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Chapter 1 Development Across the Lifespan An Introduction to Lifespan Development.

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1 Chapter 1 Development Across the Lifespan An Introduction to Lifespan Development

2 What is lifespan development?? The field of study that examines the patterns of growth, change, and stability in behavior that occur throughout the entire human life span! Overall, lifespan developmentalists believe several things…

3 That the study of lifespan development should focus on human development – Principals that are universal to development – Cultural, racial, ethnic differences in development – The development of individual traits and characteristics That development is a lifelong, continuing process That development occurs through change and growth in addition to stability, consistency, and continuity

4 Developmentalists often focus on different topics… Physical Development –The body’s physical makeup, including the brain, nervous system, muscles, and senses, and the need for food, drink, and sleep Malnutrition, reaction time “Does the amount of sleep a college student gets each night affect stress?” “How does dealing with a chronic illness affect a mothers behavior?”

5 (topical areas studied by developmentalists--continued) Cognitive Development –Involves the ways that growth and change in intellectual capabilities influence a person’s behavior Learning, memory, problem solving skills, and intelligence across the lifespan “Does excessive television viewing effect intelligence?” “Can teenagers remember things that happened when they were toddlers?”

6 (topical areas studied by developmentalists--continued) Personality Development –Involves the ways that the enduring characteristics that differentiate one person from another change over the life span Interactions with others, social relationships, individual qualities “When does a sense of gender develop and does it change across the lifespan?”

7 (topical areas studied by developmentalists--continued) Social Development –Involves the way in which an individual’s interactions and social relationships grow, change, and remain stable over the course of life “Do people become more isolated in late adulthood?”

8 The lifespan is usually divided into broad (albeit arbitrary) age ranges…


10 An important thing to remember about these age ranges is that individual differences exist! People mature at different rates and reach developmental milestones at different points Environmental factors, including culture, play a role in determining when events occur Age ranges are only averages, and some people will be above or below

11 The context of development takes a broad perspective… The ecological approach (Bronfenbrenner) –Suggests that different environmental levels simultaneously influence individuals Four major levels: 1)Microsystem (everyday immediate environment)—home, caregiver/parent, friends, teachers 2)Mesosystem (connects parts of the microsystem)—parents linked to kids, students to teachers, friends to friends, bosses to employees

12 (Bronfenbrenner’s ecological approach continued) 3) Exosystem (represents broad influences)—local government, the community, schools, places of worship, local media 4) Macrosystem (represents larger cultural influences)—society in general, federal government, religious systems, political thought



15 Advantages to taking an ecological approach… It emphasizes the interconnectedness of the influences on development It illustrates that influences are multidimensional It stresses the importance of broad cultural factors that affect development

16 Other influences on development include… Each person’s COHORT –The group of people born at around the same time and same place Normative History-Graded Influences –Biological and environmental influences associated with a particular historical movement The Great Depression, The Oklahoma bombing

17 (Other influences on development continued…) Normative Age-Graded Influences –Biological and environmental influences that are similar for individuals in a specific age group, regardless of when or where they were raised Puberty, menopause, entry into formal education Normative Sociocultural-Graded Influences –The impact of social and cultural factors present at a specific time for a specific individual, depending on unique variables such as ethnicity, social class, subcultural membership Affluent childhood vs. living in poverty

18 (Other influences on development continued…) Non-normative Life Events –Specific, atypical events that occur in a particular person’s life at a time when they do not happen to most people Cancer as a teen, auto accident

19 Key Issues in Lifespan Development Continuous vs. Discontinuous Change –Continuous change Gradual development in which achievements at one level build on those of previous levels –Changes achieved are a matter of degree, not kind –Discontinuous change Development that occurs in distinct steps or stages –Changes achieved are qualitatively different that behavior at earlier stages

20 What do most developmental psychologists believe on this issue???? Some development is continuous, and some is discontinuous!

21 (Key Issues in Lifespan Development continued) The importance of critical periods –A critical period is a specific time during development when an event has its greatest consequences (interference with critical periods thought to interfere with development, often permanently) –Language development, exposure to disease NOW… The concept of a sensitive period is favored --A sensitive period is a point in development when an individual is especially susceptible to certain stimuli BUT the absence of those stimuli does not always produce irreversible consequences

22 (Key Issues in Lifespan Development continued) *A focus on particular periods vs. lifespan approaches Early developmentalists focused on “infancy” & “adolescence.” Today the entire lifespan is seen as important for several reasons: -growth and change are continuous throughout life -each age has reciprocal influences on other ages

23 (Key Issues in Lifespan Development continued) Nature vs. Nurture –Nature refers to inherited traits, abilities, and capacities Includes maturation –Nurture refers to the environmental influences that shape behavior What do developmentalists believe today? That behavior is the result of nature and nurture combined

24 Theoretical Perspectives Theories are explanations and predictions that provide a framework for understanding relationships We will consider 5 major theoretical perspectives used in lifespan development: psychodynamicbehavioral cognitive humanisticevolutionary

25 Psychodynamic Perspective (Freud, Erikson) Based on the view that behavior is motivated by unconscious/inner forces, memories, and conflicts (over which a person has little control or awareness) Most closely associated with Freud –Freud’s (1856-1839) Psychoanalytic Theory suggests that unconscious forces act to determine personality and behavior

26 (Psychodynamic Perspective continued) According to Freud –Unconscious is the part of the personality about which a person is unaware; it is responsible for much of our everyday behavior –A person’s personality has 3 components: The ID, the EGO, and the SUPEREGO

27 (Psychoanalytic theory continued) 1)ID raw, unorganized, inborn part of personality present at birth represents primitive drives related to hunger, sex, aggression, irrational impulses 2)EGO rational and reasonable part of the personality acts as a buffer between the world and the primitive id operates on the reality principal (instinctual energy is restrained to maintain individual safety and integration into society

28 (Psychoanalytic theory continued) Superego –The aspect of personality that represents a person’s conscience –Evaluates right from wrong –Develops about age 5 or 6 –Learned from parents, teachers, other significant figures

29 Freud also explored ways in which personality developed during childhood… Psychosexual development theory --series of stages that children pass through --pleasure or gratification is focused particular biological function or body part on a 5 main stages 1) oral (birth to 12-18 months) 2) anal (12-18 months to 3 years) 3) Phallic (3 to 5-6 years) 4) Latency (5-6 years to adolescence) 5) Genital (adolescence to adulthood)


31 In Erikson’s Psychosocial theory… Each stage emerges as a fixed pattern that is similar for all people Each stage presents a crisis or conflict that each individual must address sufficiently at a particular stage No crisis is ever fully resolved, making life complicated UNLIKE FREUD, Erickson believed that development continued throughout the lifespan

32 Assessing the psychodynamic perspective Pros –Contemporary psychology research supports the idea that unconscious memories have an influence on our behavior –Erickson’s view that development continues throughout the lifespan is highly important and supported by research

33 Assessing the psychodynamic perspective, continued Cons –Idea that people pass through stages in childhood that determine their adult personality has little research support –Freud’s research based on small sample of upper middle class Austrians –Freud’s theory male focused/sexist –Both too vague to test, problems with operational definitions

34 Behavioral Perspective (Skinner, Watson, Bandura) Based on the idea that the keys to understanding development are observable behavior and outside environmental stimuli Behaviorists reject the idea that people universally pass through a series of stages They view development as occurring because of continuous exposure to specific factors in the environment

35 The behavioral perspective believes that 2 main types of learning contribute to development 1)Classical Conditioning (Watson) (stimulus substitution; organism responds to a previously neutral stimulus in an atypical way) Pavlov (dog/bell), Watson/rabbit

36 (2 main types of learning, behavioral perspective continued)_ 2) Operant Conditioning (Skinner) (instrumental conditioning; a voluntary response is strengthened or weakened based on its association with positive or negative consequences; used in behavior modification) birds/pecking; reinforcement, punishment

37 (Behavioral Perspectives Continued) Social-Cognitive Learning Theory (Bandura) –Emphasizes learning by observation of another person (a model) bobo doll, fearless peer *Social-cognitive theory DIFERS from classical and operant conditioning by taking mental activity into consideration (thoughts, motivations, expectations)

38 Assessing the behavioral perspective… Classical & operant conditioning consider people and organisms as “black boxes” in which nothing is understood, cared about (pessimistic!) Social-cognitive theory argues that people are different from rats and pigeons (mental activity occurs—more optimistic for people and favored view now)

39 Cognitive Perspective (Piaget, Vygotsky, information-processing approaches) Focuses on the processes that allow people to know, understand, and think about the world --Piaget’s Theory of Cognitive Development * people pass in a fixed sequence through a series of universal stages of cognitive development *in each stage, the quantity of information increases; the quality of knowledge and understanding increases too


41 (Piaget’s Theory of Cognitive Development continued) Human thinking is arranged into schemas (organized mental patterns representing behavior and action) The growth of children’s understanding of the world can be explained by two principals: –Assimilation (new experience incorporated into current way of thinking) –Accommodation (existing ways of thinking change as a result of new stimuli)

42 Assessing Piaget’s Theory… Thousands of studies provide support Some cognitive skills emerge earlier than Piaget suggested Some cognitive skills emerge according to a different timetable in non Western countries Some adults never reach his highest level of thought (formal, logical)

43 Vygotsky’s Sociocultural Theory Emphasizes how development proceeds as a result of social interactions between members of a culture – (culture: a society’s beliefs, values, customs and interests shapes development) Vygotsky argued that children's understanding of the world is acquired through their problem- solving interactions with adults and other children. He also argued that to understand the course of development we must consider what is meaningful to members of a given culture.

44 Information Processing Approach a.the model that seeks to identify the ways individuals take in, use, and store information b.The theory grew out the computer age. c.They assume that even complex behaviors such as learning, remembering, categorizing, and thinking can be broken down into a series of individual steps. d.They suggest that as people age, they are better able to control their mental processing and change the strategies they choose to process information.

45 The Humanistic Perspective --contends that people have a natural capacity to make decisions about their lives and control their behavior. Assessing the Humanistic Perspective -The humanistic perspective has not had a major impact on the field of lifespan development. -It has not identified any sort of broad developmental change that is the result of age or experience. -Some criticize the theory's assumption that people are basically "good", which is unverifiable. -Self-actualization is also difficult to measure objectively.

46 EVOLUTIONARY PERSPECTIVE -seeks to identify behavior in today's humans that is the result of our genetic inheritance from our ancestors. * grew out of the work of Charles Darwin who argued in The Origin of the Species that a process of natural selection creates traits in a species that are adaptive to their environment * argues that our genetic inheritance determines not only such physical traits as skin and eye color, but certain personality traits and social behaviors

47 The evolutionary perspective draws on the field of ethnology (Konrad Lorenz 1903 - 1989), which examines the ways in which our biological makeup influences our behavior. The evolutionary perspective encompasses one of the fastest growing areas within the field of lifespan development: behavioral genetics, which studies the effects of heredity on behavior. Evolutionary Perspective

48 Criticisms of the evolutionary perspective… Some developmentalists criticize the evolutionary perspective for paying insufficient attention to the environment and social factors. Others argue that there is no good way to support experimentally theories derived from evolution.

49 Which Approach is Right? - Each emphasizes different aspects of development. -Psychodynamic approach emphasizes emotions, motivational conflicts, and unconscious determinants of behavior. -Behavioral approaches emphasize overt behavior. -Cognitive and humanist approaches look more at what people think than what they do. -The evolutionary perspective focuses on how inherited biological factors underlie development.


51 Research Methods * The SCIENTIFIC METHOD is the process of posing and answering questions using careful, controlled techniques that include systematic, orderly observation and the collection of data. * The scientific method involves the formulation of theories, broad explanations, and predictions about phenomena.

52 (Research methods, continued) *Theories allow developmentalists to summarize and organize prior observations and allow them to go beyond existing observations to draw deductions. * Theories are used to develop HYPOTHESES, predictions stated in a way that permits testing.

53 Research Strategies… 1) Correlational Research -seeks to identify whether an association or relationship between two factors exists. * The strength and direction of a relationship between two factors is represented by a mathematical score, called a correlational coefficient, that ranges from +1.0 (positive) to - 1.0 (negative).

54 (correlation continued) A negative correlation informs us that as the value of one factor increases, the value of the other factor declines. IMPORTANT: Finding that two variables are correlated with one another does NOT prove anything (show causality).

55 Suppose a study found that watching aggression on TV is correlated with aggressive behavior…3 possible correlations…

56 Types of Correlational Studies Naturalistic Observation Case Studies Survey Research (Make sure you understand what each of these are!)

57 (Research Strategies continued…) 2) Experimental Research -research designed to discover causal relationships between various factors. An EXPERIMENT is a process in which an investigator, called an experimenter, devises two different experiences for subjects or participants. a.These two different experiences are called TREATMENTS. b.The group receiving the treatment is known as the TREATMENT GROUP. c.The CONTROL GROUP is the group that receives either no treatment or alternative treatment

58 -The formation of treatment and control groups represents the INDEPENDENT VARIABLE, the variable that researchers manipulate in an experiment. -In contrast, the DEPENDENT VARIABLE is the variable that researchers measure in an experiment and expect to change as a result of the experimental manipulation.

59 Experimental Research Settings… FIELD STUDY is a research investigation carried out in a naturally occurring setting. LABORATORY STUDY is a research investigation conducted in a controlled setting explicitly designed to hold events constant.

60 Theoretical and Applied Research a.THEORETICAL RESEARCH is research designed specifically to test some developmental explanation and expand scientific knowledge. b.APPLIED RESEARCH is research meant to provide practical solutions to immediate problems.

61 Measuring developmental change In LONGITUDINAL RESEARCH, the behavior of one or more individuals is measured as the subjects age. -requires a tremendous investment of time -there is the possibility of participant attrition, or loss -participants may become "test-wise"

62 (Measuring developmental change continued) In CROSS-SECTIONAL RESEARCH, people of different ages are compared at the same point in time. -differences may be due to cohort effects -selective dropout, where participants in some age groups are more likely to quit participating in the study than others. -unable to explain changes in individuals or groups

63 (Measuring developmental change continued) In CROSS-SEQUENTIAL STUDIES, researchers examine a number of different ages groups over several points in time. -combines longitudinal and cross- sectional

64 Research Techniques For Studying Development -Cross sectional study: participants are compared at a similar point in time (2003) -Longitudinal study: participants are compared over time across ages -Cross-sequential study: combines above techniques (studies across ages and times)

65 Ethics and Research Society for Research in Child Development and the American Psychological Association have developed ethical guidelines for researchers. -Freedom from harm -Informed consent -Use of deception -Maintenance of privacy

66 Don’t forget to keep up with your reading and studying! Review & Rethink section of book Key terms Practice tests in study guide, on disk that came with book, on companion website!

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