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Chapter 3

development over the lifespan

Chapter Outline
A. Prenatal development
1. Maturation = the sequential unfolding of genetically influenced behavior and physical
2. Three stages of prenatal development
a. Germinal stage--0-14 days: fertilized egg (zygote) divides and attaches to the
uterine wall; outside becomes placenta, inner part becomes embryo
b. Embryonic stage--after implantation (about 2 weeks) to eighth week: embryo
develops, organs and limbs develop, testosterone is secreted in males
c. Fetal stage--after eighth week, further development of organs and systems: marked
increase in nervous system development and brain weight
3. Harmful influences that can cross the placental barrier -- include German measles,
radiation, toxic chemicals, sexually transmitted diseases, cigarette smoking, heavy
alcohol consumption, prescription and nonprescription drugs
B. The infants world
1. Physical abilities
a. Newborns have functional motor reflexes
b. Newborns are able to see, but are nearsighted
(1) Will show evidence of depth perception within a few months
(2) Prefer faces over other stimuli in the environment
c. Many aspects of development depend on cultural customs
2. Attachment--provides a secure base from which children can explore
a. The Harlows demonstrated the importance of touching, or contact comfort
b. Between 7 and 9 months, babies may show stranger anxiety and separation anxiety
until the middle of the second year or later
c. Ainsworth devised an experimental method called the Strange Situation in which
babys behavior is observed when the mother leaves the baby with a stranger
(1) Securely attached children are clearly more attached to the mother
(2) Insecurely attached children show avoidance or anxiety and ambivalence
d. Factors affecting attachment
(1) Neglect, abuse, and deprivation adversely affect attachment; however,
differences in normal child-rearing practices have no effect
(2) Daycare does not affect attachment
(3) Temperament, chronic stress, and rejection can affect attachment


e. Cultural expectations also play a role

A. Language
1. From cooing to communicating
a. In first months, babies responsive to pitch, intensity, and sound of language; people
talk to babies with more varied pitch and intonation
b. By 4 to 6 months, babies have learned many basic sounds of their language, and
over time lose the ability to perceive speech sounds in another language
c. Between six months and one year, babies enter the babbling phase; infants become
more familiar with the sound structure of their native language
d. Starting at around 11 months, babies develop repertoire of symbolic gestures;
gestures spur language learning
e. Between 18 months and 2 years, two- and three-word combinations are produced;
first combinations have a telegraphic quality
2. The innate capacity for language
a. Chomsky observed that children can figure out a sentences deep structure from
the surface structure; therefore the brain must contain a language acquisition
that enables children to develop language if they are exposed to it
(1) Children everywhere go through similar stages of linguistic development
(2) Children combine words in ways that adults never would, so they could not
simply be imitating adults
(3) Adults do not consistently correct their childrens syntax
b. Language development depends on both biological readiness and social
experience; there is a critical period for language development
B. Thinking
1. Piaget proposed that children must make two types of mental adaptations
a. Assimilation--fitting new information into present system of knowledge, beliefs, and
schemas (categories of things and people)
b. Accommodation--must change or modify existing schemas to accommodate
new information that doesnt fit
2. Piagets cognitive stages
a. Sensorimotor stage (birth to two years old)
(1) Infants learn through concrete actions; thinking consists of coordinating
sensory information with bodily movements
(2) Begin to understand object permanence at around six months; involves
understanding that something continues to exist even if you cant see it or touch
(3) Object permanence represents the beginning of representational thought--ability
to use mental imagery and other symbolic systems
b. Preoperational stage (ages 2 to 7)


(1) accelerated use of symbols and language in play and in imitation of adult
(2) limitations
(a) Cannot reason or use abstract principles (called operations)
(b) Piaget believed thinking was egocentric--that preoperational children are
unable to take the point of view of another
(c) Cannot grasp conservation--notion that physical properties do not change
when forms or appearances change
c. Concrete operations stage (ages 7 to 11)
(1) Accomplishments--understand conservation, reversibility, cause and effect,
identity, mathematical operations, serial ordering
(2) Thinking is still concrete, not abstract--grounded in concrete experiences
d. Formal operations stage (ages 12 to adulthood)
(1) Beginning of abstract reasoning
(2) Can reason systematically, think about the future, think about situations they
have not experienced firsthand
3. Evaluating Piaget
a. Shifts from stage to stage not as sweeping or clear-cut as Piaget implied
b. Children understand more than Piaget gave them credit for
(1) Infants as young as four months show understanding of some physics principles
(2) Children advance more rapidly in their symbolic activities
c. Preschoolers are not as egocentric as Piaget thought
d. Childrens cognitive development depends on education and culture
e. Piaget overestimated the cognitive skills of many adults
(1) Some people never develop the capacity for formal operations
(2) Other people continue to think concretely unless a specific problem requires
abstract thought
f. Most psychologists accept Piagets major point, that new reasoning abilities depend
on the emergence of previous ones
g. Most people agree that children actively interpret their worlds
A. Moral reasoning
1. Piaget pioneered the study of moral reasoning in children
2. Kohlberg developed a theory that states that there are three levels of moral reasoning
that are universal and occur in invariant order--moral stages determined by answers
give to hypothetical moral dilemmas
a. Levels and stages
(1) Level 1--preconventional morality
(a) Stage 1--fear punishment for disobedience
(b) Stage 2--in their best interest to obey


(2) Level 2--conventional morality, typically reached around 10 or 11 years of age

(a) Stage 3--based on conformity and loyalty
(b) Stage 4--a law-and-justice orientation
(3) Level 3--postconventional (principled) morality
(a) Stage 5--values and laws are relative and change; recognition that people
hold differing standards
(b) Stage 6--standard based on universal human rights
b. Limitations
(1) Stage theories tend to overlook cultural and educational influences on
(2) Peoples moral reasoning is often inconsistent across situations
(3) Moral reasoning and behavior are often unrelated
3. Parents enforce moral standards
a. Power assertion
b. Induction
c. Authoritative versus authoritarian styles
A. Terminology
1. Gender identity--fundamental sense of maleness or femaleness regardless of what one
wears or does
2. Gender typing--society's expectations governing male and female attitudes and
3. Sex and gender have lost their previous biological and cultural distinctions
B. Influences on gender development
1. Biological influences--toy and play preferences may have a biological basis
2. Cognitive influences
a. Children develop gender schemas (mental network of beliefs and expectations
about what it means to be male or female) as they mature; these schemas influence
their behavior
b. At nine months most babies can discriminate male and female faces
c. Once children can label themselves as boys or girls, they begin to prefer same-sex
playmates and sex-typed toys
d. Ages 2 to 4 important for development of gender schemas, which expand into many
e. Boys express stronger preferences for masculine toys and activities than girls do for
feminine ones; differences appear to be related to gender differences in status
f. As abilities mature, children understand exceptions to gender schemas
g. Gender schemas change throughout our lives, but continue to influence us
3. Learning influences
a. Differences between boys and girls are also the result of gender socialization


b. Assertiveness is rewarded more in boys; verbal behavior is rewarded more in girls

c. Children learn to adjust their behavior, making it more gender-typed
d. Parents stereotypical expectations influence childrens performance and feelings of
competence in math, English, and sports
4. Gender over the life span--gender development has become a lifelong process
A. Definition: Period of development between puberty (the age at which a person becomes
capable of sexual reproduction) and adulthood
B. Physiology of adolescence
1. Males produce higher levels of androgens than females; females produce higher levels
of estrogens than males
2. In males, reproductive glands stimulated to produce sperm from the testes; in females,
reproductive glands stimulated to produce eggs from the ovaries
3. In females, menstruation (menarche) begins and breasts develop; in males, nocturnal
emissions, growth of testes, scrotum, and penis occur
4. Hormones are responsible for secondary sex characteristics in both sexes
5. Age of puberty has been declining in developing countries
6. Growth spurt occurs in both sexes; occurs earlier for girls than for boys
7. Timing of puberty significant; early and late maturers may have special problems
C. Psychology of adolescence
1. Studies find that extreme turmoil and unhappiness are the exception
2. One's peer group is particularly influential during adolescence
3. During adolescence externalizing problems become more common in boys,
problems become more common in girls; suicide rates increasing in boys
4. Preteens who encounter problems are often reacting to specific changes in the
environment; conflicts often stem from their need to individuate
5. The extent to which parents and teens quarrel depends on cultural norms
A. Stages and ages
1. Eriksons psychosocial theory says that all people go through eight stages in their lives,
resolving an inevitable crisis at each one
a. Trust versus mistrust (during first year)
b. Autonomy versus shame and doubt (toddlerhood)
c. Initiative versus guilt (preschool years)
d. Competence versus inferiority (elementary school age)
e. Identity versus role confusion (adolescence)
f. Intimacy versus isolation (young adulthood)
g. Generativity versus stagnation (middle adulthood)
h. Ego integrity versus despair (old age)
2. How easily one passes between stages depends on cultural and economic factors





3. Erikson showed that development is an ongoing process that is never finished

4. Eriksons stages are not universal; they do not occur in the same order for everyone
The transitions of life
1. Todays theories of adult development emphasize the transitions that mark adult life,
rather than a rigid developmental sequence
2. Starting out: The social clock
a. Most people still unconsciously evaluate their transitions according to a social clock
b. Adjusting to anticipated transitions is easier than adjusting to unanticipated
transitions or nonevent transitions
c. People who wish to do things on time and are not able to do so may feel
depressed and anxious
3. The middle years
a. The years between 35 and 65 are considered the prime of life for most Americans
b. Menopause--midlife cessation of menstruation; ovaries stop producing estrogen and
c. Only about 10% of all women have severe physical symptoms
d. Most postmenopausal women view menopause positively
e. Menopause itself has no effect on most womens mental and physical health
f. Men lack biological equivalent of menopause
g. For both sexes, physical changes of midlife and the biological fact of aging do not
predict how people will feel about aging or how they will respond to it
4. Old age
a. The definition of old has gotten older
b. Various aspects of mental functioning decline with age
c. In aging, fluid intelligence tends to decline, but crystallized intelligence remains
stable or improves--may compensate for the brains declining efficiency late in life
d. Many problems in old age are not inevitable and are correctable
e. Short-term training programs can boost memory and other cognitive skills
f. People who have complex or challenging occupations and interests and who are
flexible are most likely to maintain their cognitive abilities in later life
g. Many people get happier and calmer with age
h. In extreme old age rates of cognitive impairment and dementias rise dramatically
Traumatized children are more likely to have emotional and behavioral problems
Evidence from the following suggests that negative effects are not inevitable
1. Recovery from war
2. Recovery from abusive or alcoholic parents
3. Recovery from sexual abuse
Resilience can come from one's personality, other supportive people, and meaningful