Psychology 2040A/B Chapter Notes - Chapter 1: Tabula Rasa, Inter-Rater Reliability, Jean Piaget

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18 Nov 2011
Psych 2040A
Chapter 1: Introduction to Developmental Psychology and its Research Strategies
Introduction to Developmental Psychology
What is Development?
Development refers to systematic continuities and changes in the individual that
occur between conception and death
developmental psychology: branch of psychology devoted to identifying and
explaining the continuities and changes that individuals display over time.
we are also interested in “continuities” in development, or ways in which we remain
the same or continue to reflect our past
science of development is multidisciplinary - we use the term developmentalist to
refer to any scholar - regardless of discipline - who seeks to understand the
developmental process
What causes us to develop?
Maturation: refers to the biological unfolding of the individual according to species-
typical biological inheritance and an individual personʼs biological inheritance
partly responsible for psychological changes such as our abilities to concentrate,
solve problems, and understand othersʼ thoughts/feelings
Learning: process through which our experiences produce relatively permanent
changes in our feelings, thoughts, and behaviours
we change in response to our environment
most developmental changes are a product of maturation and learning
What goals do Developmentalists pursue?
3 major goals of developmentalists: describe, explain, and optimize development
to adequately describe development, one must include the ff:
normative development: developmental changes that characterize most or all
members of a species; typical patterns of development
ideographic development: individual variations in the rate, extent, or direction of
developmentalists seek the ʻfactsʼ of development, and seek to explain why they
happen, and seek to optimize development by helping others towards positive
Some Basic Observations about the Character of Development
A Continual and Cumulative Process
first 12 years are an extremely important part of the life span that sets the stage for
adolescence and adulthood
change is constant (continual) and the changes that occur at each major phase of
life can have important implications for the future (cumulative)
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A Holistic Process
developmentalists were once divided into either one of the 3: physical, cognitive,
and psychosocial
changes in one aspect of development have important implications for other
i.e. the determinants of being popular in highschool include appearance, social
status, academic achievement, and physical growth
holistic perspective: unified view of the developmental process that emphasizes
the important interrelationships among the physical, mental, social, and emotional
aspects of human development
plasticity: capacity for change; a developmental state that has the potential to be
shaped by experience
in response to negative or positive life experiences
children who have horrible starts can often be helped to overcome their
Historical/Cultural Context
development is influenced by societal change: historical events such as wars,
technological breakthroughs such as the development of the Internet, and social
causes such as gay/lesbian movement
Human Development in Historical Perspective
contemporary Western societies can be described as ʻchild-centeredʼ: parents focus
much of their lives on their children, spend a great deal of money educating/nurturing
them, etc
childhood and adolescence were not always regarded as the very special and
sensitive periods that we regard them as today.
Childhood in Premodern Times
in the early days, lives of children were not always valued, and some societies (ie.
Romans) treated them harsh - Roman parents were once legally entitled to kill their
deformed children
children were viewed as ʻfamily possessionsʼ who had no rights
Toward Modern-Day Views on Childhood
during the 17th and 18th centuries, children were seen as innocent and helpless souls
who should be protected
schooling was introduced, parents were discouraged from abuse
schooling was seen as a way to provide society with a ʻgood labour forceʼ
formal recognition of adolescence as a distinct phase of life came later (early 20th
laws were passed in the 19th century to make schooling compulsory and child labour
Early Philosophical Perspectives on Childhood
Thomas Hobbesʼs (1651/1904) doctrine of original sin held that children are
inherently selfish egoists who must be restrained by society
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that children were negative creatures who must be taught to rechannel their
selfish interests into socially acceptable outlets.
asks parents to control their egotistic children
children must learn to rechannel their selfish interests into socially acceptable
believed that children are passive subjects to be shaped by parents
Jean Jacques Rousseauʼs (1762/1955) doctrine of innate purity - children are
born with an intuitive sense of right and wrong and that society corrupts
asks parents to give their children freedom
believed that children are actively involved with shaping their own intellects
John Locke (1690/1913), believed that the mind of an infant is a tabula rasa, or
ʻblank-slateʼ and that children have no inborn tendencies; all knowledge is acquired
through experience
believed that children are passive subjects - mind is a blank slate in which
experience writes its lessons
Children as Subjects of Study: The Baby Biographies
baby biographies: a detailed record of an infantʼs growth and development over a
period of time
most influential was of Charles Darwin - stemmed from his early theory of
believed that young infants share many characteristics with their nonhuman
each baby biography was based on a single child
Development of Childrenʼs Rights in Canada
Canadian children moved from being viewed as family property to dependents in need
of state protection (recognition that children were semi-independent individuals with
rights of their own)
Origins of a Science of Development
G. Stanley Hall conducted the first large-scale scientific investigation of children -
considered to be the founder of developmental psychology as a research discipline.
developed the idea of using a questionnaire to explore the childrenʼs minds
Sigmund Freud - psychoanalytic theory
theory: a set of concepts and propositions that describe and explain some aspect of
hypotheses: theoretical predictions that are tested by collecting data
may also lead to theoretical insights that extend our knowledge
Research Strategies: Basic Methods and Designs
Research Methods in Child and Adolescent Development
focus is on the types of methods researchers use to gather information regarding
developing children and adolescents
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