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Chapter one. Human Development The scientific study of the processes of development. ● Describe  Example: When do children say their first words? ● Explain  Example: How do children learn to use language? . Predict  Example: Will delayed language development affect speech? ● Modify

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Chapter one

Human Development

The scientific study of the processes of development

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 Example: When do children say their first words?

● Explain

Example:How do children learn to use language?


 Example: Will delayed language development affect speech?

● Modify

 Example: Can therapy help speech delays?

Four Goals of Developmental Psychology

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Life Span Development

Developmental processes: change and stability

Two kinds of change:

  • Quantitative: change in number/amount (growth, height)

  • Qualitative: change in kind, structure, organization

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 Structure or Organization

 Often difficult to anticipate


 Number or Amount



 Weight

 Size of Vocabulary

Two Types ofDevelopmental Change

  • Example:

  •  Changing from nonverbal to verbal communication

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Life Span Development

Physical development: change and stability in growth of the body and brain, sensory capacities, motor skills, and health

Cognitive development: change and stability in mental abilities, learning, attention, memory, language, reasoning, creativity

Psychosocial development: change and stability in emotions, personality, social relationships

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Life Span Development

Influences on development:

normative: most people, similarities

individual differences: specific differences

Heredity & Environment

Heredity: inborn traits or characteristics inherited from the parents

Environment: inner and outer environment

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Life Span Development

Maturation: Unfolding of a natural sequence of physical changes and behavior patterns, mastery of skills, ability to learn.

Culture & Ethnicity

Culture is the society or group’s total way of life

Ethnic: people united by a distinct culture, ancestry, religion, language, or national origin

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Timing of Influences: Critical or Sensitive Periods

Lorenz: hatched ducklings

Imprinting: automatic and irreversible; instinctive bonding with mother; a predisposition to learning

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Critical Period: specific time when a given event (or absence) has specific impact on development. Not absolutely fixed.

Plasticity: ability to modify

Sensitive Periods: especially responsive to specific type of experience

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The Effects of Early Experience

Questions to consider:

  • How important are early experiences and how much of an effect do they have on a person’s later life?

  • Are there critical periods during which a child must be exposed to certain stimulations or experiences (or forever be disadvantaged)?

  • How “plastic” is the child? That is, how can a child take and still bounce back? How much can a child endure before his/her later development will be permanently impaired?

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Without feedback from the environment (that is, without experience) how can further development occur?

A child raised in a deprived environment with inadequate stimulation and feedback might fail to learn. The damage to a child is significant when love and attention are absent.

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Critical & Sensitive Periods experience) how can further development occur?

Critical and sensitive periods are both times when the organism is biologically primed to most benefit from a particular experience.

Sensitive Periods: adverse effects caused by missing a sensitive period may be overcome at a later time, although with great difficulty.

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Critical Periods: experience) how can further development occur? adverse effects caused by missing a critical period are permanent.

The only clearly demonstrated critical period in human beings involves early stimulation of certain neural and body cells. Without such stimulation, these cells atrophy and die (e.g., visual neurons must have light during their early development or they will die.

Depth perception may occur as well.

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The first 5 to 6 years of childhood may be a critical period for the development of the brain.

Even when a part of the brain is damaged, if damage occurs before age 5/6, the brain may compensate and take over the functions. After age six, highly unlikely.

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Other ways a child may suffer permanent disability by early childhood:

  • occurrence of irreparable physical damage upon which later development will depend

  • a critical period that passes without the child’s obtaining the necessary experience or stimulation

  • a situation where the child is kept by their culture or environment from ever obtaining the learning necessary for proper development.

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Learning and Early Experience childhood:

Sometimes a child misses an important learning experience because the environment fails to provide it. If the child eventually receives the necessary experiences they may be able to recover.

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Baltes’s Life Span Approach: childhood:6 Key Principles

1.Development is lifelong

 Change & adaptation occur throughout life

2.Development involves both gain & loss

 Ex: Gaining vocabulary, but losing ability to acquire language

3. Biological & cultural influences shift over time

4. Development involves changing allocation of resources

 Resources used for growth, maintenance, & recovery

5. Development shows plasticity

 Ex: Memory can be improved with practice

6. Development is influenced by historical and cultural context.

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Theory & Reseach childhood:

Two models:

Mechanistic: locke

Organismic: Rousseau

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Biological and environmental influences are similar for individuals in a particular age group

Normative age-graded influences

Biological and environmental influences are associated with history

Normative history-graded influences

Unusual occurrences that have a major impact on a specific person’s life

Non-normative life events

The Life-Span Perspective

Development is Contextual

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The Nature of Development individuals in a particular age group

Processes in Development

Fig. 1.3

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Children are born into a world individuals in a particular age groupcorrupted with inclination toward evil

Original sin view

Children born as “blank slates” and acquire characteristics through experience (Locke)

Tabla rasa view

Innate goodnessview

Children born inherently good (Rousseau)

The Life-Span Perspective

Views of Child Development

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Development continuous or stages individuals in a particular age group

Continuous: Mechanist theorists; allows prediction of earlier behaviors from later ones; quantitative changes (frequency of response)

Stages: Organismic theorists; emphasis qualitative changes; stages, building on previous problems and developments.

Current theorists:

Active versus passive development

People change their world as it also changes them

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Extent to which development is influenced by nature and by nurture

Nature and Nurture

Degree to which early traits and characteristics persist through life or change

Stability and Change

Extent development involves gradual, cumulative change (continuity) or distinct stages (discontinuity)


The Nature of Development

Developmental Issues

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The Nature of Development nurture

Continuity and Discontinuity in Development

Fig. 1.7