Field devoted to scientifically determining the role that hereditary forces play in individual differences in behavior – Twin Studies (identical and fraternal) – Adoption Studies – Heritability- 1 (totally genetic) to 0 (no genetic contribution) • Statistic to summarize the extent to which a given behavior is shaped by genetics • Nature and Nurture Combined • Consider both nature and nurture when studying human development! • Inborn talents and temperamental tendencies naturally evoke certain responses from others. – Bidirectional forces in relationships • Active Forces – We actively select our environments based on our genetic tendencies. • Four Contexts of Development • Cohort: birth group • baby boom cohort • Socioeconomic Status (SES) education and income level Developed world; Developing world • Culture Collectivist and Individualist • Gender • A Different Perspective: Cognitive Behaviorism (Social Learning Theory)
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