Chapter 1 (week 1)
o Child Development – a sub-area of the discipline of developmental psychology, seeks to
answer this complex question in two major ways: first, it identifies and describes changes
in the child’s cognitive, emotional, motor, and social capacities and behaviours from the
moment of conception through the period of adolescence. Second, the field attempts to
uncover the process that underlie these changes to help explain how and why they occur.
In other words, developmental psychologists are interested in what things change as
children get older, and how these changes come about.
Themes of Development
- Three themes: the origins of human behaviour, the pattern of developmental change
over time, and the individual and contextual factors that define and direct child
development. Discussing the aspects of development – biological, cognitive,
linguistic, emotional and social.
Origins of Behaviour: Biological Versus Environmental Influences
o Maturation – the natural unfolding of development over the course of growth.
o In the early ages some psychologists believed that it was all about biological and
some believed that it was all about the environment that determines how a child
will be. Today there is no theory that restricts to one of those extreme beliefs.
o Modern psychologists believe that biological and environmental factors interact
to produce developmental variations in different children.
o The active nature of human organism supports interaction between biological
propensities and the environment over the course of development.
Pattern of Developmental Change: Continuity Versus Discontinuity
o Two Patters: a continuous process whereby each new event builds on earlier
experiences. In this view, development is a smooth and gradual accumulation of
abilities. Developmental changes, add to, or build on, earlier abilities in a
cumulative or quantitative way without any abrupt shifts from one change to the
o The second view is discontinuous; this view likens development to a series of
discrete steps or stages in which behaviours get reorganized into a qualitatively
new set of behaviours.
o Most contemporary child researchers see development as basically continuous or
quantitative, but sometimes interspersed with periods of change that are
discontinuous or more qualitative.
Forces That Affect Developmental Change: Individual Characteristics Versus
Contextual and Cultural Influences o Developmental psychologists differ in their emphasis on individual
characteristics versus situational or contextual influences. Many resolve the
controversy by adopting an interactionist view point.
Theoretical Perspectives on Development
- Theories serve two main functions that are critical to scientific understanding in general
and to the study of developmental psychology in particular. First, they help organize and
integrate existing information into coherent and interesting accounts of how children
develop. Second, they generate testable hypotheses or predictions about children’s
Structural – Organismic Perspectives
o The view that the organism goes through an organized or structured series of
stages, or discontinuous changes, over the course of development. Also that
all members of the human species were thought to experience these stages
regardless of when and where a child develops.
o Psychodynamic Theory: introduced by Sigmund Feud
A theory which emphasizes how the experiences of early childhood
shape the development of adult personality.
The developing personality consists of three interrelated parts: the id.
The ego and the superego. The roles of these three components of
personality change across development as the infant, who is largely
under the control of the id, or instinctual drives, gradually becomes
more controlled by the ego. The ego is the rational and reality bound
aspects and attempts to gratify needs through socially appropriate
behaviour. Then the superego hits in, emerges when the child
internalizes—that is, accepts and absorbs – parental or societal morals,
values, and roles and develops a conscience, or the ability to apply
moral values to her own acts.
To Freud, personality development involves five stages. First, oral
stage the young infant is preoccupied with pleasurable activities such
as eating, sucking, and biting. In the second to third year, the child
enters the anal stage and learns to use the toilet. Then the phallic
stage begins, and curiosity about sexual anatomy and sexuality
appears (this was critical to the formation of the gender identity.
During the latency period from about 6 years to puberty, sexual drives
are temporarily submerged and children avoid relationships with peers
of the other gender. In the last stage, the genital period sexual desires
emerge and are directed toward peers.
The first six years of life influence later development **** CHART OF FREUD’S &ERIKSONS’S DEVELOPMENTAL
STAGES ON PAGE 11****
o Piagetian Theory: of intellectual development uses two basic principles of
biology and biological changes: organization and adaptation.
For Piaget, the principle of organization reflects the view that human
intellectual development is a biologically organized process. Thus, the
child understands of the world changes in an organized way over the
course of development.
He used the principle of adaptation to describe the process by which
intellectual change occurs as the human mind becomes increasingly
adapted to the world.
Proposed that all children go through four stages of cognitive
development. Infants rely on their sensory and motor abilities to learn
about the world. Preschool children rely more on mental structures and
symbols, especially language. In the school years, children begin to
rely more on logic. In adolescence children can reason about abstract
Cognitive development is a process in which the child shifts from a
focus on the self, immediate sensory experiences and simple problems
to more complex, multi-faceted, and abstract understanding of the
o Behaviourism: focuses on the learning of behaviours. Emphasizes the role of
experiences, and it is a gradual, continuous view.
Classical conditioning a type of learning in which two stimuli are
repeatedly presented together until individuals learn to respond to the
unfamiliar stimulus in the same way they respond to the familiar
stimulus – to explain many aspects of children’s behaviour.
Operant conditioning in which learning depends on the consequences
Positive reinforcement of a particular behaviour in the form of praise
or special treat was shown to increase the likelihood that a child would
exhibit that behaviour again.
Punishment in the form of criticism can decrease the chance that a
child will repeat that same behaviour.
o Cognitive Social Learning Theory: children learn not only through classical
and operant conditioning but also by observing and imitating others. (children
exposed to the aggressive behaviour of another person would imitate that
behaviour. Children do not imitate blindly or automatically; rather, they select
specific behaviours to imitate, and their imitation relies on how they
process this information.
Four processes govern how well a child will learn by observing
another person. First, the child must attend to a model’s behaviour.
Second, the child must retain the observes behaviours in memory.
Third, the child must have the capacity, physically and intellectually,
to reproduce the observed behaviours. Fourth, the child must be
motivated, or have a reason to reproduce the behaviour.
o Information-Processing Approaches: focus on the flow of information
through the cognitive system, beginning with an input or stimulus and ending
with an output or response
In human information processing, output may be in the form of an
action, a decision, or simply a memory that is stored for later use.
Information processing theorists are especially interested in the
cognitive processes that a child uses to operate on knowledge that is
gradual changes over the course of development in children’s ability to
use the processes. He attends to information, changes it into a mental
or cognitive representation, stores it in memory, compares it with other
memories, generates various responses, makes a decision about the
most appropriate response, and finally, take some specific action.
Dynamic Systems Perspectives
o Concentrates on changes over time and considers these changes the result of
the coordination of elements of a complex, integrated system.
o Dynamic system theory , individuals and their achievements can be
understood and interpreted within the frame work of the interacting
components of the system
o In some theories, the focus is on the child herself and how the child, as a
biological and psychological system, functions and grows in a physical world
that both supports and challenges her development.
o ***SOME PRINCIPLES OF DYNAMIC SYSTEMS THEORY CHART ON
o Concentration on the role of contextual factors in human development. Three
o Sociocultural Theory: places particular emphasis on the impact of social and
cultural experiences on child development.
Child’s development is best understood in relation to social and
cultural experience Social interaction, in particular, is seen as a critical force in
development. Through the assistance provided by more experienced
people in the social environment, the child gradually learns to function
intellectually on her own. Thus, the social world mediates individual
The ways in which adults support and direct child development are
influenced by culture, especially the values and practices that organize
what and how adults and children think and work together and use
cultural tools to understand the world and solve cognitive problems.
o Bronfenbrenner’s Ecological Theory: stresses the importance of
understanding not only the relationships between the organism—such as the
child—and various environmental systems—such as the family and the
community—but the relations among the environmental systems themselves.
Framework that describes the layers or environmental or contextual
systems that influence child development:
The microsystem: the setting in which the child lives and interacts
with the people and institutions closest to him.
The mesosystem: comprises the interrelations among the components
of the microsystem. Thus, parents interact with teachers and the school
systems; both family and peers may maintain relations with a religious
The ecosystem: composed of settings that impinge on a child’s
development but with which the child has largely undirected contact
Chronosystem: over time both the child and her environment undergo
change, and change can originate within the individual (puberty,
severe illness) or in the external world (birth of a sibling, divorce).