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The Study of Human Development. The Development of Children (5 th ed.) Cole, Cole & Lightfoot Chapter 1. Basic Concepts. Developmental psychology A study of physical , cognitive , and psychosocial changes that transpire throughout the course of human development.

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the study of human development

The Study of Human Development

The Development of Children (5th ed.)

Cole, Cole & Lightfoot

Chapter 1

basic concepts
Basic Concepts
  • Developmental psychology
    • A study of physical, cognitive, and psychosocial changes that transpire throughout the course of human development
  • Growth years
    • Period from infancy through adolescence
study of child development
Study of Child Development
  • Focus
    • Physical changes
    • Cognitive changes
    • Psychosocial changes
  • Aim
    • Promote the healthy development of children
    • Answer important questions…
intriguing questions
Intriguing Questions
  • How are fetuses in the womb influenced by the events occurring in the outside world, and how do such influences shape their development?
  • Can changes in diet and upbringing compensate for genetic abnormalities?
  • In what ways is brain development affected by experience?
intriguing questions1
Intriguing Questions
  • What makes it possible for infants to acquire their native language so rapidly with no special training?
  • When do children become aware that other people have thought processes of their own, and what makes this awareness possible?
  • What leads to the marked differences in levels and forms of aggression between boys and girls early in childhood?
intriguing questions2
Intriguing Questions
  • Why do some children learn to read with little effort, while others require extensive help?
  • What causes some children to be bullies?
  • When do children begin to reason systematically, and what makes this form of thought possible?
  • Is parent-child conflict a necessary part of adolescence?
overview of the journey
Overview of the Journey
  • Early Beginnings of Modern Developmental Psychology
  • Central Questions of Developmental Psychology
  • Developmental Psychologyas a Discipline
early beginnings of modern developmental psychology

Early Beginnings of Modern Developmental Psychology

Jean-Marc Itard and Victor, the Wild Boy of Aveyron

Industrial Revolution and Research into Child Labor Conditions

Charles Darwin’s The Origin of Species

victor the wild boy
Victor, The Wild Boy
  • France (province of Aveyron), 1800, ~age 12
  • Jean-Marc Itard (physician)
    • To test the theory that social environment shapes a child’s development
    • Abandoned the experiment after 5 years
    • Victor never learned to speak or interact normally
    • Maybe as a result of autism or social isolation
  • A beginning point for developmental psychology because Itard was among first to go beyond mere speculation to conduct experiments to test his ideas
child labor conditions
Child Labor Conditions
  • England (1833): Factory Inquiries Committee decided that 12 hours was an acceptable workday for children
    • Others disagreed: Believed that 10-hour workday preferable, with remaining 2 hours devoted to religious/moral education
  • Research results: Children who worked in textile mills were shorter and weighed less than local nonworking children
the origin of species 1859
The Origin of Species (1859)
  • Rather than viewing children merely are imperfect adults, not to be seen or heard
  • Children came to be viewed as scientifically interesting because their behavior might provide clues to ways in which humans are related to other species
ontogeny recapitulates phylogeny
Ontogeny recapitulates phylogeny

Phylogeny: The evolutionary history of a speciesOntogeny: Development of an individual organism over its lifetime

distinctive differences
Distinctive Differences…

Homo sapiens

  • Develops a unique environment consisting of artifacts (e.g., tools, clothing, words), knowledge (e.g., how to construct and use artifacts), beliefs, and values culture
  • Shapes and transmits culture to succeeding generations largely through language
  • Seeks understanding of transcendental dimensions
central questions of developmental psychology

Central Questions of Developmental Psychology


Sources of Development


Individual Differences

the question of continuity
The Question of Continuity

Is the process of development gradual and continuous (primarily in the form of quantitative changes), or is it marked by abrupt, stagelike discontinuities(primarily in terms of qualitative changes)?


Continuous/ Quantitative


Discontinuous/ Qualitative

Developmental Stages

developmental stages
Developmental Stages
  • Distinguished by qualitative changes(e.g., crawling  walking)
  • Marked by simultaneous changes in many, if not all, aspects of a child’s behavior (e.g., enhanced mobility  new child-caregiver relations)
  • Characterized by rapid changes (e.g., transition from crawling  walking in < 90 days)
  • Behavioral and physical changes merge to form a coherent pattern (e.g., walking accompanied by pointing, ability to follow another’s gaze, first words, new child-caregiver relations)

List three ways in which the person you were at the age of 5 differed from the person you were at the age of 15.

Label those differences as either qualitative or quantitative.

the question of developmental sources
The Question of Developmental Sources

How do nature (biology) and nurture (environment) interact to produce development?

philosophical foundations
Philosophical Foundations

Nature of man

  • John Locke: Tabula rasa (neutral)
  • Jean-Jacques Rousseu (Emile): Innately good
  • Jonathan Swift (“odious vermin”): Intrinsically evil
nature vs nurture
Nature vs. Nurture

Gender and mathematics: A case in point…

  • Nature (inherited biological predispositions) Advise girls to take less challenging math courses, use different standards on quantitative sections of standardized tests
  • Nurture (influence of the social and cultural environment on the individual)Encourage girls to take more challenging math courses, hold out societal models of women in math and science

List two major ways in which you are like your best friend and two major ways in which the two of you are different.

What causal factors do you think are primarily responsible for these similarities and differences?

the question of plasticity
The Question of Plasticity

To what degree, and under what conditions, is development open to change and intervention?

the question of individual differences
The Question of Individual Differences

How do people come to have stable individual characteristics that differentiate them from one another?

individual differences
Individual Differences
  • What makes individuals different from each other?
    • Nature vs. nurture: fussy infant, obese child
  • To what extent are individual characteristics stable over time?
    • Is the temperament of a baby an indicator of its personality as an adult?
    • Case of children who remain in an orphanage vs. adopted (p. 13) – What might be the implications?
developmental psychology as a discipline

Developmental Psychology as a Discipline

Criteria of Scientific Description

Methods of Data Collection

Research Designs

The Role of Theory

criteria of scientific description
Criteria of Scientific Description
  • ObjectivityNot distorted by preconceptions
  • ReliabilityTest-retest & inter-rater consistency
  • ValidityActually reflects what is being studied
  • ReplicabilitySimilar findings by other researchers
methods of data collection
Methods of Data Collection
  • Self-Reports
    • Interviews, questionnaires, behavioral checklists
    • Problems: Inaccuracies, may not understand questions, selective memory
  • Naturalistic Observations
    • Baby biographies (e.g., Darwin, Piaget), ecological studies (e.g., developmental niche)…
    • Problems: Difficult to maintain objectivity, observer may affect situation
methods of data collection1
Methods of Data Collection
  • Experimental Methods
    • Experimental & control group
    • Problems: Correlation vs. causation, artificiality of context
  • Clinical Interview Methods
    • Tailor question depending on answer to previous question (e.g., Freud, Piaget)
    • Problems: Difficult to compare across individuals, relies heavily on verbal expression

What is one question you have about the development of children?

How do you think one might go about finding the answer?

the role of big theory
The Role of Big Theory

Gesell & Freud

Endogenous factors

Watson & Skinner

Exogenous factors


Active shaping


Mediated by culture

bio social behavioral shift
Bio-Social-Behavioral Shift

A transition point in development during which a convergence of biological, social, and behavioral changes occurs to cause distinctively new forms of child functioning.