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Lecture Notes I - California State University, Long Beach

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Lecture Notes I - California State University, Long Beach
Child
Psychology
A Contemporary Viewpoint
by
Hetherington
&
Parke
Chapter One
Child Development:
Themes, Theories, and Methods
Child Psychology seeks to answer two
basic questions
 (1) Developmental changes: Describing the changes that children go
through at different ages.
BASIC DESCRIPTION AND OBSERVATION;
E.G., CHANGES IN CHILDREN'S PLAY FROM SOLITARY PLAY TO
PARALLEL PLAY TO PLAYING GAMES WITH RULES
 (2) What are the underlying processes that result in change?
For example, what strategies do children use to achieve new skills and
behaviors? Cooperation is a social strategy that facilitates interaction
with peers.
At a deeper level, developmental psychologists want to know how
important genes and environments are: THE NATURE/NURTURE
CONTROVERSY
SCIENCE AND HUMAN
INTERESTS
Scientists see children through the lenses of their theories. Scientists are
often not disinterested observers of children; they are often influenced
by:
 a.) Political beliefs e.g., a leftist egalitarian bias that everyone is born
with the same potential; or a conservative bias toward saying that
science supports the rationality of traditional sex roles.
 b.) Ethnic agendas: e.g., some scientific issues, such as whether there
are racial differences in intelligence, have political implications. This is
why books like The Bell Curve by Richard Herrnstein and Charles
Murray are so controversial.
SCIENCE AND HUMAN
INTERESTS
 c.) Career goals:



doing research that is likely to be funded by government grants;
doing research that is likely to lead to tenure.
It's a bad idea for an assistant professor to begin focus his or her
research on politically incorrect research.
 d.) Moral agendas:

many developmental psychologists want to help children; these people
are meliorists: they want to make the world a better place, but this often
makes them subscribe to theories that people can be easily changed
by the environment.
ARE SCIENTISTS BIASED???
Theories and Data
Scientist
Child
 See: L. A. Times article “Bias in Social Science”
 EXAMPLES OF INTENSELY CONTROVERSIAL ISSUES DEALT
WITH IN THIS COURSE:
(1) RACE AND IQ (CH. 10)
(2) GENETIC INFLUENCES ON INTELLIGENCE (CH. 2 AND CH. 10)
(2) SEX DIFFERENCES (CH. 13)
(3) EFFECTS OF DAY CARE (CH. 11)
ISSUES in the HISTORY OF
CHILDHOOD
 (1) THE STATE VERSUS THE FAMILY AS AGENT OF
SOCIALIZATION:
 SOCIALIZATION BY THE STATE:




SPARTA: CHILDREN TAKEN AWAY FROM PARENTS IN EARLY
CHILDHOOD;
SOCIALIZATION FOR CONFORMITY, SOCIAL COHESION,
ALTRUISM,
MILITARY PROWESS
NAZI GERMANY: NAZIFICATION OF SCHOOLS, HITLER YOUTH;
SOCIALIZATION AS IN SPARTA
SOVIET UNION: COMMUNIST CONTROL OF SCHOOLS;
SOCIALIZATION
FOR CONFORMITY.
UNITED STATES: ASSUME PARENTAL SOCIALIZATION; HOME
SCHOOLING. BUT PUBLIC EDUCATION STRONGLY INFLUENCED
BY POLITICAL IDEOLOGIES. MANDATED CURRICULA
ISSUES in the HISTORY OF
CHILDHOOD
 (2) CHANGES IN THE IMPORTANCE OF LOVE
TOWARD CHILDREN AND BETWEEN SPOUSES



PURITANISM: ORIGINAL SIN AND AUTHORITARIAN
PARENTING
LOVE AS THE BASIS OF MARRIAGE BEGINNING IN
THE MIDDLE AGES; THE ROMANTIC MOVEMENT
CONTEMPORARY EMPHASIS ON LOVE
ISSUES in the HISTORY OF
CHILDHOOD
 (3) CHANGES IN PARENTAL INVESTMENT IN




CHILDREN
CHILDREN COST MORE TO REAR SINCE
EDUCATION HAS BECOME
CRITICAL.
PURITANS AND EDUCATION
DEMOGRAPHIC TRANSITION: BEGINNING IN
19TH CENTURY, FEWER
CHILDREN, MORE EDUCATION
DEVELOPMENT OF ADOLESCENCE AND
PROLONGED CHILDHOOD
ISSUES in the HISTORY OF
CHILDHOOD
 4) CHANGES IN SOCIETAL INVESTMENT
IN CHILDREN RISE OF CHILDREN'S
SERVICES



MEDIEVAL MONASTERIES
RENAISSANCE FOUNDLING HOMES
MODERN WELFARE PROGRAMS SUCH AS
AID FOR FAMILIES WITH DEPENDENT
CHILDREN
ISSUES in the HISTORY OF
CHILDHOOD
 (5) CHANGES IN SINGLE PARENTING, TEENAGE
PARENTING, DIVORCE, RECONSTITUTED
FAMILIES, ETC.
 Single parenting and divorce were extremely rare in
Western societies until the mid-20th century.

Mechanisms:
 Ostracism
 Finding the father
 Low levels of public welfare programs
ISSUES in the HISTORY OF
CHILDHOOD
 (6) CHANGES IN TECHNOLOGY: Computers, the internet, and
the media revolution.
 Children are exposed to very sophisticated media messages
related to aggression, sexuality, gender, ethnicity, etc.
 Depending on adult or societal control, children
are able to follow their own interests by surfing the net,
watching TV, going to movies, etc. E. g., aggressive children
choose to watch violent media) (The ACTIVE CHILD)
 Children are also passive recipients of at least some cultural
messages coming from these sources. (The PASSIVE
CHILD)
Themes of Development
 Major theories take a position on these
themes; e.g., Nature vs. Nurture
 Main theoretical views guide research
Themes of Development: Biological versus
Environmental Influences: Nature vs. Nurture
 1.) Biological versus Environmental Influences


John Watson, early 20th century: Environment is
everything.
Arnold Gesell in the 1930s: Development determined by
an 'inner timetable which is produced by genes.

Gesell is a Maturationist
 Maturation = Genetically determined process of growth at
unfolds naturally over development. Think of cognitive
ability as growing just like children grow in height.
 SINCE 1980, MORE EMPHASIS ON NATURE, BUT A GREAT
DEAL OF CONTROVERSY.
Six Themes of Development: 1. Biological
versus Environmental Influences: Nature
vs. Nurture
 Most psychologists now tend to be
interactionists: E.g., there are interactions
between the child's genetic tendencies
toward aggression and the child's being
exposed to violence on TV. Violent TV has
a greater effect on children who are
genetically inclined toward aggression.
Themes of Development: 2. Active,
passive, and transactional models
 A. ACTIVE: CHILD ACTIVELY
APPROACHES, EXPLORES, OR
INFLUENCES ENVIRONMENT


A CURIOUS CHILD EXPLORES A NEW TOY
A CHILD GENETICALLY PRONE TO
AGGRESSION PICKS FIGHTS AND LIKES
VIOLENT TV
Child → Environment
Themes of Development: 2. Active,
passive, and transactional models
 B. TRANSACTIONAL MODEL:
CHILD INFLUENCES ENVIRONMENT AND
ENVIRONMENT INFLUENCES CHILD; LIKE A
CONVERSATION.
PREMATURE CHILD IS EXTREMELY IRRITABLE;
THIS MAKES CAREGIVING DIFFICULT AND
RESULTS IN FRUSTRATED PARENT; PARENT
MORE LIKELY TO ABUSE CHILD
 A CHILD GENETICALLY PRONE TO AGGRESSION
PROVOKES STRONG DISCIPLINE FROM PARENT,
MAKING HIM MORE AGGRESSIVE
C→E→C→E

Themes of Development: 2. Active,
passive, and transactional models
 C. PASSIVE: CHILD PASSIVELY INFLUENCED BY
ENVIRONMENTAL FORCES;
 REINFORCEMENT IN CLASSICAL BEHAVIORISM
 NORMAL CHILD IS ABUSED BY CRAZY PARENT
E→C
 NO ONE MODEL IS CORRECT. DIFFERENT
DEVELOPMENTAL PROCESSES ARE BETTER DESCRIBED
BY DIFFERENT MODELS.
THIS IS THE CASE WITH ALL OF THESE ISSUES.
 HOWEVER, MOST PSYCHOLOGISTS DE-EMPHASIZE
THE PASSIVE MODEL.
Themes of Development: 3. Continuity
versus Discontinuity
 Continuity versus Discontinuity

Continuous process: each new event
builds on earlier experiences in orderly
way or gradual improvement.
 Change is Quantitative and Smooth

Discontinuous process: development
occurs in discrete steps or stages; each
stage is qualitatively new set of
behaviors
 Change is Qualitative and Step-Like
Themes of Development: 3. Continuity
versus Discontinuity
 QUANTITATIVE CHANGE: A MEASURABLE CHANGE
OF AMOUNT (E.G., CHANGES IN HEIGHT, OR
CHANGES IN LEARNING) ASSOCIATED WITH NONSTAGE THEORIES; (When you learn something
new you don't become a different person; you have
simply added to your knowledge in a quantitative
way.)
 QUALITATIVE CHANGE: A CHANGE OF TYPE (E.G.,
THE CHANGE FROM A CATERPILLAR TO A
BUTTERFLY) ASSOCIATED WITH STAGE THEORIES;
QUALITATIVE CHANGES ARE FUNDAMENTAL,
REORGANIZATIONAL CHANGES.
(When you
Themes of Development: 3. Continuity
versus Discontinuity
 SMOOTH CHANGE (ASSOCIATED WITH
NON-STAGE THEORIES
Themes of Development: 3. Continuity
versus Discontinuity
 Step-Like Change
(Associated with Stage Theories)
Formal Operational
Concrete Operational
Preoperational Stage
Sensorimotor Stage
Themes of Development: 3. Continuity
versus Discontinuity
 Textbook: Whether development is continuous
or discontinuous "depends on the power of the
lens we use in examining changes across
development."
 If we look over a long period of time (several
years), the differences seem large,
qualitative and discontinuous.
 If we look over a short period of time (a few
months), the differences are small,
quanatitative and continuous.
 See Figure 1-1c (p. 7): Child slowly learns the
best and developmentally most advanced
strategy.
Figure 1.1: Continuity and Discontinuity in Child
Development
Themes of Development: 3. Continuity
versus Discontinuity
 The continuity/discontinuity issue is not as important
as formerly, with most theorists believing that
development is "basically continuous."
 Stage theories like Piaget's theory have been on the
decline, but notice that the text mentions "transition
points" as of particular interest. Transition points are
a sort of watered down stage view.
 However, that there could be true discontinuities and
qualitative change if, say, genes turn on at a certain
age and result in a major cognitive or emotional
advance over a fairly short period of time.
 This may be the case with puberty and some of the
other major cognitive advances in childhood. For
example, children get much more rational around age
6.
Themes of Development: 4. Individual
Characteristics versus Environmental,
Contextual and Cultural Influences
 Individual and personality characteristics
direct behaviors: Aggressiveness;
Introversion/shyness; affection
 Traits versus context: Which is more
important?


Context: Aggression more likely at football
game than church
Trait: Some children are more inclined to
aggression because of genetic influences than
others.
Themes of Development: 4. Individual
Characteristics versus Contextual and Cultural
Influences
 Many psychologists are interactionists:
individual characteristics like personality
interact with situations.

For example, aggressive children
seek out situations to express their
aggression (football games, karate
classes, joining a gang). But
removing children from aggressive
contexts may lower their aggression.
Themes of Development: 4. Individual
Characteristics versus Contextual and Cultural
Influences
 Individuals respond different to environmental
or situational challenges



Biological risk; serious illness
Psychological risk; crazy parent
Environmental risk: poverty; tough
neighborhood
 Different responses




Some children suffer permanent damage
Some have “sleeper effects”
Some are resilient
Some are better for it: “if it don’t kill ya…”
Themes of Development: 5: CULTURAL UNIVERSALS
VERSUS CULTURAL RELATIVISM
 Terminology:
 NORMATIVE DEVELOPMENT: THE UNIVERSAL
COMMONALITIES OF CHILDREN'S DEVELOPMENT
(E.G., WALKING,) (PIAGET STUDIED UNIVERSALS)
TALKING, STAGES;
OFTEN VIEWED AS RESULTING FROM
BIOLOGICAL UNIVERSALS (E.G., ARNOLD
GESELL);
 IDIOGRAPHIC DEVELOPMENT: DEVELOPMENT OF
INDIVIDUAL DIFFERENCES
 SOURCE OF INDIVIDUAL DIFFERENCES CAN BE
NATURE AND/OR NURTURE.

ALL POLITICIZED CONTROVERSY IN PSYCHOLOGY
INVOLVES INDIVIDUAL DIFFERENCES
Themes of Development 5: CULTURAL UNIVERSALS
VERSUS CULTURAL RELATIVISM
 CULTURAL RELATIVISM, EXTREME VIEW: CHILD
DEVELOPMENT HAS DIFFERENT LAWS AND PATTERNS IN
DIFFERENT CULTURES.
 VOGOTSKY IS MAIN THEORIST OF EXTREME
CULTURAL RELATIVISM
 CULTURAL RELATIVISM, MODERATE VIEW: CULTURES
AFFECT THE RATE OF DEVELOPMENT;
 CHILDREN WALK SOONER IN CULTURES THAT
ENCOURAGE MOTOR DEVELOPMENT
 CULTURAL UNIVERSALISM: THERE ARE UNIVERSAL,
NORMATIVE FEATURES OF CHILD DEVELOPMENT
 ALL CHILDREN GO THROUGH PIAGET’S STAGES;
 ALL CHILDREN SMILE AT AROUND 4 WEEKS OF AGE;
 ALL INFANTS BETWEEN 6 MONTHS AND 2 YEARS ARE
FRIGHTENED WHEN SEPARATED FROM THEIR
MOTHER.
Themes of Development: 6. Intrinsic
versus Extrinsic Motivation
 INTRINSIC: DOING THINGS FOR THEIR
OWN SAKE

E.G., STUDYING BECAUSE YOU'RE
INTERESTED
 EXTRINSIC: DOING THINGS IN ORDER TO
GAIN REWARDS OR AVOID
PUNISHMENTS

E.G., STUDYING TO AVOID PUNISHMENT
Theoretical Perspectives on
Development
 Two functions of theories
 Help integrate information into coherent,
interesting, plausible accounts of how
children develop.
 Social learning theory

Generate testable hypotheses or
predictions about child behavior
 Example: Evolutionary theory predicts
males more prone to dominance and risk
taking.
Theoretical Perspectives on
Development
 Five general theoretical perspectives

1. Structural-Organismic Approach focuses on
structured set of stages an organism goes
through over the course of psychological
growth

Used in Freud, Erikson, and Piaget’s
theories
Freud’s Psychodynamic Theory
Age 12+
Latency Stage
Age 6 - 12
Age 3 - 6
Age 1 - 3
Age 0 - 1
Genital Stage
Phallic Stage
Super Ego
Anal Stage
Oral Stage
Ego
Id
Freud:
Personality is
formed within the
first 6 years
Erikson’s Psychosocial Theory
Ages 65+
Ages 30 - 65
Ages 20 - 30
Ages 12 - 20
Integrity vs. Despair
Generativity vs. Stagnation
Intimacy vs. Isolation
Identity vs. Role confusion
Ages 6 - 12
Industry vs. Inferiority
Ages 3 - 6
Initiative vs. Guilt
Autonomy vs. Shame/Doubt
Trust vs. Mistrust
Ages 1 - 3
Ages 0 - 1
Piagetian (Cognitive Developmental)
Theory
 1.) Organization: Just as the structure of a mature
tree is predictable from given its genetic tendencies
and the environments trees grow in, children’s
cognitive abilities change in an organized, regular,
and predictable way over development.
 2.) Adaptation: Cognitive development depends on
interacting with the world and adjusting to the
demands and reality of the world. For example, our
concepts reflect the categories of things in the world
and change as the world changes.
Piagetian Theory, 3 and 4: Assimilation and
Accommodation:
Adapt to new
information
Assimilation
Reinterpret new
experiences so they
fit into old ideas –
existing ideas don’t
change, stay same
Accommodation
Revamp old ideas so
they can adapt to new –
change current ways of
thinking/ideas so as to
add new knowledge
Piagetian (Cognitive Developmental)
Theory
 5.) DEVELOPMENT IS THE RESULT OF
QUALITATIVE CHANGES IN THE STRUCTURE OF
CHILDREN'S THINKING
 6.) EGOCENTRISM: CHILDREN TEND TO HAVE
DIFFICULTY SEEING THINGS FROM OTHERS'
POINTS OF VIEW.


E.g., 4-year-old can’t understand other child’s point of
view about a toy they both want, or thinks that a visual
display will look the same from a different viewpoint.
WITH AGE, CHILDREN GRADUALLY DECENTER,
but even we adults are somewhat egocentric.
Piagetian (Cognitive Developmental)
Theory
 7.) CONSTRUCTIVISM: CHILDREN ACTIVELY
INTERPRET THE WORLD, THEY ARE NOT
MERELY PASSIVE RECIPIENTS OF
REINFORCEMENTS; THEY CONSTRUCT THEIR
OWN REALITY; THEY INTERPRET WORLD AS
FUNCTION OF THEIR STAGE.

A stage is like having a pair of colored glasses: It
makes you see the world differently;
 8.) YOUNG CHILDREN ARE LESS FLEXIBLE IN
THEIR THINKING;


e.g., moral rules are absolute: “Stealing is bad,”
Sex roles are absolute: “Girls wear dresses”; there are
no exceptions.
Piaget’s Periods of Cognitive Development
Formal
Operational
Concrete
Operational
Preoperational
Sensorimotor
0-2
2-7
7 - 12
12+
Piaget’s Periods of Cognitive Development
Birth to
years
2
Sensori-motor
Uses senses and
motor skills, items
known by use
Object
permanence
learned
2-6 yrs
Preoperational
Symbolic thinking,
language used;
egocentric thinking
Imagination/
experience grow,
child de-centers
7-11 yrs
Concrete
operational
Logic applied, has
objective/rational
interpretations
Conservation,
numbers, ideas,
classifications
12 yrs to
adulthood
Formal
operational
Thinks abstractly,
hypothetical ideas
(broader issues)
Ethics, politics,
social/moral
issues explored
Focus on organization and adaptation
Standing of Piagetian (Cognitive Developmental) Theory on
the six developmental issues
 1.) NATURE-NURTURE: INTERACTION BETWEEN
CHILD AND ENVIRONMENT; ABILITIES SUCH AS
ASSIMILATION AND ACCOMMODATION ARE
INNATE; BUT DEVELOPMENT OCCURS BECAUSE
THE CHILD CONSTANTLY MUST ACCOMMODATE
TO NEW ENVIRONMENTS
 2.) ACTIVE CHILD: CHILD IS INNATELY CURIOUS
AND EXPLORATORY
 3.) DEVELOPMENT IS DISCONTINUOUS:
COMPLETE RE-ORGANIZATION AT EACH STAGE
(QUALITATIVE CHANGE); CHANGE IS STEP-LIKE
RATHER THAN SMOOTH.
Standing of Piagetian (Cognitive Developmental) Theory on
the six developmental issues
 4.) SITUATIONAL VERSUS INDIVIDUAL CHARACTERISTICS:
INDIVIDUAL CHARACTERISTICS, ESPECIALLY THE STAGE
THE CHILD IS IN, ARE EMPHASIZED
 RISK VERSUS RESILIENCE: STAGE THEORISTS DON'T
EMPHASIZE THIS MUCH, BUT THEIR THEORY IS
CONSISTENT WITH THE IDEA THAT INDIVIDUAL
CHARACTERISTICS MODERATE RISK: E.G., OLDER
CHILDREN WOULD REACT TO A DIVORCE
DIFFERENTLY THAN YOUNGER BECAUSE THEY
WOULD BE IN DIFFERENT COGNITIVE STAGES.
 5.) CULTURAL UNIVERSALS (NORMATIVE DEVELOPMENT)
ARE EMPHASIZED: ALL CHILDREN GO THROUGH THE
STAGES
 6.) MOTIVATION IS INTRINSIC; CHILD ENJOYS FIGURING
OUT THE WORLD
2. Learning Theories: Behaviorism
Five Theoretical Perspectives

2. Learning Approach:
 Behaviorism focuses on learning of behavior;
not unobservable factors or motivations
(Watson, Pavlov, Skinner)
 Classical Conditioning: Pavlov’s dogs;
Watson classically conditions fear of rats in
a baby.
 Operant Conditioning: Skinner’s pigeons
Pavlov’s Classical Conditioning
UCS
UCR (salivation)
Before conditioning: when food
was placed in dish (UCS), the
dog salivated (UCR)
Appearance of food becomes
CS; dog salivation is the CR
CS
CS
CS
CR (salivation)
CR (salivation)
Pairing of metronome with
appearance of food makes
each a Conditioned Stimulus
Play metronome (CS) and dog
salivates (CR) without food
being presented
Watson’s Classical Conditioning
CS (furry rat)
CR (fear)
UCS (loud noise)
Skinner’s Operant Conditioning
If grades or parents’
urging are a ‘reward’
(reinforcement), student
will study well
If grades or parents’
urging are not a ‘reward’
(reinforcement), student
will do other activities
Quiz grade
of A
earned
Quiz grade
of F
earned
Learning Theories: Cognitive Social
Learning Theory: Albert Bandura


Cognitive Social Learning Theory:
children learn through operant and
classical conditioning and from
observation and imitation of role models
1. CHILDREN ARE ABLE TO LEARN
THINGS WITHOUT REINFORCEMENT.
 Children observing aggressive models were
more likely to imitate the aggressive behaviors
even if they were not rewarded for doing so.
 You learn it just by seeing it, not because you
are rewarded.
Modeled Behavior
ATTENTION
Experience, Personality characteristics,
Relationship with model, Situational variables
RETENTION
Rehearsal, Organization, Recall, Other cognitive skills
REPRODUCTION
Cognitive representation, Concept matching, Use of feedback
MOTIVATION
External & Vicarious incentives, Self-evaluation,
Internalized standards, Social comparison
Matched Behavior
Fig. 1-2
Learning Theories: Cognitive Social
Learning Theory: Albert Bandura
 2. SOCIAL LEARNING AND COGNITION: Children
do not imitate blindly or automatically; cognitive
factors are advanced as explaining why children
imitate some things and not others.
 Bandura changed learning theory by combining it
with aspects of cognitive psychology. This can be
seen in the four processes Bandura proposes as
relevant to social learning: Attention, Retention,
Production, and Motivation.

All of these undergo age changes; they all develop.
Therefore, age affects social learning.
Learning Theories: Cognitive Social
Learning Theory: Albert Bandura
 1. Attention: Children gradually improve in their ability
to pay attention.

This affects social learning because they pay better
attention to models. One couldn't lecture to
kindergartners and expect them to pay attention.
 2. Retention: Children gradually improve their ability
to remember things they have seen or experienced.

This affects social learning because children are better
able to remember what models did.
Learning Theories: Cognitive Social
Learning Theory: Albert Bandura
 3. Production: Children's abilities gradually improve.
This means that they are able to produce more of what they
see and try to imitate. Obviously, young children can't imitate
behaviors that they are physically unable to reproduce any
more than I can dunk a basketball just by watching someone
else do it.
 4. Motivation: Motivation changes as children get older.
 For example, older children are probably more concerned
about how others see them and more motivated to be
socially acceptable. This might affect what types of models
they would pay special attention to. A teenager might pay
special attention to the behavior of other kids who are seen
as cool.

Modeled Behavior
ATTENTION
Experience, Personality characteristics,
Relationship with model, Situational variables
RETENTION
Rehearsal, Organization, Recall, Other cognitive skills
REPRODUCTION
Cognitive representation, Concept matching, Use of feedback
MOTIVATION
External & Vicarious incentives, Self-evaluation,
Internalized standards, Social comparison
Matched Behavior
Fig. 1-2
Standing of Cognitive Social Learning Theory on the Six
Developmental Issues
 1.) NATURE vs. NURTURE: CSLT PROPOSES ALL
INDIVIDUAL DIFFERENCES ARE DUE TO DIFFERENT
LEARNING CONTINGENCIES; i.e., NURTURE
 2.) CLASSICAL BEHAVIORISM VIEWED CHILD AS PASSIVE;
HOWEVER, CSLT SEES THE CHILD AS 'MODERATELY
ACTIVE' BECAUSE OF THE IMPORTANCE OF CERTAIN
CHILD CHARACTERISTICS IN AFFECTING HOW CHILDREN
PROCESS THE ENVIRONMENT (ATTENTION, RETENTION,
PRODUCTION, MOTIVATION)
 3.) DEVELOPMENTAL CHANGE IS CONTINUOUS: THERE IS
QUANTITATIVE CHANGE: OLDER CHILDREN HAVE
LEARNED MORE THAN YOUNGER CHILDREN;
DEVELOPMENTAL CHANGE IS SMOOTH, NOT ABRUPT
Standing of Cognitive Social Learning Theory on the six
Developmental Issues
 4. ) EMPHASIS ON SITUATIONS (MODELING
OPPORTUNITIES, REINFORCEMENTS, PUNISHMENTS)
RATHER THAN INDIVIDUAL CHARACTERISTICS.
 EMPHASIZE FAMILY AND OTHER ENVIRONMENTAL
FACTORS AS MODERATING RISK
 5.) EMPHASIS ON IDIOGRAPHIC DEVELOPMENT, NOT
CULTURAL UNIVERSALS.
 NO CONCERN WITH NORMATIVE DEVELOPMENT
 6.) MOTIVATION IS EXTRINSIC;

CHILD LEARNS IN ORDER TO GET REWARDS OR
AVOID PUNISHMENT
Theoretical Perspectives on
Development

Information-Processing Approaches focus on
flow of information through the cognitive
system.
 Computer as Metaphor: You type data in, the
software processes it but there is a
hardware supporting the software, and out
comes a formatted term paper.
 Problem, software (cognitive program)
analyses it using parts of brain (hardware),
out comes the answer.
literature
Information-Processing Theory
science
INPUT
OUTPUT
Information is
taken into brain
history
Information is used as
basis of behaviors and
interactions
religion
math
Information gets
processed, analyzed,
and stored in the brain
until use
Theoretical Perspectives on Development: 3.
Dynamic Systems Theory
 Dynamic Systems Perspective focuses on changes over
time that result from interacting elements in a complex,
integrated system
 Individuals and their achievements can
only be understood within this
framework
 DST sees child development as a system of interacting
parts. This is most like the transactional model mentioned
above: everything affects everything else and it's all very
complicated.
 The child is constantly changing the environment and the
environment is constantly changing the child.
Dynamic Systems Theory
Dynamic Systems Theory
 Example: The family: if parents have a bad
relationship, it may have effects on the child.


Child psychologists often want to bring the whole
family in if one child is having a problem; dad's drinking
problem affects family finances and mom's mood,
resulting in harsher punishment and fewer
opportunities like after-school tutoring.
So all these things affect the child: everything affects
everything else.
 The child inherits not only the parents' genes but also
the parents' environment and from the moment of
conception they are constantly interacting.
Dynamic Systems Theory
 Characteristics of Systems Theory (from Table 1-2). The ones I
emphasize are:
1.) Complexity: Each part of the system is unique but related to the
other parts of the system. Example: Family members
 2.) Wholeness and Organization: The whose system is more than the
sum of its parts. Its collective behavior can be described in terms that
do not necessarily apply to the system's parts and their
interrelationships. To study a family, you must do more than study an
the characteristics of each member separately and the relationships
between them, but the organization of all family relationships and the
whole family as an interacting unit. See example above.
3.) Equifinality: Although the dynamics of certain kinds of systems may
be quite different, over time they tend to develop similarities. Family
systems across different societies share many common characteristics
(like parental affection), but the particular customs of a culture may
dictate quite different expressions of these charateristics (giving a child
a car as a graduation present in the U.S. versus giving a child a bow
and arrow in New Guinea.
Theoretical Perspectives on Development:
4. Contextual Perspectives
Contextual theories emphasize the child’s
environment, but they tend to emphasize
much broader aspects of the environment
than social learning theory (which
emphasizes modeling and reinforcement)
 Vygotsky’s Sociocultural Theory –
development is product of social and
cultural experiences

Bronfenbrenner’s Ecological Theory –
experiences and relationships in layers
of environmental systems impact child
development
Theoretical Perspectives on Development:
Contextual Perspectives: Vygotsky’s
Sociocultural Theory
Development is product of social and
cultural experiences
 Emphasizes importance of cultural
variation in development – cultural tools
include language, technology
 Vygotsky was the premier psychologist of
the Soviet Union after the Bolshevik
Revolution. He was a Marxist, and his
theory reflected that.

Theoretical Perspectives on Development:
Contextual Perspectives: Vygotsky’s
Sociocultural Theory
 1) Did NOT focus on the individual child but on
the child as a product of social interaction,
especially with adults (parents, teachers).
 2.) Focus on DYADIC INTERACTIONS (e.g., child
being taught by a parent how to perform some
culturally specific action), rather than child by
himself.
Theoretical Perspectives on Development:
Contextual Perspectives: Vygotsky’s
Sociocultural Theory

3.) Social world mediates children's cognitive development.
Cognitive development occurs as child's thinking is molded
by society in the form of parents, teachers, and peers. This
leads to peer tutoring as a strategy in classrooms.

4.) The result is that people's thinking differs dramatically
between cultures because different cultures stress different
things. Leads to extreme cultural relatavism.


For example, Box 1.1 on p. 17 shows that Uzbekis
responded to reasoning problems using concrete
examples from their own experience. But after learning to
read and write, they responded to the problems in a more
abstract manner.
Before literacy, they had trouble with syllogism where the
truth of the premises is irrelevant to the logical properties
of the argument.
 All people who live in red houses are purple.
John lives in a red house.
John is purple.
Chronosystem
National customs
Cultural values
Social conditions
Economic patterns
Political philosophy
Macrosystem
Historical
times,etc.
Exosystem
Mesosystem
Intimate & immediate
effects: Family,
School,Peers,
Playground
Health care services
Religious institutions
Microsystem
Child
Mass media, education,
Friends of family
Extended family
Legal services, work,
Community/neighbors
Social welfare services
Bronfenbrenner’s Ecological model of development
Theoretical Perspectives on Development: 5.
Ethological and Evolutionary Perspectives:
Ethology: Konrad Lorenz, Niko Tinbergen
 CLASSICAL ETHOLOGICAL THEORY: Ethology studies
the behavior of animals and humans from an
evolutionary perspective
 BEHAVIOR AS AN ADAPTATION (HAS SURVIVAL
VALUE)
 ADAPTATION = A BEHAVIOR, a physical trait (like the
bones of a bird wing) or cognitive program DESIGNED
BY NATURAL SELECTION IN ORDER TO PERFORM A
PARTICULAR FUNCTION.
 = an evolutionary problem solver.
 EXAMPLE: ATTACHMENT IS A BEHAVIORAL
SYSTEM DESIGNED BY NATURAL SELECTION TO
KEEP THE BABY CLOSE TO ITS MOTHER
 Animals have thousands of adaptations.
Theoretical Perspectives on Development:
Ethology
 MUCH OF ANIMAL BEHAVIOR IS INSTINCTIVE
INSTINCTIVE BEHAVIOR = :
1.) BEHAVIOR OCCURS IN ALL MEMBERS OF
SPECIES (= SPECIES-TYPICAL BEHAVIOR)
2.) NO LEARNING REQUIRED; OFTEN BEHAVIOR
CAN DEVELOP WITHOUT ANIMAL EVER
EXPERIENCING OTHER MEMBERS OF THE
SPECIES
3.) STEREOTYPED BEHAVIOR
Theoretical Perspectives on Development:
Ethology
 Ethology emphasize how animal’s behavior is
adapted to the context (evolutionary
contextualism).

BEHAVIOR IS ELICITED IN PARTICULAR
CONTEXTS: E.G., AN ANIMAL MAY BE
AGGRESSIVE ONLY DURING MATING SEASON,
OR ONLY WITH OTHER MALES
 LIKE COGNITIVE DEVELOPMENTAL THEORY,
ETHOLOGY EMPHASIZES UNIVERSALS OF
DEVELOPMENT (NORMATIVE DEVELOPMENT:

ALL CHILDREN DEVELOP THE BASIC EMOTIONS
IN THE SAME SEQUENCE IN ALL CULTURES: JOY,
SADNESS, DISTRESS, ANGER, FEAR, ETC.
Theoretical Perspectives on Development:
Ethology
 METHODOLOGY: NATURALISTIC
OBSERVATION; STRONGLY OPPOSED TO
LABORATORY EXPERIMENTS UNTIL
BASIC NATURALISTIC OBSERVATION
COMPLETED.

This was a major departure from both
Cognitive Social Learning Theory (lab based
experiments) and Cognitive Developmental
Theory (interviews)
Theoretical Perspectives on Development:
Ethology
 IMPORTANT CONTRIBUTIONS OF ETHOLOGY:
 1.) NATURALISTIC OBSERVATION
 2.) THINK OF CHILDREN'S BEHAVIOR AS
INCLUDING A SET OF BIOLOGICAL ADAPTATIONS
FOR SURVIVAL OVER EVOLUTIONARY TIME
 3.) STUDY BEHAVIORS THAT ALSO OCCUR IN
ANIMALS (DOMINANCE, AGGRESSION,
ATTACHMENT, early parent-offspring relationships)
 4.) FOCUS ON NONVERBAL BEHAVIOR:
EMOTIONAL EXPRESSIONS, THREAT GESTURES,
POSTURE, ETC.
 5.) CRITICAL PERIOD OR SENSITIVE PERIOD.
Theoretical Perspectives on Development:
Ethology: Sensitive or Critical Periods
 DEFINITION: A PERIOD IN DEVELOPMENT WHEN
ORGANISM IS MOST OPEN TO ENVIRONMENTAL
INFLUENCES (I. E., HAS GREATEST PLASTICITY)
HIGH
PLASTICITY
LOW
______________________________
AGE
 EXAMPLES OF CRITICAL OR SENSITIVE PERIODS:
IMPRINTING IN DUCKS;
ATTACHMENT IN HUMANS;
EFFECTS OF ENVIRONMENT ON IQ(?)
PRENATAL EFFECTS OF TERATOGENS (E.G., ALCOHOL)
ON BABIES
Sensitive Periods for Teratogens
Ethology: Sensitive or Critical Periods:
Orphaned Baby Hippo adopts Turtle as
Mom
Ethology: Sensitive or Critical Periods:
Orphaned Baby Hippo adopts Turtle as
Mom
Ethology: Sensitive or Critical Periods:
Orphaned Baby Hippo adopts Turtle as
Mom
Theoretical Perspectives on Development:
Evolutionary Psychology
 Similar to ethology but emphasis on the adaptiveness
of cognition.



The brain is composed of a variety of specialized
mechanisms designed to solve particular problems in
our evolutionary past. These are adaptations –
evolutionary problem solvers.
For example, there are mechanisms to pick
appropriate mates (e.g., males attracted to youth and
beauty as signs of fertility and health) and to deal with
objects in three-dimensional space.
Babies come into the world with a basic understanding
of 3-dimensional space and objects. For example, they
understand that objects like a toy truck can't go
through a barrier. See Figure 8.1 on p. 328.
Theoretical Perspectives on Development:
Evolutionary Psychology
 Each mechanism is specifically designed to solve an
adaptive problem: The mind as a Swiss Army knife with
different mechanism for fear, sexual attraction, attachment
to mother, estimating probabilities, seeing 3-dimensional
objects, etc.
Box 1.1: Children of the Great
Depression (p. 15)
 Mothers’ power increased as fathers lost
jobs; mothers got jobs or took in boarders
 Increase in divorce, separation, and desertion
 Children “drafted” into work
 More punitive discipline, especially fathers
 Children, especially boys moved out sooner;
negative affect, moody
 Tended to take safe, secure jobs rather than
risky jobs later in life
The End
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