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Chapter 11

Chapter 11.docx

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Psychology 1000

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Chapter 11: Development over the Life Span Major Issues and Methods - Modern research tells us that, although unfavorable environments can significantly impair development, some children exposed to extreme adversity are highly resilient and thrive later in life - Developmental psychology examines changes in our biological, physical, psychological, and behavioral processes as we age o Nature and nurture – how do nature (heredity) and nurture (environment) interact? o Critical and sensitive periods – critical period (age range in which certain experiences must occur for development to proceed normally or along a certain path) and sensitive period (optimal age range for certain experiences; normal development is still possible) o Continuity vs. discontinuity – is development continuous (gradual) or discontinuous (occurring in stages)? o Stability versus change – do our traits remain consistent as we age? - Psychologists plot developmental functions with age (there are five developmental functions with different shapes) o 1) No change – an ability present at birth remains relatively constant across lifespan (e.g. pitch discrimination and figure ground perception) o 2) Continuous change – an ability not present at birth that develops gradually over years and then remains constant (e.g. certain types of intelligence) o 3) Stages (discontinuity) – ability that progresses in stages, with relatively rapid shifts from a lower level of performance to a higher level (e.g. motor development) o 4) Inverted U-shape – ability that emerges after birth, peaks, and disappears with age (e.g. separation anxiety, visual acuity) o 5) U-shaped function – ability that is present early in life, disappears temporarily, and re-emerges later - Cross-sectional design: compare people of different ages at the same point in time; this is widely used because data from many group can be collected relatively quickly (but, cohorts grow up in different historical periods) - Longitudinal design: tests the same cohort as it grows older (time consuming though) o So we use sequential design which combines cross-sectional design and longitudinal design o So you test multiple cohorts at the same time (of course, most time consuming and costly) Prenatal Development - Prenatal development has three stages o Germinal stage: first two weeks of development; beginning when one sperm fertilizes an egg (the fertilized egg is a zygote) o Embryonic stage: second to eighth week after conception; cell mass is now an embryo; placenta (allow nutrients to pass from blood to umbilical cord) and umbilical cord develop o Fetal stage: ninth week after conception; embryo is now a fetus; muscles and other bodily systems develop  Age of viability: by 28 weeks, fetus is likely to survive outside the womb in case of premature death Genetics and Sex Determination - The Y chromosome contains a specific gene, known as the TDF (testis-determining factor) gene, that triggers male sexual development - At roughly six to eight weeks after conception, TDF gene develop testes - The testes then secrete sex hormones called androgens that continue to direct a male pattern of organ development o This occurs in critical period of prenatal stage Environmental Influences - Severe malnutrition is associated with miscarriage, premature birth, stillbirth, smaller birth size, and impaired prenatal brain development - Teratogens are environmental agents that cause abnormal prenatal development o Most widely studied teratogen is alcohol o Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS) consists of abnormalities that result from drinking during pregnancy (e.g. facial abnormalities, small malformed brains, small stature, motor impairments, and poor adaptive functioning) o Even social drinking or binge drinking increases the risk of prenatal damage o Not all fetuses exposed to alcohol, however, experience FAS  Some symptoms are mild; this condition is Fetal Alcohol Effects (FAE) o The threshold level of alcohol exposure needed to produce FAS or FAE is unknown o Most damage occurs during sensitive periods of fetal brain growth - Behavioral responses and learning begin during the fetal stage - Fetal body movements are elicited around 27 weeks after conception o Babies also have long-term memory for sounds they hear during development  i.e. they stopped crying when certain shows played on TV because it sounds familiar o Fetuses also learn about odors from their mother’s diet  i.e. newborns of mothers who habitually consumed anise-flavored foods and drinks also preferred anise odors - Nature and nurture interact throughout pregnancy Infancy and Childhood - Newborn vision is limited by poor acuity - Despite this, within minutes after birth, they will turn to face off-centered visual targets, turn toward auditory and tactile targets and odors o Newborns orient to significant stimuli in their environment o This optimizes their access to food, warmth, and social stimulation - Preferential looking procedure: shows that newborns have visual preferences o They look longer at patterned objects o They prefer complex patterns - Newborn acuity is about 40 times worse than normal adult acuity - Visual habituation procedure: show the same stimulus repeatedly until infant looking time declines o Infants look longer at novel rather than familiar stimulus o This proves that infants have memory to discriminate images o Newborns also see in color and show shape and size constancies - Auditory habituation procedure: play off-centred, recorded speech sound until they stopped turning their heads o Not fatigued because  Many turned heads away  Readily turned head to novel sounds  Habituation lasted 24 hours - These tests demonstrate that infants are born with the capacity to recognize, respond to, and remember their primary caretakers and to learn their important information about events in their surroundings Newborn Learning - Habituation revealed that infants readily turn to novel sound and have working long-term memory - Newborns learn to associate particular sounds with particular objects - Newborns also rapidly acquire classically conditioned responses o Touch on their foreheads (CS) resulted in the delivery of milk (UCS) o Babies cried when no milk was delivered even when the touch was applied - Newborns also undergo operant conditioning to “make things happen” - Newborns will imitate adult facial expressions o Researchers suggest that this socio-emotional engagement facilitates development of thought, self-awareness, and language Sensory-Perceptual Development - Newborns’ crude sensory perceptual abilities improve rapidly - Visual acuity increases by six months of age o Infants can also discriminate between patterns made up of subjective contours - Overall, most sensory perceptual processes improve rapidly during the first year of life - Other abilities appear rather suddenly several months after birth o A few abilities, however, decline temporarily or disappear during the first year of life (like sound localization) Physical, Motor, and Brain Development - Our bodies and motor skills develop rapidly during infancy and childhood - Maturation is the genetically programmed biological process that governs our growth - Cephalocaudal principle: tendency for development to proceed in a head-to-foot direction (so head of a fetus or infant is disproportionately large) - Proximodistal principle: development begins along the innermost parts of the body and continues toward the outermost parts (arm develops before its hands and fingers) - Brain develops quickly and dramatically o Cells become larger, axons develop myelin sheath, and neural networks develop rapidly - Motor development tends to follow a regular, stage-like sequence - Reflexes: automatic, ‘inborn’ behaviors elicited by specific stimuli present at birth - Generally, healthy reflexes indicate normal neurological maturity at birth o Some motor skills follow a U-shaped developmental function o Turns out the skills are hidden, not lost Environmental and Cultural Influences - Physical and motor developments are also guided by experience as well - For example, diet affects fetal growth (malnutrition leads to stunted growth, and even death) o Physical touch and environmental enrichment also affect growth in infancy o I.e. stroking babies promotes physical growth o Clearly, experience plays a critical role in the development of sensory, perceptual, motor, and physical development - Our discussion of physical growth and perceptual-motor development reinforces three points that apply across the realm of human development: o 1) Biology sets limits on environmental influences o 2) Environmental influences can be powerful o 3) Biological and environmental factors interact o *Research Frontier Cognitive Development - Piaget was concerned with how children arrived at their answers - He proposed that children’s thinking changes qualitatively with age, and that it differs from the way adults think o He believed that cognitive development results from an interplay of maturation and experience o Schemas: organized patterns of thought and action  Think of schema as internal framework - Cognitive development occurs as we acquire new schemas, and our existing schemas become more complex - Assimilation: new experiences are incorporated into existing schema - Accommodation: new experiences cause existing schemas to change o Imbalance or disequilibrium between existing schemas and new experiences ultimately forces those schemas to change o Thus, cognitive development involves a give-and-take between trying to understand new experiences in terms of what we already know and having to modify our thinking when new experiences don’t fit into our current schemas Sensorimotor Stage - It lasts from birth to about age two o Infants understand their world primarily though sensory experiences and physical interactions with objects o To young infants, “out of sight” = “out of this world” o To older infants, “out of sight” = “retrievable”  Object permanence: ability to understand that an object continues to exist even when it disappears from sight o Infants gain language after one year and toward the end of this stage, they use words to represent objects, needs, and actions o In two years, infants grow into thinkers who can form simple concepts, solve some problems mentally, and communicate their thoughts to others Preoperational Stage - Occurs at around age two - Infants represent world symbolically through words and mental images, but do not yet understand basic mental operations or rules - They can also think about the past and future and they can also anticipate the consequences of their actions o Still, infants have limited cognitive abilities o Children do not have concept of conservation; the basic properties of objects such as their volume, mass, or quantity stay the same (centration: focusing on only one aspect of the situation) o Preoperational children display aminism (giving lifelike qualities to physical objects and natural events) o Egocentrism: difficulty viewing the world in someone else’s perspective (children believe that other people see things in the same way as they do)  This by no means imply that children are selfish Concrete Operational Stage - Lasts from 7 to 12 - Children can perform basic mental operations concerning problems that involve tangible objects and situations o They can draw a map showing the route to get to school - They can do serial ordering and can arrange object along various dimensions - But, they lack abstract reasoning Formal Operational Stage - This begins about age 11 to 12 - Children are able to think logically and systematically about both concrete and abstract problems - They enjoy brain teasers o They are more flexible when thinking about hypothetical problems Assessment of Piaget’s Theory: Stages, Ages, and Culture - General cognitive abilities associated with Piaget’s four stages appear to occur in the same order across cultures - But, culture also influences cognitive development o People from underdeveloped areas show age-delay - Current researches have shown that children acquire cognitive skills at younger ages than Piaget had postulated o Also, cognitive development within each stage seems to proceed inconsistently (some children may exhibit concrete operational skills on some tasks and display preoperational skills on others) o Piagetians continue to modify his theory to account for some of the issues Vygotsky: The Social Context of Cognitive Development - Dogma – cognitive development occurs in a socio-cultural context (so, children’s cognitive growth is stimulated by daily interactions with adults and older peers) - Zone of proximal development: the difference between what a child can do independently and what the child can do with assistance from adults or more advanced peers o Helps us recognize those functions that have not matured but are in the process of maturation (in other words, it gives us an idea of what children may soon be able to do on their own) o It also shows that people can move a child’s cognitive development forward within limits of biological maturation Information-Processing Approaches - Many believe that cognitive development is best examined within an information-processing framework - Information processing speed also improves during childhood and slows during adolescence - Memory capabilities expand significantly during childhood - Metacognition refers to an awareness of one’s own cognitive processes (older children display greater awareness of their own mental processes than do younger children) o Researchers in information-processing approach believe that cognitive development is a continuous, gradual process in which the same set of processing abilities becomes more efficient over time Theory of Mind: Children’s Understanding of Mental States - Theory of Mind: refers to a person’s beliefs about how the mind works - Lying and deception imply operation of theory of mind; they imply an understanding that one can still instill a false belief into another person’s mind Moral Development - Kohlberg developed a theory of moral reasoning - Preconventional moral reasoning: based on anticipated punishments or rewards o Stage 1: punishment and obedience orientation o Stage 2: instrumental and hedonistic orientation - Conventional moral reasoning: based on conformity to social expectations, laws, and duties o Stage 3: good child orientation o Stage 4: law and order oreintation - Postconventional moral reasoning: based on well thought out, general moral principles o Stage 5: social contract orientation o Stage 6: universal ethical principles o Kohlberg believed that progress in moral reasoning depends upon general cognitive maturation and the opportunity to confront moral issues Culture, Gender, and Moral Reasoning - As we age, moral reasoning changes from preconventional to conventional levels - Even in adulthood, postconventional reasoning is relatively uncommon, though its frequency varies across cultures - Levels are not skipped; preconventional reasoning occurs before conventional reasoning, and when it occurs, postconventional reasoning is last to emerge - A person’s moral judgments do not always reflect the same level or stage within levels o Postconventional reasoning occurs more often in Western countries o Critics argue that the model contains cultural and gender biases  Justice primarily reflects a male perspective o Moral reasoning overlaps with personality, behavior, and social context Personality and Social Development - Personality develops through confronting a series of eight major psychosocial stages (according to Erikson) - Basic trust vs. basic mistrust – how adequately our needs are met and how much love and attention we receive determine whether we develop a basic trust or basic mistrust - Autonomy vs. shame and doubt – degree of acceptance of individuali
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