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Chapter 12

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Psychology 1000

Psychology Chapter 12 Notes (Development over the Lifespan) Developmental Psychology: Issue and Methods  Developmental psychology examines changes in our biological, physical, psychological and behavioural processes as we age. There are four issues that guide developmental research: o Nature/nurture; maturation versus learning o Critical and sensitive periods  A critical period is defined as an age range where certain experiences must occur for development to proceed normally or along a certain path  A sensitive period is an optimal age range for certain experiences  Even if experiences are shown at difference times, normal development may be possible o Continuity versus discontinuity o Stability versus change  Developmental psychologists plot developmental function on graphs  There are special types of designs that psychologists use o A cross-sectional design is a research design that compares, simultaneously, people of different ages at a particular point in time o Longitudinal design is research that is repeated with the same individuals as they age o Sequential design combines both cross-sectional and longitudinal design Prenatal Development  Prenatal development consists of 3 stages: o Germinal stage encompasses the first two weeks of development, starting with the zygote o Embryonic stage is from the second week until the eighth week of conception and the cell is now called an embryo  The placenta and umbilical cord develop at this stage again.  By week 8, the heart of the embryo is now beating o The fetal stage begins when, starting the 9 week, the embryo becomes a fetus. The fetal stage lasts until birth  By 28 weeks, the fetus attains the age of viability, which means that it is likely to survive outside the womb in the case of premature birth  Genetics take a play into determining gender, as the Y chromosome has a gene called the TDF; testis determining factor o It is approximately 6-8 weeks after conception when the TDF gene initiates development of testes and male sex hormones called androgens continue a male pattern of development o If androgen is not present, a female pattern of development occurs  Teratogens are environmental agents that cause abnormal prenatal development. o Many substances can cause birth defects, along with many drugs  Some include alcohol which causes fetal alcohol syndrome, mercury, lead, radiation and nicotine. Infancy and Childhood  Fantz used a procedure called the preferential looking procedure to study infants’ visual preferences  Infants have poor visual acuity and readily turn toward off-centered auditory and tactile targets o Infant’s iris’ are grey or blue at birth and the pigment comes later in life o The pupil is unable to fully dilate and the retina is not fully formed yet o They are able to turn their head to keep objects in view, but their visual accommodation is only to about 18-38cm  Taste and smells of infants are very similar to adults; they prefer sweet liquids to salty liquids o This suggests taste and smell are hardwired  Infants are able to respond to a wide variety of sounds o They prefer complex sound; they are especially sensitive to sounds in the range of the human voice o Within the first couple days, they are able to turn their heads towards the sound’s location and discriminate between sounds  Infants seem to learn rapidly; they can tell the difference in faces between a strangers and their mother’s. o A new visual image can be taught to infants by using a system called the visual habituation procedure, where an image is repeatedly shown to an infant until the looking time declines. o Auditory habituation procedures involve studying infant memory by playing a off- centered sound.  Studies are shown that newborns rapidly learn to associate sounds with objects  Newborns can learn through classic and operant conditioning and imitation. o They learnt that infants became upset when, during extinction, their expectations were violated and how infants learnt to suck milk in bursts when they heard their mother’s voice over a recorder  Newborns will imitate some adult facial expressions.  Newborn’s visual acuity improves rapidly; their visual field will expand to almost adult size by 6 months whereas grating acuity improves from 20/800 to 20/100 by 6 months and then it is improved to adult levels by age 4. o By 3-4 months, infants have some depth perception; they can roughly judge object distance  They cannot see with one eye covered, however o At 4-5 months, infants are able to reach for nearby toys o By 6-7 months, they are able to accurately grasp o During 9-10 months, they avoid the deep end of a visual cliff  Maturation is the biological process that governs the growth of individuals. o Two processes govern biological maturation; the cephalocaudal principle and the proximodistal principle.  The cephalocaudal principle is the principle stating that growth develops in a head-to-foot direction  The proximodistal principle sates that development starts from the innermost parts of the body and works outwards.  Motor development tends to follow a regular, stagelike pattern of development o Reflexes are inborn behaviours that are exhibited by newborns when presented with specific stimuli. o Some skills follow a U-shape; some skills are lost then recovered. o At birth, infants exhibit the Babinski sign; when the bottom of the foot is touched, the toes fan outwards  Most reflexes disappear as the child ages  There are milestones that children should reach when they hit the appropriate age: o From months 1-5, children should be able to sit with support o From months 5-9, children should be able to sit without support o From months 6-12, children should be able to stand with help, such as furniture o At months 9-16, they should be able to stand alone o From months 7-17, they should be able to walk alone  While development is affected by genetic programs, they are also affected by experience.  Jean Piaget is a Swiss Cognitive Development psychologist that spent 50 years exploring the cognitive development of children. o Piaget first started out working with Binet. o Piaget proposed that children’s thinking changes qualitatively with age. o According to Piaget, cognitive development occurs when individuals acquire new schemas, and two processes are involved:  Assimilation is the process where new experiences are incorporated into existing schemas  Accommodation is the process by which new experiences cause existing schemas to change o Piaget charted 4 majors stages of cognitive growth:  Sensorimotor stage begins from birth to age 2:  Around 8 months of age, infants understand object permanence; that objects exist even when it can be no longer seen.  Infants acquire language after age 1  Nothing exists apart from a child’s own perceptions and motor reactions  There is no concept of I; no self concept  Co-ordination of activities is no present until 5 months; it takes an infant about 7 months on average to use both hands  There is a vital important of sensory feedback  Infants can pseudoimitate, but only if actions are produced by someone else  By 18-24 months, the infant has efficient imitation and has representational thought; that the external exists o Infants have object permanence; the understanding that an object exists even if it is no longer seen  However, Kellmand and Spelke has shown that infants do have object permanence, but they are just adept at finding them once hidden  Preoperational stage is from age 2 to about age 7  The preoperational child does not understand the law of conservation; that while the outward appearance of the object has changed, the mass, volume or quantity has not. o Preoperational kids tend to attend to only one aspect of a stimulus  Their thinking also reflect egocentrism, where they cannot perceive another’s perception o They are unable to take the place of another; the 3 mountain problem show this as well as the false belief test  The 3 mountain scenario is a scenario where children were unable to establish the viewpoint of another who was standing opposite to them  The false belief scenario again shows egocentrism, but using a teddy bear, a box and a piece of candy  However, young children may be tempted by the candy, and broccoli was replaced. In that case, egocentrism was not shown at all during the study  The concrete operational stage begins from age 7 to 12  Children at this age should be able to perform basic mental problems that involve tangible objects; they have problems with
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