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Chapter 1: The Study of Human Development

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1 Chapter 1: The Study of Human Development

2 Chapter Overview I. Developmental Science II. Children, Society, and Science III. The Central Issues of Developmental Science IV. Theories of Development V. Methods for Studying Development

3 Child Development Area of study devoted to understanding constancy and change from conception to adolescence Part of a larger, interdisciplinary field known as Developmental Science (including changes throughout the lifespan)

4 Developmental Science
The field has two goals: 1. 2.

5 Periods of Development
Prenatal (from conception to birth) Infancy and toddlerhood (from birth to 2 years) Early childhood (from 2 to 6 years)

6 Periods of Development
Middle childhood (from 6 to 11 years) Adolescence (from 11 to 18 years) Emerging adulthood (from 18 to 25 years)

7 Domains of Development
Physical Motor capacities like reaching, sitting, crawling, and walking Cognitive Understanding of infants’ surroundings Emotional and Social Adults stimulation with games, language, and expressions of delight at infants’ new achievements NOTE: These domains are not really distinct!

8 Domains of Development
What shapes development? Physical Environment Cultural beliefs Family and Peers Neighborhoods and communities Institutions (e.g., schools and government)

9 The Central Issues of Development Science
Research focuses on four fundamental issues: Sources of Development (nature or nurture?) Plasticity Continuity/Discontinuity Individual Difference (one course of development or many?)

10 Sources of Development
Nature: Refers to Nurture:

11 Sources of Development
Question about the sources of development: How do nature and nurture interact to produce development? Emphasis Debates the importance of biology and environment

12 Plasticity Question about plasticity: Greatest Impact
To what degree, and under what conditions, is development open to change and intervention? Greatest Impact During sensitive periods.

13 Plasticity Sensitive Periods: Critical Periods:
A time in an organism’s development when Example Critical Periods: A period during which

14 Continuity/Discontinuity
a process of gradually adding more of the same type of skills that were there to begin with a process in which new ways of understanding and responding to the world emerge at specific times Figure Is Development Continuous or Discontinuous?

15 Continuity/Discontinuity
Question about Continuity/Discontinuity: To what extent does development consist of the gradual accumulation of small changes, and to what extent does it involve abrupt transformations, or stages? Examines Quantitative versus Qualitative Changes

16 Individual Differences
Questions about individual differences: What combination of nature and nurture makes individuals different from one another? To what extent are individual characteristics stable?

17 Contexts of Development
One course of development or many? Unique combinations of: Genetics Environment  Can result in different paths of development

18 Theories of Development
Research on child development started in the late nineteenth and early twentieth and inspired the construction of theories THEORY: An orderly, integrated, evidence-based set of statements that Describes Explains Predicts behavior

19 Theory Describes Explains Predicts behavior
EXAMPLE: infant-caregiver attachment Describes Explains Predicts behavior  Provide organized frameworks for our observations of children; can be verified by research

20 Theoretical Perspectives
Development is approached from several theoretical perspectives: Four Grand Theories Psychodynamic theories Behaviorism Piaget’s Constructivist theory Vygotsky’s Sociocultural theory Four Modern Theories Evolutionary Theories Social Learning Theories Information-Processing Theories Dynamic Systems Theories

21 Early Scientific Study of Development
Baby Biographies (Darwin, Preyer) Normative Approach (Hall, Gesell) The Mental Testing Movement (Simon, Binet)

22 Early Scientific Study of Development
Early Development Theorist (James Mark Baldwin) Children’s understanding of their physical and social worlds develops through Neither the child nor the environment Children actively

23 Key Principles of Darwin’s Theory of Evolution
Natural Selection, or Survival of the Fittest Species have characteristics that are adapted—or fit—to their environments. Individuals best adapted to their environments survive to reproduce. Their genes are passed to later generations.

24 Psychodynamic Theories
Theories exploring the influence on development and developmental stages of the universal biological drives and life experiences of individuals.

25 Psychodynamic Theories
Key Psychodynamic Theorists Sigmund Freud In which psychosexual stages are associated with the changing focus of the sex drive Erik Erikson In which psychosocial stages are associated with tasks or crises shaped by social and cultural factors.

26 Psychodynamic Theories
Contributions and Limitations Emphasis on the individual’s unique life history as worthy of study and understanding (clinical or case studies) Inspired the wealth of research on many aspects of emotional and social development (infant-caregiver attachment; aggression; sibling relationships; child-rearing practices; morality; gender roles; adolescent identity) Became isolated because they were so strongly committed to in-depth study of individual children that they failed to consider other methods Concepts are so vague that they are difficult or impossible to test empirically

27 Behaviorism and Social Learning
Theories that focus on development as the result of learning Behavioral changes resulting from the individual’s forming associations between behavior and consequences John B. Watson, Edward Thorndike, B.F. Skinner

28 Behaviorism and Social Learning
Classical Conditioning Stimulus – Response Operant Conditioning Reinforcers and Punishments Social Learning Modeling

29 Behaviorism and Social Learning
Traditional Behaviorism (classical conditioning) Watson was inspired by Ivan Pavlov’s studies on animal learning Applied classical conditioning to children’s behaviour Taught Albert (11mos) to fear a neutral stimulus (a soft white rat) by presenting is several times with a sharp, loud sound, which naturally scared the baby. Albert liked to touch the rat, but started to cry and turn his head away at the sight of it (Watson & Raynor, 1920).

30 Behaviorism and Social Learning
Traditional Behaviorism (classical conditioning) Watson concluded that environment is the supreme force in development and that adults can mould children’s behaviour by carefully controlling stimulus-response associations = development as a continuous process, consisting of a gradual increase with age in the number and strength of these associations

31 Behaviorism and Social Learning
Traditional Behaviorism (operant conditioning) According to Skinner, the frequency of a behaviour can be increased by decreased = operant conditioning became a broadly applied learning principle

32 Social Learning Theory
Theories that focus on the learning of associations between behaviors and their consequences but emphasize learning that occurs through the observation of, and interaction with, others.

33 Behaviorism and Social Learning
Social Learning Theory (Albert Bandura) Emphasis modelling, otherwise known as imitation or observational learning, as a powerful source of development Diverse factors affect children’s motivation to imitate Social-cognitive Theory Children gradually become Children develop


35 Behaviorism and Social Learning
Contributions and Limitations BANDURA grants children an active role in their learning!

36 Piaget’s Constructivist Theory
Piaget’s theory states that cognitive development results from children’s active construction of reality based on their experiences with the world.

37 Piaget’s Constructivist Theory
Concepts: Children progress through universal stages of cognitive development. As children strive to master their environments, they change their schemas through adaptation. A schema is the most basic unit of cognitive functioning.

38 Piaget’s Stages of Cognitive Development
Sensorimotor Birth – 2 years Preoperational 2 – 6 years Concrete Operational 6 – 12 years Formal Operational 12 years and older

39 Piaget’s Stages of Cognitive Development
Sensorimotor Stage (Birth to 2 years) Preoperational Stage (2 to 6 years)

40 Piaget’s Stages of Cognitive Development
Concrete operational Stage (6 to 12 years) Formal operational Stage (12 years on)

41 Piaget’s Constructivist Theory
Contributions and Limitations Theory has been challenged, because Piaget

42 Information-Processing Theories
Theories look at how children process, store, organize, retrieve, and manipulate information in increasingly efficient ways. Analogous with computer processing Information is presented to the senses at INPUT until it emerges as behavioural responses at OUTPUT, information is actively coded, transformed, and organized. Often flowcharts are used to map the precise steps individuals use to solve problems and complete tasks

43 Information-Processing Theories
Views children as actively making sense of their experience and as modifying their own thinking in response to environmental demands No stages Thought processes are studied (perception, attention, memory, categorization of information, planning, problem solving, comprehension of written and spoken prose) are regarded as similar at all ages but present to lesser or greater extent

44 Information-Processing Theories
Commitment to rigorous methods No comprehensive theory Ignores aspects like imagination and creativity

45 Developmental Cognitive Neuroscience
Brings together researchers from psychology, biology, neuroscience, and medicine to study the relationship between the brain and the developing child’s cognitive processing and behaviour patterns.

46 Evolutionary Theories
Theories look at how human characteristics contributed to the survival of the species and to how our evolutionary past influences individual development. Concept of Ethology

47 Evolutionary Developmental Psychology
Seeks to understand adaptive value of human competencies Studies cognitive, emotional and social competencies and change with age Expands upon ethology

48 Vygotsky’s Sociocultural Theory
Vygotsky’s theory focuses on the role of culture in development and on children learning through finely tuned interactions with others who are more competent. Social interaction is necessary to learn culture Zone of Proximal Development: The gap between what children can accomplish independently and what they can accomplish when interacting with others who are more competent.

49 Vygotsky’s Sociocultural Theory
Children are active, constructive beings Cognitive development is a socially mediated process, in which children depend on assistance from adults and more-expert peers as they tackle new challenges Emphasis on culture and social experience led him to neglect the biological side of development

50 System Theories Theories that envision development in terms of complex wholes made up of parts and that explore how these wholes and their parts are organized and interact over time.

51 System Theories Ecological systems theory: Dynamic systems theory:
Focuses on the organization of the environmental contexts within which children develop. Dynamic systems theory: Focuses on the development of new systems of behavior from the interaction of less complex parts

52 An Ever-Changing System
Uri Bronfenbrenner: chronosystem Children are both products and producers of their environment. Child and the environment form a network of interdependent effects.

53 The Dynamic Systems Theory
The child’s mind, body, and physical and social worlds form an integrated system that guides mastery of new skills System is dynamic or constantly in motion Theorist acknowledge that a common human genetic heritage and basic regularities in children’s physical and social worlds yield certain universal, broad outlines of development.  Development cannot be characterized as a single line of change

54 The Dynamic Systems Theory – View of Development
Figure 1.5 The Dynamic Systems View of Development

55 Methods of Studying Development
Goals of Developmental Research Basic Research: Applied Research: Action Research:

56 Why Should We Learn About Research Strategies?
Helps us separate dependable information from misleading results (be a critical consumer of knowledge) Individuals who work with children may be in a unique position to build bridges between research and practice.  To broaden efforts, a basic understanding of research process is essential!

57 Research Strategies Research process = planning and implementing studies Research strategy: Select Decide Evaluate

58 Hypothesis Research can: A prediction often drawn from a theory.
Test a prediction of one theory against that of another Test a prediction of one theory Start with a research question, if there is no theory

59 Methods of Studying Development
Criteria for Developmental Research Objectivity Reliability Replicability Validity Ethically Sound

60 Methods of Data Collection
Naturalistic Observation Experiments

61 Methods of Data Collection
Clinical Interviews

62 Methods of Data Collection

63 Psychophysiological Methods
Methods to uncover the biological bases of perceptual, cognitive, and emotional responses Measure the relationship between physiological processes and behaviour Help to infer perceptions, thoughts, and emotions of infants and young children Measures of autonomic nervous system activity Heart rate (infant staring at a stimulus – heart rate is stable; processing the stimulus – heart rate slows; experiencing distress – heart rate rises) blood pressure Respiration Pupils stress hormones

64 Methods of Measuring Brain Functioning
Electroencephalogram (EEG) Detect changes in electrical activity in the cerebral cortex, which plays a central role in complex mental functions, including attention, perception, memory, language, planning, and problem solving Brain-wave patterns are examined for stability and organization Event-related potentials (ERPs) Detect the general location of cortical activity as a child processes a particular stimulus Often used to study preverbal infants, impact of experience on development of brain regions, and atypical brain functioning in children at risk for learning or emotional problems

65 Methods of Measuring Brain Functioning (Neuroimaging techniques)
Functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) Detects increases in blood flow and oxygen metabolism throughout the brain magnetically Yields 3D-computerized pictures of the entire brain and its active areas Provides most precise information about which brain regions are specialized for certain capacities and about abnormalities in brain functioning Positron emission tomography (PET) Depends on X-ray photography, which requires the injection of a radioactive substance

66 Functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI)
Figure 2.1 Functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) This 6-year-old is part of a study that uses fMRI to find out how his brain processes light and motion. The fMRI image shows which areas of the boy’s brain are active while he views changing visual stimuli.

67 Near-infrared spectoscropy (NIRS)
NIRS is limited to examining the functioning of the cerebral cortex. Infrared light is beamed at regions of the cerebral cortex to measure blood flow and oxygen metabolism while the child attends to a stimulus. Can be used on very young babies as they sit on their parent’s lap. Figure 2.2 Near-infrared optical topography (NIROT).

68 Psychophysiological Methods
Are powerful tools for uncovering relationships between the brain and psychological development Even though a stimulus produces a consistent pattern of brain activity, the researcher cannot be certain that an infant has processed the stimulus in a certain way Many factors can influence a physiological response Children often do not perform as well as they do outside or without apparatus Children’s fearful reaction to the equipment affects physiological measures

69 Clinical/Case Study Method
Brings together a wide range of information on one child Interviews Observations Test scores Psychophysiological measures

70 Designs for Studying Development
Looking for information about the way participants change over time Extend correlational and experimental approaches to include measurements at different ages Longitudinal designs Cross-sectional designs Sequential designs Microgenetic designs Figure 2.7 A natural, or quasi-, experiment on the relationship of child maltreatment to children’s social adjustment.

71 Designs for Studying Development
Longitudinal Same participants studied repeatedly at different ages Cross-sectional People differing in age are all studied at the same time Cohort sequential Same groups of different-aged people studied repeatedly as they change ages Microgenetic Same participant studied repeatedly over a short period as they master a task

72 Longitudinal Design Advantages Problems

73 Longitudinal Design Biased sampling Selective attrition
Practice effects Cohort effects

74 Cross-Sectional Design
Advantages Problems

75 Cohort sequential Design

76 Example of a Sequential Design
3 cohorts (1985, 1986, 1987) 3 years longitudinal Developmental trends across five years Figure 2.9 Example of a Sequential Design. Three cohorts, born in 1985 (blue),1986 (orange), and 1987 (pink), respectively, are followed longitudinally for three years. Testing the cohorts in overlapping grades enables researchers to check for cohort effects by comparing participants born in different years when they reach the same grade (see diagonals). In a study using this design, same-grade adolescents who were members of different cohorts scored similarly on a questionnaire assessing family harmony, indicating no cohort effects. By following each cohort for just three years, the investigator could infer a developmental trend across five years, from sixth to tenth grade.

77 Microgenetic Design Observations over years can describe changes, but cannot capture the processes that produce these changes Microgenetic designs

78 Microgenetic Design Offers insights into how change occurs
Requires intensive study of participants’ moment-by-moment behaviours The time required for participants to change is difficult to anticipate Practice effects may distort developmental trends

79 Children’s Research Rights
Protection from harm Informed consent Privacy Knowledge of results Beneficial treatments

80 Children’s Research Risks
Children are less capable of benefitting from research experiences Age Differences Children’s limited social power can make it hard to refuse participation Withdrawing from a study would have negative consequences (external pressure to continue) Children’s Unique Characteristics

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