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Introduction to Development Across the Lifespan

Chapter 1

What is Lifespan Development?

Field of study that examines the patterns of growth, change and stability of behavior throughout the entire lifespan Focus on the way we change as well as what stays the same (stability) Different approaches:

Biological Environmental Combination of the two

Lifespan Development


Broad field that covers diverse areas- developmentalists often focus on one area for study Physical development- study body makeup, brain, nervous system, muscles, senses, biological needs (food, drink)- may be interested in how malnutrition affects development Cognitive development- study learning, memory, problem solving, intelligence. How do problem solving skills change throughout the lifespan? Personality development- study traits and characteristics that make us unique- Is personality stable over the lifespan? Social development- study interactions among individuals and social factors like poverty. How do the effects of poverty or divorce influence development?

Lifespan Development

Developmentalists have divided the lifespan into 8 broad ranges Prenatal period (conception to birth) Infancy and toddlerhood (birth to 3) Preschool period (3-6) Adolescence (12-20) Young adulthood (20-40) Middle adulthood (40- 60) Late adulthood (60- death)

Social Construction of Age Groups


Social constructions are shared notions of reality. Age groups are shared notions (social constructions) among developmentalists When developmental specialists discuss ages- they are referring to the average age when most people reach a milestone

The Bio-ecological Approach to Development


Suggests that development is interconnected, changes in one area affect changes in another area. Example: parental loss of a job affects the home life Changes in one area without changes in another area can be of very little help Example: Improving schools can be of little help if parents at home are not willing to help support academic success

The Bio-ecological Approach to Development


5 levels of environment that influence us Microsystem- everyday, immediate environment (home, family, friends, teachers) Mesosystem- connects the parts of the microsystem like a chain. (binds the children to parents, students to teachers, employee to boss) Example: Parents and teachers working together. Parents supervising children at play, parents attending sporting events with kids

The Bioecological Approach to Development

Exosystem- broader influences such as school, community, church, parents workplace. Each affects how the microsystem and mesosystem operate: Example: The type of church a person attends can affect their personal morals and values which can influence how they respond to the others. Mother loses job- indirectly affects child Macrosystem- larger cultural influences (types of govt, religions, politics, society in general, economy,war)

Western culture- what are our values and how do they influence us?

The Bioecological Approach to Development

Chronosystem- underlies the previous systems. Involves the passage of time and historical events as well as historical changes and how these things influence development.

Example: Great Depression, 9/11, women entering the workforce, divorces on the rise)

Individualist v Collectivist Cultures

When studying individuals, it is important to take into consideration the culture in which they were raised. (example of childrearing) Individualism- dominant in western societiesemphasizes the importance of personal identity, uniqueness, freedom and the worth of the individual. Collectivism- the well being of the group is more important than the individual. Those raised in these cultures will often sacrifice self happiness for the group

Ethnicity and Race

Race- a biological concept that refers to the physical and structural characteristics of a species

99.9 % of human genetic makeup is identical so it makes the term race seem insignificant

Ethnicity- refers to cultural background, nationality, religion and language.


A group of people born around the same time in the same place. Example of a cohort- Baby boomers- increased births after the end of WWII Cohort effects- Social events have similar impact on members of a cohort (wars, depressions, famines, epidemics) Baby boomers experienced cohort effects- Adolescence during civil rights movement, protests of the Vietnam War, parents had experienced the depression How does experiencing these things affect the cohort?

Influences on Development

History graded influences- historical events that influence an entire age cohort. NY terrorist attacks, depressions, social movements Age graded influences- biological and environmental influences that are similar for individuals of an age group regardless of where they were raised.

Beginning school, puberty, menopause, death of parentsthese things are usually the same for all despite culture

Influences on Development

Socio-cultural- graded influences- affect most people of a particular culture or social class

Depends on the individuals ethnicity, social class, and subculture. These influences would be different for a white affluent child than for a minority child living in poverty (violence, Bar Mitzvah. Etc)

Non-normative life events- unusual events that happen to a person at a time when those events are not expected and do not happen to most people

Losing both parents at age 6 Birth defects Adoption

Major Issues in Lifespan Development


Are changes continuous or discontinuous (occur in distinct stages)? Are there critical periods for development? Which part of the lifespan should be the main focus for research? Does nature or nurture have the biggest influence on development?

Continuous v Discontinuos Change

Continuous- change is gradual, achievements at one level build on the previous level, changes are a matter of degree and not kind. Example: a childs height changes, but its a quantitative change- the number changes as it builds on the previous number Discontinuous- change occurs in distinct stages. Each change is qualitatively different from the behavior or thinking process at an earlier stage

Continuous v Discontinuous Change


Quantitative- can be measured Qualitative- quality of change

Critical and Sensitive Periods

A critical period is a specific time in development when an event has the greatest consequences.

Example: exposure to German measles at 11 weeks gestation v 30 weeks

In a critical period, certain kinds of environmental stimuli are necessary for development to proceed normally.

Example- bonding with mother within first few minutes to hours after birth


Early developmental theorists believed strongly in critical periods and their importance Today theorists believe that we arent as likely to suffer damage from lack of certain social experiences as once believed

Children who have been placed in NICU and away from their mothers have not shown any more problems with normal development than other children, considering the bonding does occur later on.

Critical and Sensitive Periods

Theorists today speak of sensitive periods- we are particularly more susceptible to certain kinds of stimuli in the environment during these periods, but the absence of those stimuli does not produce irreversible consequences to development.

What part of the lifespan should be the focus of research?


Early theorists believed that infancy thru adolescence was the most important and basically ignored other parts of the lifespan Today we believe the entire lifespan is important We know that changes continue throughout the lifespan Helps us to determine gains and losses as we age  Vocabulary grows with age, but reaction time slows. Helps us to understand how peoples values change with age

Nature v Nurture

How much of our behavior is due to genetics and how much is due to the environment? Nature refers to traits, abilities and capacities inherited from ones parents.

Eye color, hair color, athletic ability, brain development

Nurture refers to environmental influences that shape our behavior

Nutrition, prenatal use of drugs or alcohol, parental discipline, schooling

Nature v Nurture

Consider the concept of intelligence Is intelligence inherited or is created by the environment? If it is fixed at birth, then efforts to increase intelligence will fail If intelligence is strictly determined by environment then going to a great school, and parents who constantly help you learn would create an intelligent child. What we know is that sometimes those with the most stimulating environments still cant learn and sometimes those with no stimulation are still very intelligent It is a combination of the two

Theoretical Perspectives on Development


A theory- organizes facts in order to explain a phenomenon 5 major theoretical perspectives on developmenteach provides a different way of looking at development

Psychodynamic Behavioral Cognitive Humanistic Evolutionary

Psychodynamic Theory of Development


Believe that most of our behavior is influenced by inner conflicts or memories in which we are unaware. Most of these memories or conflicts linger from childhood and influence us throughout our life Example: Marissa and the car accident Freud- the most recognized psychodynamic theorist

Psychodynamic Theory of Development

Sigmund Freuds psychoanalytic theorysuggests that unconscious conflicts influence personality and behavior 3 levels of consciousness (Iceberg): conscious awareness, preconscious and unconscious Unconscious mind contains wishes, desires, demands and needs which are hidden because they would be too disturbing for conscious awareness

Psychodynamic Theory of Development


3 levels of personality- Id, Ego and Superego Id- part of personality present at birth. Operates on the pleasure principle- maximize satisfaction and reduce tension. Responsible for primitive drives of hunger, sex, aggression and irrational impulses (Give me what I want when I want it) Ego- Buffer from the real world and the primitive Id. Reality principle- restrains the Id so that the person can be safe and fit in with society and also calms down the superego. The mediator (Keeps us straight) Superego- our conscience. Helps us identify right and wrong. Morality principle. Our parents and teachers help our superego develop.

Psychodynamic Theory of Development


Psychosexual Development- Freud believed we go thru a series of psychosexual stages during which our personality is being formed In each stage there is a pleasure zone associated with a biological function or body part. If a child is unable to gratify himself at any stage or if he over gratifies himself, a fixation may develop- behavior reflecting an earlier stage of development due to unresolved conflicts in that stage

Example: fixation in the oral stage may result in an adult who talks a lot, chews gum, bites nails

Psychodynamic Theory of Development

Psychosexual stages (Freud)


Oral (mouth) Anal (anus) Phallic (genitals) Latency (no pleasure zone) Genital (genitals)

Erik Erikson (Psychodynamic)

Psychoanalyst who emphasized the importance of social interactions (society and culture) rather than unconscious conflicts Eriksons theory suggest that we go thru a series of Psychosocial development stages.

During these stages we encounter changes in our interactions with each other and our knowledge of the world

Eriksons Psychosocial Stages


8 distinct stages that represent a conflict that the individual must overcome. Trust v Mistrust (birth- 12-18 months) Autonomy v Shame (12-18 months- 3 years) Initiative v Guilt (3-6) Industry v Inferiority (6-adolescence) Identity v role confusion (adolescence to young adulthood) Generativity v Stagnation (middle adulthood) Integrity v Despair (late adulthood)

The Behavioral Perspective


Reject the idea that people pass thru a series of stages Believe that people are affected by their experiences and that they learn and develop from them Developmental patterns are personal and depend on the environment and situations the individual is exposed to. Believe development is quantitative rather than qualitative

The Behavioral Perspective


Classical Conditioning- The idea that we learn through association By pairing a neutral stimulus with one that normally evokes a response, we can create a response to the neutral stimulus. Example: Pavlovs dog. The dog salivates at the presentation of food. Pair a bell with the presentation of food several times and the dog will begin to salivate to the sound of the bell, in anticipation of the smell of food.

The Behavioral Perspective


UCS- unconditioned stimulus- stimulus that naturally produces a response (food) UCR- Unconditioned response- response to a naturally occurring stimulus (salivation) Neutral stimulus (NS)- a stimulus that alone, causes no response (bell) Conditioned stimulus (CS)- a previously neutral stimulus that elicits a response after being paired with an unconditioned stimulus (bell) Conditioned response (CR)- a response to a previously neutral stimulus (salivation)

The Behavioral Perspective

Operant Conditioning (B.F. Skinner)- learning in which a voluntary response is strengthened or weakened by its association with positive or negative consequences Reinforcement- positive stimulus provided to increase the likelihood that a behavior will be repeated Punishment- presenting an unpleasant stimulus or removing a positive stimulus in order to decrease the likelihood of a behavior being repeated

The Behavioral Perspective


Social Cognitive Learning Theory- we learn by observing the behavior of others (modeling) We dont have to experience the consequences of a behavior to learn. We can learn by watching others experience the consequences (positive and negative) Albert Bandura- suggested learning thru observation takes place in 4 steps

Observer must pay attention Must successfully recall the behavior Must reproduce the behavior accurately Must be motivated to learn and carry out the behavior

The Cognitive Perspective


Focuses on how people know, understand and think about the world Developmental researchers are interested in how adults and children process information differently and understand things differently. Example: page 23. Why does it rain?

The Cognitive Perspective


Piagets Theory of Cognitive Development- most influential cognitive theorists. Believed that we go thru a fixed sequence of cognitive developmental stages In each stage the quantity of knowledge increases as well as the quality of knowledge and understanding

The Cognitive Perspective


Childrens understanding of the world can be explained by assimilation and accommodation Assimilation- understanding a situation in terms of your current stage of cognitive development and understanding

See a furry 4 legged animal and call it a dog All furry 4 legged animals are called dogs

Accommodation- changing the current way of thinking in response to new events or encounters in the environment

Mom tells you that animal is a cat Child now understands that not all furry 4 legged animals are dogs

Information Processing Approach to Development


Interested in the way we take in, use and store information Can be thought of in terms of the way computers analyze and process information Quantitative view- not a stage theory Our capacity to handle information as well as our processing speed and efficiency changes with age

Vygotskys Sociocultural Theory


Russian developmentalist who believed that cognitive development is a result of social interactions between members of a culture Our understanding of the world comes from our interactions with adults and other children who teach us problem solving skills as well as proper and improper behavior. The culture we are raised in will influence our way of thinking and viewing the world

A child who is raised around extended family will have a different view of family than one who sees family only once a year.

Emphasizes the idea of reciprocal transaction- people and environment influence a child who in turn influences those people and the environment

I am influencing my son, who in turn influences me.

Cognitive Neuroscience Approaches


Focuses on internal brain processes that underlie thinking, problem solving and other cognitive behavior They try to identify the areas of the brain associated with cognitive activity Have identified areas of the brain that are active when we speak, think, etc

Humanistic Perspective


Focuses on the unique qualities of individuals Rejects the idea that our behavior is determined by the unconscious, learning from the environment, and cognitive processing. Emphasizes free will- our ability to make decisions about our own lives Carl Rogers and Abraham Maslow- major theorists- believed that humans have a desire to be loved unconditionally and respected. Since other people provide these things, we become dependent on them. Our self worth is a reflection of how others view us Self- actualization is our primary goal in life- reaching our full potential (believed few people reach this point)

Evolutionary Perspective


Identify the behavior we inherited from our ancestors and to understand why we inherited certain behaviors Based on the ideas of Charles Darwin Genetics determines physical characteristics and also personality traits and social behaviors Certain behaviors helped increase chances of survival

Which perspective is correct?


All of them are helpful Page 28 Chart