chapter 1 notes

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14 Dec 2010

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Chapter 1
Child development: field of study that seeks to account for the gradual evolution
of the child’s cognitive, social and other capacities by 1st describing changes in
the child’s observed behaviours and then by uncovering the processes and
strategies that underlie these changes
oso basically child development answers the questionhow does the child
gradually understands complex relationships, learns new info, feels
responsible and interacts with others. 2 ways in which this is answered is:
identifies and describes the changes in child’s cognitive,
emotional, motor and social capacities and behaviour from
moment of conception through period of adolescence
field tries to uncover the processes that underlie these changes to
help explain how and why they occur
otherefore, developmental psychologist are interested in what things
change as children get older and how the changes come about
the reason why we should study child development is because better info
about it can help society protect and advance well being of children and can also
be used to shape social policy on behalf of children
Themes of Development
3 themes about psychological growth:
oOrigins of human behaviour
oPattern of developmental change over time
oIndividual and contextual factors that define and direct child
Origins of behaviour: biological vs environmental influences
Maturation: a genetically determined process of growth that unfolds naturally
over a period of time
oDevelopmental psychologist, Arnold gesell said that developmental was
mostly predetermined by biological factors and he [ ] on maturation
Behaviourist, John b. Watson looked at environmental factors and
said that by organizing the envionrment, he could make a genius or criminal
Now, there are no theories that support any of these extreme
positions, instead, they look at both nature and nurture interact to make
developmental variations in different children
Parents, peers, etc don’t just mold the child instead, children
influence and modify the actions of their parents and others they interact with
oSo interaction bw biology and environment is a active, dynamic process
where the child contributes to that process
Pattern of developmental change: continuity vs discontinuity
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2 basic patterns of developmental change:
oDevelopment as a continuous process where each new event builds on
earlier experiences figure 1-1a pg. 7. so developmental changes add
to/build on to earlier abilities in a cumulative or quantitative way without
any abrupt shifts from one change to the next
oDevelopment as a discontinuous process where there’s a series of discrete
steps/stages in which behaviours get reorganized into a qualitatively new
set of behaviours fig. 1-1b pg. 7
Contemporary child researchers see developmental as continuous
or quantitative but sometimes interspersed with periods of change that’s
discontinuous or qualitative fig.1-1c pg.7.
othis is knows as Robert siegler’soverlapping waves model suggesting
that children use various strategies in thinking and learning and that
cognition involves constant competition among different strategies rather
that using 1 strategy at a given level. The use of each strategy comes on
with increasing age and expertise
Forces that affect developmental change: Individual characteristics vs contextual and
cultural influences
many psychologist have an interactionist viewpoint, stressing the dual role of
individual and contextual factors
oex. Children who have aggressive personality who are in a setting which
promotes aggressivness (ex. Gang neighborhood) will get involved but
same children who are in a place that doesn’t promote it (ex. Quiet
neighborhood) will be less aggressive
Risks to healthy development and individual resilience
imp. Way individual characteristics have been studied is by
looking at how diff. children respond when they’re confronted with situational
challenges or risks to healthy development
risks can be: biological or psychological (ex. Serious illness, living
with psychotic parent), environmental (ex. Family income, school)
diff. children respond to these risks differently:
omany suffer permanent developmental problems
osome showsleeper effect – they seem to cope well at the start but show
problems later in development
osome show resilience and are able to del with the challenge
osome, when they confront new risks later in life, seem better able to adapt
to challenges than children who have experienced littler or no risk
Researching across cultures
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looking at child developmental across cultures gives info about variation in the
range of human potential and expression that can emerge in different
circumstances of growth
oex. Some cultures encourage children to walk early and give them chances
to exercise that new skill but other cultures carry their kids around for long
period of time which reduces their change to walk until they’re older
Theoretical perspectives on development
2 functions of theories:
othey help organize and integrate existing info into coherent and interesting
accounts of how children develop
othey generate testable hypotheses or predictions about children’s
main theories of child development are grouped in relation to 5
general approaches in the field: 1) structural-organismic, 2) learning, 3) dynamic
systems, 4) contextual, 5) ethological and evolutionary views
Structural- organismic perspectives
Freud and Piaget used the structural – organismic perspective in
their theories: theoretical approaches that describe psychological structures and
process that undergo qualitative/discontinous or stage-like changes over the
course of development
oThey both saw the stages as universal so everyone goes through it
Psychodynamic theory
Psychodynamic theory: freud’s theory that development, which
proceeds in discrete stages, is determined largely by biologically based drives
shaped by encounters with the environment and through the interaction of 3
components of personality – the id, ego, and superego
oSo it stresses that experiences of early childhood shapes emotional
development and adult personality
The roles of the personality changes across development
Id: the person’s instinctual drives; the first component of the
personality to evolve, the id operate on the basis of the pleasure priniciple
oInfants are under the control of this and then id becomes more controlled
by the ego
Ego: the rational, controlling component of the personality, which tries to satisfy
needs through appropriate, socially acceptable behaviours
Superego: So this comes about when the child internalizes (accepts and absorbs)
parental or societal morals, values and roles and develops a conscience or ability
to apply moral values to her own acts
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