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DEVELOPMENTAL PSYCHOLOGY. Key controversies in Developmental:. Nature vs. Nurture: are we the result of our genes or the environment? - Critical periods and maturation Continuity vs. Stage: Do we develop gradually or in rapid bursts?

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key controversies in developmental
Key controversies in Developmental:

Nature vs. Nurture: are we the result of our genes or the environment?

- Critical periods and maturation

Continuity vs. Stage: Do we develop gradually or in rapid bursts?

Stability vs. Change: Does your personality stay the same or change with time?

areas of interest
Areas of interest:
  • Cognitive growth: how do our thoughts change as we age?
  • Physical growth: how do the physical changes we go through at different stages of life effect us psychologically?
  • Emotional growth: what are some of the shifts in our emotions that occur as we age?
  • Social growth: who are the different social groups that we interact with at different stages in life? How is our growth influenced by others?
research designs
Research designs

Longitudinal: follows the same group of people over many years

- Snowdon’s Minnesota Nun Study:1986 & Alzheimers disease

- Terman’s termites:1927 – Gifted children

Cross-sectional: studies people of all different ages at one point in time

- cohort effects are confounds

3. Cross-sequential: both

new born brain
New Born Brain

Brain has fewer- dendrites + synapses

During first 3 years Brain Density increases

Stimulation causes brain growth

Deprivation = lack of stimulation

deprivation vs enrichment
Deprivation vs. Enrichment
  • Enrichment
    • Complex Environment
    • Intellectually Stimulating
    • *Extra Enhanced Stimulation- increases brain size
    • So enriched complex, stimulating environment is good.
    • Parents open kids to experiences- colors, music, people, things to see, taste, smell, touch
  • Deprivation
    • Lack of stimulation
    • IQ down
    • Emotional Scaring
    • Poverty can impact development-
    • Lower IQ- Fearful, unhappy
    • Prone to hostile- aggressive behavior
key questions
Key Questions

What does an “Enriched Environment” look like with respect to physical environment and personal interaction?

cognitive development theory
Cognitive Development Theory

 Piaget’s theory (1960s)

Children actively construct knowledge as they manipulate and explore their world, & their cognitive development takes place in stages.

Argued that children adapt to their surroundings.

Children don’t come out with blank slate, but with methods for acquiring knowledge.

cognitive development
Cognitive Development
  • Children’s thinking is concrete (less abstract)
    • Need examples- objects to see or touch

Piaget believed learning occurs through

  • Assimilation:
    • Kids use existing knowledge to new situations
  • Accommodation:
    • Ideas + knowledge are modified to fit new requirements
  • “New ideas are created to accommodate new experiences.”
chapter 11 developmental
Chapter 11 - Developmental

"To present an adequate notion of learning one must first explain how the individual manages to construct and invent, not merely how he repeats and copies."

chapter 11 developmental1
Chapter 11 - Developmental

Schema: a mindset or way of thinking about something [cognitive structures]

Examples: what is your schema of NCS? Canadians? A Car?

Your teacher?

Schemas influence how we think about the world around us

Many schemas are activated and used automatically – or without any conscious thought. [example: stereotypes]

schemas exercise
Schemas: Exercise

Read the following paragraphs and fill in the missing words:

The problems that confront p___ in raising ch___ from in___ to adult life are not easy to ___. Both fa___ and m___ meet with many di___ in their concern for the pro___ from the e__ stage to later life. It is important that young ch___ should have plenty of s___ and good f___ for healthy growth. B___ and g___ should not occupy the same b___ or sleep in the same r___. They are often afraid of the d____.

schema exercise anyone get this
Schema exercise: Anyone get this?

The problems that confront poultrymen in raising chickens from incubation to adult life are not easy to summarize. Both farmers and merchants meet with many difficulties in their concern for promotion from the egg stage to later life. It is important that young chicks should have plenty of sunshine and good feed for healthy growth. Banties and geese should not occupy the same barnyard or sleep in the same roost. They are often afraid of the dark.

piaget and stage theorist believed cognitive growth occurs in 4 distinct stages
PIAGET and Stage theorist: believed cognitive growth occurs in 4 distinct stages

Every stage except for the last one is an inadequate approximation of reality.

Development from one stage to the next is caused by the accumulation of errors in the child's understanding of the environment

this accumulation eventually causes such a degree of cognitive disequilibrium that thought structures or schemas require reorganizing or changing

piaget s stages of cognitive development
Piaget’s Stages of Cognitive Development

Sensorimotor (birth to 2 yrs)- infants acquire knowledge by “acting” on their environment, using their senses and movements to explore the world.

Preoperational (2-7 yrs)- preschool-age children acquire advanced language skills and start to think using symbols.

Concrete operational (7-11 yrs)- Children’s reasoning becomes logical. They learn to logically organize concepts. They learn conservation of liquids and solids.

Formal operational (11+ yrs)-Abstract thinking comes on-line, problem solving ability improves.

piaget stages
Piaget Stages:
  • Age 0-2 Sensorimotor Stage
  • Non-verbal intellect
  • Learning Coordination
  • Use Senses
  • Develop Object permanence
    • Objects continue to exist when out of sight
age 2 7 pre operational stage
Age 2-7 Pre-Operational Stage

Before 6-7 children think concretely

Age 7 more logical thinking

Begin to think symbolically

Still intuitive, beginning logic

Language developing

Egocentric= unable to see the viewpoint of others – self concerned


age 7 11 concrete operational stage
Age 7-11 Concrete Operational Stage

Age 7-11 Concrete Operational Stage

Concept of conservation developed

Idea that objects have mass and volume constancy


Children begin to use time, space and number

Logical Thinking

Concrete objects



age 11 and up formal operational abstract
Age 11 and up Formal Operational: Abstract
  • Abstract Principles develop
  • Less egocentric
  • Adolescent
  • Can consider Hypothetical Possibilities
  • Adult abilities
  • Inductive Reasoning
  • Deductive Reasoning
  • Formal thinking needs and enhanced by (not just maturity)
    • Environment
    • Knowledge
    • Experience
    • Wisdom
cons of piaget s theory
Cons of Piaget’s theory

1. Piaget underestimated the competencies of infants and preschoolers.

(E.g., when young children are given tasks scaled down in difficulty, their understanding appears closer to that of older children and the adult)

2.Children’s performance on Piagetian tasks can be improved with training.

Suggests there is a problem with the assumption that discovery learning rather than adult teaching is the best way to foster development.

vygotsky and socio cultural theory of cognition
Vygotsky and Socio-Cultural Theory of Cognition
  • Children’s thinking develops through dialogues with expert others (more skilled)
  • Children are guided by experts = Tutors= parents=teachers
  • Zone of Proximal (close) Development (Learning)
  • Children can achieve more complex/higher levels with support working with expert others or skilled partners
  • Scaffolding=
    • Temporary Support to help kids learn
    • Must be responsive to children’s needs
    • Mental bridges
key questions1
Key Questions

Which is more important:

Exploration or Experts?

What factors may inhibit moving from one stage to the next?

How can we encourage or accelerate the transition from one stage to the next?

erikson s stages of psychosocial development


age StageDescription of Task

Infancy Trust vs. mistrust If needs are dependably met, infants

(1st year) develop a sense of basic trust.

Toddler Autonomy vs. shame Toddlers learn to exercise will and

(2nd year) and doubt do things for themselves, or they doubt their abilities.

Preschooler Initiative vs. guilt Preschoolers learn to initiate tasks

(3-5 years) and carry out plans, or they feel

guilty about efforts to be independent.

Elementary Competence vs. Children learn the pleasure of applying

(6 years- inferiority themselves to tasks, or they feelinferior.


Erikson’s Stages of Psychosocial Development
erikson s stages of psychosocial development1


age Stage Description of Task

Adolescence Identity vs. role Teenagers work at refining a sense of self by

(teens into confusion testing roles and then integrating them to

20’s) form a single identity, or they become

confused about who they are.

Young Adult Intimacy vs. Young adults struggle to form close relation-

(20’s to early isolation ships and to gain the capacity for intimate

40’s) love, or they feel socially isolated.

Middle Adult Generativity vs. The middle-aged discover a sense of contri-

(40’s to 60’s) stagnation butingto the world, usually through family

and work, or they may feel a lack of purpose.

Late Adult Integrity vs. When reflecting on his or her life, the older

(late 60’s and failure. adult may feel a sense of satisfaction or up) despair

Erikson’s Stages of Psychosocial Development

In Erik Erikson’s Stages of Psychosocial Development, generativity is a struggle against stagnation that ascends during adulthood. Generativity in the psychosocial sense refers to the concern for establishing and guiding the next generation and is said to stem from a sense of optimism about humanity.

erikson stages of success
Erikson Stages of Success

Favorable outcomes at each stage are sometimes known as "virtues"

The virtues in the order of the stages in which they may be acquired are:









evaluating stages theory
Evaluating Stages Theory
  • Gender differences – more focus on men
  • Cultural differences and historical change
    • Few cultural comparison studies done
  • Inconsistent evidence
  • Questions about idea of stage theories
    • Mid-course correction, not mid-life crises
    • Predicted changes do not occur at ages indicated
kohlberg stages of moral development
Kohlberg Stages of Moral Development
  • Level 1 - Pre-conventional morality
    • Authority is outside the individual and reasoning is based on the physical consequences of actions.
  • • Stage 1. Obedience and Punishment Orientation. The child/individual is good in order to avoid being punished. If a person is punished they must have done wrong.
  • • Stage 2. Individualism and Exchange. At this stage children recognize that there is not just one right view that is handed down by the authorities. Different individuals have different viewpoints.
level 2 conventional morality
Level 2 - Conventional morality
    • Authority is internalized but not questioned and reasoning is based on the norms of the group to which the person belongs.
  • • Stage 3. Good Interpersonal Relationships. The child/individual is good in order to be seen as being a good person by others. Therefore, answers are related to the approval of others.
  • • Stage 4. Maintaining the Social Order. The child/individual becomes aware of the wider rules of society so judgments concern obeying rules in order to uphold the law and to avoid guilt.
level 3 post conventional morality
Level 3 - Post-conventional morality
    • Individual judgment is based on self-chosen principles, and moral reasoning is based on individual rights and justice.
  • • Stage 5. Social Contract and Individual Rights. The child/individual becomes aware that while rules/laws might exist for the good of the greatest number, there are times when they will work against the interest of particular individuals.  The issues are not always clear cut. For example, in Heinz’s dilemma the protection of life is more important than breaking the law against stealing.
  • • Stage 6: Universal Principles.  People at this stage have developed their own set of moral guidelines which may or may not fit the law.  The principles apply to everyone.  E.g. human rights, justice and equality.  The person will be prepared to act to defend these principles even if it means going against the rest of society in the process and having to pay the consequences of disapproval and or imprisonment. Kohlberg doubted few people reached this stage.
critical evaluation
Critical Evaluation

Criticism of Kohlberg’s theory comes from Gilligan, who argues that the theory is androcentric (male bias) after Kohlberg reporting that most men were at stage 4 while most women were at stage 3. 

Gilligan (1982) claims that the female participants of Kohlberg’s study were being judged using a male standard due to the gender bias of Kohlberg’s original research, which was based solely on studying men.  Gilligan reached the conclusion that Kohlberg’s theory did not account for the fact that women approach moral problems from an ‘ethics of care’, rather than an ‘ethics of justice’ perspective, which challenges some of the fundamental assumptions of Kohlberg’s theory.

The fact that Kohlberg’s theory is heavily dependent on an individual’s response to an artificial dilemma brings question to the validity of the results obtained through this research.  People may respond very differently to real life situations that they find themselves in than they do to an artificial dilemma presented to them in the comfort of a research environment.  Further, the gender bias issue raised by Gilligan is a reminded of the significant gender debate still present in psychology, which when ignored, can have a large impact on results obtained through psychological research.

The way in which Kohlberg carried out his research when constructing this theory may not have been the best way to test whether all children follow the same sequence of stage progression. His research was cross-sectional, meaning that he interviewed children of different ages to see what level of moral development they were at. 

A better way to see if all children follow the same order through the stages would have been to carry out longitudinal research on the same children. However, longitudinal research on Kohlberg’s theory has since been carried out by Colby et al. (1983) who tested 58 male participants of Kohlberg’s original study. She tested them 6 times in the span of 27 years and found support for Kohlberg’s original conclusion, that we all pass through the stages of moral development in the same order.

parenting styles
Parenting Styles?

How were you raised?

If you had to describe your parents’ parenting style what would it be?

Give 5 adjectives that describe it.

What would you have changed?

How do you hope to raise your children?

overly permissive
Overly Permissive:

Little guidance

Too much freedom

Low accountability

Rights but few responsibilities

Rules not enforced

Spoiled kids = poorly behaved child


Expectation to stay out of trouble

Rigid rules

Strict obedience

Put responsibilities on kids

Kids have few rights

Children- usually obedient, self controlled

Must accept parent view of right and wrong

Emotionally stiff


Higher rates of drug abuse

  • Children are competent


Self controlled


Firm consistent guidance

With love & affection

Not harsh

Not rigid

Encourage child:

To act responsibility

To think

To make good decisions


Child Qualities & Parenting Styles

Authoritative Parenting

lively and happy disposition

self-confident about ability to master tasks.

well developed emotion regulation

developed social skills

less rigid about gender-typed traits


Child Qualities & Parenting Styles

Permissive Parenting

poor emotion regulation (under regulated)

rebellious and defiant when desires are challenged.

low persistence to challenging tasks

antisocial behaviors


Child Qualities & Parenting Styles

Authoritarian Parenting

anxious, withdrawn, and unhappy disposition

Low self-esteem and prone to depression

poor reactions to frustration (girls likely to give up and boys become hostile)

do well in school (studies may show authoritative parenting is comparable)

not likely to engage in antisocial activities (exp: drug and alcohol abuse, vandalism, gangs)

k bler ross five stages
Kübler-Ross – five stages
  • Denial
  • Anger
  • Bargaining
  • Depression
  • Acceptance
pre operational stage 2 7 yrs old
Pre-operational stage. [2-7 yrs. old]
  • Animistic thinking: inanimate object are


  • Disney’s: “Toy Story” & “Cars”
  • Imagination and imaginary play explode. Some children have imaginary friends. Today, imaginary friends are seen as a sign of psychological health.
  • Egocentric thought: self-focused. Lacking in perspective taking. Difficulty seeing the world through anothers eyes. Turn-taking and sharing are problematic during this age due to egocentric thinking
pre operational stage 2 7yrs
Pre-operational stage 2-7yrs.
  • Intuitivethinkers: do not think things through logically.
  • Children during this stage are lacking in conservation: a landmark skill in which a child is able to understand that mass is a constant
  • Symbolic thought: children learn that letters, words, and pictures are symbols for actual objects in the real world
  • Centration: can only focus on one attribute of an object at a time [typically, the most prominent feature]
  • [Piaget video]

Object permanence is achieved during the pre-operational stage

Conservation is lacking or not present during the pre-operational stage


Concrete operational stage. Ages 7-11yrs.

- logical thinking

- conservation is present

- lacking abstract thought –

everything is taken quite literally.

Example: When Mom says to her 7 yr

old son “Give your sister a lick”

because he is eating an ice cream cone,

what does he do? 

- lacking hypothetical or “what if” thinking


4. Formal operational stage. Ages 11+

  • Abstract thinking is present: child is able to understand difficult abstract concepts such as love and prejudice
  • Hypothetical or “what if” thinking is present for the first time. Children can think strategically- [planning ahead].
  • Games to play?? Chess is great

for developing this skill.


Formal operational stage

- imaginary audience and the spotlight effect

- unrealistic optimism and the personal fable