Donette Steele, M.A. / Clinical Psychology

Developmental Psychology Chapter One Study Guide

Chapter 1:


The People and The Field


What is Developmental Psychology?


Who does this research?

Child Psychologists


Multidisciplinary approach







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 –


Socioeconomic status


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

Classical conditioning

Operant conditioning

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

Self efficacy


Attachment - Nurture & Nature


Bowlby and Harlow

Parental treatment in early life

Caregiver comfort

Biologically programmed


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 traits


IQ has a heritability index of +.8


Nature and Nurture together

Living is Evocative


What behaviors do we evoke in others?


Reciprocal determinism


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


Stage Theories



Piaget’s cognitive development theory


Qualitatively different stages exist in the way thinking develops


Sensorimotor stage


Preoperational stage


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.


Research Methods


Two strategies for exploring causes:


Experiments manipulating variables


The scientific method, independent and dependent variables, control groups, placebos, random assignments


Correlational studies


Self Reports, Surveys, Case studies & Naturalistic Observations


Correlation does not mean Causation


Validity vs. Reliability




Cross-sectional studies:


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


Longitudinal studies:


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


Quantitative research

Research scientists use a lot of statistical analysis

We must quantify the differences within groups

Even genetics is used as an independent variable


Qualitative research


Involves in-depth studies of individuals



Enter content here

Enter supporting content here