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PSY220H1 (200)
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Chapter 1

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Department
Psychology
Course
PSY220H1
Professor
Goul
Semester
Fall

Description
C HAPTER 1 Child Development  Time period: from moment of conception through the period of adolescence  Identifies and describes changes in the child’s cognitive, emotional, motor and social capacities and behaviors  Uncover the processes that underlie these changes to explain how and why they occur Darwin – conducted research on infants’ sensory capacities and young children’s emotions T HEMES OF DEVELOPMENT Origins of Behaviour: Biological versus Environmental Influences 1. Most contemporary theories recognize that both biological and environmental factors influence human development, but they disagree about the relative importance of each of these factors for development, but they disagree about the relative importance of each of these factors for development, or the balance between the influences  Arnold Gesell (1928) – believed the course of development was largely predetermined by biological factors o Concentrated on maturation – natural unfolding of development over the course of growth  John B. Watson (1928) – behaviourist that placed emphasis on environment o Assumed that biological factors placed no restrictions on the ways that the environment can shape the course of a child’s development o He claimed that by properly organizing the environment, he could produce a genius or a criminal 2. Modern developmentalists explore how biological and environmental factors/ nature and nurture, interact to produce developmental variations in different children  E.g. research on child maltreatment finds that children with certain genetic characteristics are more likely to exhibit behaviour problems than are children who do not have these characteristics o When children with these genetic dispositions live in abusive environments, they are more likely to be maltreated than other children o Thus the combination of the child’s biological characteristics, the way he or she expresses these characteristics behaviourally, and the abusive environment itself puts a particular child at risk  Children intentionally try to understand and explore the world about them  Socializing agents such as parents, peers, or teachers do not simply mold the child; children actively influence and modify the actions of their parents and other people with whom they interact Pattern of Development Change: Continuity versus Discontinuity  Continuous process – each new event builds on earlier experiences o Quantitative o Development is a smooth and gradual accumulation of abilities o Developmental changes adds to, or build on, earlier abilities in a cumulative or quantitative way without any abrupt shifts from one change to the next o E.g. Swimming – observe gradual improvement  Discontinuous – series of discrete steps or stages in which behaviours get reorganized into a qualitatively new set of behaviours o Qualitative  Contemporary child researchers see development as basically continuous or quantitative, but sometimes interspersed with periods of change that are discontinuous Forces That Affect Developmental Change: Individual Characteristics versus Contextual and Cultural Influences 1. Developmental psychologists differ in their emphasis on individual characteristics versus situational/contextual influences  Many resolve the controversy by adopting an interactionist viewpoint, stressing the dual role of individual and contextual factors o E.g. children with aggressive personality traits may often seek out contexts in which they can display these characteristics; thus they are more likely to join a gang or enroll in a karaoke class than opt for the church choir or a chess club o But these same children, in settings that do not allow or promote aggressive behaviour, such as a choir or book club, may be less likely to behave aggressively and perhaps even be friendly and co-operative 2. Risks to Healthy Development and Individual Resilience – individual characteristics studied by examining how different children respond when they are confronted with situational challenges or risks to healthy development  Risks are biological and psychological o E.g. serious illness, or living with a psychotic parent  Other risks are environmental o E.g. family income, child’s experience at school, or marital conflict at home  Individual children respond to risks in different ways  Many seem to suffer permanent developmental disruptions  Others show ‘sleeper’ effects – seem to cope well initially, but exhibit problems later in development  Some exhibit resilience and are able to deal with the challenge  Some children, when they confront new risks later in life, seem better able to adapt to challenges than children who have experienced little or no risk 3. Researching Across Cultures – emphasis on contextual influences on development  E.g. in some cultures, children are encouraged to walk very early and are given opportunities to exercise their new motor skills o In other cultures, infants are carried or swaddled for long periods of time, which reduces their change to walk until they are older  Examining child development across cultures provides information about variation in the range of human potential and expression that may emerge in different circumstances of growth  Moreover, cultures differ not only across national boundaries but also within single countries T HEORETICAL PERSPECTIVES ON DEVELOPMENT  It is critical that a theory describes psychological change or development over time  Theories serve two main functions o 1. They help organize and integrate existing information into coherent and interesting accounts of how children develop o 2. They generate testable hypotheses or predictions about children’s behaviour  Good scientific theory allows one to make sense of a great number of observations, usually based on the fewest number of premises, and can then be subsequently used to formulate settings for the collection of new observations Five general approaches: 1. Structural-organismic 2. Learning 3. Dynamic systems 4. Contextual 5. Ethological and evolutionary views 1. Structural-Organismic Perspectives  Freud and Piaget – psychological development; structuralism o Freud – interested in emotions and personality o Piaget – thinking  Both devised theories that incorporated their mutual interest in biology, especially evolutionary theory  They shared the view that the organism goes through an organized or structured series of stages, or discontinuous changes, over the course of development  Both also saw the stages they proposed as universal – that is all members of the human species were thought to experience these stages, regardless of when and where a child develops o Psychodynamic Theory – Freud emphasizes how the experiences of early childhood shape the development of adult personality  Developing personality consists of three interrelated parts:  Id – instinctual drives  Ego – rational and reality bound aspect and attempts to gratify needs through socially appropriate behaviour  Superego – emerges when the child internalizes – accepts and absorbs – parent or societal morals, values, and roles and develops a conscience, or the ability to apply moral values to his/her own acts  The role of these three components of personality change across development as the infant, who is largely under the control of id gradually becomes more controlled by ego  Changes in the organization and interaction of the id, ego, and superego – involves five stages  1. Oral stage – young infant is preoccupied with pleasurable activities such as eating, sucking, and biting  2. Anal stage – second to third year, child learns to postpone personal gratification, such as pleasure of expelling feces, as he is trained to use the toilet  3. Phallic stage – curiosity about sexual anatomy and sexuality
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