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Chapter 1

Chapter 1

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Western University
Psychology 2040A/B

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 development • developmentalists seek the ʻfactsʼ of development, and seek to explain why they happen, and seek to optimize development by helping others towards positive development 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) • 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 aspects • 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 • 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 deficiencies. • 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 century) • laws were passed in the 19th century to make schooling compulsory and child labour illegal • 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 •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 outlets •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 evolution • believed that young infants share many characteristics with their nonhuman ancestors • 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 experience • 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 • discuss the advantages and disadvantages of the 5 basic fact-finding strategies: self- report methods, systematic observation, case studies, ethnography, and psychophysiological methods The Scientific Method • The scientific method: use of objective and replicable methods to gather data for the purpose of testing a theory or hypothesis. • must be objective and must allow the data to describe their thinking • this method is a safeguard that helps protect the scientific community and society at large against flawed reasoning. Gathering Data: Basic Fact-Finding Strategies • useful measures must always demonstrate the ff: • reliability: the extent to which a measuring instrument yields consistent results, both over time and across observers •interrater reliability •temporal stability: yielding similar scores for individual children from one testing to another shortly thereafter •***reliability does NOT guarantee validity*** • validity: the extent to which a measuring instrument accurately reflects what the researchers intended to measure • Self-Report Methodologies • 3 common procedures: interviews, questionnaires, and the clinical method • Interviews and Questionnaires •structured interview/ structured questionnaire: asked the same questions in the same order • The Clinical Method •the clinical method: type of interview in which a participantʼs response to each successive question (or problem) determines what the investigator will ask next •each participantʼs answer will determine what question will be asked next •Jean Piaget used this method to study moral reasoning in children (p.12) • Observational Methodologies • naturalistic observation: a method in which the scientist tests hypotheses by observing people as they engage in everyday activ
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