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Chapter 11

Psychology 1000 Chapter Notes - Chapter 11: Lawrence Kohlberg, Metacognition, Erik Erikson

Course Code
PSYCH 1000
John Campbell

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Chapter 11 – Development over the Life Span
Major Issues and Methods
Developmental psychology examines changes in biological, physical, psychological, and behavioural processes over
Four issues guide developmental research:
Nature and nurture
Critical and sensitive periods
Critical period – an age range during which certain experiences must occur for normal development
Sensitive period – an optimal age range for certain experiences, but no critical range
Continuity versus discontinuity
Stability versus change
Five developmental functions:
No change – an ability from birth remains constant over life span
Continuous – an ability that develops gradually and then remains constant
Discontinuity – an ability that progresses in stages
Inverted U-shaped function – an ability that peaks at a certain age, then decreases
U-shaped function – an ability that disappears temporarily
Different designs used to research:
Cross-sectional design – research design that compares people of different age groups at same point in time
Drawback in that different age groups (cohorts) grew up in different periods
Longitudinal design – repeatedly tests same cohort as it grows older
Prenatal Development
Consists of three stages:
Germinal stage – first two weeks, zygote (fertilized egg) is formed
Embryonic stage – second to eighth week, zygote becomes embryo (placenta and umbilical cord form, organs form)
Fetal stage – after nine weeks, embryo becomes fetus (bodily systems develop, eyes open at 24 weeks, attains age of
viability at 28 weeks)
Y chromosome contains TDF (testis-determining factor) gene which initiates development of testes at around 6-8
Various environmental influences can affect development
Teratogens – environmental agents that cause abnormal development
Infancy and Childhood
The Amazing Newborn
Newborn sensation and perception
Vision is limited by poor acuity, lack of coordinated eye movements, and tunnel vision
Newborns orient to significant stimuli
Prefer patterned and more complex images
Newborn learning
After repeated exposure to certain sound, infants begin to stop turning to see source of sound, but would turn
towards new sound
Rapidly acquire classically conditioned responses
Sensory-Perceptual Development
Visual field expands to almost adult size by six months, acuity continues to develop afterwards
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Sound localization disappears in second month of life, returns after four or five months
Physical, Motor, and Brain Development
Maturation – genetically programmed biological process that governs growth
Physical and motor development follows principles
Cephalocaudal principle – reflects tendency for development to proceed in head-to-foot direction
Proximodistal principle – states that development begins along innermost parts of body and continues outward
Brain matures from inner parts (that govern basic survival functions) to cortex
Reflexes – automatic, inborn behaviours elicited by specific stimuli
Physical and motor development are also influenced by experience and environment
Regularly massaged infants gain weight more rapidly and show fast neurological development
Visual deprivation can damage visual abilities
Cognitive Development
Piaget believed that development results from maturation and experience, and that thinking changes qualitatively
with age
Brain builds schemas (organized patterns of thought)
Two processes involved in acquiring new schemas
Assimilation – process by which new experiences are incorporated into existing schemas (child who sees a horse for
first time may call it a “big dog”)
Accommodation – process by which new experiences cause existing schemas to change (child will realize the “big
dog” isn’t a dog)
Four major stages of cognitive growth:
Sensorimotor stage (Birth to 2) – children understand their world primarily through sensory experience and physical
Around eighteen months, achieve object permanence (ability to understand that an object continues to exist even out
of sight)
Pseudoimitation (child can imitate actions just produced) present
Preoperational stage (2-7) – children represent the world symbolically through words and mental images, but do not
understand basic mental operations
Cannot understand concept of conservation (principle that basic properties of objects, such as mass and volume, stay
the same despite change in outward appearance)
Exhibit egocentrism (difficulty in viewing world from someone else’s perspective – children believe that others
perceive world as they do)
Concrete operational stage (7-12) – children can perform basic mental operations concerning problems that involved
concrete objects and situations
Formal operational stage (12+) – children are able to think logically and systematically about concrete and abstract
Universal tests show that the general cognitive abilities associated with the four stages appear to occur in the same
order across cultures (Piaget is only a partial dumbass)
Culture has been found to influence cognitive development
Cognitive development within each stage seems to proceed inconsistently
Zone of proximal development – the difference between what a child can do independently and what the child can
do with assistance from adults (social interaction affects development)
Cognitive development is best examined within information processing framework
Processing speed improves during childhood
Memory capabilities expand significantly
Younger children lack metacognition (awareness of one’s own cognitive processes)
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