2Unit 1: What is developmental psych? This unit serves as the basis upon which all of the other units of study will be developed. This first unit sets the context for the course by describing psychology as an empirically-based, scientifically-conducted, discipline. This unit introduces students to the origins, development, and perspectives of psychology, setting the foundation for a consideration of research methods by which the students can then begin to acquire knowledge about the concepts of developmental psychology.
3Students are then directed to organize and integrate the new knowledge by making connections with their existing knowledge and understandings, as well as between psychology and other disciplines. The final step in the process is to apply those concepts and understandings in a practical, contemporary manner.
4Objectives: At the conclusion of this lesson, you should be able to answer the following questions: What is developmental psychology?What is the lifespan approach to human development?What are the key issues and questions in developmental psychology?
6What aspects of human development for an 11 or 12 year old boy were missing or delayed in the behaviours of the Wild Boy?What aspects of human behaviour for an 11 or 12 year old boy were present?What does this case study say about the relative influence of Nature (genetic inheritance) or Nurture (social environment) in terms of human development?
7What aspects of human development are genetically determined? What aspects of human development are influenced more by our surroundings and upbringing?
8The lifespan perspective on human development has seven basic characteristics. Development is: Life-long No age period dominates development.Multi-dimensional Development consists of biological, cognitive, socioemotional, and spiritual dimensions.Multi-directional Some aspects of development increase, while others decrease.
9Plastic Depending on the individual's life conditions, development may take many paths. Historically-embedded Development is influenced by historical conditions.Multidisciplinary Psychologists, sociologists, anthropologists, neuroscientists and medical researchers all study human development and share a concern for unlocking the mysteries of development throughout the lifespan.Contextual The individual continually responds to and acts on contexts, which include a person’s biological makeup, physical environment, social, historical, and cultural contexts (Santrock, 1999, p. 10).
10Assignment for tomorrow: How does the lifespan approach apply to your life? Find examples of each of the seven aspects in your life.Please come prepared with 7 examples (preferably one from each category of the lifespan approach) to discuss tomorrow. These should be in complete sentences and on a clean sheet of paper with your name on it.
11Key issues and questions in human development From the time of its establishment, several key issues and questions have dominated the field of developmental psychology. Among these issues are the nature of developmental change, the importance of critical periods, lifespan approaches versus the more focused approaches, and the nature/nurture issue.
12Continuous change versus discontinuous change: In continuous change, developmental change is gradual, with achievements at one level building on those of previous levels. In contrast, discontinuous change occurs in distinct stages or steps. Each stage brings about behaviour that is assumed to be qualitatively different from behaviour at earlier stages.
13A critical period is a specific time during development when a particular event has its greatest consequences. Critical periods occur when the presence of certain kinds of environmental stimuli are necessary for development to proceed normally.
14Lifespan approaches versus a focus on a particular period: Developmentalists now believe the entire lifespan is important, for several reasons. One is the discovery that developmental growth and change continue during every part of life. Furthermore, to understand fully the social influences on people of a given age, we need to understand the people who are, in large measure, providing those influences. For instance, to understand development in infants, we need to unravel the effects of their parents’ ages on the social environment.
15Nature versus Nurture: One of the enduring questions of development involves how much of people’s behaviour is due to their genetically-determined nature and how much is due to nurture, the physical and social environment in which a child is raised.In this context, nature refers to traits, abilities and capacities that are inherited from one’s parents. Nature encompasses any factor that is produced by the predetermined unfolding of genetic information, a process known as maturation.These genetic inherited influences are at work as we move from the one-celled organism that is created at the moment of conception to the billions of cells that make up a fully-formed human being.
16In contrast nurture refers to the environmental influences that shape behaviour. Some of these influences may be biological, such as the impact of a pregnant mother’s substance abuse on the fetus, or the amount and kind of food available to children. Other environmental influences are more social, such as the ways parents discipline their children and the effects of peer pressure on adolescents (Feldman, 2000, p. 10).
17For each of the 5 major stages of development (prenatal, infancy, childhood, adolescence and adulthood), find examples for each of the four critical issues in developmental psychology.For example, during childhood, can you find examples of both continuous change and discontinuous change?Are there critical periods in childhood when the influences of genetics and the environment are especially important?In what ways have the events and influences of the preceding stages influenced childhood development?And finally, what are the relative influences of Nature and Nurture during childhood?