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Developmental psychologists are interested in common patterns of

development and growth and the way in which people differ

throughout the lifespan.

Continuity and Discontinuity

 Developmental stages are periods during which physical or

psychological functioning differs qualitatively from that of either
earlier or later periods.

Nature and Nurture

 Nature-nurture controversy - long-standing debate over relative

importance of heredity and learning in many aspects of functioning.
 John Locke, British philosopher, believed that human infants born
without knowledge or skills.
 Jean Rousseau, French philosopher, argued that we bring into our
world our evolutionary legacy.

Research Designs

 Normative investigations - specific age or stage of development.

 Longitudinal design - observe and test same individuals over long
period of time.
 Cross-sectional design - Subject groups different ages observed
and immediately compared to each other.

Data Collection

 Habituation - basic response process where familiar sights, sounds

or tastes no longer demand attention.
Dishabituation - infant responds to new stimulus, revealing that
perceive it to be different and novel.

Physical Aspects of Development

Development begins at conception when sperm cells unite with the ovum.

 23 chromosomes from each parent unite at conception to form

 Period from conception to birth called the prenatal period.

Stages of Prenatal Development

 Stage of zygote - shortest, from conception until approximately 2

wks later.
o Ovum usually fertilized in one of fallopian tubes.
o Zygote takes 7 days move down fallopian tubes to uterus
o Zygote takes another 7 days to be firmly implanted in wall of
 Stage of embryo - lasts 6 weeks, from week 2 to week eight.
o At Beginning three types of cells can be differentiated.
 Some become the nervous system
 Some will become internal organs
 Others become muscles, skeleton, and blood vessels.
o Unborn organism most sensitive to external or environmental
 Stage of fetus - longest, lasting until birth.
o Organs grow and begin functioning
o Arms and legs move by end of third month
o By 7 month reaches viability - can survive if born
o Fetus ready to be born at about 270 days.

Environmental Influences On Prenatal Development

 During rapid stage prenatal development, even small environmental

disturbances can have serious and lasting consequences.
 Maternal malnutrition - increases in miscarriages, stillbirths, and
premature births.
o Deficiencies in specific vitamins and minerals
o Calcium deficiencies -- development of bones and teeth in
o Nutrient deficiencies may adversely affect mother.
 Drugs and chemicals
o Smoking by mother - low birth-weight, hearing defects
o Smoking mother may have more miscarriages, stillbirths, and
babies who die soon after birth than mothers who do not
o Alcohol - heavy drinking increases probability of having
smaller babies and babies with retarded physical growth, poor
coordination, poor muscle tone, and intellectual retardation;
collectively these are called fetal alcohol syndrome.
 FAS leading preventable cause of birth defects leading
to mental retardation.
 Total abstinence from alcohol during pregnancy best
o Psychoactive drugs such as heroin and/or cocaine
 Babies may be born addicted leading to painful
withdrawal and hospital stay averaging 42 days.
 Low birth weight, difficult regulating sleep/waking
cycles, and symptoms of FAS.
o Drugs should be used with great care and only after consulting
with physician.
 Tetracycline taken during pregnancy colors fetal bones
and teeth yellow.
 Even aspirin become suspect as potential complications.
 Maternal stress causes hormone changes and reduces oxygen
available to fetus.
 Role of father
o one third Down's syndrome babies result from difficulties
with sperm
o Undernourishment, alcohol or drug abuse, or stress in father
near time of conception may have developmental consequences
on child.
Motor Development

 First two weeks of life newborn referred to as neonate.

 Neonate capable wide range behaviors
o Reflexes
o Useful purpose
o More than dozen reflexes in neonate.

All human senses function at birth -- Infants focus on objects at 1 or 2

feet; visual acuity shows 3 to fourfold improvement during first year.

 Perception of Depth and Distance

o "Visual Cliff" used to test depth perception in young children
o Even 6 month old children not venture over deep side, even to
get their mothers...
 Neonates hear very well
o Sound localization - 3 to 10 minutes after birth
o Respond to differences in pitches and loudness.
o 3 day old newborns discriminate mother's voice.
 Newborns respond to differences in taste and smell
o discriminate between the four basic taste qualities,
preferring sweet-tasting liquids.
o Sense of smell may develop before birth

Cognitive and Social Development

 Neonates engage in simple learning tasks

o Learn through classical conditioning
o Head turning and sucking movements brought under control
through operant conditioning
 Friedman demonstrated memory in neonates 1 to 4 days old - using
habituation method.
 Robert Frantz -
o Babies prefer to look at more complex patterns
o Neonates show preference for drawing of human face
Piaget's Theory of Cognitive Development

Centers on acquiring schemas ... Processes for organizing and forming

mental representations

 Assimilation - taking in new information and fitting it into existing

Accommodation - changing and revising existing schema in face of
new experiences or new information.

Stages of Cognitive Development

 Sensorimotor stage (0 to 24 months) discover by sensing and doing.

o Causality important schemas learned
o Object permanence develops
 Preoperational stage (2 to 6 years) thinking is self-centered or
o Begin to use symbols - usually words
o Do not understand how to manipulate symbols
o Animistic thinking - imagining inanimate objects having life and
mental processes
o Centration - too focused on single perceptual quality to notice
or understand event.
 Concrete operations stage (7 to 12 years) begin develop many
concepts and show they can manipulate concepts
o Conservation develops
o Begin operate - use and manipulate - on concepts and ideas

Formal operations stage ( over 12 years) abstract, symbolic

reasoning, and ability deal with hypothetical problems develop.

Erik Erikson - Psychosocial, stage theory of development

 Lists eight stages of development covering entire life span:

o trust/mistrust -
o autonomy/doubt -
o initiative/guilt -
o industry/inferiority -
o identity/role confusion -
o intimacy/isolation -
o generativity/self-absorption -
o integrity/despair -

Each stage consists of series of conflicts or crises that must be

Major strength is that it covers entire life span


A strong, two-way emotional bond, usually referring to relationship

between child and mother or primary caregiver.

 Protects child while providing child freedom to explore

 Strong attachments likely to be formed if adult sensitive to needs
of child
 Promoted by spontaneous hugging, smiling, eye contact, and
Secure attachments in infancy tend to lead to sociability, higher
self-esteem, better relationships with siblings, fewer tantruming or
aggressive behaviors, better classroom behavior, more empathy for
others, fewer behavioral problems at later ages, and better
attention spans/confidence in problem solving.


Adolescence is stage that begins at onset of puberty.

In many societies, rites of passage, or initiation, mark transition from
childhood to adulthood. Usually take place around puberty. Serve as public
acknowledgment of transition from childhood to adulthood.

Adolescence is period of transition.

 Biologically - begins with puberty

 Psychologically - development problem-solving skills and increase
reliance on symbols, logic, and abstract thinking.
 Socially - between childhood and adulthood.

Onset Adolescence marked by two biological changes.

 Growth Spurt - marked increase in height and weight.

 Sexual maturation - in males the appearance of live sperm in semen;
in females the first menstrual period - the menarche.

The major task of adolescence is resolution of identity crisis, the

struggle to define and integrate sense of who one is, what one is to do in
life, and what one's attitudes, beliefs, and values should be.


Psychological markers

 In dependence, taking responsibility for one's actions and no longer

being dependent on one's parents.
 Interdependence - building new commitments and intimacies in
interpersonal relationships.

Adulthood is three overlapping periods

 Early Adulthood - 18 - 45 years

 Middle Adulthood - 45 to 65 years
 Late Adulthood - after 65 years
Early Adulthood

 At peak during 20s and 30s

 Two important decision making processes
o Choice of mate and family
o Choice of job or career

Middle Adulthood

 Place in framework of society fairly well set by time one is 40

 A time of transition and reexamination
o Own mortality
o Sensory capacities begin to diminish
o Gray hair and middle age spread
o Time is running out sense may lead to mid-life crisis
o For most is time of great satisfaction and true opportunity

Tasks of Middle Adulthood

 Accepting and adjusting to physiological changes of middle age.

 Reaching and maintaining satisfactory performance in occupations.
 Adjusting to aging parents and/or assisting teenage children
become happy and responsible adults.
 Achieving adult social and civic responsibility
 Relating to spouse as a person
 Developing leisure-time activities

Late Adulthood - early to mid-60s

 Number increasing
 By 2000 make up 20 percent of population
 Ageism - discrimination or negative stereotypes formed on basis of

Kubler-Ross described five stages in facing one's own death:

 denial
 anger
 bargaining
 depression and
 acceptance

 Many dying patients do not fit this pattern

 Dying people may be forced into and through these stages instead
of letting them face death their own way.
 Many dying patients do not fit this pattern
 Dying people may be forced into and through these stages instead
of letting them face death their own way.