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York University
PSYC 2110
Scott Adler

Chapter 01:Background and Theories Developmental Psychology and its Roots…  Child psychology, as a science, is only a little more than 100 years old.  What is developmental psychology? o Changes in behaviour and abilities that occur as development proceeds. o Has two basic goals:  Description: identify the child’s behaviour at each point in development.  E.g., when do babies start to detect colour?  E.g., how do children resolve conflicts with their peers?  Explanation: determining causes and processes that produce changes in behaviour from one point to the next.  E.g., biology, environment, etc.  Why study children? o Period of rapid development.  Makes sense to focus on the period where rapid change occurs.  More changes occur during this period than any other period.  Physical growth, social interaction, acquisition of language, memory abilities, etc. o Long-term influences.  Experiences during childhood strongly affect later development.  I.E., we are who we are because of our childhood. o Insight into complex adult processes.  Useful to study complex processes during the stage where it is not so complex.  E.g., language development. o Real world applications.  Products of research benefit children in real life problems.  E.g., poverty, illiteracy, crime, etc.  Policy makers often look to psychologists for help.  Therefore, study children to make their lives better. o Interesting subject matter.  Love for children and fascination with their development.  Historical views of childhood o Ancient Greece and Rome  600 BCE to 400 CE.  Infanticide was common for illegitimate, sick, or unwanted babies.  Severe punishment and exploitation of children was neither uncommon nor cruel.  Recognized importance of childhood, but did not care for their children. o Medieval and Renaissance Periods  After fall of Roman Empire, catholic churches tried to improve kids’ lives by making them pure and innocent.  Instead of infanticide, unwanted kids were shipped off to convents and monasteries.  Abuse and exploitation of kids continued through the middle ages.  Renaissance = 14 – 17 centuries.  Founding homes in Florence, Italy were set up for sick, unwanted children.  Early Theorists o John Locke (1632-1704)  All children are born equal, and the mind is a blank slate (tabula rasa).  All knowledge comes from experience and learning.  Had an environmentalist POV.  Children are not innately good or innately evil.  Stressed the use of rewards and punishments.  Did not favour material rewards or physical punishment.  Discipline = praise for desirable behaviours and scolding for undesirable behaviours. o Jean-Jacques Rousseau (1712-1778)  Considered the father of French Romanticism.  Emphasized sentimentality, naturalness, and innocence.  In contrast to Locke, Rousseau believed children were born with ideas and knowledge that unfolds with age.  Believed development followed a set of predictable stages.  Also, believed whatever the child didn’t know is acquired through interaction.  Therefore children should learn through discovery and exploration, not formal instruction.  Rousseau’s views would be called nativism. o Johann Gottfried von Herder (1744-1803)  Socialization into a group or community.  Everyone is born into a specific cultural community with a shared language and historical traditions.  Opposed attempts to force one’s culture on another.  Instead, argued for cultural relativism; in which each culture should be evaluated on its own terms.  Importance of language; argued diversity in language = diversity in culture.  Believed language and culture and continually reinterpreted and changed by people of the culture.  “We live in the world we create”. o Charles Darwin (1809-1882)  Ideas have influenced almost every major theory of development.  Evolutionary Theories:  Assumption #1: members of a species vary in many characteristics. o E.g., some are stronger, some are smaller, etc.  Assumption #2: Some of this variance is biological in origin. o E.g., nature, not nurture. o Can therefore be passed from parent to offspring.  Assumption #3: Most species produce more offspring than the environment can sustain. o Therefore, offspring must compete for survival. o Some variance may increase chances for survival (natural selection).  Not directly involved with development, but his theories led others to suggest recapitulation (G. Stanley Hall) = development of an individual follows the development of the species.  No longer scientifically supported.  Darwin’s study of his son, “Doddy” was one of the first.  Baby biography = studying one’s own child’s development.  Pioneers of child psychology o G. Stanley Hall (1846-1924)  Father of child psychology.  Conducted and published first studies in North America.  Founded and became the first president of the APA. o James Mark Baldwin (1861-1934)  First academic psychologist in Canada.  Set up first psychology lab in UofT.  Used baby biography.  Examined handedness, colour vision, suggestibility, and imitation.  Stressed relationship between heredity and the environment.  Influenced Jean Piaget. o John B. Watson (1878-1958)  Zeitgeist = “spirit of the times”; the shared ideas of scientists during a specific time.  When a science is very young, the zeitgeist can change dramatically.  First major psychologist to adapt Locke’s views.  This time called behaviourism.  Behaviour is a result of conditioning and learning.  Early career = animal psychology.  Introspection involves having clients complete a task, and then look inwards and report what’s happening.  Said introspection wasn’t reliable:  Little agreement was ever found across participants’ answers.  Psychology should follow other sciences and deal with objective, observable subject matter.  He rejected any method that couldn’t be used with other species.  Argued learning is due to associations, as described by Ivan Pavlov.  All human behaviour starts as simple reflexes.  Then through associations, we learn to respond to conditioned stimuli. o Arnold Gesell (1880-1961)  Biological model; one of G. Stanley Hall’s students.  Did not agree that development followed that of the species.  Believed development was guided primarily by biological processes.  Therefore, growth and motor development followed predictable patterns.  Environment plays only a minor role. o Perhaps affecting the age at which skills appear, but not affecting the skills themselves.  Maturation is the complex set of biological mechanisms that guide development.  Used observational methods to study children.  First large scale study of children that revealed a high degree of uniformity in children’s development.  Didn’t develop at the same time, but followed the same pattern.  E.g., all children walked before they ran, before they skipped, before they hopped, etc.  Developed statistical norms, that is, an age range where developmental milestones typically occur.  Pioneered the use of cameras to record children’s behaviour. o Sigmund Freud (1856-1939)  Two major contributions to psychology:  In clinical psychology: model of personality and techniques of psychoanalysis = major school of thought in psychotherapy.  In developmental psychology: stage theory of psychosexual development. o Each child is born with a sexual energy (libido), which is biologically guided towards certain location in the body, called the erogenous zones. o Sexual energy is the ability to experience physical pleasure. o Success at each stage requires the proper amount of physical pleasure.  Theory of development is actually a theory of personality formation.  Many aspects of adult functioning are due to childhood.  If a child doesn’t get the right amount of physical pleasure, a part of the libido becomes fixated at that stage.  This fixation will result in an adult continually seek pleasure in this erogenous zone.  E.g., oral fixation = smoking, excessive eating, etc.  The Oedipus complex at the phallic stage is when kids become attracted to their opposite sex parent.  They realize their same-sex parent is a worthy opponent, so they compensate via: o Repression; pushing the desire into the unconscious, and o Identification; attempt to identify with the same-sex parent.  Freud’s theories never fully accepted because:  Vague; cannot be scientifically proven or disproven.  Relied on unobservable mechanisms such as unconscious motives.  However, two fundamental concepts still accepted today:  Rejection of purely nativistic and strictly environmentalistic explanations. Argued for an interactionist perspective.  Suggestion that early experiences have an effect later in life. o Erik Erikson (1902-1994)  Differed from Freud:  Believed development continued throughout life. o Replaced Freud’s 5 stages with 8.  Can’t understand personality without looking at the environment.  Developed the psychosocial model.  Model was based on the study of normal individuals and emphasized the positive, healthy aspects of personality.  Where Freud studied his patients.  Erikson believed development followed a blueprint; it isn’t random.  Each individual’s ultimate goal is identity, which develops gradually through the eight stages.  At each stage, a positive personality characteristic associated with the search for identity conflicts with the negative characteristic resulting from interaction with the social world. Issues in Developmental Psychology…  Nature vs. Nurture o Inborn, biological factors (nature) or environmental, experiential factors (nurture). o Has existed since Locke and Rousseau. o Psychologists today mostly agree with the interactionist perspective, but emphasize either nature or nurture.  E.g., gifted children; genetic contribution, parents are probably gifted in similar areas. Also, probably in an environment that allows them to flourish.  E.g., aggressive behaviour.  Nurture = exposure to violent models, or ineffective parenting that rewards aggression.  Nature = inherited disposition that makes it difficult to regulate emotions or process social cues.  However, appears to be a combination of the two.  Continuity vs. Discontinuity o Is development continuous (smooth and stable, with new abilities, skills, and knowledge gradually added at a relatively uniform place)?  Or discontinuous (development at different rates, alternating between periods of little change and periods of rapid, abrupt change)? o Continuity theorists contest that patterns in adulthood can be directly traced back to childhood. o Discontinuity theorists say that certain patterns occur relatively independent of earlier life. o Continuity models are often associated with the ideas that skills are gradually added, and then combined and recombined to form more complex skills.  This model emphasizes quantitative change; simplicity is added together to create more advanced abilities.  Characterizes the environmental perspective. o The discontinuity model holds that development is guided primarily by internal biological factors.  E.g., stage theorists. o Theorists argue that some processes are better described by one model, while other processes are better described by the other model.  Normative vs. Idiographic Development o Normative development is what children have in common or how development is similar for all children.  Focuses on the “average” child, with the goal of identifying how development occurs from one stage to the next.  The search for universals of development – behaviours or patterns of development that characterize all children everywhere.  Associated with biological theories of development. o Idiographic development is the differences in development from one child to the next.  Associated with environmental and experiential theories. o An example is research of language development:  Normative theorists look for common patterns of linguistic development.  Idiographic theorists may look at identifying and explaining the individual differences between children. Theories of Development: Cognitive-Developmental Approaches…  Emphasis on cognition; the changes we witness in children’s behaviours and abilities arise largely from changes in their knowledge and intellectual skills.  Major goals: specify what children know, how this knowledge is organized, and how it changes or develops.  Piaget o Wasn’t interested so much in how many questions children get right on intelligence tests, as much as he was interested as why they got a question wrong. o Their answers revealed qualitative (style-related) differences in thinking vs. quantitative (amount-related) differences. o Called his area of interest genetic epistemology; the study of children’s knowledge and how it changes with development. o Was interested in how children think, not what they know. o Developed the clinical method; where he asked a question or posed a problem, and later determined the child’s reasoning or problem-solving approach. o Human development can be described in terms of functions and cognitive structures.  Functions are inborn biological processes that are the same for everyone and remain unchanged.  Purpose is to construct internal cognitive structures, which change repeatedly as the child grows. o Cognitive structures  Piaget believed intelligence is a process – not something a child has but something a child does.  Piaget’s child gains knowledge by acting upon the world.  E.g., an infant’s knowledge of a ball is understood in terms of the actions that can be performed with it: pushing, throwing, mouthing, etc.  These actions are a reflection of schemes, which are cognitive structures in infancy comprised of two elements: the object in the environment, and the infant’s reaction to that object.  As development proceeds, the number and complexity of schemes increases.  Schemes reflect certain flexibilities: children do not perform the same action with every ball they come across.  Schemes become differentiated,
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