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PSYC21H3 (41)
Chapter 1

Chapter 1 Notes

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David Haley

Chapter 1 Notes Theories of Social Development Study of Social Development: - Is a description of childrens social behaviour & how it changes with age - Is a description of childrens ideas about themselves and other people - Is a description of childrens relationship with peers and adults, their emotional expressions and display & ability to function in social groups - Traces continuities and discontinuities in childrens social behaviour, relationships and ideas over time - Is an explanation of the processes that lead to changes in social behaviour and to individual differences among children - Examines how other aspects of development (cognitive, perceptual, language, and motor development) underlie childrens social behaviour - Investigates influence of parents and peers, social media, culture and biology on social behaviour - Other goals: Child-care regulations, school policies, family welfare, etc. Social Development: A Brief History - In medieval period, people viewed children as miniature adults o Did not recognize childhood as a distinctive period deserving special attention - Many children died in infancy and early childhood and if they survived, forced to work in mines and fields (Child labour laws began in the 1800s) - Study of child development began with Charles Darwin (Work on development of emotions in his own and other peoples children) o Paved the way for modern study of emotions - G. Stanley Hall (1904) used questionnaires to document childrens activities, feelings, attitudes - John B. Watson (1913) argued that conditioning and learning were the processes by which social and emotional behaviour are acquired and modified (e.g. Fear responses) - Sigmund Freud (1905, 1910) claimed that social development was a product of how adults handle childrens basic drives, such as infants drive to suck - Arnold Gesell (1928) argued that social skills (motor skills) simply unfold over the course of infancy and childhood Critical Questions About Social Development 1) How Do Biological And Environmental Influences Affect Social Development? a. Nature (heredity and maturation) and nurture (learning and experience) b. Some argued that biology is destiny and largely predetermined by genetic (guiding the maturation or unfolding of increasingly complex social skills and abilities) i. Gesell was an advocate of this view c. Watson placed emphasis on environment (assumed that genetic factors placed no restrictions on the ways that environmental events shape course of childrens development) d. Modern scholars realize that both biological and environmental factors influence social development (disagreements about relative importance exist) e. Challenge: Study how the 2 factors interact to produce changes & individual differences in childrens social abilities (e.g. Aggression is found to be a product of both biology testosterone levels and environment aggressive interactions exposure) f. Genie: Case suggested that there are critical and sensitive period early in life and development is irreparably impaired if children lack sensory and social stimulation from their environments during these periods 2) What Role Do Children Play In Their Own Development? a. Simple View Children were passive organisms who were shaped by external forces b. Today Children are active agents who to some extent, shape, control and direct the course of their own development c. Children are curious seekers of information who intentionally try to understand and explore world d. Actively seek out particular kinds of information & interactions and actively modify the actions of the people whom they encounter e. Over course of development, participate in reciprocal interchanges with others (transactional interchanges) 3) What Is The Appropriate Unit For Studying Social Development? a. Typically focus on the individual child as unit of analysis b. Recent decades Psychologists have increasingly recognized other units that warrant attention i. Social Dyads (parent-child, child-teacher) ii. Triads (mother-father-child) iii. Groups (Peers Often have own rules and regulations) 4) Is Development Continuous Or Discontinuous? a. Continuous: Each change in development building on earlier experiences in an orderly way. i. Development is seen as smooth and gradual, without abrupt shifts along the path ii. Noticeable changes in behaviour are simply part of an ongoing series of small shifts b. Discontinuous: Development is seen as a series of discrete steps, and see the organization of behaviour as qualitatively different at each new stage or plateau i. Concerns of each phase of development and the skills learned in that phase are different from those of every other phase (e.g. Jean Piaget & Sigmund Freud) ii. As children get older, they move through different stages and at each new stage they learn new strategies for understanding and acquiring knowledge and for managing interpersonal relationships iii. These new strategies displace earlier ways of dealing with the world c. Our judgment of continuity or discontinuity depends on power of lens we use when we look at changes across ages i. E.g. Looking from a distance over a long period of time: We see marked differences ii. E.g. Looking closely, we see that changes do not happen suddenly d. Third type of development is one where different strategies ebb and flow with increasing age and the most successful strategy gradually predominate (e.g. At first a child may use socially appropriate rules and strategy to attain a toy such as asking but other times may rely on relatively primitive tactic such as grabbing the toy. Only after many encounters with peers and toys does the toddler come to use turn taking and requests consistently) i. Gradual shifts and changes as children slowly learn new strategies and gradually adopt the best and most advanced ones e. Today: Both continuous and discontinuous are valued; Development is seen as basically continuous but interspersed with transitional periods in which changes are relatively abrupt f. Transitional periods: May be the result of physical changes (e.g. learning to walk, onset of puberty) or cultural changes (e.g. entering Junior High) 5) Is Social Behaviour The Result Of The Situation Or The Child? a. Do children behave different across varying situations or do their personalities come out equally in different settings? b. Children seek out situations in which they can display their personalities (e.g. Aggressive children Gang, karate)c. In settings that dont allow or promote aggressive behaviour, these same children may be friendly, reasonable, and cooperative 6) Is Social Development Universal Across Cultures a. Some aspects of social development are universal and other aspects are attributable to culture (children develop social understanding but the rates at which social milestones are reaches vary across cultures) Benjamin Spock: Baby and Child Care books 50 million copies sold in North America; However, different cultures make different assumptions about appropriate or desirable characteristics of children and appropriate or desirable behaviours of parents - Western values: Autonomy, assertiveness, ambition (and competitiveness); We believe in the power of technology and innovation for improvements - Non-Western Values: Value interdepence, modesty, and self-effacement - Fulani (West Africa): Live at the edge of the Sahara desert o Value Soemteende Modesty, reserve o Value Munyal Patience and fortitude o Value Hakkilo Care and forethought 7) How Does Social Development Vary Across Historical Eras? - Historical changes such as technology, high rates of divorce, delayed childbearing all play a part in shaping childrens development - Historic events such as Vietnam War in the 1960s, 9/11 etc. all have effects on development - Distinct historical events and more gradual shifts in living arrangements and societal values leave their mark on childrens social and emotional development Great Depression (1929): In economically deprived, dramatic changes in family roles and relationships occurred (division of labour & power within family), hig
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