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What is development? describes all the physical and psychological changes that an individual
undergoes in a lifetime.

Developmental psychology is the scientific discipline that attempts to describe and explain these
changes by verifiable fact-finding procedures.

Theory.: to organize facts about a particular subject of study, guide further research., and explain
research findings in an orderly and predictable fashion.
Formulate social policies that affect children and their development. Specific theories that have
been developed to study child psychology typically center around several basic themes.
Five major themes in developmental psychology

How do nature and nurture interact in development? concerns whether behavior is the result of
innate, genetic influences (nature) or the environmental stimulation to which each individual is
exposed (nurture).

How does the sociocultural context influence development? Human development occurs within a
larger social group. The influences of the values and resources of that social group on

Is development continuous or discontinuous? how to explain the dramatic changes that are
observed in children as they develop.

How do the various domains of development interact? Advances in physical development, for
example, can lead to changes in social and cognitive development. To explain the behavior of the
whole child, theories of development must explain how each domain contributes to the others
during the developmental process.

What factors promote risk or resilience in development? Human development may proceed along
different paths at different rates from individual to individual. Children are exposed to various
kinds and levels of benefits and risks. Risk may be a consequence of genetic or biological
complications as well as environmental influence
Resilient children are those who seem able to most effectively resist the negative consequences
of risk. Personality traits and close family and group interactions are some of the factors that
make children resilient.

The concepts of risk and resilience have strong implications for interventions and are of special
interest to professionals involved in education, clinical issues, and other applied fields.

The scientific study of the child: historical perspectives Attitudes toward children have shifted
during last century-- has created an emphasis on children as the objects of scientific study.

The concept of childhood

Children of the Middle Ages in Europe, although recognized as different and possessing special
needs, were incorporated into the adult world as soon as they were physically able to contribute
to the economy.
John Locke: newborn’s mind is a tabula rasa, or “blank slate,”
Jean Jacques Rousseau : child as a “noble savage”

The origins of developmental psychology Charles Darwin and Wilhelm Preyer studied their
children to support the emerging views about the evolution of human beings. Their baby
biographies stimulated interest in the systematic study of the child.

G. Stanley Hall considered founder of developmental psychology---use of the

questionnaire method to systematically collect data on large groups of children.
Alfred Binet developed the first intelligence assessment scale; and important study of
individual differences.
James Mark Baldwin contributed important theoretical ideas to developmental
psychology, including development as a mutual dynamic between the child and others.
Sigmund Freud’s psychosexual theory of development proposed that many aspects of
personality originate in an early and broad form of childhood sexuality.
Growth of developmental psychology in the twentieth century first 40 years of the twentieth
century, developmental psychologists primarily gathered descriptive information on children.
Today research increasingly seeks to identify the causes of development.

Learning theory approaches Learning is the relatively permanent change in behavior that results
from experience.
John Watson (extreme form of learning theory)--- all behavior can be explained by the
experiences a person encounters.

Behavior analysis--a theoretical concept that relies on the principles of classical and operant
conditioning to explain most aspects of development.

Social learning theory: stresses importance of observational learning, the acquisition of

behaviors from watching and listening to others. Albert Bandura’s social cognitive theory,
expanded social learning theory to include cognitive processes--- observation and imitation of a
model allows new skills to be acquired quickly and efficiently in a social context.

Learning theory and themes in development: Behavior analysis emphasizes role of the external
environment in rewarding or punishing behavior.
Social learning theories rely on roles of biology and other internal factors that interact with
experience to affect development.
Behaviorists theorize that the principles of learning are universal and therefore less subject to
sociocultural differences.
Social learning theory: importance of learning in a social context--- emphasizes importance of
cultural differences for learning.
Behavior analysis: child does not play an active role in development and that development is
continuous. Individual differences are the result of different learning experiences.
Cognitive-developmental approaches ---stress the emergence of psychological structures, which
are organized ways of thinking that affect the way the child interprets experience.
Jean Piaget best-known cognitive-developmental theorist. emphasizes that development is
action-oriented and that mental structures become qualitatively reorganized at different stages of

Piaget’s theory of how children acquire knowledge--focuses on two basic processes: adaptation,
the tendency to adjust to the conditions of the environment, and
organization, the tendency for knowledge structures to become more systematic and coherent.

scheme, a coordinated and systematic way of acting on and reasoning about the world. processes
that change schemes with development: assimilation and accommodation.

Piaget proposed four stages of intellectual development: sensorimotor, preoperational, concrete,

and formal.

Piaget’s theory and themes in development influenced by biological theories and emphasized
process of maturation, the gradual unfolding over time of genetic programs for development.
minimized the influence of sociocultural differences in the development of knowledge.
According to Piaget, the child is very much an active participant in his or her own cognitive
development. Knowledge is constructed.
children proceed through a series of qualitatively distinct stages of development that represent
major reorganizations in the way they think.

Information-processing approaches-- primary assumption of most information-processing

models is that human mind has limited capacity for processing information. With development,
changes in capacities, skills, and strategies help the child process information more effectively.

Information-processing approaches and themes in development-few basic capacities are

presumed to be present at birth. The sociocultural context has been given little attention.
Information-processing approaches accept that the child is an active processor of information;
developmental changes continuous and quantitative.

Erikson’s psychosocial model of development deal with emotional and personality development.
emphasis on societal and cultural influences on development.

Eight stages in psychosocial development, common theme is the individual’s search for identity,
the acceptance of one’s self and society.

Psychosocial theory and themes in development Freud stressed the biological component of the
development ; Erikson stresses that child is more active in seeking identity within the society.
Erikson views development as a series of stages, with behavior at one stage laying the foundation
for behavior at the next stage. Individual differences are the product of the degree of success in
negotiating each stage of development.
Contextual approaches Children develop within a complex set of hierarchical contexts—the
family, the community, the political system, and the culture. Contextual models address the broad
range of biological, physical, and sociocultural settings that influence development.

Urie Bronfenbrenner’s ecological systems theory focuses on the broad range of situations that
children encounter and are influenced by during their development. Several levels of context—
the microsystem, the mesosystem, the exosystem, and the macrosystem—affect the individual.
These contexts are, in turn, influenced by the chronosystem, Bronfenbrenner’s term for the time-
linked events that affect development.

Vygotsky’s sociohistorical theory emphasizes unique cultural and social contexts within which
every child develops. As children grow and participate in their own cultures, they acquire the
language, practices, and ways of thinking specific to those cultures.
language is a particularly important cultural tool because it can influence the child’s thinking and
problem-solving abilities.

Both ecological systems and sociohistorical theory view development as a dynamic, continual
process that involves reciprocal exchanges at many different levels of the environment. Much of
development is a consequence of the active role that the child plays in creating the environment
within which she or he develops.
Dynamic systems theory --perspective that development is often the outcome of interactions occurring at
multiple levels of behavior. These interactions can produce unexpected and novel outcomes in behavior
and reorganization that are more adaptive for the individual.

Ethology is the discipline concerned with how adaptive behaviors have evolved and how they
function to help a species survive.
Ethologists: certain kinds of learning may occur only during sensitive, or critical, periods in
development. Imprinting-- exhibited in some species of newly born birds and some other
species-specific behaviors of newborns, such as crying and smiling, may form basis for
Themes in development-- ethological theories stress biological contributions, contextual
theories emphasize nurture in the developmental process. Most contextual theories are concerned
with sociocultural influences on development; ethological theory assumed to apply to all
Contextual models--child an active participant in the environment; relationship assumed to be
bidirectional, each influencing the other. Contextual models view development as a gradual and
continuous process without reference to any major qualitative changes that occur with age.