A Child's World Ch. 1, 2 &3

A Child’s World: Infancy through Adolescence
Chapters 1, 2 & 3
Studying A Child’s World
The Study of Child Development: Then and Now
a. From the moment of conception, children begin a process of change that
will continue throughout their lives.
b. Although various influences can modify changes and traits, the changes
human beings experience have common patterns.
c. The field of child development focuses on the study of systematic
processes of change and stability in human children.
d. Developmental scientists are people engaged in the professional study of
child developmental. They look at ways in which children change from
conception through adolescence as well as the characteristics that remain
i. Which of a child’s characteristics are most likely to endure?
ii. Which are likely to change, and why?
e. Early Approaches
i. The formal scientific study of child developmental is relatively
ii. Predecessors to the scientific study were baby biographers who
kept journals to record the early development of a single child
iii. German philosopher Dietrich Tiedemann (1787) observed his
infant son’s sensory, motor, language, and cognitive development.
He concluded after watching his son suck more continuously on a
cloth tied around something sweet than on a nurse’s finger, that
sucking appeared to be “not instinctive, but acquired.”
iv. Charles Darwin (1877) first emphasized the developmental nature
of infant behavior with the belief that human beings could better
understand themselves by studying their origins (both as species
and individuals). Studied his son’s sensory, cognitive, and
emotional developmental during his first 12 months. His journal
gave baby biographies scientific respectability.
v. Stanley Hall; Father of Child Psychology? (look up in textbook)
f. Developmental Psychology Becomes a Science
i. Adolescence wasn’t considered a spate period of development until
the early twentieth century when G. Stanley Hall published a book
called Adolescence.
ii. The establishment of research institutes in the 1930’s and 1940’s at
universities such as Iowa, Minnesota, Columbia, Berkley, and Yale
marked the emergence of child psychology as a true science.
iii. Longitudinal studies, such as Arnold Gesell’s (1929) studies of
stages in motor development, provided research-based information
about developments that normally occur at various ages.
g. Studying The Life Span
i. Today, researches consider development to be from “womb to
tomb,” comprising the entire human life span from conception to
A Child’s World: Infancy through Adolescence
Chapters 1, 2 & 3
ii. Development can be either positive (i.e., becoming toilet trained or
enrolling in college) or negative (i.e., wetting the bed after a
traumatic event)
iii. Development is complex and multifaceted and shaped by
interacting arcs of influence.
The Study of Child Development: Basic Concepts
a. The processes of change and stability occur in all aspects of the self and
throughout all of childhood and adolescence
b. Domains of Development; developmental scientists study three domains,
or aspects of the self
i. Physical (biological) Development: growth of the body and brain,
sensory capacities, motor skills, and health
ii. Cognitive Development: learning, attention, memory, language,
thinking, reasoning, and creativity
iii. Psychosocial Development: emotions, personality, and social
iv. These domains are all interrelated and development is a unified
c. Periods of Development
i. Division of the life span into periods of development is a social
construction: a concept or practice that may appear natural and
obvious to those who accept it, but in reality is an invention of a
particular culture or society
ii. In fact, our understanding of childhood itself can be viewed as a
social construction
Influences on Development
a. Children experience individual differences in characteristics, influences,
and developmental outcomes. Every child has a different developmental
trajectory—a unique and individual path to follow.
b. Heredity, Environment, and Maturation (influencing development)
i. Heredity (nature): inborn traits or characteristics inherited from a
child’s biological parents.
ii. Environment (nurture): inner and outer, the world outside the self
beginning in the womb, and the learning that comes from
iii. Maturation: of the body and brain, the unfolding of a universal,
natural sequence of physical changes and behavioral patterns.
iv. These maturation processes act jointly with the influences of
heredity and environment. As children grow into adolescents and
then into adults, individual difference in innate characteristics
(heredity) and life experience (environment) play an increasing
role as children adapt to the internal and external conditions in
which they find themselves.
c. Contexts of Development; humans are social beings and right from the
start they develop within a social and historical context.
i. Family
A Child’s World: Infancy through Adolescence
Chapters 1, 2 & 3
1. The nuclear family is a two generational household unit
consisting of one or two parents and their biological
children, adopted children, or stepchildren.
a. Historically, the two-parent nuclear family has been
the dominant family unit in the United States and
other Western societies. However, the nuclear
family today is different from what is used to be.
Instead of large, rural families working side-by-side
on the family farm, we now see smaller urban
families in which both parents work outside the
home and children spend much of their time in
school or childcare.
b. The increased incidence of divorce has also affected
the nuclear family. Children of divorced parents
may live with one or the other parent or may move
back and forth between them. The household may
include a stepparent and stepsiblings or unmarried
parents and gay and lesbian couples.
2. In many societies in Asia, Africa, and Latin America and
among some U.S. families that trace their lineage to those
countries, the extended family—a multigenerational
kinship network of grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins,
and more distant relatives—is the traditional family form.
a. Adults often share breadwinning and child-raising
responsibilities, and children are responsible for
younger brothers and sisters. Women often head
these households.
b. Today, the extended family household is becoming
slightly less typical in developing countries due to
industrialization and migration to urban centers.
However, in the United States, economic pressures,
housing shortages, and out-of-wedlock childbearing
have helped fuel a trend toward three and even four
generational family households.
ii. Culture and Race/Ethnicity
1. Culture refers to a society’s or group’s total way of life,
including customs, traditions, laws, knowledge, beliefs,
values, language, and physical products, from tools to
artworks—all of the behavior and attitudes that are learned,
shared, and transmissted among members of a social group.
Culture is constantly changing, often through contact with
other cultures. Today cultural contact is enhanced by
computers and telecommunications that offer almost
immediate communication across the globe.
2. An ethnic group consists of people united by a distinctive
culture, ancestry, religion, and language, or national origin,
A Child’s World: Infancy through Adolescence
Chapters 1, 2 & 3
all of which contribute to a sense of shared identity and
shared attitudes, beliefs, and values.
a. Ethnic and cultural patterns affect child
development by their influence on the composition
of a household, its economic and social resources,
the way its members act toward one another, the
foods they eat, the games children play, the way
they learn, how well they do in school, the
occupations adults engage in, and the way family
members think about and perceive the world.
b. In time, however, immigrants tend to acculturate, or
adapt, by learning the language, customs, and
attitudes needed to get along in the dominant culture
while trying to preserve some of their cultural
practices and values.
iii. Socioeconomic Status and Neighborhood
1. A family’s socioeconomic status (SES) is based on family
income and the educational and occupational levels of the
adults in the household.
a. SES affects these processes and outcomes
indirectly, through such associated factors as the
kinds of homes and neighborhoods people live in
and the quality of nutrition, medical care, and
schooling available to them.
i. SES to developmental processes such as a
mother’s verbal interactions with their
ii. SES to developmental outcomes such as
health and cognitive performance
b. Poverty can damage the physical, cognitive, and
psychosocial well being of children and families.
Poor children are more likely than other children to
go hungry; to have frequent illness to lack access o
health care; to experience accidents, violence, and
family conflict; and to show emotional or
behavioral problems. Their cognitive potential and
school performance suffer as well. Threats to well
being multiply by several risk factors—conditions
that increase the likelihood of a negative outcome.
c. Affluence doesn’t necessarily protect children from
risk. Some children in affluent families face
pressure to achieve and are often left on their own
by busy parents. These children have high rates of
substance abuse, anxiety, and depression.
iv. The Historical Context; the time in which people live
A Child’s World: Infancy through Adolescence
Chapters 1, 2 & 3
1. Certain experiences, tied to time and place, do affect the
course of people’s lives.
2. The historical context is an important part of the study of
d. Normative and Nonnormative Influences; these three types of influences
contribute to the complexity of human development as well as to the
challenges people experience in trying to build their lives.
i. Normative Influences are biological or environmental events that
affect many of most people in a society in similar ways. In order to
understand similarities and differences in development you need to
look at these normative influences and well as events that touch
only certain individuals.
1. Normative Age-Graded Influences are highly similar for
people in a particular age group. The timing of biological
events is fairly predictable within a normal range (i.e.,
children don’t experience puberty at age 3 or menopause at
age 12).
2. Normative History-Graded Influences are significant events
that shape the behavior and attitudes of a historical
generation (a group of people strongly influenced by a
major historical event during their formative period). (i.e.,
the generation that came of the age during the Depression
and World War II tend to show a strong sense of social
interdependence and trust that has declines among more
recent generations).
a. A historical generation is not the same as an age
cohort (a group of people born about the same time)
A historical generation may contain more than one
cohort, but not all cohorts are part of historical
generations unless they experience major, shaping
historical events at a formative point in their lives.
ii. Nonnormative Influences are unusual events that have a major
impact on individual lives because hey disturb the expected
sequence of the life cycle.
1. They are either typical events that happen at an atypical
time of life (such as the death of a parent when a child is
young) or atypical events (such as surviving a place crash)
2. Some of these influences are largely beyond a persons
control and may present rare opportunities or challenges
that the person perceives as a turning point.
3. On the other hand, young people sometimes help create
their own nonnormative life events (i.e., driving after
drinking or applying for a scholarship) and thus participate
actively in their own development.
e. Timing of Influences: Critical Or Sensitive Periods
A Child’s World: Infancy through Adolescence
Chapters 1, 2 & 3
i. Imprinting is an instinctive form of learning in which, during a
critical period in early development, a young animal forms an
attachment to the first moving object it sees, usually the mother.
ii. A critical period is a specific time when a given event, or its
absence, has a specific impact on development. If a necessary
event does not occur during a critical period of maturation, normal
development will not occur; and the resulting abnormal patterns
may be irreversible. However, the length of the critical period is
not absolutely fixed.
1. The concept of critical periods in humans is controversial
because many aspects of development, even in the
biological/ neurological domain have been found to show
plasticity, or modifiability of performance.
2. It is more useful to think about sensitive periods (times in
development when a given event or its absence usually has
a strong effect on development)
A Child’s World: Infancy through Adolescence
Chapters 1, 2 & 3
A Child’s World: How We Discover It
Basic Theoretical Issues
a. A scientific theory is a set of logically related concepts or statements that
seek to describe ad explain development and to predict what kinds of
behavior might occur under certain conditions.
b. Theories organize and explain data, the information gathered by research.
c. Theories inspire further research and predict its results by generating
hypotheses, tentative explanations or predictions that can be tested by
further research. Research can indicate whether a theory is accurate in its
predictions but cannot conclusively show a theory to be true. Theories can
be disproved, but never proved.
d. Developmental science cannot be completely objective. Theories and
research about human behavior are products of very human individuals,
whose inquiries and interpretations are inevitably influenced by their own
values and experience.
e. The way theorists explain development depends in part on their
assumptions about two basic issues:
f. Issue 1: Is Development Active or Reactive?
i. Psychologists who believe in reactive development conceptualize
the developing child and a hungry sponge that soaks of experiences
and is shaped by this input over time.
ii. Psychologists who believe in active development argue that people
seek to create experiences for themselves and are motivated to
learn about the world around them. Things aren’t just happening
to them, they are involved in making their world what it is.
iii. The 18th century English philosopher John Locke believed that a
young child is a tabula rasa—a “blank slate”—upon which society
“writes.” How the child developed in wither positive or negative
ways, depended entirely upon experiences.
iv. The French philosopher Jean Jacques Rousseau believed that
children are born “noble savages” who develop according to their
own positive natural tendencies if not corrupted by society.
v. The debate over Locke’s and Rousseau’s philosophies led to two
contrasting models of development: mechanistic and organismic.
1. Mechanistic Model (Locke’s views); in this model people
are like machines that react to environmental input. It
results from the operation of biological parts in response to
external or internal stimuli. Mechanistic research seeks to
identify the factors that make people behave as they do.
2. Organismic Model (Roussaeu’s views); this model sees
children as active, growing organisms that set their own
development in motion. They initiate events, they do not
just react. Thus, the driving force for change is internal.
Environmental influences do not cause development,
though they can speed or slow it.
A Child’s World: Infancy through Adolescence
Chapters 1, 2 & 3
g. Issue 2: Is Development Continuous or Discontinuous?
i. Continuous; gradual and incremental
ii. Discontinuous; abrupt or uneven
iii. Mechanist theorists see development as continuous: as occurring in
small incremental stages. Development is always governed by the
same processes and involve the gradual refinement and extension
of early skills into later abilities, allowing one to make predictions
about future characteristics on the basis of past performance. This
type of change is known as quantitative change—a change in
number or amount, such as height, weight, or vocabulary size.
iv. Organismic theorists see development as discontinuous; as marked
by the emergence of new phenomena that could not be easily
predicted on the basis of past functioning. Development at
different points in the lifespan is fundamentally different in
nature—not just more or less of the same thing. It is a change in
kind, structure, or organization, not just in number. This type of
change is known as qualitative change.
1. Organismic theorists are advocates for stage theories. In
these approaches developmental is seen as occurring in a
series of distinct stages. Each stage is different from the
previous but they build on it to prepare for the next. Stages
cannot be skipped and development only proceeds in a
positive direction.
Theoretical Perspectives