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Human Growth and Development

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Human Growth



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Genetics & Heredity

  • Traits are controlled by genes

  • Gregor Mendel established the basic laws of genetic inheritance

    *Genetic Dominance

    *Genetic Recessiveness

  • Chromosomal theory of genetic transmission became established in the 20th century.

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DNA is not the blueprint

Creates proteins and the proteins eventually create the biochemistry.

The biochemistry affects behavior.

DNA is very flexible

All genetic information is based on the order of the four base pairs along the chromosome.

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DNA studies show a 1.6% difference between the great apes and humans.

There are only 8 total mutations difference between humans and chimpanzees.

Genetics studies show that humans & mice have 88% of the same genetic material.

Can apes actually communicate with humans or is it the result of learning and rewards?

The Human-Ape Connection

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Dominant & Recessive Genes

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The human genome contains 30,000 genes.

The human egg & sperm each contain 22 chromosomes plus the sex chromosomes.

The Human Genome Compliment

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The Human Genome contains about 3 billion base pairs.

Stretched out, it would measure about six feet.

Ninety-Percent of the variation in the human genome is found in a subset of 10 million pairs of nucleotides.

At the DNA level, only 3 million pairs of nucleotides distinguish you from anyone else on the planet.

The Human Genome Compliment

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When a Sperm gets


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The ZYGOTE is the fertilized egg.

The zygote contains 22 PAIRSof chromosomes plus the sex chromosomes.

The BLASTOCYST is the ball of cells that eventually forms the fetus.

Calcium ions trigger the changes which become the different organs, skin, blood, bones, etc.

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From Birth Onward

Personality traits develop within the limits set by genetics under the influence of the environment.

Language ability depends on the structure of the throat and mouth as well as learning experiences.

Body size is significantly influenced by heredity and environment.

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What the Neonate Knows

Babies are capable of making logical inferences and gaining cause/ effect relationships.

Two-hour old neonates can learn to predict relationships between events before an event and the event itself.

They’re sensitive to certain sounds that caretakers intuitively make (e.g. clicks and sh-h-h-h induce relaxation).

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The Reflexes

ReflexStimulation ResponseDevelopmental Pattern


BlinkingFlash of light, PuffCloses both eyesPermanent

of air

BabinskiStroke sole of footFans out toes,Disappears after 9 months to 1 twists footyear

GraspingTouch palms of handsGrasps tightlyWeakens after 3 months,

disappears after 1 year

Moro (Startle)Sudden stimulationStartles, arches back,Disappears after 3 – 4 months

(e.g. loud noise orthrows head back,

being dropped)flings out arms & legs

then rapidly closes

RootingCheek stroked orTurns head, opensDisappears after 3 – 4 months

side of mouthmouth, begins


SteppingLower feet ontoMoves feet as if toDisappears after 3 – 4 months

flat surfacewalk

SuckingObject touchesSucks automaticallyDisappears after 3 – 4 months


SwimmingPut face down inMakes swimmingDisappears after 6 – 7 months

in watermovements

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The Neonate’s Vision

The visual acuity of the neonate and infant are limited. The illustration below shows what a face looks like at Birth, at 1-month, and at 3-months.

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An Infant sees only about 1 foot but can perceive depth.

It sees shapes and prefers novel images.

It recognizes faces and prefers attractive faces over those not attractive.

An Infant is able to hear from at least the 6th month in utero.

It can identify its mother’s voice as well as its own voice.

It recognizes the sound of another infant/child who is in distress.

The Senses in General

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The Cephalocaudal Pattern

The greatest growth always occurs at the top of the head with physical growth in size, weight, and feature differentiation gradually working from top to bottom.

Sensory and motor development proceed according to the cephalocaudal pattern.

The Proximodistal Pattern

Growth starts in the center of the body and moves toward the extremities.

An example is the early maturation of muscular control of the trunk and arms, as compared with that of the hands and fingers.

Physical Growth & Development

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Neurological Development

The Motor Neurons closest to the head develop first.

The Central Nervous System is not fully developed until from 2 to 3 years of age.

Myelination of the neurons is associated with critical periods.

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Important Concepts:Schema -A mental model of an event, object, or action; a mental map.

Assimilation -Fitting new information into what is already known.

Accommodation -Refining the data into the current schema.

StageDevelopmental Patterns


Sensory-Motor StageGradual development of the capability to coordinate sensations and perceptions with physical

0 – 2 yearsactions. Progression is from reflexive actions to symbolic activities to the ability to separate the self from the objects in the environment. Object permanence develops.

Pre-operational StageCharacterized by the acquisition of language, the growth of the use of symbols, and a limited

2 – 7 yearskind of logical thinking. Preconceptual thinking develops (the ability to deal with things individually but not as a group). Egocentricism develops.

Concrete OperationsCharacterized by the need to stabilize thoughts in concrete events. The ability to perform

7 – 12 yearsintellectual operations relating to concrete events (e.g. ordering objects by number, size, and class). Conservation develops.

Formal OperationsCharacterized by the ability to think about both concrete and abstract events, and the ability to

12+ yearsformulate and test hypotheses to solve problems. Can function purely on the symbolic, abstract level. The ability to used abstract symbols develops. Most people never reach this stage.

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Other Cognitive Theories

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Moral Development

Kohlberg refined Piaget’s stages of Moral Realism and Moral Autonomy.

Level I: Preconventional LevelStage 1 – Fear of Punishment

(Ages 4-10)Stage 2 – Self-interest and Reward

Level II: Conventional LevelStage 3 – Desire to Please Others

(Ages 10-13)Stage 4 – Respect for Authority & Social Order

Level III: Postconventional LevelStage 5 – Respect for Individual Rights & (After Age 13 at Young Laws

Adulthood or Never)Stage 6 – Universal Ethical Principles

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B.F. Skinner

Language is learned through conditioning procedures.


Noam Chomsky

Language is pre-wired in the brain.

There’s aLanguage Acquisition Device(LAD) already in the brain.

Age Language Milestones


Birth Crying

1 – 2 MonthsCooing Begins

6 MonthsBabbling Begins

8 – 12 MonthsUse Gestures (Showing & Pointing) Comprehension of Words

13 MonthsFirst Word Spoken

18 MonthsVocabulary Spurt Starts

18 – 24 MonthsUses 2 Word Utterances; Rapid Expansion of Understanding of Words

Language Development

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Authoritarian Parenting

A restrictive, punitive style in which the child must follow instructions and respect work and effort. Unexplained spankings may be frequent in order to enforce rigid rules. Anger may be frequently shown.

Children of authoritarian parenting are unhappy, fearful and anxious when comparing themselves with others. They fail to initiate activities and tend toward social incompetence.

Authoritative Parenting

Encouraging, supportive and nurtures the child to be independent but still places limits and controls on actions. Much verbal give-and-take. Expects mature, independent, age-appropriate behavior.

Children are often cheerful, self-controlled, self reliant, achievement oriented and socially competent.

Permissive Parenting

* Permissive Indulgent Parenting:

Highly involved with children with few demands or controls. View is that warm involvement and few restrictions produces a creative, confident child.

Children are socially incompetent, lacking self-control, aggressive, domineering, non-compliant with few peer interactions.

* Permissive Indifferent Parenting:

Parents are very uninvolved with the child.

Children are socially incompetent, lack self-control, don’t handle independence well, have low self-esteem, are immature, and tend to be alienated from the family. As adolescents, they tend to show patterns of delinquency and truancy.

Parenting Styles

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Understanding Psychosocial Development is the key to understanding how a person grows throughout their life-span.

Changes occur throughout life.

Each stage of development has a unique developmental task with a crisis to be faced.

The more the individual resolves the crisis, the healthier the development.

Age Stage


Birth – 1 Trust vs. Mistrust

If basic needs are met, a sense of trust develops.

1 – 3 Autonomy vs. Shame & Doubt

Child learns independence & self-confidence.

3 – 6 Initiative vs. Guilt

Preschooler learns to initiate things & have self-control.

6 – 12 Industry vs. Inferiority

Child learns to feel either competent or inadequate.

Social Development

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  • The sexual maturation period ending childhood and beginning adulthood

  • Primary and secondary sexual characteristics develop

    Many don’t know what to expect when the changes occur.

    Psychological reactions differ between those going into puberty early and those going in late.

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Changes in Boys & Girls

Variations of Physical Changes at Puberty

Girls Boys

Characteristics Age of Occurrence Characteristics Age of Occurrence

Breasts Grow 8 – 13 YearsTestes & Scrotal

Sac Grow10 – 13 Years

Pubic Hair Develops 8 – 14 YearsPubic Hair Develops10 – 15 Years

The Body Grows9.5– 14.5 YearsThe Body Grows10.5 – 16 Years

Menarche Occurs10 – 16.5 YearsPenis Growth11 – 14.5 Years

Underarm HairAround 2 YearsUnderarm & FacialAround 2 Years

after Pubic HairHairafter Pubic Hair

Oil/Sweat GlandsAround the time ofOil/Sweat GlandsAround the time of

Underarm HairUnderarm Hair

Voice ChangesAround the same

(Larynx Grows)as the Penis

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Rites of Passage

  • Tribal Initiation Rites

    In many native cultures when a boy or girl enters adolescence, they must undergo an initiation into the tribe. At this time, they assume the responsibilities of an adult.

    What remnants of adolescent initiation rites do we have in our modern society?

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Sexual Activity

  • First intercourse for most teens is from 16 – 17 years.

  • Sex tends to be a 1-on-1 relationship.

  • First intercourse tends to occur in December.

    They think they’re invulnerable to STDs and pregnancy (See: Personal Fable).

    Most sex is learned from peers.

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Adolescent Cognitive Changes

  • Imaginary Audience

    The adolescent belief that others are as interested in them as they themselves are. The attention-getting behavior is motivated by a desire to be noticed, visible, and “on stage.”

  • Personal Fable

    The part of adolescent egocentricism that involves their view of their uniqueness and invincibility. It is often seen in the belief that they’ll never suffer horrendous experiences that happen to other people.

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Teenagers are the same


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Personality & Social Development

  • A Period of “Storm & Strife?”

  • Identity Formation

    Identity vs. Identity Diffusion

    Identity Achievement –gone through a crisis & developed relatively firm commitments.

    Identity Foreclosure –never had a crisis but has become committed to certain goals.

    Identity Moratorium –currently going through a crisis.

    Identity Diffusion –never went through a crisis, isn’t in one, and hasn’t formed any commitments or established any goals.

  • Problems in Adolescence

    Decline in Self-Esteem

    Depression & Suicide


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Early & Middle Adulthood

  • Love, Partnerships, & Parenting

  • Career & Work

  • Cognitive Changes

  • Personality Changes

  • Stages:

    Intimacy vs. Isolation

    Generativity vs. Self-Absorption

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Love, Partnerships, & Parenting

  • Forming Partnerships

    Loving vs. Falling in Love

  • Cohabitation

    Living together before marriage does not bring marital satisfaction

  • Parenthood

    Preparation for Parenthood

  • When Relationships End

    Separation & Divorce


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Cognitive & Personality Changes

  • Brain & Neurological Changes

  • Trait Changes

  • Midlife Transition vs. Midlife Crisis

  • Menopause

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Late Adulthood

  • Integrity vs. Despair

  • Physical Changes

  • Social Changes

  • Cognitive Changes

  • Death & Dying

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Theories of Aging

  • The Genetic Theory

    Programmed into the cells.

  • Cellular Clock Theory

    There is a maximum number of times a cell can divide.

  • Free-Radical Theory (Antioxidant Theory)

    Cells normal metabolism produces unstable oxygen molecules (free radicals) that bounce around the cell damaging DNA & other cellular structures.

  • Hormonal Stress Theory

    The body’s hormonal system lowers resilience to stress increasing the likelihood 0f disease.

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  • Family Changes

  • Defining Retirement

    Difficult to define retirement because of the reasons there are for retiring, the influences on retiring, and what one does after retiring. The withdrawal process is “blurred” so, stages of retirement aren’t very descriptive of what actually goes on.

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Alzheimer’s & Parkinson’s Disease

The Stages of Death and Dying






Cognitive Changes & the Final Stages

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