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Chapter 1

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PSY311 Chapter 1: Introduction  Development: The systematic continuities and changes in the individual that occur between conception (when a sperm penetrates an ovum creating a new organism) and death.  Newborns have no prejudices or preconceptions; they speak no language; they obey no man-made laws; and they sometimes behave as if they were living for the next feeding.  John Locke (1690/1913) could describe the neonate (newborn) as a tabula rasa (blank slate) who is receptive to any and all kinds of experience.  Irvin Child has noted that, despite the enormous number of behavioural options available to the child, he or she is “lead to develop actual behaviour which is confined within a much narrower range—the range of what is customary and acceptable according to the standards of his group.”  Children develop in a manner and direction prescribed by their cultures, subcultures, and families.  Socialization: the process by which individuals acquire the beliefs, values, and behaviours considered desirable or appropriate by their culture or subculture.  The socialization of each succeeding generation serves society in three ways: - It is a means of regulating behaviour - Helps to promote the personal growth of an individual - Perpetuates the social order The Universal Parenting Machine—A Thought Experiment  Expose infants to a simulated acre of land but cut off culture and other people from them. They have their basic needs and can only communicate with each other.  A socialized person is one who has acquired the beliefs, values, and behaviours that are thought to be appropriate for members of his or her culture.  They become socialized because they are shaped by their culture.  Also, culture is shaped by people. Social-Personality Development in Historical Perspective Childhood in Premodern Times  Archaeological research has shown that as far back as 7000 B.C., children were killed as religious sacrifices and sometimes embedded in the walls of buildings to “strengthen” these structures. th  Until the 4 century A.D., Roman parents were legally entitled to kill their deformed, illegitimate, or otherwise unwanted infants; and even after this active infanticide was outlawed, unwanted babies were often left to die in the wilderness or sold as servants upon reaching middle childhood.  Philippe Aries (1963) concluded that European societies had little or no concept of childhood.  During the 17 and 18 centuries, attitudes about children and child rearing change, religious leaders of that era stressed that children were fragile creatures of God who should be shielded from the wild. Children as Subjects: The Baby Biographies  Baby Biographies: Investigators from a variety of academic backgrounds began to observe the development of their own children and to publish these data in works.  Darwin believed that young, untrained infants shared many characteristics with their nonhuman ancestors, and he advanced the (now discredited) law of recapitulation—the notion that an individual who develops from a single cell at conception into a marvellously complex, thinking human being as a young adult will retrace the entire evolutionary history of the species, thereby illustrating the “descent of man.”  Were made at irregular intervals, and emphasized different behaviours, therefore, cannot be compared.  The persons making observations in these biographical studies were generally proud parents who were likely to selectively record pleasant or positive incidents while downplaying unpleasant or negative ones. Emergence of a Psychology of Childhood  G. Stanley Hall (founder of developmental psychology) he was interested in the character of children’s thinking, and he developed a familiar research tool “questionnaire” to discover the contents of children’s minds.  He found that children’s understanding of worldly events increases rapidly over the course of childhood and that the logic of young children is not very logical.  Sigmund Freud came up with the psychoanalytic theory.  Freud’s theory proved to be heuristic—meaning that it continued to generate new research and to prompt other researchers to extend Freud’s thinking. The Role of Theory in the Scientific Enterprise  Theory: a set of concepts and propositions that allow the theories to describe and explain some aspect of experience.  A scientific theory is a public pronouncement that indicates what a scientist believes to be true about his or her specific area of investigation.  Parsimonious: a criterion for evaluating the scientific merit of theories.  Falsifiable: capable of making explicit predictions about future events so that the theory can be supported or disconfirmed.  Heuristic: they build on existing knowledge by continuing to generate testable hypotheses.  Hypotheses: a theoretical prediction about some aspect of experience. Questions and Controversies about Human Development Early Philosophical Perspectives on Human Nature  Thomas Hobbe’s (1651/1904) doctrine of original sin—children are inherently selfish egoists who must be controlled by society.  Jean Jacques Rousseau’s (1762/1955) doctrine of innate purity—the notion that children are born with an intuitive sense of right and wrong that is often misdirected by society.  Proponents of original sin argued that parents must actively restrain their egoistic offspring, whereas the innate purists viewed children as “noble savages” who should be given the freedom to follow their inherently positive inclinations.  John Locke (1690/1913) tabula rasa—“blank slate,” the mind of an infant is written by experience. Nature versus Nurture  Nature versus nurture issue: are human beings a product of their heredity and other biological predispositions, or are they shaped by the environment in which they are raised? Debate within developmental psychology over the relative importance of biological predispositions (nature) and environmental influences (nurture) as determinants of human development. Activity versus Passivity  Activity/passivity issue: debate among developmental theorists about whether children are active contributors to their own development or, rather, passive recipients of environmental influence.  Developmentalists consider a child active in development whenever any child characteristic influences the environment he or she experiences. Continuity versus Discontinuity  Continuity/discontinuity issue: debate among theorists about whether developmental changes are best characterized as gradual and quantitative or, rather, abrupt and qualitative.  Quantitative changes are changes in degree—grow taller, runs faster.  Qualitative changes are changes in kind—changes that make the individual fundamentally different in some way than he or she was before.  Developmental stages: a distinct phase within a larger sequence of development; a period characterized by a particular set of abilities, motives, behaviours, or emotions that occur together and form a coherent pattern.  Continuity implies a sense of connectiveness between earlier and later developments.  The issue of whether developmental change is gradual or abrupt, the issue of whether it is quantitative or qualitative, and the issue of whether it is or is not reliably connected to earlier developments. Is Development Universal or Particularistic?  Universal: normative developments that all individuals display.  Particularistic: developmental outcomes that vary from person to person.  A universal theory ignores all the factors that conspire to make each of us unique. Research Methods  Investigators must carefully observe their subjects, study the information they have collected, and then use it to draw conclusions about the ways people develop. The Scientific Method  Scientific method: an attitude or value about the pursuit of knowledge that dictates that investigators must be objective and must allow their data to decide the merits of their theorizing.  Protection comes from the practice of evaluating the merits of various theoretical pronouncements against objective observations, rather than simply relying on the academic, political, or social credibility of the theorist. Gathering Data: Basic Fact-Finding Strategies  Reliability: yields consistent information over time and across observers.  Interrater Reliability: measure would have to produce comparable estimates of children’s aggression from independent observers.  Temporal Stability: yield similar scores for individual children from one testing to another shortly thereafter.  Validity: measures what it is supposed to measure. Self-Report Methodologies  Three common procedures that developmentalists use to gather information and test hypotheses are interviews, questionnaires (including psychological tests), and clinical method. Interview and Questionnaires  Researchers who opt for the interview or the questionnaire technique will ask the child (or the child’s parents or teachers) a series of questions pertaining to such aspects of development as the child’s feelings, beliefs, and characteristic patterns of behaviour.  Structured interview (structured questionnaire): asked the same questions in the same order so that the responses of different participants can be compared.  Interview technique: describe a story using male adjectives or female adjectives and kid had to guess whether person was male or female.  5-year-olds were quite knowledgeable about gender stereotypes.  Diary study: participants (usually adolescents or young adults) respond, in a diary or a notebook, to one or more standardized questions, either at a specified time or whenever they are instructed to respond by a prompt from an electronic pager.  Diary studies have proved invaluable for investigating a host of issues.  Shortcomings: - Neither approach can be used with very young children who cannot read or comprehend speech very well. - Investigators must hope that the answers they receive are honest and accurate and are not merely attempts by respondents to present themselves in a favourable manner. - Investigators must ensure participants of different ages interpret question in the same way. - Researchers who interview both developing children and their parents may have trouble determining which set of reports is the more accurate should the c
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