Developmental Psychology chapter 1
Child development (definition) identifies and describes change in child
cognitive, emotional, motor, and social capacities. Through moments of
conception through periods of adolescence.
Charles Darwin conducted research on childrens sensory capabilities,
demonstrating that ppl could do research on children.
2. Themes of Developments
Origins of Behaviour: biological vs. Environmental
Most cont. theorists recognize that both have an influence. The importance of
Arnold Gesell believed strictly in biological. He concentrated on maturation
(definition) or “the natural unfolding of development”
John B. Watson believed strictly in environmental. He claimed that by
organizing an environment a certain way you could create a genius or a
Modern studies focus on the interaction between the two (e.g. Research on
child maltreatment. Children with genetic predisposition are more likely to
have behaviour problems than others that do not. When they live in an abusive
home, it puts a child at risk).
Peers, parents, etc. don’t shape the child. The child is active in their
environment (e.g. Child cries to get attention).
Pattern of Developmental Change: Continuity vs. discontinuity
Continuous: each event builds on earlier experiences (smooth and gradual,
Discontinuous: abrupt changes (e.g. Swimming skills, walking. Qualitative)
Contemporary view: see it as continuous, but interspersed with point of
Forces That Affect Developmental Change: Individual Characteristics Vs. Contextual
(situational) and Cultural Influences
Contemporary view: interactionist's view. (E.g. Children seek out
environments that follow with their genes and personality. Aggressive
predisposition may lead child to find a gang or a club where they can be
Risks To Healthy Development and Individual Resilience:
How different children respond when confronted with situational
challenges or risks to healthy development (biological [illness, genes]
or environmental [family income, marital conflict at home])
Many seem to suffer permanent disruption’s, others show sleeper
effects (cope well initially, but then have problems later on), some
exhibit resilience; some children deal with risk better in the future after
Researching Across Cultures: differences in child development
between different cultures shows variation in human potential and expression that may emerge/not emerge in certain circumstances and at
different points in their lives. Then there are cultures that consist of
many different subcultures. (E.g. Canada. Many different cultures and
languages. 2 languages being the dominant)
3. Theoretical Perspectives On Development
Structuralorganismic Perspectives (structuralism)
Freud focussed on emotion and personality
Piaget focussed on thinking
An organism goes through n organized structured series of stages
(discontinuous stages). These stages were seen as universal
Psychodynamic Theory: emphasizes how the experiences of early
childhood shape the adult personality
Personality consists of 3 parts id, ego, and superego. The infant is
controlled by the id (instinctive drives), which becomes more
controlled by the ego (rational and reality bound, through socially
appropriate behaviour), then the superego develops (child internalizes
parental and societal morals, values and roles), which in turn the child
develops a conscience (apply moral values to their own acts). (Table
One of Freud’s contributions is emphasis on how the first 6 years
affects the later development.
Erik Erikson came up with psychosocial theory of human
development. Consists of 8 stages, characterized by personal or social
task the person must accomplish, and risks if she doesn’t. (Table 11,
Piagetian Theory: Uses organization (biology) and adaptation to
describe intellectual development.
Organization: human intellectual dev. is biologically organized and
changes in an organized way.
Adaptation: the process where intellectual changes occur and the
human mind becomes adapted to the world.
Four stages (discontinuous or qualitative):
1) Infant – rely on sensory and motor abilities to learn,
2) Preschool – rely on mental structures and symbols (language),
3) School years start to rely more on logic,
4) Adolescence reason about abstract ideas.
Cognitive dev. For child turns from self centered immediate sensory
satiation to more complex multifaceted abstract understanding of the
Learning Perspectives (the process of learning)
Behaviourism: roth of experience, gradual, cont. view. Through the lifetime.
In the early 20 C. John B. Watson used Pavlov’s classic conditioning to
explain children’s behaviour (e.g. Fear. He conditioned an 11 m old infant to fear furry animals by showing the baby a white rat and making a loud noise
that scared the baby).
B.F. Skinners notion of operant conditioning (dependent on the
consequences of behaviour). (+) Reinforcement was a treat or praise to
increase likelihood that the child would repeat the behaviour.
Punishment in the form of criticism, withdrawal of privileges can
decrease chance of repeated behaviour.
Cognitive social learning theory: children not only learn through
classical and operant conditioning but also through observation and
Albert bandura: showed that children exposed to an aggressive
behaviour would copy it (e.g. Bobo doll).
Four cognitive processes govern how well a child will learn from
imitation: 1) the child mist attend to models behaviour. 2) Child must
retain behaviour in memory. 3) Must have capacity, physically and
intellectually to reproduce the behaviour. 4) Child must be motivates
or have reason to reproduce it. (Figure 12, pg. 13).
Information processing approaches: flow of info through cognitive
systems, very sim. To how computers process info.
Output may be in the form of an action, decisions, or a memory that is
stored for later use.
The child attends to info, changes it into mental or cognitive
representation, stores it in memory, compares it to other memories,
generates various responses, makes a decision about the most
appropriate response, and then takes specific action.
Dynamic systems perspective
Individuals and their achievements can be understood and interpreted within
the framework of the interacting components of the system.
How the child functions in society. E.g. Learning the skill of walking. Infants
must coordinate physical abilities (muscle strength, balance, momentum),
with the physical world (gravity, properties of surface) and only when they are
all mastered can the child walk.
Child within a social system.
It is the ensemble of components that is important not the order of their
o Sociocultural theory: focus is on social and cultural experience on dev.
Lev s. Vygotsky
Social interaction is seen as a critical force in dev.
With assistance from others in the child’s social environment, they learn to
function intellectually on their own.
E.g. Peer tutoring. How children think, work together and use cultural tools to help children
function and solve problems within society (e.g. Language, math sysbols,
o Bronfenbrenner’s ecological theory
There is an importance between the relationships of the organism and
environmental systems, and also between two environmental systems.
Framework that describes layers that in turn all affect the child’s development.
Microsystem: child interacts with ppl and institutions closest to them.
Mesosystem: parents, teachers, school system, family, peers.
Exosystem: indirect influence on childs development. (E.g. Parents work).
Macro system: ideology of a culture or subculture
Chronosystem: these four systems change all the time, which he calls
chronosystem. Individual change (puberty, severe illness), external change
(parents divorce, birth of sibling, war).
o The lifespan