General Psychology

Development Through the Life Span

Prenatal Development
 Prenatal period – from conception to birth  Germinal stage – zygote moves down fallopian tube  Embryonic stage – organ systems are forming and embryo is very vulnerable to external influences  Fetal stage – organs continue to grow and increase in complexity

Environmental Influences on Prenatal Development
    Maternal nutrition Smoking Alcohol Drugs

Environmental Influences on Prenatal Development
 Fetal alcohol syndrome – cluster of symptoms (e.g., low birth weight, poor muscle tone, and intellectual retardation) associated with a child born to a mother who was a heavy alcohol drinker during pregnancy  Heavy drinking = 3 or more drinks per day, or binge drinking during organogenesis

What About Dad?
 Main issues concern the quality of the father’s sperm at conception
 Sperm from fathers beyond the age of 35 or 40 may be partly the source of the genetic defect involved in Down’s Syndrome  Father’s possible role in transmission of STDs

Sensory & Perceptual Development
 Neonate (newborn) SIGHT
 Can focus on objects 1-2 ft. away  Can discriminate among facial expressions of emotions  Within a few hours of birth can recognize a picture of his or her own mother  Prefer patterned over unpatterned stimuli  Prefer patterns that look like human faces over patterns that do not

Sensory & Perceptual Development
 Other senses
 Neonates can hear nearly as well as adults  Neonates can detect touch and temperature stimulation  Neonates can feel pain

Cognitive Development
 The age-related changes in learning, memory, perception, attention, thinking, and problem-solving  Information-processing approach  Structural-functional approach

Cognitive Development
 Information-processing approach – Focuses on the quantitative changes in basic information processing systems like memory, attention, and learning  Structural-functional approach – says that structures (schemas) change with development, while functions remain fixed

Structural-Functional Approach
 Jean Piaget
 Structures (schemas) change with development, while functions remain fixed  Schema – organized mental representation of the world that is adaptive and formed by experience  Cognitive development is seen as a series of qualitative changes in intelligence

Piaget’s Theory
– – Organization – predisposition to integrate individual schemas into organized units Adaptation – adapting cognitive abilities to the demands of the environment. Comprises:
– – Assimilation – incorporating new information into an existing schema Accommodation – modifying schema to account for new experiences

Table 8.1: Piaget’s stages of cognitive development.

Piaget’s Stages of Development
 Sensorimotor stage (birth to 2 years) – children discover by sensing (sensori-) and doing (motor)
 Children learn about causality  Children learn about object permanence  Imitation develops

Object Permanence
 An appreciation that an object no longer in view can still exist and reappear later

Piaget’s Stages of Development
 Preoperational Stage (2-6 years) – a child’s thinking is self-centered or egocentric

Piaget’s Stages of Development
 Concrete Operations Stage – Children (7-11) begin to develop many concepts and show that they can manipulate those concepts
 Rule-governed behavior begins in this stage  Conservation is evident in this stage

 Awareness that changing the form or the appearance of something does not change what it really is

Piaget’s Stages of Development
 Formal Operations Stage – Children (12 and up) are beginning to be able to logically manipulate abstract, symbolic concepts

Reactions to Piaget
 The borderlines between his proposed stages are much less clear-cut than his theory suggests  Piaget underestimated the cognitive talents of preschool children
 Object permanence appears earlier than age 2  Little attention to the impact of language development and the gradual increase in memory capacity

 Development of Learning
 Classical and operant conditioning shown in neonates  Imitation evident as young as 1 week!

 Development of Memory
 Memory demonstrated in very young infants  Children as young as 3 can understand the temporal nature of events and form scripts of those events in memory

Moral Development
 Piaget believed that children could not make moral judgments until they were at least 3-4 years old

Moral Development
 Lawrence Kohlberg – 3 levels:
 Preconventional morality – prime interest of child is with the punishment that comes from breaking a rule  Conventional morality – acceptance of social convention where approval matters as much or more than anything else  Postconventional morality – moral reasoning reflects complex, internalized standards

Table 8.2: Kohlberg’s stages of moral development.

Moral Development
 Carol Gilligan – believes that the moral reasoning for women is different than that of men
 Women are more likely to focus on caring, personal responsibility and relationships  Men focus on rules, justice, and individual rights

Erikson’s Psychosocial View
 Eight-stage theory of life-span development
1. 2. 3. 4. Trust vs. Mistrust Autonomy vs. Self-Doubt Initiative vs. Guilt Competence vs. Inferiority

Table 8.3: Erikson’s eight stages of development.

Developing Gender Identity
 Once children can discriminate between the sexes, they develop schemas for genderrelated information
 Encouraged by parents, children at an early age (1 year), have defined preferences for choices of toys  By age 3 or 4, children tend to gravitate toward same-sex play groups

Developing Gender Identity
 Gender identity – sense or self-awareness of one’s own maleness or femaleness
 Most children develop this by the age of 2 or 3  Once gender identity is established, it is very resistant to change  By late childhood and early adolescence, peer pressure intensifies gender differences

Developing Social Attachments
 Attachment – strong emotional relationship between a child and his or her mother or primary caregiver

Attachment Theory
 Strong attachments are most likely to be formed if the parent is optimally sensitive and responsive to the needs of the child
    Two-way process More than just spending time with child Not just mother May have life-long ramifications

Spotlight: Parenting Styles
 Classic model – Diana Baumrind
 Indulgent  Authoritarian  Authoritative

 Period between childhood and adulthood, often begun at puberty and ending with full physical growth
 Biological perspective – puberty  Psychological perspective  Social perspective

Challenges of Puberty
 Growth spurt – dramatic increase in height and weight
 Usually occurs earlier in girls than boys

 Puberty = capability of sexual reproduction
 Menarche in girls  Boys seldom know when it begins exactly

Challenge of Identity Formation
  Identity crisis – a struggle to define a sense of self, what to do in life, and what one’s attitudes, beliefs, and values should be Marcia – 4 ways identity issues can be resolved:
1. 2. 3. 4. Identity Achievement Foreclosure Identity Diffusion Moratorium

Marriage and Family
 Erikson – Early adulthood revolves around the choice of intimacy or isolation  Mate selection – involves availability, eligibility, and attractiveness (physical and psychological)  Approx. 50% of marriages end in divorce!

Table 8.4: Characteristics sought in mates.

Transition to Parenthood
 Generativity – concern for family and for one’s impact on future generations  Marital satisfaction tends to drop during the child-rearing years of marriage  Marital satisfaction increases again once the children leave the nest

Career Choice
 One’s choice and satisfaction of occupation affects self-esteem and identity  Career selection is driven by family influence and the potential for earning money

Challenges of Drug Use
 Many adolescents experiment with drugs  Smoking (79%) and drinking alcohol (81%) lead the list of drug-related activities teens have tried at least once by ninth grade!  Correlational study – 18year-olds in experimenter category were more psychologically healthy than frequent users or abstainers

Challenges of Sexuality
 49.9% of high-school teens have engaged in sexual behavior  Teen pregnancy is a significant social problem

Development During Middle Adulthood
 One must adjust to the physiological changes of middle age  Dealing with teens and elderly parents places some middle-aged adults in what has been called the “sandwich generation”  Another task of this age is determining how to leave a mark on future generations

What it Means to be Old…
 Ageism – discrimination and prejudice against a group on the basis of age  Adults over age 65 can be divided into young-old and old-old groups  Fewer than 15% of Americans over the age of 65 live in nursing homes, but it increases to 25% by age 85  With increased age often comes increased physical problems, but only 28% of the elderly report their health as fair to poor

Death and Dying
5 stages of facing death: 2. Denial 3. Anger 4. Bargaining 5. Depression 6. Acceptance

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