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Unit 9: Developmental Psychology

Some information about development throughout the lifespan, and some ideas about personality.
by

Laura Koritz

on 12 April 2016

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Transcript of Unit 9: Developmental Psychology

Unit 9:
Developmental Psych.

Developmental Psychology is the study of the changes that happen to people over the course of their lives, from conception (when you were only 1 cell!) to death.
This is a huge area, so we often divide this into smaller stages to study. Some psychologists specifically study childhood, adolescnece, adulthood, or old age.
Nature vs. Nurture is important in developmental psychology.

Are things because of genetics/biology or environment?
Prenatal Development
23 chromosomes
46 chromosomes
Prenatal Stages:

Zygote - one cell

Germinal stage - Conception to Day 14. cells divide, making a lot more cells!

Embryo stage - 2nd to 8th week. major organs and systems start to form
About 3 weeks in, heart starts beating. Only 1 inch long, but starting to look human, with facial features, little limbs, etc.

Fetal stage - 9th week to birth - continues to grow and develop. At end of 6th month, fetus could survive outside the mother with medical care if necessary (viable)
Some problems that can happen during prenatal development:

if there are chromosomal problems from the original sperm or egg cell, these will start to be seen during prenatal development

e.g. Down Syndrome - an extra 21st chromosome. causes distinct facial features and problems with intellectual development.

Extra or missing chromosomes usually cause big problems. Sometimes terminal.
Some problems that can happen during prenatal development:

if there are chromosomal problems from the original sperm or egg cell, these will start to be seen during prenatal development

e.g. Down Syndrome - an extra 21st chromosome. causes distinct facial features and problems with intellectual development.

Extra or missing chromosomes usually cause big problems. Sometimes terminal.
Some problems can come from outside as well.

Teratogen - any environmental agent that might harm the embryo

e.g. alcohol, cocaine, smoking, chemicals like cleaning fluids, etc
critical periods:
E.g.

smoking during pregnancy will reduce the amount of oxygen that gets to the baby, and can result in respiratory problems and lower birth weight.

drinking alcohol during pregnancy can cause Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS) a very serious disorder that includes brain abnormalities.
FAS is one of the leading causes of mental retardation.

Of course illegal drugs can often harm the baby as well. Sometimes health problems for the infant, and some troubles later in the child's life (e.g. more behavioural problems, intellectual development problems, etc)
Anything the mother takes into her body during pregnancy or breastfeeding can get into the baby, and some things can cause problems.

A healthy lifestyle and nutrition is important for the proper development of the baby
Infancy and Childhood
Infants and children grow and change very quickly, bodies and brains!
What's the first thing you remember in your life? How old were you?
We usually don't remember things from before about age 3.

Our brains are still developing, lots of cells, but not many connections yet. Myelin is not well developed yet.
But by 3 years old, our brains have 1,000,000,000,000,000 connections!

Experience and natural development help create all these!
Strengthening vs. pruning synapses

importance of experience / environment on brain development.
Young brains are also very PLASTIC or changeable.

Brain damage can be compensated for by other areas if it occurs early in life (sometimes).
Older brains are much less plastic.
Brain Development
Reflexes and Motor Development
Reflexes are automatic responses to particular stimuli.

You may have a reflexive response to someone scaring you!
Babies have certain inborn reflexes:
Longitudinal Study - studies same people over a long period of time

Cross-sectional Study - studies different people who are at different life stages.

e.g. 5 year olds, 7 year olds, and 9 year olds, instead of studying the same people when they are 5, 7 and 9...

Not the best way, but cheaper, easier, faster....
They'll also cry and smile reflexively at first, and then learn how to use crying and smiling to get what they need or want.
By age 2, children are walking, running, and playing with everything.

Gross motor skills - the large muscle movements used to do things like running, walking, jumping, etc.

These improve over time.
Fine Motor Skills also improve over development.

e.g. writing, using utensils, playing musical instrument, etc.
Perceptual Development
Vision:

very nearsighted at birth. objects need to be close for newborns to see them

Babies love to look at faces; might be evolutionary- developing bonds with caretakers etc.
Depth perception:

babies as young as 6 months will hesitate at fake cliffs. They can percieve that there is a drop.

Very important to protect infants from falls, because inprefect depth perception and motor control can cause falls.
Hearing:

Babies are quite good at recognizing sounds, (especially their mother's voices) and react to sound even before they are born.

They like soft rhythmic sounds best.
Also women's and children's voices (more high pitched, use a lot of rising tones).
Other Senses:

Have strong senses of smell and taste at birth

Prefer sweet tastes.

Also very responsive to touch. Holding and touching infants can help develop their brains (more sensation/input is good) and help them gain weight.
Cognitive Development (Development of Thinking)
Jean Piaget (1896 - 1980)

- a very important developmental psychologist.

did case studies on his children (and studied other children) to discover principles of how thinking develops
Found children made similar mistakes at different stages, so he thought children might develop through certain stages of thinking
Idea of Schema - mental ideas or concepts of categories or ways the world works.
E.g. a dog schema - your mental concept of a dog.
Assimilation - using an existing schema to understand something new in the environment.
Accommodation - changing a schema or making a new one to understand something new in the environment.
Accommodation:
(Change)
(New)
Assimilation and Accommodation help knowledge and thinking skills develop and change over time, helping move us through stages of cognitive development.
4 legs,
hair,
2 eyes,
cute,
Four stages:

sensorimotor stage
preoperational stage
concrete operations stage
formal operations stage
What is object permanence?
Language as symbols, using objects in pretend play to represent other objects (stick - sword, etc). Language development is very important at this stage.
Egocentric thinking - thinking others think, feel, and perceive the same things you do.
more logical, but still limited to concrete experience (experience with real world objects and actions)

Can consider others' perspectives, allowing for more empathy, etc.

Difficult for them to think about things that MIGHT be, or things that they can't see or imagine easily.
Abstract Thinking-
Teenagers can think about hypotheticals, and think about more abstract concepts like complicated math or ideas like justice.
The order of these stages has been found to be very consistent across different groups of children, even those from different cultures.

The timing doesn't follow these strictly though. Individual differences, culture, and experience can change the timing.
Still, was a very important set of ideas that helps us understand how children's thinking develops, and also encouraged a lot of other research on children's cognitive development.
Piaget
Vygotsky
Lev Vygotsky (1896 - 1934) - provided a different way to think about how children develop mentally.
Maybe thinking starts outside of us, when we talk to others and solve problems together.
Then we'll talk ourselves through the problem (talking to ourselves)
Later we'll just think the words, instead of speaking them
(Private Speech)
The help we get from a parent, teacher or peer is called SCAFFOLDING, and helps us to think in ways or solve problems that we can't on our own.
The ZONE OF PROXIMAL DEVELOPMENT is the furthest we can achieve if we have scaffolding help from others.
Difficult problems will force us back to talking out loud, even for adults.

"Talking our way through the problem"
Basically, Vygotsky was interested in how SOCIAL interaction helps us to learn, and how we can develop through problem solving and working with others who have more skill in an area than we do.
Development of Moral Reasoning
Moral Dilemma!
Carol Giligan and Gender
Giligan believed that males and females use different principles to decide what's right and what's wrong.

She thought females focused more on concern, care, and relationships with others to make judgements,

while males more emphasized concepts of fairness and justice.
Research hasn't really supported these ideas though, and has found instead that males and females both tend to use both caring and justice principles to make judgements.
Babies and Temperament
Temperament - general patterns of behavior or ways to respond to the environment
Researchers have found 3 general temperaments in babies:

- Easy - generally good mood, easily establish routines for feeding, sleeping, etc. easily approach new objects and people

- Difficult - more crying, more irregular pattern of eating, sleeping. not as likely to approach new people or objects

- Slow to Warm-Up - in between, not as emotionally negative as D., but takes time to adapt to new situations
Temp. can influence parents' self-esteem (feelings about themselves as parents) and the parent-child bond.
Attachment
Parent-Child Bond = Attachment

originally thought to be because of the fact that parents feed the child, but this has been found to not be true.
close, warm contact

Harlow & Zimmerman (1959)
Signs of Attachment
Separation Anxiety:

fear and anxiety (worrying) expressed by infants when separated from parents.

starts at 6-7 months old
strongest at 14-18 months
decreases after that
Stranger Anxiety:

anxiety and fear when approached by unfamiliar people

starts at 8-10 months old
generally starts to reduce during 2nd year
Mary Ainsworth + Attachment Styles
Different ways of being attached to parents / caregivers

Studied by putting infants and parents in unfamiliar toy rooms, and watching their responses to different things
Secure Attachment: (Most Children)

explores toys, watches strangers that enter

may or may not cry when parent leaves, but emotional upset is reduced quickly when parent returns
Avoident Attachment:

seem to ignore parent
don't seem distressed when parents leave
show little response when parent returns
Resistant Attachment:

"clingy" babies - remain close to parent
don't explore much
extreme distress when parent leaves,
appear angry when parent returns
not easy to get them happy again
Secure children seem more likely to become:

curious, resilient, self-controlled preschoolers
who do better with peers and on school work

but there's no clear evidence that other styles cause problems later in life. Might, but might not....
Parenting Styles
How parents interact with children also influences the parent-child relationship
Authoritarian Parents:

high level of control, low levels of affection
don't explain REASONS for rules

Children tend to become more withdrawn, anxious, and conforming than other children
Authoritative Parents:

moderate levels of control and affection
reasons for rules

Competent, happy, self-confident children


seems best of the 3, but....
studied mainly European children and parents, might not be true of other cultures

also it's all corelational, so we can't say anything about causes.
Permissive Parents:

warmth and affection, but little control
few rules, not enforced well

children tend to be immature, disobedient, impulsive, and most likely to be rebellious
Development of Personality - Erikson's Stages of Psychosocial Development
Erikson believed people went through stages, each with a challenge or crisis that needs to be solved.

Each a healthy and not so healthy way to solve.

solving in healthy ways leads to a healthier personality and makes later stages easier to manage
0-1 years old - Trust vs. Mistrust -

will needs be met? food, warmth, care, etc
1-3 years old - Autonomy vs. Shame and Doubt

working to develop independence; includes making decisions, but also developing control over bodily functions (toilet training)
Preschool - Initiative vs. Guilt

can children become motivated to take the first step, try new things, explore the world, etc
Elementary School - Industry vs. Inferiority

ability to work and do well on tasks.
e.g. school work, being compared to other students in school, etc
Adolescence - Identity vs. Role Confusion

teens need to figure out who they are, form a stable(ish) identity

influenced by biological development, and new cognitive powers,
thinking about future plans,
experimentation with new groups, roles, dress, etc.
Young Adulthood - Intimacy vs. Isolation

goal of sucessful intimate relationships with others
often partner / sexual relationships, but not always

requires adapting to partners / relationships
Middle Adulthood - Generativity vs. Stagnation

to make significant contributions to society
usually through work, having a family, volunteering
Late Adulthood - Integrity vs. Despair

review + judge life, look back + decide if you're happy with how you lived your life

Despair can be pretty negative, with regret because you can't do your life over, and fear of death.
Brain Changes in Adolescence
Body changes bring people from children into adults who have the ability to reproduce

But also a lot of brain changes and development occurs
Improvement from back to front

meaning the front areas with problem solving, planning, and critical thinking improve LAST

might be related to some judgement / reasoning issues in young teenagers, who are not yet functioning at adult levels in these areas.
Like in infancy, there's another round of lots of connections being made, and then strengthening or pruning depending on use
Some Other Teenage Cognitive Features:
NOTE: These are not strongly supported by research, so they may or may not be accurate.
Imaginary Audience:

belief that everyone is looking at you + thinking about you a lot of the time. Believing you are center stage.
Not fun when you have acne or a bad hair day.

can cause teens to act more dramatically or loud to cater to the "audience"
But, most people are worried more about themselves.
Personal Fable:

Belief that you are totally unique, special, and others can't understand how you think, feel, etc

e.g. first love
can also be dangerous. Might contribute to risky behaviour, because teens may believe bad things are not likely to happen to them.

Some might see themselves as uniquely lucky or strong.

might bring teens to engage in more risky drinking, driving, sexual, or drug behaviour.
Marcia's Four Identity Statuses:
James Marcia looked into how teenagers develop their identities. (late 1960s)

Very closely tied to the Identity vs. Role Confusion stage mentioned by Erikson.
One Last Thing About Adolescence:
adolescents are much better at abstract thought than children, but still tend to engage in DUALISTIC THINKING

dualistic thinking = dividing situations and problems into only two outcomes (e.g. right / wrong, good / bad etc.)
as people enter adulthood, the shift towards more relativistic thinking is done.

many situations may not have a right or wrong answer.

Some call this POSTFORMAL THOUGHT (another stage to add to Piaget's?)
Adulthood and Old Age
some mental skills tend to decline with age

(even outside of Alzheimers or dementia, which are abnormal conditions common to old age)
Reactions to Death:

Elisabeth Kubler-Ross interviewed 200 terminally ill people to learn about this.

Noted 5 Stages:

Denial: refusing to deal with or accept. Natural reaction, gives time to adjust to this news.

Anger: Why me? Might try to blame others.

Bargaining: try to make a deal for more time - from doctors, God, the universe, etc.

Depression: intense sadness, may lose interest in usual activities. Mourning their own death.

Acceptance: peace, calm, ok with dying.
Reactions to Other's Deaths

Bereavement - experience of losing a loved one

Grief - emotional reaction to this loss

3 Phases

Impact Stage: shock, disbelief, mental and physical numbness

Confrontation Stage: crying, anxiety, guilt, anger, wishing loved one to return. Difficulty concentrating, sleeping, eating

Accommodation Stage: re-engaging with life, regaining ability to focus on daily events and relationships
Length of grieving process depends on individual, culture, and circumstances around the death (sudden, unexpected deaths are much more difficult to deal with)

Can take more than a year or two (or even longer sometimes)

Also, women may be better able to handle because they're more likely to seek out support and talk openly. (The evidence on this isn't totally clear yet though)
*
Giraffe in Quicksand Video!
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