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Twin studies

Although the debate continues between the influence of nature and nurture, most scientists,
psychologists, and psychiatrists have concluded that both nature and nurture influence who you are and
what you do. The current debate centers on the percentage that each contributes. Your nature or
heredity is practically complete at the moment of conception. Your environment can enhance or
diminish what you inherited, but most studies show that identical twins separated at birth are more
similar to each other than fraternal twins who were raised together. These findings are significant in that
identical twins share the exact same heredity, or nature. They result from one fertilized egg separating
into two genetically identical people. They have the same genetic blue prints. Fraternal twins, however,
are a result of two eggs that were fertilized at the same time. These twins have identical prenatal
environments, but not the same genetic blueprints. Studying identical twins that were separated at birth
has become the hallmark for studying the effects of heredity versus the effects of environment. The
effect that nurture or environment has on each of us can be strengthened by the strong determination
or will of each person, however. It also appears that religious beliefs and practices are more strongly
influenced by the family/environment than by the genetic influence. In contrast, there is less parental
influence on factors like personality, temperament, and emotional reactivity. The earlier that
environmental influence comes, the stronger it appears to be. Unfortunately, the most dramatic
evidence of this comes from cases of neglect and abuse. Small children who are ignored or harmed have
a very difficult time overcoming the damage done to them. Fortunately, however, strong caring and
loving can help reverse the damage from this harmful type of nurturing environment.

Nucleus, chromosomes, and DNA

Inside everyone are the blueprints that draw our characteristics, attributes, and traits. Each cell of your
body contains the information and messages necessary to form, motivate, move, grow, and operate
you. This information is found in the nucleus of each cell. Within each nucleus are found specific
information carriers called chromosomes, DNA molecules, and genes. David Myers, the author of the
textbook used for this Independent Study course, compares our bodies to the Tower of London (chapter
3, page 100). Each room in the tower has a bookcase with the architect’s plans for the entire building.
Each identical bookcase is like one of our cells. Within each identical bookcase (cell) are forty-six
identical books which specifically run different aspects of the building or tower. Twenty-three of these
books came from your mother while the other twenty-three came from your father. These forty-six
books are the chromosomes within each cell, which contain coiled chains of DNA molecules. The DNA
molecules are the pages that add specific meaning to the message being sent. And, just like in literal
books, pages cannot be understood unless there are specific words written or typed upon those pages.
The genes are the words that construct the meaning to the pages (DNA molecules), which make up the
books (chromosomes), which are placed on the bookcase (nucleus) found in each room (cell) of our
tower (body).


Dominant / recessive
Genes come in dominant and recessive forms. If you received the genetic make-up to contribute to
having blue eyes, you have parents who have contributed to those eyes with their own genetic
contributions. Because blue eyes are recessive over other colors, both of your parents had to have had
recessive blue eye genes. To keep it simple, let’s just say that there are only brown or blue eyes. If you
have green, hazel, or gray eyes, just remember your color can be substituted for blue in this illustration.
A brown-eyed person has either inherited BB (Brown/Brown) or Bb (Brown/Blue) genes. A blue-eyed
person has inherited bb (blue/blue) genes. If a BB (Brown/Brown) brown-eyed dad sires a child with a Bb
(Brown/blue) brown-eyed mom, the child will have a 100% chance of having brown eyes. This is because
dad’s genes of brown eyes will dominate over mom’s recessive blue eye genes. If a Bb dad conceives a
child with a Bb mom, 75% of the children will likely be brown-eyed and 25% will likely be blue-eyed. See
the illustration:

© BYU Independent Study

If BB and BB (as shown in scenario #1) would produce the likelihood of 100 percent brown eyed
children, scenario #2 would also produce 100 percent brown-eyed children, but 50 percent of the
children would carry recessive genes for blue-eyed children. Scenario #3 would result in the likelihood of
25 percent of the children being blue-eyed, but 75 percent of the children with brown eyes having
dominant genes for brown-eyed children and recessive genes for blue-eyed children. In scenario #4, 50
percent of children would likely have blue eyes, but 100 percent would carry recessive genes for blue-
eyed children. All (100 percent) of the children in scenario #5 will have blue eyes and will carry blue-eye
recessive genes.

Monozygotic / dizygotic and phenotype / genotype

If you carry the BB genes or the bb genes, you are called monozygotic. However, if you have one
dominant (B) gene and one recessive (b) gene, you are called dizygotic. Phenotype refers to the physical
features you display. Genotype refers to the actual genetic coding you have, whether that coding is
physically obvious or not.

If you are brown-eyed with BB genes, you are monozygotic with a phenotype and a genotype for brown
eyes. If you are blue-eyed with bb genes, you are monozygotic with a phenotype and a genotype for
blue eyes. However, if you are brown-eyed with Bb genes, you are dizygotic with a phenotype for brown
eyes and a genotype for both brown and blue eyes.

Sexual characteristics and development are also affected by chromosomes. On your twenty-third pair of
chromosomes, you received one X chromosome from your mother. She can only give X chromosomes
because she is monozygous (XX). Your father, however, is heterozygous in that he possesses one X and
one Y chromosome (XY). Males are XY while females are XX. Pairing with your mother’s X chromosome,
your father may have sent an X chromosome, which is what happened if you are female. If you are a
male, your father sent a Y chromosome to pair with the X chromosome your mother sent.

When genes mismatch: Turner syndrome, Klinefelter syndrome

In rare cases, chromosomes do not pair up normally as previously described. Turner syndrome, for
example, is a condition in which a girl has only one X instead of two (XO rather than XX). Girls with this
condition are shorter than average, sterile, and have underdeveloped breasts. Klinefelter syndrome is a
condition where a boy has an extra X (XXY instead of XY). These boys are tall and thin with very long
limbs. They are usually sterile, and they usually make poor social adjustments and have lower than
average intelligence scores.

Nurture / culture

Every group of people grows into its own rules of appropriate or accepted behavior or norms. After
norms have been established, the group accepts some behaviors as proper or appropriate in one
setting, but not necessarily in another. For example, belching is regarded as very rude in some groups or
cultures, but considered as a compliment to the cook in other cultures. You have probably already
observed that a lot of what you do is a result of what society has determined is “appropriate” for your
culture. In the next section, which is about gender behavior, you will see that a lot is taught to you
rather than inherited by genes.

Gender (sex hormones: testosterone and estrogen; androgyny)

When you were reading about the sexual influence of your twenty-third pair of chromosomes, it was
pointed out that males are heterozygous by having both X and Y chromosomes. The Y chromosome
contains a single gene that triggers the testes to produce the main male hormone, testosterone.
Although both males and females have testosterone, the extra amount in males stimulates the external
development of male sex organs in males. The lower amount of testosterone in females influences how
their ovarian hormones stimulate the female sexual development.

Although both males and females are influenced by their sex hormones (testosterone for men and
estrogen for women), much of what we do as males and females is determined by what we observe.
Males who are reared to act in extremely traditional male roles do not live as fully as they would if they
are allowed and willing to act more feminine. Now don’t get all worried about my promoting a
homosexual, transvestite, or transsexual lifestyle. Men who reported in Psychology and You that they
kissed both their male and female infants good-night reported greater happiness than those who
reported kissing only their daughters good-night. (p. 394, McMahon and Romand) Those fathers who
said they felt nauseous when thinking about kissing their baby boys reported greater conflict, anxiety,
and depression than did those men who hugged and kissed their baby boys. Many men reported having
no conflict with their wives kissing both genders of children, but many men are cultured to believe that
they are not supposed to do that with children—especially with boys.

Interestingly, most cultures allow women to dress as men dress without a judgment, but don’t let dad
out of the house if he’s wearing mom’s clothes. Androgyny, which is the display or expression of both
male and female characteristics, has been allowed more now than ever. Being androgynous has been
shown by Psychology and You to be healthy and freeing for most people (p. 394). Of course, any
extreme results in poor health and adjustment. Societal and personal values are best expressed in
cooperation and harmony. Going to either extreme of gender expression can result in being so far out of
the norms of society that a person does not “fit.” Not fitting may also come from being too
androgynous. A past Saturday Night Live skit used to show a person named Pat who had equal amounts
of male and female characteristics to such a degree that each episode illustrated other people trying to
set Pat up to declare his/her gender. Was Pat a male (Patrick) or a female (Patricia)? The comedy of this
situation was created by the extremity of Pat’s androgyny. The key to mental health is to avoid the
extremes created by being too male or too female or too androgynous.

Social learning

Another principle that has been explored by psychologists is associated with child-rearing. Albert
Bandura expanded principles of behaviorism when he observed that children tended to model or imitate
others’ behaviors. Strict behaviorism describes personality and development resulting from behaviors
increasing or decreasing based upon rewards and punishments. Bandura’s expansion of behaviorism,
called social learning, acknowledges that much of your maleness or femaleness is influenced by how you
observe others being rewarded or punished in their gender roles. This observation and imitation leads to
quicker learning of gender roles without the need for direct rewards or punishments.

Learning gender roles and gender-typing occurs in varying degrees, according to Bandura’s social
learning model. (For more information, see Lesson 5, Part 1, or chapter 8 of the textbook.) When you
observe, imitate, and then get rewarded or punished for acting male-like or female-like, you tend to
model the most rewarding gender behavior. (More information about social learning is found in Lesson
5 Part 1 and chapter 8 of the textbook.)

Reading Assignment:

Read Myers’s Psychology, chapter 4: “The Developing Person”

As you looked at the influence of nature and nurture on yourself and others, the details of development
were not made very specific. Chapter 4, “The Developing Person,” describes these principles much more
I became overcome with the miracle of development through a health concern. As a twenty-three-year-
old single man, I discovered that I had acquired malignant (cancerous) tumors without knowing how.
The original cancer was discovered in a tumor that was found near my appendix. The cancer had spread
from that tumor to tumors in the lymph nodes behind my stomach and in my left lung.

I was treated with surgery and chemotherapy (which is a kind of drug used to kill cancer cells) for 18
months and have gratefully not had any signs of cancer for over twenty-five years. Several side-effects
of the medications that I experienced were nausea, pain, hair loss, sterility, and chromosomal damage.
As soon as the medication regimen was stopped, my nausea, pain, and hair loss stopped also.

The conditions of sterility and chromosomal damage did not stop, however. Doctors told me that only
time would tell when or if these conditions would clear up. I had two major worries with this news. First,
when I married, chromosomal damage would unquestionably result in children with the deformities
associated with the damaged chromosomes if I were not completely sterile. Secondly, if the
chromosomal damage cleared up, I may still be sterile and unable to have children. Within two years
after stopping the medication, I was relieved with the news that there was no longer any chromosomal
damage. I was, however, still sterile. Five years after the chemotherapy was stopped, I fell in love with a
girl named Rosie. I felt it important to tell her the risk of marrying me if she wanted to bear children
herself. Being the sweetheart that she was (and is), she said she would be willing to adopt or experience
artificial insemination. Days before we married, however, testing confirmed that I was no longer sterile,
but again capable of reproduction. We are now happy parents of four children.

The point is not whether biologically-related children are better than adopted children, however. Nor is
the point about artificially inseminated versus naturally conceived babies. No matter how a baby is
conceived, it is a miracle! My appreciation for the miracle is so much greater than it would have been
because of the uncertainty I experienced, however.

Each human being begins at the moment of conception. Males produce about 200 million sperm that
are released during each episode of intercourse. One of those 200 million finally reaches and penetrates
the protective coating around the female’s single egg. This is called conception. When conception
occurs, the egg’s surface hardens to prevent any other sperm from penetrating. This egg is now
fertilized and is called a zygote.

When a zygote is about ten days old, it becomes an embryo, which attaches to the wall of the uterus.
For the next six weeks, internal organs are formed and begin to function.
In just over two months after conception, the embryo transforms into a very human-looking fetus. The
unborn child is called a fetus from now until he or she is born. Although doctors and pregnant mothers
refer to pregnancy in terms of trimesters (three periods of three months each), you can see that for the
majority of pregnancy, the unborn child is identified as a fetus. The last month of the first trimester and
each month of the second and third trimesters are all identified as time for the development of the

The birth event is marvelous! I was fortunate enough to have been with my wife when each of our
children was born. We got to take prenatal instruction together prior to our children’s births where I got
dubbed as a “coach.” When the labor and birth pains got so intense that my wife dug her fingernails into
my hands and arms, I hoped I could take her pain away, but could not. We made decisions about pain
control through controlled breathing and about delivering “naturally” versus using medication to kill the
pain. Miraculously, within minutes after each child’s birth, my wife’s memory was void of the intensity
of her birth pains. When visitors came to visit her and our newborns, she would describe her labor and
birth as much less long and painful than it really had been. When I would add the real facts of her
experience, she would look at me incredulously and ask if it had really been that long, hard, or painful.
Most women have this postpartum amnesia associated with childbirth pain.

Early Life

In spite of a newborn’s helplessness, he or she is amazingly competent with inborn abilities to survive.
Most children will turn their heads toward their mothers’ voice, can gaze, and will suck without any
teaching. Although nurturing encouragement enhances what a child is born to do, so much comes very
naturally from inborn wiring (heredity).


A powerful evidence of a newborn’s ability is the natural response a newborn has to being gently
stroked on the cheek. The newborn child will turn its head toward the touching and stroking. The pre-
wiring for this to occur has been shown to direct a child toward its mother’s breast so the child will be
nourished by its mother’s milk. This inborn ability for the newborn to move its mouth toward its
mother’s breast for nourishment is found in children of all cultures. Gently touching a baby’s cheek with
a finger, a pacifier, or anything else will result in the same rooting behavior of the baby’s moving its lips
and mouth to the object touching the cheek and then sucking that object.

Maturation—growth, genes, experience, order

As infants grow older, they lose many of their inborn reflexes and gain much more of their growth
through experiences and learning. Touch sleeping adults or older children on the cheek and you will see
that they may move to avoid the tickle or annoyance, but will not begin sucking your finger or the object
touching their cheeks. In spite of the loss of many simple reflexes, however, maturational growth is still
more nature than nurture. Physical development is more easily predicted if you know the patterns of
your parents. Growing facial hair or height is not affected much by your activities or who you hang
around with. It is also very important to recognize that biological maturation is orderly and relatively

Maturation timing often affects teens’ self-image. Earlier maturing girls often report feeling self-
conscious, “out of place,” and insecure. They are often the object of older boys’ attention, which results
in struggles with self-esteem coming from attractiveness and “sex appeal” concerns and obsessions.
Earlier maturing boys more often report feelings of self-confidence because they are asked to lead and
help out. Conversely, later maturing girls report greater self-confidence, while later maturing boys
report less self-confidence. Fortunately, most level out with greater self-confidence by the end of


Another important aspect of development is that of continuity—the gradual movement from one stage
to another. Although some stages of development are entered or left behind rather suddenly, there is
still a movement from one to another that is generally gradual. Although some developmental changes
may appear to occur over night, no boy goes to bed one night speaking with a high child’s voice and
wakes the next morning with an adult’s low voice and a full beard (unless, of course, he were Rip Van
Winkle). The changes are gradual and continuous. When the changes appear to be abrupt and
“overnight,” it is because you did not notice the gradual change and maturation. Those who emphasize
learning and the effects of experience on development describe the process as slow and continuous.
Those who see development as a process of biological maturation describe the continuous steps we
take as sequential, orderly, and predetermined

Cognitive development—Jean Piaget

Sometimes you are able to look at people and know exactly what they are thinking. This awareness
comes from your experience with others. Close friends will sometimes start to say the same thing at
exactly the same time as each other. However, there are other times when you are absolutely shocked
at the thoughts of another person that you never would have guessed. When you are studying the
thought processes of people, you are analyzing their cognitive development.

Cognitive theorists emphasize the formation and modification of schemas. A schema is a concept,
representation, mold, or framework that helps us interpret and organize our experiences. For example,
a child learns that a lion is a large cat. The schema of cat helps the child understand that a cat is an
animal with fur, a long tail, and the capacity to breathe and scratch, but that has different features from
a dog or horse.
Theories of cognitive development are most frequently associated with the writings of Jean Piaget.
Piaget asserted that children assimilate new experiences based on their current understandings or
schemas. If there are enough “exceptions to a rule” in new experiences, children will ultimately modify,
adjust, or accommodate their schemas to fit the new exceptions. Although many current researchers
and writers believe that Piaget underestimated the abilities of young children, his writings and theories
about the thinking in children remain predominant in the study of thinking and the development of
cognitive abilities. Table 4.1 on page 144 of your textbook summarizes the four stages of Piaget’s stages
of cognitive development.

Sensorimotor stage—object permanence, stranger anxiety, language

In brief, from birth to two years of age, children are in the sensorimotor stage of development in which
a child moves from only believing what he or she senses to understanding that objects have
permanency. Just because I can’t see something does not mean it is gone. I still search for those things
that should be seen but can’t be found. The game of peek-a-boo is a perfect example. Children giggle
when their parents suddenly appear out of invisibility and say, “Peek-a-boo!” Even more fun for the
child is the experience of covering or closing his or her own eyes, then quickly uncovering or opening
them and crying, “Peek-a-boo!” If it were not for the sensorimotor stage, this discovery of object
permanence would not be such a delight for the child or the parent. This stage is also a time when
children experience stranger anxiety more strongly than they do in other stages. Connected with the
same rigidity found in object permanence, children frequently experience difficulty in being away from
those people they have bonded to, especially when around strangers. Most day care facilities report
that children have a more difficult time being left by their parents before they are at least eighteen
months old. Many psychologists have concluded that stranger anxiety is best explained through
principles of natural selection. If this were the only explanation, however, wouldn’t all shyness be gone
by now as a result of shy people not pairing up to reproduce?

Preoperational stage—egocentrism

From about two to six years of age, most children explode in their use of fantasy and pretend play and
also their language development. This preoperational stage is a time of learning many rules and rigid
perceptions. Adding -ed to words to make them past tense is a perfect example. If one size or rule fits
all, as children during this stage assume, then the past tense of “run” would be “runned.” There is also
little ability to see something from another person’s point of view in this stage. This egocentrism leads
children to believe that everyone has seen or experienced what they have. They also believe that no one
has seen or experienced something they have not. In spite of this egocentrism, as this stage continues,
preschoolers begin to develop a theory of mind (realizing that others have thoughts and understandings
different from their own). If a child’s theory of mind is impaired, stunted, or prohibited, a child might
develop conditions similar to autism. There would be no awareness, connection, or concern for other

Concrete operational stage—conservation

The concrete operational stage generally occurs from about seven to eleven years of age. Prior to this
stage, children judge the volume of an amount of water to be greater in a tall cylinder or glass than in a
wide shallow bowl. At this stage, they are able to view, imagine, and see objects and situations from
several different points of view or perspectives. The ability to use this conservation develops in this
stage to assist in problem-solving and using objects in more diverse ways. Parents who try to help
fighting children to resolve their conflict by asking, “How do you think she felt when you yelled at her?”
are hoping the children are at least in this stage. Abstract math concepts are impossible to learn if a
child is not starting to think at this level.

Formal operational stage—abstract logic and reasoning

The final stage of cognitive development, according to Piaget, is called formal operational stage. From
twelve years old to adulthood, abstract logic and reasoning are used more extensively instead of relying
so heavily on measurable and concrete thinking. Creative problem-solving, deductive reasoning, and
answering “What would happen if. . .?” questions are done more easily in this stage. Algebra and higher
math skills are not possible until a child has reached this level of cognitive development.

Social development—Erik Erikson

Eight Stages

The study of how you and other people interact with others has been described in theories or writings
dealing with social development. The most frequently referenced stages of social development are
summarized in table 4.2 on page 166 of your textbook. These stages were established by Erik Erikson as
he rejected what he believed to be Freud’s over-focusing on sexual developmental stages (these will be
discussed more specifically in part 2, lesson 3). Erikson contended that the social conflicts we experience
in life result in healthy or unhealthy decisions. He theorized that we go through eight stages of conflict
and hopefully resolution as we grow from birth to old age. Positively, we resolve conflict and acquire the
following characteristics as a result: trust (from birth–one year), autonomy (one–two years), initiative
(three–five years), competence (six years–puberty), identity (teen years), intimacy (20s–40), generativity
(40s–60s), and integrity (mid-60s and older). Negatively, we experience the following characteristics if
we do not resolve the conflict of these stages: mistrust (birth–one year), shame and doubt (one–two
years), guilt (three–five years), inferiority (six years–puberty), role confusion (teen years), isolation (20s–
40), stagnation (40s–60s), and despair (mid-60s and older).

Although much attention is given to Erikson’s description of the identity versus role confusion of
adolescence and puberty, other stages have also received attention. Later in this lesson, you will see
that some have even objected to some of what Erikson suggested. Because of the recent focus on the
elderly and their development, much attention has been given to the conflicts of integrity versus
despair. Many people in their “twilight” years describe feeling a sense of worth or worthlessness
depending on how they see their contributions sensed from their final years of employment and/or
parenthood (grandparenthood). These feeling are identified as their sense of integrity or a sense of

Other Issues

a. Contact comfort—Harry Harlow

In addition to Erikson’s stages and theories of social development, others have also demonstrated the
power of contact with other people—social interaction. Harry Harlow demonstrated the power of
contact comfort when he observed that orphaned baby monkeys preferred staying near an artificial
“soft” mother, made of wire and covered with terry cloth (the soft cloth that towels and wash cloths are
made from), rather than the artificial “milk” mother, made of uncovered wire but having a bottle of milk
positioned where the natural mother’s breast would be. Even after a period of not eating and obvious
hunger, the baby monkeys would stay near to or cling to the terry cloth “mother.” When hungry
enough, the baby monkeys would stretch themselves to get to the “milk” mother while still clinging to
the “soft” mother. If they could not reach the “milk” mother while clinging to the “soft” mother, the
babies would make a fast dash from the “soft” mother to the “milk” mother, drink quickly, and then
dash back to the “soft” mother.

b. Critical periods

Another important concept discovered through studying development patterns associated with families
and socialization is that of the critical period. Shortly after birth, we learn only or best if we do that
learning during a specific window of time: the critical period. Bonding, language, and other physical skills
are best learned if they are learned in a specific order and time. One strong evidence for this time being
very specific and exclusive for certain learning is the circumstances surrounding feral children. Feral
children are the inspiration for the Tarzan legend. These are children raised through the critical period
without human language and contact. In spite of his contact with human speaking people after his
discovery in adulthood, Tarzan never acquired full use of the English language. Even Jane’s love and
coaching did not overcome his use of sentence sound and structure like, “Me Tarzan. You Jane.”
Although Edgar Rice Burrows was not writing accurate history, his description is quite accurate.
Authentic feral children never do completely recover from missing the critical period of language,
although it’s not completely irreversible. There is still a lot of learning that can occur after that period
has passed.

c. Timing, order, & imprinting

I think this occurrence is best described through what I call the “Famous Wagstaff Gelatin Analogy.”
When you make strawberry gelatin, you pour the flavored powdered gelatin into a bowl, pour hot water
over it, and then stir until all of the sugar, gelatin, flavoring, and color are completely dissolved into the
water. If you want to make a fluffy, frothy dessert, you would blend or mix whipped cream into the
liquid at this point until mixed and fluffed. Other additions can be added instead of whipped cream like
fruits, marshmallows, etc., but let’s stick with whipped cream for this illustration. At this point, you put
the mixture into a refrigerator for several hours for it to set. After the mixture has set for the prescribed
time, you have a salad or dessert that most people enjoy.

If the order or timing is not done as prescribed, disappointment follows. The order of gelatin and hot
water does not appear to affect the final outcome. However, every other step must be followed in the
specific order previously described. After mixing the hot water with the powdered gelatin, if you do not
dissolve the powder completely, you will end up with watery gelatin on top with rubbery, leathery
gelatin on the bottom. If the hot water is not hot enough, you will experience a similar result. If you
want the whipped cream, you must add this before you put the liquid into the refrigerator. If you let the
dissolved gelatin and water chill before you add the whipped cream, your whipped gelatin dessert will
not be a frothy pink treat. Instead, it will be white whipped cream with red specks of strawberry gelatin.

If you want the frothy pink strawberry dessert cloud that was first described, you’ll never be able to do it
if you do not add the whipped cream during that critical period before the gelatin sets. You can go back
to melt the mixture to a liquid form, then add the whipped cream, then re-chill, but the integrity of the
gelatin will never be fully recovered. The same is true of stages of development that are based on critical
periods. Skipped or impoverished stages can be revisited, but the development is not as complete as it
would have been if the timing and order had occurred as designed. Timing and order are essential for
much of the developmental learning.

Another example of this comes from the history of Konrad Lorenz, who feared that the critical period of
learning could affect imprinting also. When he was the first moving object that newly hatched ducklings
observed, they began following him. Not only did they follow him, they imitated him. The ducklings
were pre-wired to do what they saw. This strong rigid attachment and imitation of behaviors is called
imprinting. Realizing the power of his example, Lorenz began acting like a duck (swimming, flapping,
pecking, etc.) so the ducklings would learn duck behaviors instead of human behaviors. Pictures of
Lorenz followed by his single file of ducklings are often shown in psychology books. Ducks who do not
imprint during their critical periods never do fully learn duck behavior.

d. Male/female differences and attachment issues

In the same way Erikson was critical of Freud for some of the conclusions he came to associate with
human sexual motivation, Carol Gilligan was critical of Erikson’s conclusions about social development.
Gilligan criticized Erikson’s conclusions because he did not account sufficiently for differences between
males and females described in the adult conflict of intimacy versus isolation. She further observed that
the battle between intimacy and isolation is more gender-specific than Erikson ever noted. She also
observed this difference extending well into adulthood and old age. In spite of the current trend to
encourage a gender-free expression of emotion, many emotional and social traits are still gender-
specific. Women overwhelmingly demonstrate and exhibit behaviors of caring for young children and
elderly adults to a much larger extent than do men. They buy more greeting cards than their male
counterparts. Adults consistently report being closer to their mothers than they do to their fathers
(Myers, 168).

Much of your social development came from your interaction with your parents and their style of
parenting. Mary Ainsworth furthered studies on the development of attachment of babies to caregivers.
Secure attachment to parents followed the responsiveness of parents (particularly mothers) to their
children. Unresponsive parents more frequently have children who become insecurely attached to
parents and others. Teen pregnancies are often a result of this lack of healthy attachment; teens who
have not had healthy childhood attachment to parents often look at marriage and sex as a way of
acquiring that attachment. Because the teen marriages and sexual relations are based on an unhealthy
way of finding healthy attachments, they have an extremely higher risk of divorce and separation. A
vivid picture of an insecurely attached monkey is found on page 152 of your textbook. A student of mine
recently saw that picture and, with tears in her eyes, asked, “Mr. Wagstaff, can I adopt that monkey?”
You have probably seen the effects of those who have not felt attached to or accepted by others in and
out of family settings. When insecurely attached children are left by their mothers in unfamiliar settings,
the children are often very indifferent to their mothers when they return.

e. Parenting styles (authoritarian, permissive, authoritative, and democratic)

Parenting styles differ from family to family and culture to culture. On page 157 of your textbook, three
styles are introduced with descriptions of practices and their effect on children. The parenting styles
most often described currently are authoritarian, permissive, and authoritative. I’ll summarize those for
you here and add an additional one (democratic) that is also used, particularly in the United States.

Authoritarian: Rigid rules and expectations are given to the children from the parents. Children are “to
be seen and not heard.” If children challenge or request clarification, parents’ response is something
like, “Because!” or, “Look! Who’s the parent anyway?” Children raised with authoritarian parenting
often report trying to become invisible or report becoming very rebellious. After becoming teens and
adults, these children with either response report that they can hardly wait until they can get away from
this type of parenting. Unfortunately, many (not all) tend to imitate the parenting they were raised with.
As I meet with people in counseling, it’s amazing how many times I hear people say something like this:
“I told myself when I was kid that I would never say to my children what my parents said to me. My dad
would always call me ‘stupid’ when I did not do things the way he would do them. Yesterday, I was so
tired and frustrated with everything that has been piling up on me that I called my daughter ‘stupid’
when she forgot to put the dishes away. As soon as I said it, I felt so mad at myself, but it came out so

Permissive: If a child asks or demands for something, he or she gets it. Parents ask children to do very
little and there is little to no punishment. Many privileges and rewards are given without requiring any
responsible earning of the privilege or reward. Children raised with permissive parenting often have a
difficult time living within rules and laws. Getting a speeding ticket or points reduced on a late
assignment is really irritating because they have not been raised with consequences like that. They often
leave or are fired from employment because they have not learned to be restricted by themselves or
others. Relationships with others may be difficult as well because others require them to be responsible
and accountable.

Authoritative: Demands and a listening ear are hallmarks of this approach. Parents are consistent rule
enforcers but are open to input and adjustment as needed. For example, if a three-year-old child gets in
the family car, puts the keys in the ignition, starts up the car, and says, “Hey Mommy, I’m gonna go get
some candy at the store!” the authoritative parent will not say, “OK Honey! Have fun!” That is what the
extremely permissive parent would say. Nor would the authoritative parents say, “The heck you will!
You get out of that car this minute and bring your little fanny here right now! And on your way, pull your
pants down so I can give you a spanking that will help you remember who the boss is around here!” That
is an authoritarian parent response. An authoritative parent would say something more like, “Oh no,
you won’t, Honey. You don’t get to drive big cars like this until you get bigger like Daddy and me. You
could get in an accident and hurt yourself and other people if you drive this big car now.” If the child
cries and protests, then more discussion may occur. This approach to parenting is considered the most
effective. As children become older, they are allowed more privileges as well as more responsibilities
and consequences.

Democratic: Equal voice in decisions and consequences predominate this approach to parenting. At first
glance, this approach (which is not listed in your textbook) appears to be much like the authoritative
style. It is based on the concept that everyone should have the same rights, and therefore the same
voice as anyone else in the family. This would also suggest that chores, duties, privileges, and
responsibilities would be equally shared. The chaos of this approach comes from the same principle that
inspired the Founding Fathers of the United States to organize a representative democracy. Because of
the variety and inequality of ages and abilities in families, it would not be fair or practical to demand
that my seven-year-old daughter contribute the same financial amount to our family as I do. With that in
mind, it would also not be healthy for our family if she created an alliance with the other three children
to vote against my wish to pay December’s house payment so more money would be available to buy
Christmas gifts. Even if all of our children decided to have a better Christmas or birthday haul, the loss of
a house is not something caring parents will do just to satisfy the majority voice. Without the executive
function of parents in a family, democratic parenting is not functional.

Moral development—Lawrence Kohlberg

The development of thinking and acting in right and wrong ways is called moral development. Lawrence
Kohlberg taught that your moral development followed or connected to your cognitive development. He
argued that we grow and mature through three basic levels. The first level is labeled preconventional
morality. For children from birth to eight years old, the motivation for their actions is generally because
of the self interest of receiving rewards or avoiding punishments. Kohlberg observed that convicted
criminals were often still in this stage. “If I steal something and nobody finds out, what’s the big deal?”
Children are naturally in this stage, which is why allowance and time-outs are so successful. The second
level is labeled as conventional morality. This level is characterized by the motivation to obey rules and
laws. The social order of things and society’s approval are of great importance in this level. The third and
final level is the postconventional morality level. This level is directed by a person’s individual ethics and
values as they interact with universal human rights. Principles sometimes override society’s rules and

Something to note in studying moral development is that motivation and thoughts associated with
specific behaviors are as important as the actual behaviors. For example, if I ask you to decide what level
of moral development I am in when (theoretically) I rob a local bank, you would probably assume I am at
the preconventional level. However, when I tell you why I robbed the bank, you may change your mind;
I just discovered that my wife has a fatal illness that is incurable with current conventional medicine, but
an expensive unconventional medicine is available that has shown some evidence of treating her illness.
All of my efforts to raise the money needed for this medication have come up short. The only way I can
think of to raise the money I need is to rob the bank. When I consider remaining honest and letting her
die compared with being dishonest and saving her life, my choice is to save her life. I even have a plan to
pay the bank back over the future years as I am able. With all things considered, you would probably
judge me as acting in the postconventional level of Kohlberg’s moral developmental stages.

Study of the lifespan

1. Studying adults and the elderly

Since the mid-1970s there has been a dramatic shift in the focus associated with the study of human
development. Prior to this shift, the nearly exclusive focus was on childhood development with a
gradual increase in attention to adolescent development. The attention is now drawn to include adults
and the elderly and how they fit into the bigger picture of human development. There is evidence to
demonstrate that there are changes and further development that occur in the years beyond
adolescence. Erikson’s observations and distinctions of adult social conflicts in the whole lifespan are
now being recognized and acknowledged in physical, sexual, and cognitive development.

2. Longitudinal studies

One of the most effective ways of studying the changes and differences associated with growing older is
the use of longitudinal studies. Whether looking at the changes from childhood to adolescence, from
adolescence to adulthood, or from middle age to retirement, comparing a person to him- or herself
throughout time is a better measure of the effects of getting older than comparing to another person. In
longitudinal studies, the same people are studied, questioned, or tested again after a period of time. If
you remember the experimental method, this allows age to be isolated as the biggest independent
variable because you are evaluating the exact same person at a different time.
3. Intelligence—crystallized or fluid?

Testing and retesting the same people into adulthood and old age has helped us to measure many
different abilities. If it is true that “you can’t teach an old dog new tricks,” when does the ability to learn
new things slow or stop? The ability to learn new vocabulary, facts, and specific vocabulary is called
crystallized intelligence. This ability seems to remain fairly constant well into old age. The ability to
problem-solve, reason, and think abstractly is called fluid intelligence. Abilities associated with this
intelligence decrease slowly up to the mid-70s. After that, there is a dramatic decrease after about age

Facing death—Elizabeth Kubler Ross

As I teach high school students over the years, I am frequently reminded of the reality of adulthood.
Although you are probably looking forward to the freedom and opportunities associated with
graduation from high school, working for a living, living on your own, going to college, being freed from
school and family control, etc., the reality of adulthood is that most abilities decline as you grow into old
age. Students frequently say things like, “This is depressing. Is there anything to look forward to?”
Fortunately, two aspects of life improve for most people: financial income and relationships with others.
Most people who look at life with excitement and joy in high school describe their lives with satisfaction
in old age also. It appears that joy and satisfaction are based more on attitude than accomplishment.
Those who have a dramatic change in attitude are the exceptions to the rule. Those who have had a
dramatic change in life satisfaction usually look at things differently due to an inspirational moment or
event. For me, being diagnosed with cancer as a young adult helped me to understand what the phrase
“Don’t sweat the little stuff!” meant. Facing potential death at a young age helped me to look at a lot of
things differently. When I get overwhelmed with the inconveniences and annoyances of life, I can easily
remind myself that most of them are little things that aren’t important.

Facing and accepting the inevitability of death is something all of us will have to do. Depending on the
family, religion, culture, or personal background you come from, you will face the reality of your own
and others’ deaths in your own way. My first memory of death is of my great grandmother dying when I
was in second grade. I came from a religious family background in which I was taught that someone’s
soul or spirit continued to live after death without the body. My great grandmother suffered severe and
painful arthritis for many years prior to her death. When she died, I was happy that she did not have to
hurt anymore because the body was the part of us that hurt. I remember asking my mother, “Does great
grandma hurt anymore?” My mother told me that she was happy and resting without any pain. I was so
excited because I had often felt so bad for her when she had played the harmonica with her gnarled,
arthritic hands. At the funeral, however, I became confused because it seemed like everyone was crying
and was very sad.

It was not until years later that I became aware of what everyone else was experiencing. In my simple
world as an innocent child, my life had not been connected to great grandma as much as the lives of my
mother, her siblings, and all the others. My only memories were of short visits with her, during which
she would be almost unable to move. When she did move, she never complained, but I remember
seeing the silent wincing in her face. She would tell some “olden day” stories from her youth and play
her harmonica. She was always nice and pleasant. When I realized she would be pain-free in death, I was
happy in her death. My mother and the rest of the adults were glad for her relief also, but they were
mourning the loss of their association with her. My association with her had been limited; theirs had
been rich and extensive.

Looking again at Erikson’s stages of development, it becomes obvious that elderly people battle with the
conflict of integrity versus despair. If their lives have had circumstances of accomplishment and
acknowledgment, they feel a sense of integrity. If they have not felt accomplished or acknowledged,
they experience despair. You may have had the opportunity to visit with a grandparent or another
elderly person and hear the same story told over and over again. When this is done, it is usually that
elderly person’s effort to reinforce his or her integrity.

Elizabeth Kubler-ross

Elizabeth Kubler-Ross is probably the most commonly referred to source on dealing with death and
dying. She identified the stages she claimed we all go through when death and accepting death occurs.
In brief, the stages are:






Personality reorganization

She noted that if a person skips a stage, he or she will eventually need to come back to satisfy that
stage. Some people are able to successfully go through some or all of these stages very quickly. Most of
us, however, must spend more time than we can imagine. Learning to accept our own and others’
unique pace of accepting loss is not always easy. We often expect others to experience the same thing
we experience. This is rarely the case.

Kubler-Ross’s observations and writings are often generalized to loss of any kind. For example, in
divorce, there is the death of a past relationship. In graduation, there is the death or loss of contact with
classmates, teachers, etc. In a hysterectomy, there is the death of the ability to bear children. I
remember a woman who was medically advised to have a hysterectomy after her fifth child. She had the
surgery done, but continued mourning the loss of her ability to bear children. Because she never
successfully satisfied her stages of denial and depression, none of the other stages could be adequately
satisfied. The same occurs for those who continue setting the table or remaking the bed for a person
who has died.