PSYC23H3 Chapter Notes -Recapitulation Theory, Preformationism, Ernst Haeckel

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6 Feb 2013
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Reading Lecture 1: Biological Roots of Developmental Psychology
The Darwinian Legacy
Psychological capacities can be used and have important consequences in terms of the survival and
reproduction of an individual
Evo theory: characteristics of human mind have phylogenetic precursors that must be observable I present day
animals
Darwins purpose was to show that all those characteristics specific to humans (emotions, intelligence, etc) and
used to support arguments against human participation in revolution, can be found in simpler form in most
animals
The Anecdotalists and the Origin of Comparative Psychology
Involved method for demonstrating continuity via collecting stories/ anecdotes about animals and their
behaviors from diff sources= emphasized naturalistic and descriptive studies
Attempts to establish a commonality between animals and humans= anthropomorphic distortion in most of
their obs, reports and interpretations
Anthropomorphism= attribution of human characteristics to other animals
Morgan’s cannon= if there are 2 or more possible explanations of some behavior, one should always choose the
one presupposing the simplest of mental processes, even if it is the most unappealing
Wats glandson insisted that psychology must stick to observable and observable behavior is the movement of
muscles and secretions of glands
Some Early Conceptions of Psychological Development
Before the behaviorist movement, the systematic study of babies and small kids wasn’t possible in psych as no
methods were available to evaluate these non verbal creatures other than anecdotal descriptions of their
innocence or depravity
The oldest conception of development= preformationism= there is no development in the sense of qualitative
changes and everything is formed from the beginning= kids= mini versions of adults
Preformation is conceptually in the tradition of instantaneous creation and original sin ultimate moment for
this doctrine was when someone looked at the human sperm under a microscope and saw a little homunculus
With a change in intellectual climate, preformaitonism replaced with another way of thinking og dev=
predeterminism via works of Rousseau, ppl became aware of the dev in the sense of qualitative changes
during the life span development is an orderly and preordained progression through a series of distinct
stages the goal of this progression is a good and perfect person and , as this end is predetermined, it can be
best achieved in a supportive, nurturing and permissive environment, not an interactive one
Embryologists like Haeckel thought that thr series of highly ordered and predictable qualitative changes
observable in the form and functioning of an embryo were reflections of progressive changes in the
phylogenetic past of that embryo= embryo retraces in abbreviated form during its dev all of the evo changes
that ts ancestors went to= Haeckel’s law= ontogeny recapitulates phylogeny
The predetrminist conception of dev as a series of qualitatively diff stages occurring in a prestablished an
invariant sequence and having a predetermined end point was explained and supported by evo theory
The behaviorist movement established a methodology that for the first time allowed psychologists actually to
investigate the developing organism experimentally
Environmentalism= denial of the existence of dev in which they have a big environmentalist viewpoint
interested mainly in showing that the same contrived situation will modify all these subjects behavior in much
the same way
Developmental and comparative psych converged in early 20th century
Schneirla: considered study of animal behavior to be an important part of biology, he found it essential to
understand how the animals behavior fits its environmental circumstances and he incorporated the epigenetic
concepts to explain animal behavior
Principles of Developmental Science
Not all events that take place over the age of an indivudal are developmental these phenomena are only
marked by certain general requirements and characteristics
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