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1

Infants and Children: Prenatal Through


Middle Childhood
Eighth Edition

Chapter 1
History, Theory, and
Research Strategies

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Learning Objectives (1 of 3)

1.1 What is the field of child development, and what factors


stimulated its expansion?
1.2 How is child development typically divided into domains
and periods?
1.3 Identify three basic issues on which theories of child
development take a stand.
1.4 Describe major historical influences on theories of child
development.
1.5 What theories influenced child development research in
the mid-twentieth century?
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Learning Objectives (2 of 3)

1.6 Describe recent theoretical perspectives on child


development.
1.7 Identify the stand taken by each major theory on the
basic issues of child development.
1.8 Describe research methods commonly used to study
children.
1.9 Distinguish between correlational and experimental
research designs, noting strengths and limitations of each.
1.10 Describe designs for studying development, noting
strengths and limitations of each.
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Learning Objectives (3 of 3)

1.11 What special ethical concerns arise in doing research


on children?

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Domains of Development
Domain Changes in
Physical • Body size & proportions, appearance
• Functioning of body systems, health
• Perceptual & motor capacities
Cognition • Intellectual abilities
Emotional and Social • Emotional communication
• Self-understanding, knowledge about others
• Interpersonal skills & relationships
• Moral reasoning & behavior

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Periods of Development

Prenatal Conception to birth


Infancy and Toddlerhood Birth to 2 years
Early Childhood 2 to 6 years
Middle Childhood 6 to 11 years
Adolescence 11 to 18 years
Emerging Adulthood 18 to mid- to late 20s

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Theory

An orderly, integrated set of statements that


• describes behavior.
• explains behavior.
• predicts behavior.

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Basic Issues in Development

1. Continuous or discontinuous?
2. One course of development or many possible courses?
3. Relative influence of nature and nurture?

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Continuous or Discontinuous Development

Figure 1.2

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Development is Plastic
• Development is malleable or
changeable
– Examples:
▪ The brain and body can compensate for
illness and injury
▪ People can modify their traits and
capacities throughout life

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Development is Influenced
by Multiple Contexts
• Context:
– Where and when a person develops and
includes:
▪ The physical and social environment
▪ Neighborhood
▪ Country
▪ Culture
▪ Historical time period
▪ Values, customs, and ideals
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Contextual Influences
• Cohort – A generation of people born at
the same time

– History-graded influences:
▪ Wars, epidemics, and economic shifts (i.e.,
The Great Depression)

– Age-graded influences:
▪ Events tied to chronological age (i.e., age
when someone graduates from high
school)

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Development is Multidisciplinary
• The contributions of many disciplines
are needed to understand how people
grow, think, and interact with their
world
– Psychologists
– Sociologists
– Anthropologists
– Biologists
– Neuroscientists
– Medical researchers
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Three Fundamental Questions
about Human Development
1. Do people remain largely the same
over time or do they change
dramatically?
2. What role do people play in their own
development?
3. To what extent is development a
function of inborn genetic
endowments, as compared with the
environment in which individuals live?
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Nature and Nurture

Nature
• Inborn, biological
• Based on genetic inheritance

Nurture
• Physical and social world
• Influences biological and psychological development

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Stability v s. Plasticity?
ersu

Stability
• Individuals high or low in a characteristic remain so at
later ages.
• Early experience may have a lifelong impact.

Plasticity
• Change is possible, based on experiences.

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Resilient Children

• Personal characteristics
• A warm parental relationship
• Social support outside the immediate family
• Community resources and opportunities

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Historical Views of Childhood

Medieval Era Childhood (to age 7 or 8) regarded as separate phase


with special needs, protections
16th Century Puritan “child depravity” views
17th Century John Locke “tabula rasa” view; continuous
development
18th Century Jean-Jacques Rousseau “noble savages” view; natural
maturation

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Early Scientific Study of Development

Evolutionary Theory Darwin’s ideas of natural selection and survival of the


fittest are still influential.
Normative Approach Hall & Gesell: Age-related averages based on
measurements of large numbers of children
Mental Testing Binet & Simon: Early developers of intelligence tests
Movement

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Freud’s Three Parts of the Personality

Id • Largest portion of the mind


• Unconscious, present at birth
• Source of biological needs & desires
Ego • Conscious, rational part of personality
• Emerges in early infancy
• Redirects id impulses acceptably
Superego • The conscience
• Develops from ages 3 to 6, from
• interactions with caregivers

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Freud’s Psychosexual Stages

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Contributions and Criticisms
of Freud’s Psychosexual Theory
• Contributions:
– Focus on the unconscious
– Early experiences in the family are important
– Emotions are important to development

• Criticisms:
– Freud did not study children
– Too much emphasis on infant sexuality
– The unconscious cannot be directly tested

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Erikson’s Psychosocial Theory

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Contributions and Criticisms
of Erikson’s Psychosocial Theory
• Contributions:
– Lifespan perspective
– Positive view of development
– Includes the role of society and culture

• Criticisms:
– Difficult to test

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Behaviorism
• The study of behavior that can be
observed
• All behavior is influenced by the
physical and social environment
• Also known as learning theory and
includes:
– Classical conditioning
– Operant conditioning

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Classical Conditioning
• Learning in which the person or animal
comes to associate environmental
stimuli with physiological responses
• Discovered by Ivan Pavlov (1849-1936)
• Physiological and emotional responses

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Classical Conditioning
Classical conditioning has been
observed in newborns, who naturally
make sucking movements
(unconditioned response) in response
to sugar water (unconditioned
stimulus). When stroking the forehead
(neutral stimulus) is paired with sugar
water, infants come to make sucking
movements (conditioned response) in
response to forehead strokes
(conditioned stimulus).

SOURCE: Lampl et al. (1992).

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Operant Conditioning
• The consequences of our behavior
influence our future behavior
• Discovered by B. F. Skinner (1905-
1990)
• Voluntary, nonphysiological responses
– Behavior that is rewarded will be more
likely to recur (reinforcement)
– Behavior that is punished will be less
likely to recur (punishment)

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Social Learning Theory
• Albert Bandura (1925-)
• People actively process information by
thinking and feeling emotion, and their
thoughts and feelings influence their
behavior
– We do not need to experience
punishment or reinforcement in order to
change our behavior
– We can learn by thinking about the
potential consequences of our actions
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Contributions of Social Learning
Theory
• Observational learning
– People learn by watching others
• Reciprocal determinism
– Individuals and the environment interact
and influence each other
• In contrast with behaviorist theorists,
Bandura viewed individuals as active in
their development rather than passively
molded by their physical and social
surroundings
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Illustration of Social Learning Theory
• Development is a result of interaction
between the individual’s characteristics, his or
her behavior, and the physical and social
environment

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Cognitive Theories:
Cognitive-Developmental Theory
• Jean Piaget (1896-1980)
• In order to understand children, we
must understand how they think;
thinking influences all of behavior
• Main tenet:
– Children and adults are active explorers
of their world, learning by interacting with
the world around them, and organizing
what they learn into cognitive schemas
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Piaget’s Stages
of Cognitive Development

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Limitations of Behaviorism and Social
Social Learning Theory

• Too narrow a view of important environmental influences


• Underestimates children’s contributions
• Bandura’s work is unique in that it grants children an
active role in their own learning.

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Information Processing (1 of 2)

• Human mind as symbol-manipulating system


• Researchers often design flowcharts to map problem-
solving steps

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Information Processing (2 of 2)

Figure 1.3

(Based on Thornton, 1999)


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Developmental Cognitive Neuroscience

• Psychology
• Biology
• Neuroscience
• Medicine

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Developmental Neuroscience

Uses:
• Identify links between cognitive and social domains of
development
• Develop interventions for learning and behavioral problems

Limitations:
• Too dependent on brain properties; neglects environmental
influences
• Excessive emphasis on biological processes

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Ethology

Concerned with the adaptive or survival value of behavior


and its evolutionary history
Roots traced to Darwin:
• Imprinting
• Critical period
• Sensitive period

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Sensitive Period

• An optimal time for certain capacities to emerge


• Individual is especially responsive to environment
• Boundaries less clearly defined than a critical period

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Evolutionary Developmental Psychology

• Seeks to understand adaptive value of human


competencies
• Studies cognitive, emotional, and social competencies as
they change with age
• Expands upon ethology
• Wants to understand the entire organism–environment
system

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Theory
• A theory is a way of organizing a set of
observations or facts into a
comprehensive explanation of how
something works
– Hypotheses:
▪ Proposed explanations for a given
phenomenon that can be tested by
research

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Vygotsky’s Sociocultural Theory

Transmission of culture to new generation


• Beliefs, customs, skills
Social interaction vital for cognitive development
• Cooperative dialogues with more knowledgeable
members of society

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Ecological Systems Theory (1 of 2)

Child develops within a complex system of relationships


affected by the surrounding environment
• Microsystem
• Mesosystem
• Exosystem
• Macrosystem
• Chronosystem

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Bronfenbrenner’s Bioecological
Model

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Dynamic Systems Perspective (1 of 2)

• An integrated system that guides mastery of new skills


• System is constantly in motion, reorganizing into more
effective means

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Dynamic Systems Perspective (2 of 2)

Figure 1.5

Based on Fischer & Bidell, 2006)


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Evolutionary Developmental Theory
• A theory that applies principles of
evolution and scientific knowledge
about the interactive influence of
genetic and environmental
mechanisms to understand the
changes people undergo throughout
their lifetime

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Comparing Child Development Theories (1 of 2)
Relative
One Course of Influence of
Continuous or Development or Nature and
Theory Discontinuous? Many? Nurture?
Psychoanalytic Discontinuous One course Both nature and
perspective nurture
Behaviorism and Continuous Many possible Emphasis on
social learning courses nurture
theory
Piaget’s cognitive- Discontinuous One course Both nature and
developmental nurture
theory
Information Continuous One course Both nature and
processing nurture

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Comparing Child Development Theories (2 of 2)
Relative
One Course of Influence of
Continuous or Development or Nature and
Theory Discontinuous? Many? Nurture?
Ethology and Both continuous One course Both nature and
evolutionary and discontinuous nurture
development
psychology
Vygotsky’s Both continuous Many possible Both nature and
sociocultural theory and discontinuous courses nurture
Ecological systems Not specified Many possible Both nature and
theory courses nurture
Dynamic systems Both continuous Many possible Both nature and
perspective and discontinuous courses nurture

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Scientific Research

• Hypothesis: prediction drawn directly from a theory


• Research methods: activities of participants
• Research designs: overall plans for research studies

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Systematic Observation

Naturalistic Observation
• In the “field” or natural environment where behavior
happens
• Cannot control conditions
Structured Observations
• Laboratory situation set up to evoke behavior of interest
• All participants have equal chance to display behavior
• May not be typical of participants’ everyday behaviors

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Interviews

Clinical Interview
• Flexible, conversational style
• Probes for participant’s point of view
• May not accurately represent children’s thinking
Structured Interview
• Each participant is asked same questions in the same way.
• May use questionnaires, get answers from groups
• Not as in-depth

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Case Study

• Brings together wide range of information, including


interviews, observations, test scores
• Best used to study unique types of individuals
• May be influenced by researcher biases, and findings
may not generalize

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Ethnography

• Participant observation of a culture or distinct social group


• Mix of observations, self-reports, interpretation by
investigator
• Results can be biased by the researcher
• Findings are limited to the individuals and settings studied

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Immigrant Youths

• Many adapt surprisingly well.


• Less likely to:
– Commit delinquent, violent acts
– Abuse drugs and alcohol
– Be obese
– Have low self-esteem
• Factors that contribute:
– Strong parent/family ties
– Community involvement

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Correlational Design

• Researchers gather information and make no effort to


alter participants’ experiences.
• Limited because cause and effect cannot be inferred

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Correlation Coefficients (1 of 2)

• Magnitude: Strength as indicated by a number between 0


and 1
– Closer to 1 (positive or negative) is a stronger
relationship
• Direction: Indicated by the sign (+ or −)
– Positive: As one variable increases, so does the other
– Negative: As one variable increases, the other
decreases

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Correlation Coefficients (2 of 2)

Figure 1.6

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Independent and Dependent Variables

Independent
• Experimenter controls or manipulates
• Expected to cause changes in another variable
Dependent
• Experimenter measures but does not manipulate
• Expected to be influenced by the independent variable

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Modified Experiments

Field Experiments
• Use rare opportunities for random assignment in natural
settings
Natural Experiments
• Compare differences in treatment that already exist
• Groups chosen to match characteristics as much as
possible

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Designs for Studying Development

Longitudinal Same participants studied repeatedly at different ages


Cross-sectional Participants of differing ages all studied at the same
time
Sequential Several similar cross-sectional or longitudinal studies
are conducted at varying times.
Microgenetic Participants are presented with a novel task, and their
mastery is followed over a series of sessions.

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Strengths and Limitations of Research
Design

Design Strengths Limitations


Longitudinal Permits study of: • Biased sampling
• common patterns • Selective attrition
• individual differences • Practice effects
• relationships in early and • Cohort effects
later behaviors
Cross-sectional • More efficient than • No study of individual development
longitudinal • Cohort effects
Sequential • Longitudinal and cross- • Could have same problems as
sectional comparisons longitudinal and cross-sectional
• Reveals cohort effects
• Tracks age-related
changes efficiently
Microgenetic • Offers insights about • Requires intense study of participants
change • Time required for change varies
• Practice effects

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Research in Human Development:
The Scientific Method
• The process of posing and answering
questions by making careful and
systematic observations and gathering
information
1. Identify the research question or problem to
be studied and formulate the hypothesis
2. Gather information to address the research
question
3. Analyze the information gathered and
determine whether the hypothesis is
supported
4. Interpret the summarized information and
share the findings
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Methods of Data Collection:
Self-Report Measures - Interviews
• The person under study answers
questions about his or her experiences,
attitudes, opinions, beliefs, and
behaviors
– Interviews can take place in person, over
the phone, or over the Internet
▪ The open-ended interview is flexible
and permits participants to explain their
thoughts thoroughly and in their own
way
▪ Structured interviews are less flexible
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Methods of Data Collection:
Self-Report Measures -
Questionnaires
• The person under study answers
questions about his or her experiences,
attitudes, opinions, beliefs, and
behaviors
• Questionnaires are also called surveys
– Sets of questions, typically multiple
choice, that scientists compile and use to
collect data from large samples of people
• Can be administered in person, online,
by telephone, e-mail, or postal mail
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Challenges of Self-Report Measures
• People may give socially desirable
answers
• Self-report data may not always reflect
people’s true attitudes and behavior

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67
Methods of Data Collection:
Observational Measures
• Naturalistic observation
– Observe and record behavior in natural,
real-world settings
▪ Challenge is to decide on an operational
definition of the behavior of interest
▪ Sometimes the presence of an observer
causes the person to behave in
unnatural ways (participant reactivity)
• Structured observations
– Observing and recording behaviors
displayed in a controlled environment
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Correlational Research
• Correlational research permits
researchers to examine relations among
measured characteristics, behaviors, and
events
• Correlational research cannot enable
researchers to make conclusions about
the causes of the relationship between
variables, only that a relationship exists
among variables
– For example: Children who watch more
television on school nights score lower on
achievement tests
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Experimental Research
• Allows scientists to test hypotheses
about causal relationships
– An experiment is a procedure that uses
control to determine causal relationships
among variables or factors
▪ Components of an experiment:
– Dependent variable
• The behavior under study
– Independent variable
• The factor proposed to change the
behavior under study
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70
Components of an Experiment
• Experimental groups
– Test groups whose experiences are manipulated
by varying the independent variable
• Control group
– A group that is treated in every way like the
experimental group but does not receive the
independent variable in order to compare the
effect of the manipulation
• Random assignment
– Each participant has an equal chance of being
assigned to the experimental or control group

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Developmental Research Designs:
Cross-Sectional Research Design
• Comparing groups of people at
different ages (cohorts), at one time
– Allows scientists to draw conclusions
about age differences
• Does not permit conclusions about
development because participants differ
not only in terms of age but cohort

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Developmental Research Designs:
Longitudinal Research Design
• One group of participants is studied at
many points in time
– Longitudinal research provides information
about age change because it follows people
over time
– Longitudinal research studies only one
cohort – one generation – and therefore is
prone to cohort effects
▪ Because only one cohort is assessed, it is
not possible to determine if the observed
changes are age-related changes or
changes that are unique to the cohorts
examined

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Developmental Research Designs:
Sequential Research Design
• Sequential research design combines
the best features of cross-sectional and
longitudinal research by assessing
multiple cohorts over time
– Enables researchers to disentangle the
effects of cohort and age

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Children’s Research Rights

• Protection from harm


• Informed consent
• Privacy
• Knowledge of results
• Beneficial treatments

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Rights of Research Participants

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Summary
• Lifespan development may be continuous or discontinuous
• Important people include: Freud, Vygotsky, Bandura, Piaget, Erikson,
Skinner
• Different methods may be used to answer questions: longitudinal
research, naturalistic observation, clinical interview, case study,
correlational research, experimental design
• Children have certain rights as research subjects (participants)
• This class should (theoretically) be fun

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