Psy 210 Lecture 1
Developmental Psychology

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Learning Objectives

  1. Review Course Outline
  2. Introduce Options for the written assignment
  3. Introduce some Basic Terms
  4. Describe the 4 Major Themes in developmental research
  5. Cite major domains of development
  6. Explain the role of theories in understanding child development
  7. Briefly trace historical influences on modern theories of child development from medieval times through the early twentieth century
  8. Outline 5 Theoretical Perspectives in developmental psychology
  9. Describe the role of theories, hypotheses, and research questions in research, and explain why it is important to understand the research process
  10. Describe common methods used to study children, and explain the strengths and limitations of each


1.      Course Outline

2.      Assignment


3.      Basic Terms


Developmental Psychology

Child Development

Periods of Development

Prenatal                                 conception to birth

Newborn                               birth to 1 month

Infant                                       1 month to 1 year

Toddler                                   1 to 2 years

Preschooler                         2 to 6 years              (early childhood)

School-age children                      6 to 12 years             (middle childhood)

Adolescent                           12 to 18 years

Adult                                       18 years and older


4.      Major Themes

4.1.  Developmental continuity

Early development is related to later development but not perfectly.

4.2.  Nature vs. Nurture

Heredity and the environment always jointly influence development.

4.3.  Children as active or passive participants

Children help determine their own development and influence others responses to them.

4.4.  Development in different domains is connected

All domains of development are interrelated or intertwined.


5.      Major domains of development

5.1.  Physical development

5.2.  Cognitive development

5.3.  Emotional and social development


6.      Theories of Child Development

A theory is an orderly, integrated set of statements that describes, explains, and predicts behaviour.


7.      Historical Perspectives

7.1.  Medieval Times

7.1.1.    Preformationism, Children as miniature adults

7.2.  The Reformation

7.2.1.    Puritan belief that children were born evil and stubborn

7.3.  Philosophies of the Enlightenment

7.3.1.    John Lockes tabula rasa  (1600s)

7.3.2.    Jean Jacques Rousseaus noble savages (1700s)

7.4.  Darwin: Forefather of Scientific Child Study

7.4.1.    Natural selection and survival of the fittest

7.5.  Scientific Beginnings

7.5.1.    The Baby Biographies

7.5.2.    The Normative Period of Child Study (G. Stanley Hall)

7.5.3.    The Mental Testing Movement (Alfred Binet)

7.5.4.    James Mark Baldwin


8.      Theoretical Perspectives

8.1.  Biological

Theory: Development is determined primarily by biological forces.

8.1.1.    Maturational Theories (Gesell)

Development represents the emergence of innate behaviours.

8.1.2.    Ethological Theories (Lorenz)
Ethology: Concerned with the evolutionary history and adaptive value of certain behaviours.

Interested in critical and sensitive periods in development.


8.2.  Psychodynamic

Theory: Development is determined primarily by how a child resolves conflicts at different ages.

8.2.1.    Psychosexual theory (Freud)

Psyche has 3 components that develop at different times (id, ego, superego)

Development is guided by innate drives for sensual pleasure, which progress in five identifiable stages.

8.2.2.    Psychosocial Theory (Erikson)
Development consists of eight stages during which psychosocial conflict is resolved along a continuum from adaptive (healthy) to maladaptive (negative).

Focuses on social relationships.






8.3.  Learning

Theory: Development is determined primarily by a childs learning experiences.

8.3.1.    Behaviourism (Watson, Skinner)
Children respond to environmental cues as evidenced by associative learning (classical and operant conditioning).

8.3.2.    Social Learning/Cognitive Theory (Bandura)
Children learn social behaviours through observing and imitating.


8.4.  Cognitive-Developmental

Theory: Development reflects childrens efforts to understand the world.

8.4.1.    Piaget

Children actively construct knowledge as they explore and manipulate their environment.  Development occurs in four distinct stages.

8.4.2.     Information-Processing Theories

Human thought processes are comparable to the workings of a computer.

As children develop, their thinking becomes continuously more efficient.


8.5.  Ecological or contextual theories

Theory: Development is influenced by immediate and more distant social and cultural environments, which typically influence each other.

8.5.1.    Sociohistorical Theory (Vygotsky)
Social interaction and specific cultural practices influence the development of cognitive skills.

8.5.2.    Ecological Systems Theory (Bronfenbrenner)

Children develop within a complex system of relationships affected by multiple levels of influence from immediate family to broad cultural groups.


9.      Psychological Research

9.1.  Definitions

Theory: A reasoned set of logically related concepts used to explain and predict data.

Hypothesis: A testable explanation, often developed to assess the validity of a theory.

Independent variable: The condition over which the researcher has direct control.
Dependent variable: The condition that may or may not change as a result of the manipulation of the independent variable.

Reliability:  Reliability referrers to the consistency or replicability of the findings being measured.

Validity: Validity refers to accuracy of the research findings; that a researcher is indeed measuring the concept intended to be measured.

Population: The broad group of participants a researcher is interested in studying.

Sample: A subset of a researchers target population.


9.2.  Research Designs (Relationships between variables)

9.2.1.    Correlational Studies

An attempt to find relationships between variables without any active manipulation of those variables.


9.2.2.    Experimental Studies
A controlled procedure in which a researcher manipulates an independent variable to determine its effect on the dependent variable.


9.2.3.    Case Studies (Psychology, Medicine)
 A case study of a single individual conducted in great depth.


10. Research Methods

10.1.                   Systematic observation

10.1.1.                        Naturalistic Observation
Researchers observe variables such as childrens behaviour in a natural context.

10.1.2.                        Structured Observation
Researchers observe behaviour in a laboratory where conditions are the same for all participants.


10.2.                   Sampling behaviour with tasks

Researchers observe the completion of tasks designed to elicit a specific behaviour


10.3.                   Self Reports

10.3.1.                        Questionnaires

10.3.2.                        Interviews      Structured Interview

Each participant is asked the same series of questions.      Clinical Interview

Researcher can vary the questions asked and ask follow-up questions.

10.4.                   Clinical Method

The careful observation and interpretation of what a single individual does and says.


10.5.                   Developmental Designs

10.5.1.                        Longitudinal studies
A research project designed to assess changes in a sample over time

10.5.2.                        Cross-sectional studies
 A research project designed to compare children of different ages on one occasion.

10.5.3.                        Longitudinal-Sequential Studies

A research project designed to combine cross-sectional and longitudinal techniques, measures multiple age groups at a couple of different time periods.

10.5.4.                        Microgenetic Studies
A research design that observes one type of change or learning experience repeatedly over a short period of time.