Chapter 5:developing through the life span 11/12/2013
How do we change physically, cognitively, and socially from birth to death?
infancy and childhood
Nature vs. nurturehow do genetic inheritance (nature) and experience (nurture) influence our
Continuity and stagesis development a gradual, continuing process, or does it proceed through a series of
Stability vs. changedo our early personality and intellectual traits persist through life, or do we become
different people as we age?
Prenatal development and the newborn
Development commences when sperm cell reaches egg.
Prenatal exposure to teratogens, which are harmful agents such as viruses and drugs, increases risk to
problems later in life.
Good prenatal nutrition has been linked to positive outcomes, such as having a high IQ in childhood.
Newborns come into the world equipped with automatic responses ideally suited for survival contrary to
William James’ beliefs.
Infants also show habituation.
Habituationa simple form of learning that occurs when an organism shows a decrease in response to some
stimulus after repeated presentation of that stimulus.
Studies of habituation in infants reveal that they are sensitive to novelty in their environments, and this is a
window into the infant’s mental processes.
Infancy and childhood
Brain development unfolds through maturation.
Maturationa biologically programmed growth process. In humans, at birth, the brain is immature, but as the
child matures neural networks grow increasingly more complex. As an infant’s muscles and nervous system
mature, more complicated skills emerge.
Cognitionrefers to all mental activities associated with thinking, knowing, remembering, and
Our earliest memories seldom predate our third birthday, a phenomenon called infantile amnesia.
Schemaa mental model of something in the world.
Assimilationthe process of interpreting experiences in terms of our schemas.
Accommodationthe process of adjusting schemas.
Piaget’s stages of developmentlook up in book. Object permanencethe awareness that objects continue to exist when not perceived. Piaget thought that
this capability emerges suddenly around 8 months, but developmental psychologists now believe it
Piaget underestimated young children’s competence. Also believed children incapable of basic mental
Conservationthe principle that quantity remains the same despite changes in shape. Piaget claimed that
children have this problem.
Egocentricthat they have difficulty perceiving the world from another’s point of view. Piaget claimed that
children are egocentric.
By age 12, reasoning has expanded from the concrete to encompass abstract thinking. Children become
capable of thinking hypothetically and of deducing consequences. Piaget underestimated children’s
competence. In specific domains, children