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Module 11: Infancy and Childhood

Developmental Psychology- studies physical, cognitive and social changes throughout the life span Three issues: Impact of genes and experience on behavior Gradual/ Continuous Vs Stage Stable/ Changing personality over the life span Cognitive Development Cognition- mental activities of thinking, knowing, and remembering Autism- Deficient social & communication skills, repetitive behaviors; difficulty understanding others states of mind (impaired theory of mind) -Thus, considered a spectrum of disorders such as asperger syndrome Causes of Autism - Poor communication among brain regions - Less activity of mirror neurons (thinking of doing something) Jean Piaget- childhood development -Developed questions for child intelligence tests -Same aged children gave the wrong answers -Children think in qualitatively different ways than adults Childrens mind develops through a series of stages -Main Premises: Children are always trying to make sense of their experiences Main Components Schemas- Concepts or framework into which we pour our experiences into; our schemas interact with two processes: 1. Assimilation- We interpret new info in terms of current understanding 2. Accommodation- When we adjust our schemas to incorporate information provided by new experiences Four Stages of Cognitive Development 1. Sensorimotor Stage (birth to 2)Kids take on the world through their sense and actions. Kids live in the present. Object Permanence- The awareness that objects continue to exist when not perceived 2. Preoperational Stage (2 to 6/7)- This is when kids cannot perform mental operation Conservation- The principle that properties remain the same despite changes in the form of an object Egocentrism- Difficulty in perceiving things from another persons point of view Theory of Mind- Children have developed this. This is the ability to read another persons intentions (persuade, tease, deceive, etc)

3. Concrete Operational Stage (6/7 to 11)- They can grasp conversation and comprehend mathematical transmutation 4. Formal Operational Stage (12 onward)- Reasoning expands from concrete where you need experience to abstract thinking which involved imagined realities and symbols Criticism of Piagets Theory: -Underestimated childrens competence -Symbolic thinking occurs earlier for some -Development is more continuous -Nonetheless, Piagets stages and orders of them are essentially correct Social Development Attachment- This is an intense band that keeps infants close to their caregivers Stranger Anxiety- At 8 months, they start to greet strangers by crying and reaching for familiar caregivers Harlow et al (1971)- Developmental psychologist used to think that infants became attached to those who satisfied their needs for nourishments but an accidental finding proved otherwise (took baby monkeys and put them into cages with a blanket monkeys (w/o a blanket they freaked out) Also, wire monkey with food and soft monkey w/o food. Monkeys preferred the food to comfort. Critical Period- an optimal period when certain events must take place to facilitate proper development **While human children do not imprint, they do become attached to what theyve known (familiarity) Types of Attachment Secure Attachment- In mothers presence, infants play comfortably, happily exploring their new environments. When she leaves, they distress, but when she returns, they seek her. (Basic trust) Insecure Attachment- Infants are less likely to explore, cling to mother, cry and remain upset and indifferent when she returns What about the father? -Comparable to a mothers love in predicting health and well being. Better school achievement. Depravity of Attachment (back to Harlows monkey) -Taken away from mothers at birth, unable to mate (not good for baby), when seeing other monkeys they become very hostile Abuse in Children- decreased growth, cognitive ability and health Neurological connections- decreased serotonin + gene variant = depression (rage)

Prolonged Abuse: Physical abuse-nightmares, depression, substance abuse, binge eating, and aggression Sexual Abuse- health problems, psychological disorders, substance abuse, and criminality Resilience Gene/Environment Interplay: Van de Boom (1990, 1995) -Put different infants with different moms, trained one group on how to raise children, other group did nothing, both groups increased behavior but the group he taught increased dramatically Day Care - Good day care situations do not adversely affect attachment for children age 2 or older - Findings for children under age 2 are inconclusive Parenting Styles: 1. Authoritarian- Parents impose rules and expect behaviors 2. Permissive- Parents submit to their childrens desires. They make few demands and use little punishment. (Kids tend to be aggressive and immature) 3. Authoritative- Parents are both demanding and responsive. They exert control by setting rules and enforcing them, but they also explain reasons for the rules. (Best parenting style) *Differs by gender- girl is authoritarian, boy is permissive *The relationship between parenting styles and childhood outcome is a correlation so you cannot infer causation