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Chapter 2

Chapter 2 - Textbook Notes

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Psychology 2040A/B
Ian Mac Donald

CHAPTER 2THE NATURE OF SCIENTIFIC THEORIESTheory set of concepts and propositions designed to organize describe and explain an existing set of observationso Some are broad some are limited to a specific issueo The basis of all scientific theories is that they help us to organize our thinking about the aspects of experience that interest us Characteristics of a good theory o Should be parsimonious theory that uses relatively few explanatory principles to explain a broad set of observationso Yet should also be able to explain a broad range of phenomenao Should be falsifiable capable of generating predictions that could be disconfirmedo Heuristic continues to stimulate new research and discoveries Theory that simply explains a set of observations without making any new predictions is neither falsifiable nor heuristic and is of limited scientific value Theories that are later disconfirmed may have served a useful purpose by stimulating the new knowledge that led to their demise QUESTIONSCONTROVERSIES ABOUT HUMAN DEVELOPMENT The NatureNurture IssueNatureNurture Issue debate among developmental theorists about the relative importance of biological predispositions nature and environmental influences nurture as determinants of human development There is a middle ground that is endorsed by many contemporary researchers who believe that the relative contributions of nature and nurture depend on the aspect of development in questionThe ActivePassive Issue ActivePassive Issue debate among developmental theorists about whether children are active contributors to their own development or rather passive recipients of environmental influenceo Goes beyond considering the childs conscious choices and behaviours o Developmentalists consider a child active in development whenever any aspect of the child has an effect on the environment the child is experiencingchild may not be consciously choosing to be temperamentally difficult but still may beThe ContinuityDiscontinuity Issue ContinuityDiscontinuity Issue debate among theorists about whether developmental changes are quantitative and continuous or qualitative and discontinuous stagelike Continuity theorists view human development as an additive process that occurs gradually and continuously without sudden changeso Quantitative Change incremental change in degree without sudden transformations ex some view the small yearly increases in height and weight that 211 year olds display as quantitative developmental changes Discontinuity theorists describe the 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 growth curve resembles stairso Qualitative Change a change in kind that makes individuals fundamentally different than they were before ex the transformation of a prelinguistic infant into a language user is viewed by many as a qualitative change in communication skills Ex transformation of a tadpole into a frogo Discontinuity theorists claim that we progress through developmental stages distinct phase within a larger sequence of development a period characterized by a particular set of abilities motives behaviours or emotions that occur together and form a coherent patternThe Holistic Nature of Development Theme Final major theme that has intrigued developmental scientists is the extent to which development is a holistic process VS a segmented separate process The question is whether different aspects of human development are interrelated and influence eachother as the child matureso Some views of development take a more segmented approachscientists limit themselves to one are of development and attempt to study that development in isolation from influences from other areaso Other developmental scientists adopt a more holistic perspectivebelieve that all areas of development are interdependent and one cannot truly understand developmental change in one area without at least a passing knowledge of what is happening developmentally in other areas of the childs life THE PSYCHOANALYTIC VIEWPOINT Sigmund Freud Psychosexual Theory Freuds theory that states that maturation of the sex instinct underlies stages of personality development and that the manner in which parents manage childrens instinctual impulses determines the traits that children display Freuds Psychosexual TheoryFreud was a practicing neurologist who formulated his theory of human development from his analyses of his emotionally disturbed patients life histories Relied heavily on such methods as hypnosis free association a quick spilling of ones thoughts and dream analysis o These methods gave some indication of unconscious motives term for feelings experiences and conflicts that influence a persons thinking and behaviour but lie outside the persons awareness
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