Lifespan development
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Lifespan Development. Developmental Psychology - psychological changes across the entire life span Themes: Stages Critical periods Gradual changes Heredity vs environment. Genetics. A.Chromosomes, DNA, Genes B.Genotype/Phenotype C.Dominant/Recessive Genes

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Lifespan Development

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Lifespan Development

  • Developmental Psychology - psychological changes across the entire life span

  • Themes:

    • Stages

    • Critical periods

    • Gradual changes

    • Heredity vs environment


  • A.Chromosomes, DNA, Genes

  • B.Genotype/Phenotype

  • C.Dominant/Recessive Genes

  • D.Sex-Linked Recessive Characteristics

    • Color blindness, night blindness, hemophilia

Prenatal Development

  • Germinal period— 0-2 weeks

  • Embryonic period— 2-8 weeks

  • Fetal period— 8 weeks to birth

  • Provides very different qualitative info than “trimesters”

8 week embryo

12 week fetus

18 week fetus

20 weeks (5 months)

24 weeks (6 months)

28 weeks (7 months)

32 weeks (8 months)

  • Amniotic sac

  • Umbilical cord

  • Placenta

  • Teratogens—any agent that causes a birth defect (e.g., drugs, aspirin, ibuprofin, radiation, nicotine, alcohol, viruses)

Reflexes – inborn behaviors that have been selected for b/c they have survival value

  • Blinking

  • Rooting (orient head/mouth)

  • Sucking

  • Grasping

  • Stepping

  • Babinski (toes)

  • Moro (startle)


  • All senses functioning before birth

  • Vision

  • Visual acuity (fuzzy)

  • can see color, but prefer bold B/W contrast

  • minimal tracking of moving objects

  • will mimic facial expressions in first month

  • Hearing – can orient toward sounds

  • Smell – will turn head away from unpleasant odors

  • Taste - prefer sweet to sour tastes

  • Touch – will react to virtually any touch, especially painful stimuli

Physical Development

  • Brain and neuron development

    • At birth, brain is 25% of adult weight

      • By 5, brain is 95% adult size

    • Body weight is only 5% of adult weight

  • Motor skill development

    • 3 mos – grasping

    • 6 mos – standing

    • 12 mos - walking

Social and Personality Development

  • Temperament - inborn predisposition to react to stimuli - physiological

  • Easy — adaptable, positive mood, regular habits

  • Difficult — intense emotions, irritable, cry frequently

  • Slow to warm up — low activity, somewhat slow to adapt, generally withdraw from new situations

  • Average — unable to classify (1/3 of all children)

Attachment – John Bowlby

  • Attachment-- emotional bond between infant and caregiver

  • Parents who are consistently warm, responsive, and sensitive to the infant’s needs usually have infants who are securely attached

  • Parents who are neglectful, inconsistent, or insensitive to infant’s needs usually have infants who are insecurely attached

  • Attachment

  • Survival value – protection

  • Contact comfort

  • Separation anxiety

  • Culturally influenced

Ainsworth’s Strange Situation

  • Used to study quality of attachment in infants

  • Observe child’s reaction when mother is present with the child in a “strange” room

  • Observe the child’s reaction when mother leaves

  • Observes the child’s reaction when mother returns

Attachment styles

  • Secure

  • Avoidant

  • Resistant

  • Disorganized

  • Internal Working Model – schema

  • Secure style 70% likely to continue

  • Insecure styles 30% likely to continue


Gender Role Development

  • Gender—cultural, social, and psychological meanings associated with masculinity or femininity

    • Different than “sex”

  • Gender roles—various traits designated either masculine or feminine in a given culture

  • Gender identity—A person’s psychological sense of being male or female

Gender Differences

  • Toy preferences

  • “aggressive” play

  • “rigidity” in sex-role stereotypes

Social Learning Theory

Gender roles are acquired through the basic processes of learning, including reinforcement, punishment, and modeling

Gender Schema Theory

  • Gender-role development is influenced by the formation of schemas, or mental representations, of masculinity and femininity

  • Trucks are for boys and dolls are for girls

  • Girls can be mommies and boys can be daddies

  • Gender permanence – age 5

Piaget’s Theory of Cognitive Development

  • Jean Piaget (1896–1980) Swiss psychologist

  • Constructivist - “children are active thinkers, constantly trying to construct more advanced understandings of the world”


  • Jean Piaget’s stages

  • Adaptation

    • assimilation

    • accommodation

  • Sensorimotor 0-2

  • Preoperational 2-7

  • Concrete operational 7-11

  • Formal operational 11 +

  • Object permanence, egocentrism, conservation

Sensorimotor Stage (birth – 2 years)

  • Use of senses and motor actions

  • Child perceives and manipulates but does not “reason”

  • Symbolic thought emerges with brain maturation, experience, and language development

  • Object permanence is acquired

Preoperational Stage (2–7 years)

  • Emergence of symbolic thought

  • Centration

  • Egocentrism

  • Lack of the concept of conservation

  • Animism

Video of Megan

Concrete Operational Stage (7–12 years)

  • Increasingly logical thought

  • Classification and categorization

  • Less egocentric

  • Ability to understand that physical quantities are equal even if appearance changes (conservation)

  • Inability to reason abstractly or hypothetically

Formal Operational Stage (age 12 – adulthood)

  • Hypothetico-deductive reasoning – can manipulate problems in the mind

  • Emerges gradually

  • Continues to develop into adulthood


  • Transition stage between late childhood and early adulthood

  • Sexual maturity is attained at this time

  • Puberty--attainment of sexual maturity and ability to reproduce

  • Health, nutrition, genetics play a role in onset and progression of puberty


  • Puberty – rebirth into adulthood

  • Menarche – spermarche

  • Biological growth precedes cognitive, emotional growth

  • “Storm & Stress”?

  • Body Image

  • Peers become more important, distance from parents (individuation) Search for Identity

  • Coming to terms with new emotions (& hormones and moods)

  • Popularity and acceptance

Social Relationships

  • Parent-child relationship is usually positive

  • May have some periods of friction

  • Peers become increasingly important

  • Peer influence may not be as bad as most people think.

Erikson’s Theory

  • Biological and Social

  • Eight psychosocial stages - crises

  • Outcome of each stage varies along a continuum from positive to negative

Identity Development

  • Identity vs. role confusion - adolescence

  • Successful resolution leads to positive identity

  • Unsuccessful resolution leads to identity confusion or a negative identity

Stage 1 (birth–1)Trust vs. Mistrust

  • Infants must rely on others for care

  • Consistent and dependable caregiving and meeting infant needs leads to a sense of trust

  • Infants who are not well cared for will develop mistrust

Stage 2 (1–3 years) Autonomy vs. Shame and Doubt

  • Children are discovering their own independence

  • Those given the opportunity to experience independence will gain a sense of autonomy

  • Children that are overly restrained or punished harshly will develop shame and doubt

Stage 3 (3–5 years)Initiative vs. Guilt

  • Children are exposed to the wider social world and given greater responsibility

  • Sense of accomplishment leads to initiative, whereas feelings of guilt can emerge if the child is made to feel too anxious or irresponsible

Stage 4 (5–12 years) Industry vs. Inferiority

  • Stage of life surrounding mastery of knowledge and intellectual skills

  • Sense of competence and achievement leads to industry

  • Feeling incompetent and unproductive leads to inferiority

Stage 5 (adolescence)Identity vs. Confusion

  • Developing a sense of who one is and where one is going in life

  • Successful resolution leads to positive identity

  • Unsuccessful resolution leads to identity confusion or a negative identity

Stage 6 (young adulthood)Intimacy vs. Isolation

  • Time for sharing oneself with another person

  • Capacity to hold commitments with others leads to intimacy

  • Failure to establish commitments leads to feelings of isolation

Stage 7 (middle adulthood)Generativity vs. Stagnation

  • Caring for others in family, friends, and work leads to sense of contribution to later generations

  • Stagnation comes from a sense of boredom and meaninglessness

Stage 8 (late adulthood to death)Integrity vs. Despair

  • Successful resolutions of all previous crises leads to integrity and the ability to see broad truths and advise those in earlier stages

  • Despair arises from feelings of helplessness and the bitter sense that life has been incomplete

Kohlberg’s Theory of Moral Development

  • Assessed moral reasoning by posing hypothetical moral dilemmas and examining the reasoning behind people’s answers

  • Proposed six stages, each taking into account a broader portion of the social world

Levels of Moral Reasoning

  • Preconventional—moral reasoning is based on external rewards and punishments

  • Conventional—laws and rules are upheld simply because they are laws and rules

  • Postconventional—reasoning based on personal moral standards

Adult Development

  • Genetics and lifestyle combine to determine course of physical changes

  • Social development involves marriage and transition to parenthood

  • Paths of adult social development are varied and include diversity of lifestyles

Types of Love – Robert Sternberg

  • Passionate love (romance, lust, infatuation, physical)

  • Intimate love (closeness, truly knowing another, sharing yourself, emotional)

  • Commitment (enduring, walking toward the future side by side)

Passion (biological)

Passion + Intimacy = romantic love

Passion + commitment = fatuous love

Intimacy (emotional)

Commitment (rational)

Intimacy + commitment = companionate love

Passion + Intimacy + commitment = consummate love

Parenting Styles - Diana Baumrind – p. 387-388






Promote high SE

But low SC

Promote high SE, SC


High social skills,

Achievement, identity

Self-centered, entitled




Promote low SE, SC


Demand obedience

Impulsive, depressed,


Angry, resentful,


Late Adulthood

  • Old age as a time of poor health, inactivity, and decline is a myth

  • Activity theory of aging—life satisfaction is highest when people maintain level of activity they had in earlier years

Death and Dying

  • In general, anxiety about dying tends to decrease in late adulthood

  • Kubler-Ross stages of dying

    • Denial

    • Anger

    • Bargain

    • Depression

    • Acceptance

  • Not universally demonstrated

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