The People and The Field
What is Developmental Psychology?
Who does this research?
What do we study?
Prenatal life, childhood, adolescence, emerging adulthood, and gerontology - in effect, the lifespan
of humans - is the subject of developmental psychologists.
Aspects from conception to birth through living to dying
Changes in capabilities, both thinking & moving
Working and playing
Cultural, social and biological influences on behavior
What makes us healthy? What diseases ravage us?
How do different cultures or other conditions effect change?
Why study development?
You, your friends and acquaintances, the people around you, your spouse, your children, your
parents – everyone changes as they grow.
Can we predict what those changes will be and how those changes will occur?
Would it help you in your life to know how different people at different ages will react?
Would it help to know the variables that make change occur?
What factors influence development?
The impact of cohort
A cohort is our birth group
Example is the baby boomers (1946 to 1964)
Baby boomers can also be broken into separate cohorts
Changing conceptions of childhood
Children required for farm labor
Children farmed out for the industrial revolution
Children as blank slates and noble savages
Mandatory Education in High School
Child welfare laws
Adolescents and the Emerging Adulthood
Changing conceptions of old age
Lifespan improvements – increasing lifespan
Improving the quality of foods and antibiotics
Chronic Diseases of old age on the increase
The young and the old-old – new categories
Changing ideas about adult life
Is there only one acceptable behavior that defines an “adult” life?
Woman at home - man working
Honor and respect; the elderly - retirement age
Divorced and never married families
Childless couples and interracial couples
What Impacts Life –
Within the United States -
Decreasing income leads to decreasing health, education & longevity
Other parts of the world dire conditions of poverty still exist
Gender and economic casts attitudes towards divorce & arranged marriage
Collectivism vs. Individualism
Roles, aggression, life expectancy & stereotypes
Broad theories attempt to explain behavior for all ages.
Stage theories attempt to explain behavior at various ages of life.
Five broad theories:
Behaviorism – it’s all Nurture
Watson and Skinner
Reinforcement and extinction
We should not study thinking and only study what is observable
Find the rules of rewards
Social Learning – more Nurture
Modeling and Learning by imitation
Attachment - Nurture & Nature
Bowlby and Harlow
Parental treatment in early life
Evolutionary psychologists - Nature
Behavior is genetic
We behave in ways that kept our ancestors alive
Nature is more important than Nurture
Behavioral Genetics - Nature
Studies of fraternal (dizygotic) and identical (monozygotic) twins
Adoption studies compare twins against both adoptive and birth parents
Looking for environmental and genetic factors of
IQ has a heritability index of +.8
Nature and Nurture together
Living is Evocative
What behaviors do we evoke in others?
When a person’s thinking, behavior and environment mutually influence each other
Interactions between people are bidirectional
Living is Active
What activities do we actively seek out?
Our tendencies to seek out activities are shaped by our genetics. Seeking out those activities
will increase our abilities in those areas, increasing the difference between us and them has we develop.
Nurturing helps us express our Nature
A genius IQ - without proper nutrition and forced to work as a migrant worker with no chance
of proper education - will be wasted
We need the correct person-environment fit
Interactions of nature in any given trait are dependent on the canalization of the gene.
Highly canalized genes are those that do not react strongly to environmental influences
Piaget’s cognitive development theory
Qualitatively different stages exist in the way thinking develops
Concrete operational stage
Formal operational stage
Schemas & Assimilation & Accommodation
Focused on children
Erikson’s psychosocial tasks
Erikson believed that we continue to develop throughout our lifetimes
Eight stages each with its own bifurcating task
Trust, Autonomy, Initiative, Industry, Identity, Intimacy, Generativity and Integrity
Successful navigation of initial tasks is required to successfully navigate later tasks
Successful navigation means finding a balance between the two tasks
Putting it all together:
The developmental systems approach
We need all the theories to completely understand human development.
We need to understand that complex relationships exist between everything.
We must take everything into consideration when examining human life development.
Two strategies for exploring causes:
Experiments manipulating variables
The scientific method, independent and dependent variables, control groups, placebos, random
Self Reports, Surveys, Case studies & Naturalistic Observations
Correlation does not mean Causation
Validity vs. Reliability
Getting a single snapshot of groups
Different age groups compared at the same time
Gives differences between age groups
Does not tell us the changes that occur with age
The gold standard developmental science design
Test at intervals - one group over many years
Requires lots of time and expense
The longer it continues the more biased the sample becomes
Research scientists use a lot of statistical analysis
We must quantify the differences within groups
Even genetics is used as an independent variable
Involves in-depth studies of individuals