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Chapter 1: Introduction to Developmental Psychology

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William Cockrell

on 27 December 2017

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Transcript of Chapter 1: Introduction to Developmental Psychology

Introduction to Developmental Psychology
What is Developmental Psychology?
Developmental Psychology :
A field of study devoted to understanding constancy and change throughout the lifespan
Constancy example
= personality
Change example =
physical body
Developmental Psychology must be :
scientific, applied, interdisciplinary, have a positive focus on aging, promote healthy lifestyle trends.
Psychologists have realized that to understand human behavior we must trace the path of development to further understand how our body also influences the mind.
Developmental psychology always follows the scientific method!
The Scientific Method
Making observations
Defining a problem
Make a hypothesis
Testing data
Build a theory
Publish work
What's in a theory?
Theory :
A testable, educated guess in the form of a statement that determines the relationship between two or more variables
A theory describes, explains, and predicts behavior
Theories must rely on scientific verification
No theory is or will ever be perfect
Theories are continuously discarded and replaced with newer theories.
Law :
the only statement "better" than a theory. Laws happen EVERY time, not just most of the time like theories.
There are no laws in psychology as of now.
Famous Issues in Development
Continuous <------>Discontinuous?
One path <-----> Multiple paths?
Nature <------> Nurture?
Lifespan Development
Lifespan development :
the perspective of studying the developmental process as one continuous stage. The goal is to find similarity between the various developmental stages.
Lifespan Development covers ALL STAGES of life.

Requirements and characteristics of development :
lifelong, multidimensional, multidirectional, highly plastic, and influenced by multiple, interacting factors.
Multidimensional :
means growth occurs due to multiple factors (e.g., growth occurs due to hormones AND diet).
Multidirectional :
developmental psychologists study growth AND decline.
Plasticity :
most development adapts to the environment the organism lives in.
Multiple factors :
it is nearly impossible to claim one factor as the cause of development.
Typical Periods of Development
Developmental Influences
Age-Graded Influences :
the most common in America. Examples include birthday parties, graduation, puberty, driving, etc. Can be biological or social.
Historical (Cohort Influences) :
Specific developmental influences due to generational differences. Think of developing without electricity compared to now. Another example would be if developmental occurred differently for a specific group (e.g., Baby Boomers).
Non-normative Influences :
influences that occur out of chronological order or happen at unexpected times (e.g., teenage pregnancy, children dying before parents, losing your parents at age 4, entering college at age 14, etc.).
Evolution & Development
Darwin's "On The Origin of Species" was influential to developmental psychology.
Natural Selection :
the process by which organisms that have advantages in their environment survive while weaker organisms die out.
Survival of the fittest :
occurs after natural selection. The organisms that survive their environments reproduce and pass on their genes. The organisms that cannot adapt die out and do not reproduce.
The Normative Period
Normative Approach :
First widespread, scientific research on human development. The was primarily started by G. Stanley Hall.
Research recruited hundreds of participants to produce an “average” developmental process
Most of the research conducted focused on motor capabilities, social behaviors, personality traits, and average physical traits (e.g., height, weight, age of spermarche/menarche, etc).
The mental testing movement resulted due to the normative period.
Psychoanalytic Perspective
Psychoanalytic perspective :
movement which acknowledged that the mind can heavily influence the body and vice-versa. This is very important to development.
Sigmund Freud and Erik Erikson are primarily responsible for the Psychoanalytic Perspective.
Freud's Personality Theory:
Proposed that all people have an ID, Ego, & Superego. 99% debunked in modern times.
Erikson's Psychosocial Stages :
one of the most important Developmental theories. We will spend the WHOLE semester going over this theory. It spans the complete human lifespan. People either pass/fail each of the developmental stages.
Piaget's Cognitive Development Theory
Cognitive Developmental Theory :
second most famous theory that explains how children mentally develop during childhood. We will spend at least half of the class going over these stages.
Sensorimotor :
(Birth – 2 years)
(2 – 7 years)
Concrete operational:
(7 – 11 years)
Formal operational:
(11 years +)
Post-Formal Operational Thought:
(Ages ?)
Piaget's theory is still highly valued and respected today even with many flaws.
Current Developmental Trends
Neuropsychology :
the study of brain development during the lifespan. Research field is no more than 25 years old.
Information-Processing theory :
our brain functions just like a computer and our memory is analogous to the parts of the computer.
Ethology :
studying development with the focus on "why is this behavior necessary for survival?". Highly focused on evolutionary research. Examples include: Why did imprinting occur in ducks? How did children learn to cry when they are hungry?
Multidisciplinary research :
current trends support multiple developmental fields (e.g., Gerontology, Medicine, Psychology, & Sociology) working together to gain more knowledge.
Critical & Sensitive Periods
Critical Periods :
point in development where an organism is ready to learn a new skill but must be exposed to environmental stimulation or they will not learn the skill
If the skill is not learned within a specific timeframe, the skill will never be acquired
Sensitive Period :
is less restrictive than a critical period. Development is most efficient during the sensitive period, but can still occur before or after (but is usually harder to develop)
Humans have more sensitive periods than critical periods, but critical periods are typically much more important!
Most common social science tool
Can recruit large amounts of people
group you are studying
selected people from the population you are studying
For best results you need a random sample
Random Sample:
randomly selected participants from a list of the population. All members must have an equal chance of being selected. Usually picked by utilizing a random number table or computer software.
Question Format
Questions should not elicit researchers expectations; bias-free questions
(e.g., Most people support the idea of governmental checks and balances. What do you think of separating power in the government?)
The question is leading
There are two main types of questions
Open and Closed Ended Questions
Closed - ended questions:
assigned set of responses
Demographic Questions: Age = (1-10),(11-20),(21-30)..; Sex = Male or Female; Marital Status = Single, Married, Divorced, Widowed; Pet Owner = Yes or No; etc)
Likert Scale Responses: What do you think of the use of nuclear weapons? Select support or not support on the following scale:
1 2 3 4 5 6 7
Open - ended questions:

answer however they want
In your own words, why do you support the republican/democratic party?
What is your religion? ___________
The researcher is present and observes the participants in their natural settings
Harder to investigate criminal behaviors or subcultures (e.g., gang activities or nudists)
Should researchers participate or merely observe?
Highest level of external validity
Case Study
Examination of one specific participant or event (e.g., one CEO or 9/11)
Used when event is rare or participants are highly unique/hard to access
Lowest amount of generalizability
Least likely to be used, often utilized by clinical psychologists
Secondary Analysis
Conducting research by using pre-existing sources (e.g., using Census data, FBI statistics, etc).
Document analysis:
using various records to examine behaviors in society (e.g., diaries, bank records, receipts, meeting minutes, etc)
Manipulating one variable to determine if it influences a second variable.
Establishes a relationship/causation
Independent Variable
= variable that is manipulated
Dependent Variable =
variable that is being measured and influenced by the IV
Developmental Research Designs
the study of how the environment influences our genes. The basic premise is that scientists know that certain genes never become "activated" if they are not exposed to environmental influences.
One example would be alcoholism (gene DRD2) and living in a country that makes alcohol illegal. What would you expect to happen?
Differential Susceptibility:
The term used to explain that different people are influenced by the environment in different ways due to their genetic make-up.
For example, if humans do not develop limbs in the womb by day 54, the fetus typically will not survive. This illustrates critical periods of human development.
Accent free speech:
the concept that a majority of people cannot learn a new language after puberty without inserting their native accent and dialect into the foreign language. This is a sensitive period example.
Difference-equals-deficit error:
oftentimes researchers were quick to state if a participant does not follow the average, "something is wrong". Today, researchers view this as making biased assumptions.
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