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Chapter 4 Developing Through the Life Span Sara J. Buhl Psychology 101 Cayuga Community College. Developmental Psychology study of physical, cognitive, and social changes from infancy through old age. Developmental Issues. Nature (genetic inheritance) versus Nurture (our experiences)

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Chapter 4 Developing Through the Life Span Sara J. Buhl Psychology 101 Cayuga Community College

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Chapter 4

Developing Through

the Life Span

Sara J. Buhl

Psychology 101

Cayuga Community College


Developmental Psychology

    • study of physical, cognitive, and social changes from infancy through old age
developmental issues
Developmental Issues
  • Nature (genetic inheritance) versus Nurture (our experiences)
  • Continuity versus Stages
    • Is development gradual and continuous? Or is there a sequence of separate stages?
  • Stability versus Change
    • Do our personality traits remain the same or do they change?
prenatal development
Prenatal Development
  • Zygote (conception to 2 weeks)
    • fertilized egg
    • enters a 2-week period of rapid cell division
    • develops into an embryo
  • Embryo
    • developing human organism from 2 weeks through second month (8 weeks)
  • Fetus
    • developing human organism from 9 weeks to birth
prenatal development5
Prenatal Development
  • Teratogens
    • agents that can reach the embryo or fetus during prenatal development and cause harm
      • chemical, e.g., alcohol, some medicines, cocaine, heroin, nicotine
      • viral, e.g., HIV, Rubella
prenatal development6
Prenatal Development
  • Fetal Alcohol Syndrome
    • caused by a pregnant woman’s heavy drinking
    • physical and brain abnormalities in children
    • no known safe amount of alcohol during pregnancy
  • Smoking
    • Fetus may receive fewer nutrients
    • May be born underweight
infancy and childhood

At birth

3 months

15 months

Cortical Neurons

Infancy and Childhood
  • Maturation
    • biological growth processes that enable orderly changes in behavior
maturation infant memory
Maturation & Infant Memory
  • What is your earliest memory?
  • Infantile Amnesia - most people cannot recall much from before age 4 or 5
cognitive development
Cognitive Development
  • Cognition
    • mental activities associated with thinking, knowing, remembering, and communicating
  • Jean Piaget (1896-1980)
    • developed and administered intelligence tests
    • interested in how children had different ways of reasoning than adults
    • mind develops in a series of stages
    • Schema = a framework that organizes and interprets information (e.g., dog)
object permanence
Object Permanence
  • Infants younger than 6 months tend not to understand that things continue to exist when they are out of sight
  • properties such as mass, volume, and number remain the same despite changes in the forms of objects
current researchers piaget
Current Researchers & Piaget
  • Piaget underestimated young children
    • babies do seem to possess a more intuitive sense of logic and numbers
    • symbolic and formal operational thinking both appear earlier than Piaget thought
    • today development is seen as more continuous than Piaget proposed
  • Studies do support the sequence of Piaget’s stages (even if the ages aren’t exact)
social development
Social Development
  • Stranger Anxiety
    • fear of strangers that infants commonly display
    • beginning by about 8 months of age
  • Attachment
    • an emotional tie with another person
    • shown in young children by seeking closeness to the caregiver and showing distress on separation
attachment styles
Attachment Styles
  • Securely Attached
    • Explore surroundings, play (when mother is present)
    • Distressed when mother leaves; comforted when she returns
  • Insecurely Attached - Ambivalent
    • Less likely to explore and may cling to mother
    • Seem indifferent when mother leaves and returns
  • Insecurely Attached – Avoidant
    • Also less likely to explore and may cling to mother
    • May cry loudly and remain upset when mother leaves and returns
social development16
Social Development
  • Harlow’s Surrogate Mother Experiments
    • Monkeys preferred contact with the comfortable cloth mother, even while feeding from the nourishing wire mother
social development17
Social Development
  • Monkeys raised by artificial mothers were terror-stricken when placed in strange situations without their surrogate mothers
  • (due to animal welfare issues this would not be done today )
social development18


of infants

who cried

when their

mothers left



Day care














Age in months

Social Development
  • Groups of infants who had and had not experienced day care were left by their mothers in a unfamiliar room
parenting styles
Parenting Styles
  • Authoritarian
    • Parents impose rules
    • Obedience is expected
  • Permissive
    • Parents submit to their children’s desires
    • Few demands are made
    • Little punishment
  • Authoritative
    • Set expectations, but are also responsive
    • Set and enforce rules
    • Explain reasons for rules
social development20

Child’s traits

(e.g., self-reliant

socially competent)




Harmonious marriage,

common genes, or

other third factor

Social Development
  • The correlation between authoritative parenting and social competence in children
chapter 4 part ii adolescence adulthood
Chapter 4 – Part IIAdolescence & Adulthood
  • Development is now seen as lifelong
  • Adolescence
    • Transition from childhood to adulthood
    • Starts with puberty
    • Ends when independent adult status is attained
adolescence physical changes
Adolescence Physical Changes
  • Puberty – sexual maturation; become capable of reproducing
      • Surge of hormones
      • Rapid physical development
  • Primary sex characteristics
      • Body structures that make reproduction possible
        • Ovaries, testes, and external genitalia
  • Secondary sex characteristics
      • Sexual characteristics that are nonreproductive
        • breasts; facial hair
adolescent brain
Adolescent Brain
  • Brain is still developing
  • Frontal lobe matures until about age 25
    • Myelin growth occurring (fatty tissue surrounding axons that speeds communication between neurons)
    • Judgment improves
    • Better impulse control
    • Greater long term planning ability
adolescence cognitive development
AdolescenceCognitive Development
  • Piaget
    • Formal Operational Stage
      • Adolescents are capable of abstract reasoning and logic
        • Abstract ideas like good versus evil
        • Hypothetical reasoning and consequences
adolescence moral reasoning
AdolescenceMoral Reasoning
  • Kohlberg’s Moral Dilemmas
    • Moral dilemmas were posed to children, adolescents, and adults
    • “Is it acceptable for a person to steal medicine to save a loved one’s life?”
    • Answer often depended on stage of development
    • Preconventional morality (before age 9)
      • Self-interest is focus: avoid punishment or obtain rewards
    • Conventional morality (by early adolescence)
      • Cares for others and upholds laws and social rules
    • Postconventional morality
      • Considers rights of people and basic ethical principals
moral development
Moral Development
  • Empathy – capability to relate to another person’s feelings and emotions
    • Sympathy – ability to support another by being compassionate
  • Delay Gratification
adolescence social development
AdolescenceSocial Development
  • Erik Erikson (1960s)
    • Stages of Psychosocial Development
    • Search for identity
  • Identity – sense of self
  • Intimacy – ability to form close relationships (later adolescence and early adulthood)
erikson s stages of psychosocial development
Erikson’s Stages of Psychosocial Development
    • Infancy (0-1 yr.)
    • When needs are met, a basic sense of trust is developed
erikson s stages of psychosocial development29
Erikson’s Stages of Psychosocial Development
  • Autonomy vs. Shame and Doubt
    • Toddlerhood (Age 1-2)
    • Gaining independence: Walking
    • Learn to do things for themselves OR doubt their abilities
    • First Power Struggles
erikson s stages of psychosocial development30
Erikson’s Stages of Psychosocial Development
    • Preschooler (ages 3-5)
    • Language = questions
    • Creative independent play
    • Learn to initiate tasks
    • Guilt – Feeling bad about behavior
erikson s stages of psychosocial development31
Erikson’s Stages of Psychosocial Development
    • Elementary School (6 years to puberty)
    • Skills: Read, Write, Math, Social, Sports
    • Tendency to feel inferior if unable to master tasks
erikson s stages of psychosocial development32
Erikson’s Stages of Psychosocial Development
    • Adolescence (teen years – 20s)
    • Meaning of question: Who am I ?
    • Role Experimentation
    • Refine sense of self (identity)
    • Identity Crisis – confusion about sense of self
erikson s stages of psychosocial development33
Erikson’s Stages of Psychosocial Development
    • Young Adulthood (20s to early 40s)
    • Emotional commitment
    • Form close relationships
    • Lack of close relationships – social isolation
erikson s stages of psychosocial development34
Erikson’s Stages of Psychosocial Development
    • Middle Adulthood (40s - 60s)
    • Contribution to Next Generation
      • Through family and work
    • What makes life meaningful?
    • May feel a lack of purpose
erikson s stages of psychosocial development35
Erikson’s Stages of Psychosocial Development
    • Late Adulthood (late 60s+ )
    • Pride, Self-Respect
    • Reflect on life
    • May feel satisfaction or failure
adolescence social development36
Adolescence Social Development
  • Parent influence diminishes in many areas
  • Parent influence remains in:
    • Religion
    • Thinking about college
    • Career choices
    • Political views
adolescence social development37
Adolescence Social Development
  • Peer Influence Grows
    • Talk
    • Dress
    • Actions
  • Peer exclusion
    • Painful
    • May lead to withdrawal
    • Loneliness
    • Low self-esteem
adulthood physical development
AdulthoodPhysical Development
  • Physical abilities – peak in mid-20s
  • Health & exercise habits play a large role
  • Women – ability to reproduce declines
    • Menopause occurs around age 50
  • Later life
    • changes in vision, hearing, smell become increasingly noticeable
    • Immune system weakens
adulthood cognitive development
AdulthoodCognitive Development
  • Memory abilities change as we age
    • When asked to learn a list of 24 words
      • No clues: younger people recall more words
      • Multiple choice test of recognition: no change with age
  • Crystallized intelligence
      • Accumulated knowledge and verbal skills
      • Increases with age
  • Fluid intelligence
      • Ability for quick and abstract reasoning
      • Decreases in late adulthood
adulthood social development
AdulthoodSocial Development
  • Evidence does not support a midlife “crisis”
    • Most divorces are in 20s
    • Most suicides in 70s and 80s
    • Life crisis triggered by major events (illness, divorce) not age
  • Social Clock
    • Preferred timing of social events (marriage, parenthood, retirement)
    • Culture dependent
  • Marriage
    • Adults are marrying later
    • Divorce rates have increased
      • Less economic dependence for women
    • Striving for an “equal” relationship (work, chores)