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PSY311H1 (5)
Chapter 1

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Ian Spence

Chapter 1 Introduction The Universal Parenting Machine – A Thought Experiment - 6 infants in this universal parenting machine o 3 male, 3 female o UPM is an enclosed building with advanced machinery and technology capable of taking care of all the infants’ physical needs from immediately after birth to maturity o No human contact other than with each other during their first 18 years of life – don’t know other humans exist - How does the child become socialized? o Children are shaped by culture  Children would become semihuman in the absence of prevailing social structure o Culture is shaped by people  Children would show enough initiative to interact, develop affectional ties etc. - People differ in their willingness to engage others in social interaction o Loners vs. outgoing and gregarious o Sociability o Competence is another way in which people differ  Some take great pride in accomplishments, others do not appear to be concerned about what they accomplished - No one can specify exactly how children raised by a UPM would turn out Social-Personality Development in Historical Perspective - Childhood in Premodern Times o In the early days of recorded history, children had few if any rights, and their lives were not always valued by the elders o Before 1600 European societies had little or no concept of childhood as we know it o Closely cared for until they could feed, dress, and bathe themselves, but they were not often coddled by their elders o Age 6: dressed in downsized versions of adult clothing o Law: no distinctions between childhood and adult offenses o 17/18 century: attitudes about children began to change  Religious leaders stressed that children were fragile creatures of God  Sent young people to school – to civilize children, reading and writing taught to transform innocents into “servants and workers” who would provide society with a good labor force - Children as Subjects: The Baby Bibliographies o 19 century: study of children o Baby bibliography: detailed record of an infant’s growth and development over a period of time o Charles Darwin: make daily records of own son  Law of recapitulation: notion that an individual who develops from a single cell at conception into a complex, thinking human as a young adult will retrace the entire evolutionary history of the species, thereby illustrating the “descent of man” o The data provided by various bibliographers were often not comparable o Persons make observations were proud parents who selectively recorded pleasant incidents while downplaying negative ones o Most were based on a single child – hard to know if it would hold for other children - Emergence of a Psychology of Childhood o G. Stanley Hall: founder of developmental psychology o Collected more objective data on larger samples o Developed questionnaire to discover the contents of children’s minds o Found that children’s understanding of worldly events increases rapidly over the course of childhood and that the logic of children is not very logical at all o Book called Adolescence o Sigmund Freud: psychoanalytic theory  Theory that revolutionized thinking about children and childhood  A pioneer  Mid 1930’s: work was translated into many languages  Theory proved to be quite heuristic – continued to generate new research and to prompt other researchers to extend Freud’s thinking - The Role of Theory in the Scientific Enterprise o Theory: a set of concepts and propositions designed to organize, describe, and explain an existing set of observations o Help us describe various patterns of behavior and explain why those behaviors occur o A scientific theory is a public pronouncement that indicates what a scientist believes to be true about his/her specific area of investigation  Allow us to organize our thinking about a broad range of observations o Should be concise or parsimonious, and yet be able to explain a broad range of phenomena o Should be falsifiable – capable of making explicit predictions about future events so that the theory can be supported or disconfirmed o Should be heuristic – they build on existing knowledge by continuing to generate testable hypotheses that lead to richer understanding of the phenomena under investigation Questions and Controversies about Human Development - Early Philosophical Perspectives on Human Nature o Doctrine of original sin which held that children are inherently selfish egoists who much be controlled by society  Restrain offspring o Doctrine of innate purity – notion that children are born with intuitive sense of right and wrong that is often misdirected by society  Viewed children as noble savages who should be given freedom to follow their positive inclinations o John Locke: believed mind of infant was tabula rasa (blank slate), that is written upon by experience  Children portrayed as neither inherently good or bad, and how they will should out should depend on how they are raised - Nature vs. Nurture o One of the oldest controversies o Are human beings a product of their heredity and other biological predispositions or are they shaped by the environment in which they are raised o Middle ground: believe that relative contributions of nature and nurture depend on the particular aspect of development in question  Most believe that all complex human attributes are the end products of interplay between the two - Activity vs. Passivity o Are children curious, active creatures who largely determine how agents of society treat them? Or are they passive souls on whom society fixes its stamp? o Developmentalists consider a child active whenever any child characteristic influences the environment he/she experiences - Continuity vs. Discontinuity o Continuity: human development as an additive process that occurs in small steps, without sudden changes  Smooth growth curve o Discontinuity: road to maturity as a series of abrupt changes, each of which elevates the child to a new and presumably more advanced level of functioning o Quantitative changes: changes in degree  Children grow taller, acquire more knowledge etc. o Qualitative chan
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