Life-Span Human Development - Sigelman & Rider - 7th edition - BulletPoints

Chapter 1: Understanding Human Development

  • Developmental psychology is the study of the “what” and “how” of change over a lifetime. Development is the systematic change and continuity in individuals, including physical, cognitive, and psychosocial/socio-emotional development. People undergo growth, physical changes from conception to maturity, where each life phase experiences gains, stability, and losses. Aging, on the other hand, is a range of physical, cognitive and psychosocial changes in the mature organism, both positive (biggest vocabulary) and negative (less memory capacity)
  • People are often characterised by their ages. Age grades are socially defined age groups, such as toddlers or teenagers. Ages and age grades have a role in society, as they often determine when someone is allowed to do something, like vote, drive, or drink alcohol. Additionally, age limits are based on assumptions about what a child can/ cannot process/ understand and how the body develops. Age norms are expectations about how one is supposed to act at a specific age. They are the basis for a person’s social clock, a sense of when things should be done (e.g. becoming pregnant). Age norms affect how easily people adjust to life transitions (deal better with birth when “right in time”)
  • The Bioecological Model by Urie Brofenbrenner is a dynamic system where many systems shape the development individually and in interaction:
    • Microsystem: relations between the developing person and her immediate environmental items → objects and people (e.g. infant and caregiver)

    • Mesosystem: interrelations between microsystem items (spillover) (e.g. home and daycare)

    • Exosystem: social, environmental settings that affect but do not contain the individual (e.g .governmental policy changes)

    • Macrosystem: larger cultural context of development (e.g. traditions of country)

    • Chronosystem: patterning of changes/ events in a “time frame” (e.g. the years in which one is raised)

  • The modern life span perspective by Paul Baltes has 7 key assumptions:
    • Development is a lifelong process
    • Development is multidimensional (different areas have different developmental trajectories)
    • Development involves gain and loss, neutral changes and stability in each age stage
    • Development is characterized by lifelong plasticity
      • Plasticity: capacity to change in response to positive and negative experiences

      • Neuroplasticity: brain changes in response to experience → elderly can still learn

    • Development is shaped by its historical- cultural context
    • Development is multiply influenced (system’s levels, na+nu)
    • Development must be studied in the context of multiple disciplines (biology, history, psychology…)

Chapter 2: Issues and Theories of Development

  • This chapter introduces and discusses several developmental theories that provide organization and a lens through which facts and observations are explained.
  • Nativism: a “nature” position that states the development is universal and predetermined. According to the theory, traits are hard-wired and unfold over a life-span due to physical maturation. Differences between people stem from genetic differences.
  • Reductionism/ Determinism: and extreme “nature” position that states that development is completely biologically predetermined. It is criticised for being oversimplified and is not widely believed.
  • Empiricism/ Constructivism: a “nurture” position that states that the environment shapes development. At birth, people are “tabula rasae”, blank slates, and abilities are constructed over time by the physical and social environment. Differences between people arise due to environmental differences.
  • Standard Social Science Model: an extreme “nature” position, where experience, education and upbringing alone explain development. Similar to reductionism/determinism, this theory is criticised for being oversimplified and is not widely believed.
  • Freud’s Psychoanalytic Theory states that people are driven by unaware motives and emotional conflicts, and are shaped by early experiences. They are driven by instincts (inborn biological forces, source of psychic energy) to satisfy basic biological urges.
  • Behaviorism: Conclusions should be based on observations of overt behavior, and one should reject the unobservable
  • Social Cognitive Theory (Bandura): Humans are cognitive beings whose active processing plays a critical role in their learning, behavior and development. They can think about behavior and consequences, and punish and reward themselves to affect behavior. People base their behavior on estimated rather than actual consequences.

Chapter 3: Biological and Environmental Influences on Development

  • Humans develop similarly because of a shared gene pool. According to Darwin’s theory of natural selection, genes that aid members of a population will eventually become more common within the population. Humans also develop similarly because of similar living environments across the globe. Cultural differences,however, have been shown to influence development.
  • Each individual has a unique heredity, and environmental factors play a role in how these genes are expressed. The three main mechanisms of inheritance are: single gene pair inheritance, sex-linked inheritance, and polygenic inheritance. Genetic counseling offers guidance to people who are at risk for a genetic condition.
  • Useful research methods for studying the genetic and environmental influences of development include selective breeding, twin studies, adoption studies, and other family studies.
  • Intelligence, aspects of temperament and personality, and psychological disorders have been shown to have a heritable component.
  • Gene-environment interactions describe how the environment influences the expression of a gene and how genes influence the way people interact with the environment. Studies have shown that people tend to seek environments that match their genetic predisposition.

Chapter 4: Prenatal Period and Birth

  • Prenatal development includes conception, germinal, embryonic, and foetal periods. Couples who experience problems with conception can use assisted reproduction technologies, such as artificial insemination. The germinal period lasts about 2 weeks, where the sperm penetrates and fertilises an egg, creating a zygote. During the first 8 weeks after conception, the embryonic period involves the development of major organs and the formation of the placenta. The fetal period lasts from Week 9 to the end of pregnancy, where the body and brain undergo much growth. Growth during the prenatal period is faster than any other life stage.
  • The womb is an environment and can affect prenatal development. Teratogens are diseases, drugs, and other substances that could harm the fetus during prenatal development. They are particularly damaging to organs during this rapid time of development. The mother’s age, emotional state, health, and nutrition can also affect a developing fetus. Characteristics of the father, such as age at conception, can also affect the baby.
  • The prenatal environment includes any delivery practices used in a pregnancy. Many people give birth in hospitals, but some opt for a home birth or alternative methods, such as water birthing. Sometimes, childbirth does not go as planned; some babies may need assistance if they are born premature, ill, or in an unideal position. One common birth complication is anoxia, or a lack of oxygen, which can lead to brain damage in the baby.
  • The neonatal environment refers to the environment directly after birth. Breastfeeding is promoted in nearly all cultures, as breastfeeding offers many benefits. Some babies are born at risk for further complications; however many at-risk babies show a great deal of resilience and outgrow their problems.

Chapter 5: Physical Development and Health

  • Growth and development are shaped by genetics and environment. Each of them can be dominant at different times, but they always interact. Catch-up growth occurs after a period of malnutrition, when a person catches up on the genetically programmed path of development.
  • Brain Development: At birth, there is 25% of the adult brain weight present. After 2 years, it’s already 75%, and at age 5, 90%. Brain development is ˆplastic,meaning that it is highly responsive to individual experiences and can develop in a variety of ways, especially early in life. Developing brains that are damaged can often recover. The critical period for brain development is from late prenatal period until infancy.
  • Due to lateralization the two hemispheres are specialized and differentiated from each other. Both halves are constantly active throughout any kind of task. The whole brain is active when it comes to language. Hemispheres communicate through connective pathways. The most important one is the corpus callosum. If one half of the brain is removed, the other half compensates for the loss and acquires additional skills.
  • Neurogenesis is the life-long process of generating new neurons. Physical and mental exercise enhances it, especially in the hippocampus, a region associated with learning and memory.
  • Infants come into the world with many abilities, including reflexes. They experience a rapid growth rate and achieve many motor milestones, such as crawling, walking, reaching, and grasping. The leading cause of infant mortality is congenital malformations and complications.
  • Childhood brings up marked improvement in all aspects of physical growth and motor skills. Children’s health is affected by physical activity, environment, and the parents’ socioeconomic status. The leading cause of death in children is accidental injury.
  • In adolescence, people experience a rapid growth spurt and experience puberty and maturity. The most significant milestones are menarche for women (first period) and semenarche (first ejaculation) for men. The physical changes experienced during this period often have psychological implications: grils tend to react more negatively and boys, positively. Teens tend to have poor fitness due to inactivity. Additionally, the prefrontal cortex in teenagers is not yet developed, leading to risky behaviour.
  • Adulthood brings further physical changes and the first signs of aging. Women experience menopause and men, andropause. Healthy older adults function just as younger healthy adults, aside from being slower in their motions and less co-ordinated. Health is most influenced by the environmental impact on genetic dispositions during this phase of life. Many fear aging and may interpret bodily changes negatively during later adulthood.

Chapter 6: Perceptual Development

  • Sensation and perception are at the core of human functioning, everything depends on your ability to sense and perceive the world around you. Sensation is the process by which sensory receptor neurons detect information and transmit it to the brain. Perception is the interpretation of sensory input, recognizing what you see, understanding what is said to you
  • Infants have basic sensory capabilities that are further refined according to an innate plan. Some innate tendencies are evident at birth, then learning and innate maturation determine their development. Nativists believe that innate capabilities and maturational programs, rather than external input, are responsible for perceptual development. Constructivists believe that perception is constructed over time through learning, requiring interacting with the environment, while sensory systems work right from birth onwards
  • Infants’ senses function before birth and in the first few months. There are many signs that they perceive a coherent rather than a chaotic world as they were thought to perceive earlier (views have changed away from James’ “blooming, buzzing confusion” of sensory input). Methods of studying infant development include: habituation, evoked potentials, preferential looking, and operant conditioning. At birth, senses of taste, smell, and hearing are already well-developed. Spatial perception develops within the first 7 months and cross-modal perception develops between 3 and 6 months of age.
  • During childhood, sensory perception does not change very much. Learning to control attention is one of the most important things learned during childhood, and children who master this task have been shown to be more successful at problem-solving.
  • Basic attentional and perceptual skills are refined during adolescence. Problem-solving ability improves and adolescents who are exposed to loud sounds may experience permanent or temporary tinnitus. Additionally, adolescents develop a sense for umami tastes, and people develop their own “sense of taste.”
  • Adulthood sees the gradual decline of sensory and perceptual capabilities, particularly seen in sensory thresholds. Adults require more input in order to sense a sensation. Adults may also develop cataracts (clouding of lens) and may begin requiring glasses to read. Many adults also experience presbycusis, or changes in hearing. Senses of smell, taste, and memory also decline as aging continues, sometimes resulting in adults losing the enjoyment they once had from different foods.

Chapter 7: Cognitive Development

  • Piaget’s Constructivist Approach: Piaget used the clinical method, a flexible question and answer technique to discover how children think about problems. It is not used today anymore. His goal was to find out what children know and how they think. Piaget is a constructivist: children construct their own environment, development and knowledge.He also believed that intelligence is a basic life function that helps (an organism) adapt to its environment. Children build cognitive schemes to interpret their experiences.
  • Cognition is the activity of having and acquiring knowledge and problem solving. As children encounter new things, they first try to assimilate the encountered stimulus and interpret it in terms of existing schemes. When this is not possible, they experience disequilibrium, a conflict between what is known and what is seen. They have to accommodate, refine existing schemes or open new ones that fit the experience. Finally there is an equilibrium again, a mental stability that allows the child to make sense of the experience made. Infants are in the sensorimotor stage of cognitive development.
  • They have behavioral schemes (grasping, mouthing) and solve problems with actions, not mentally. Infants also develop object permanence, the understanding that objects continue to exist even though they are temporarily not visible. They continue to make the A-not-B error: babies look at expected/ learned place when their object is gone rather than the observed, new place where it is actually hidden; however this is overcome between 3 and 18 months of age.
  • Children go on from the preoperational to the concrete operational stage. At age 2-7, children have a high symbolic capacity and engage in pretend plays. They sometimes even have imaginary companions. They focus on salient things that jump to their attention and keep their attention centered to one object. Children have difficulties with the concept of conservation (that certain properties of an object don’t change when its appearance does, i.e. same amount of water in two different shape glasses). Around age 7, when entering school, children reach the concrete operational stage. They become able to perform mental actions on objects, and master to understand the concept conservation. They further learn to take others’ perspectives. They master logical actions, decentration, reversibility of thought and transformational thought.
  • Adolescents can perform mental actions on ideas rather than only things. Thus they are able to mentally juggle and think logically. Thinking becomes hypothetical and abstract, problems can be solved systematically with a scientific approach. Adolescents are capable of decontextualization of ideas.They engage in a form of egocentrism including imaginary audience (confuse own thoughts with those of a possible audience) and personal fable (see oneself and own thoughts as unique, exclude oneself from rules). This fades away with age. If their relationship to their parents doesn’t give security, their egocentrism may persist.
  • Adults only make use of formal operational skills in fields of expertise or familiarity (e.g. politics students failing at easy physics questions). A formal education is necessary in order to achieve this last stage of development. Nowadays there is the idea of postformal thought, that is, using ways of thinking that are more complex than those of the formal operational stage, thus applying logic to an open set of ideas. Relativistic thought involves understanding that knowledge depends on its context and the subjective perspective of the knower. Dialectical thinking is detecting paradoxes and inconsistencies among ideas and trying to reconcile them. Asking oneself what is true and finding more than one solution to a problem at hand.


Chapter 8: Information Processing and Memory

  • Memory is the ability to store and later retrieve information. Computers are used as an analogy to human cognition. Different parts of a computer symbolize attention, perception, memory and decision making. The storage space grows with age. Implicit memory is subconscious and automatic (ie: riding a bike). Explicit memory is effortful and deliberate. Semantic memory contains general facts (What happened at 9/11?) Episodic memory contains specific events (What did I do that day?)
  • Researchers can learn about infant memory by noting whether or not infants can imitate an action performed by a model. Deferred imitation means being able to imitate a novel act after a delay. Furthermore habituation and operant conditioning can be used to test infant memory. Early memory is highly cue-dependent and context-specific. First attempts of problem-solving can be observed around 9 months. To use others as a tool (“help me, mommy”) is learned around 14 months.
  • There are 4 major hypotheses about why learning/ memory improves in childhood:
  1. Changes in basic capacities (better hardware)

  2. Changes in memory strategies (better software)

  3. Increasing knowledge about memory (metamemory)

  4. Increasing knowledge about the world (metaknowledge)

  • Additionally, working memory capacity, consolidation and the speed of mental processes increase around the age of 4. When tasks are mastered and then seen as easy, there is open capacity to acquire new skills. Memory and remembering get more flexible, effective and selective during childhood; however, children make preservation errors, where they apply a learned strategy to a novel problem even though it is not successful in the current situation.
  • During adolescence, new learning/ memory strategies emerge and elaboration is mastered. Existing strategies are used more deliberately and selectively. Cognitive development is related to a number of factors, such as gender,socioeconomic status, etc. Teens are aware of their several memory processes and can evaluate their own memory.
  • Information processing is at its peak in young adulthood. Over the course of a lifetime, adults develop expertise; it takes 10 years to become a true expert in a field. Memory and problem-solving specialize and become perfect in a chosen field. New information is then gained more easily in the field of specialization, but not in other fields. With age comes minor impairments in memory, but over-generalization should be avoided due to huge variety and many exceptions. Learning something unfamiliar or meaningless becomes difficult and is processed slowly. Negative beliefs about worse memory in old people often become a self-fulfilling prophecy. Retrieval becomes more difficult and logical application of memory strategies declines. Implicit memory capacity is bigger than explicit memory capacity. Working memory declines because the nervous system gets slower and people become more easily distractible.
  • Older adults can rely on their knowledge base and perform well in familiar tasks, but in novel situations. they often fail to apply problem solving strategies. They also select out cognitive options and often stop after finding one solution rather than finding several ones. Many elderly people compensate for decreasing skills somehow (i.e. by taking notes). They optimize performance and outcomes by focusing on what is important to them.

Chapter 9: Intelligence

  • Intelligence can be thought of as a trait that allows some people to solve problems more effectively than others. It includes a generalised factor (g), as well as more broad abilities (crystal and fluid intelligence) and a variety of specific abilities.
  • Creativity is the ability to produce novel and socially valuable work. Divergent, rather than convergent, thinking is important in creativity and it is generally measured in ideational fluency, the number of ideas a person can generate.
  • During infancy, it is not easy to measure intelligence. Infantile measurements that capture speed of processing often predict later intelligence.
  • IQ becomes more stable during childhood, and scores obtained at one point often remain unchanged. Those who gain IQ points during childhood often have favourable home environments, while the opposite is true for disadvantaged children. Creativity also develops during childhood but dips during elementary school, possibly in response to the social pressure to conform.
  • IQ scores remain relatively stable throughout adolescence and scores approach adult levels. IQ scores in this stage are often good predictors of academic performance. Creativity also increases during adolescence, showing much variation between individuals.
  • In adulthood, IQ scores are correlated with health and professional success. IQ tends to decrease slightly with age. Few adults have a good sense of wisdom, exceptional insight into complex life problems, which is often a result of knowledge, life experience, and intelligence. Creative output increases drastically from early to middle adulthood.

Chapter 10: Language Development and Education

  • Language is a communication system in which signals from a limited set of sounds, letters, or sign language, are combined in accordance with predetermined rules to create messages. It is a bottom-up process.According to Vygotsky, language is the primary source through which learning occurs, it is a thinking tool.
  • Language is used according to agreed-upon rules:
    • Phonemes: Basic units of sounds (not letters!) that can change the meaning of a word. Language specifies how phonemes can be combined

    • Morphemes: Basic unit of meaning that exist in a word (i.e. add pre- to a word to change its meaning).

    • Syntax: Systematic rules for forming sentences (understanding of acceptable sentence structure. Where a word falls in the sentence changes the meaning of the sentence.)

    • Semantics: Understanding different meanings of a sentence (i.e. metaphors)

    • Pragmatics: Rules for specifying how language is used appropriately in different social contexts.

    • Prosody: How sounds are produced/melody; pitch, stress, duration, pronunciation

  • At birth, babies produce sounds to exercise vocal cords. At 1-2 months, differentiated crying is used to express hunger, anger, sleepiness, loneliness and pain. During this time, babies do not yet understand content of what others say, but react to melody and pitch of others’ speech. At 5 months, babies realize that making different sounds has different effect on caregiver’s behavior. Between 4 and 6 months, babbling begins (repeating consonant-vowel combinations in primary circular reaction, repeating of an interesting noise for the pleasure of making it). At 7.5 months, word segmentation (ability to detect a target word in a stream of speech) develops. At 10 months, infants can comprehend ~50 spoken words, and at 12 months, infants can use social and linguistic cues. Finally, syntactic bootstrapping (using the syntax of a sentence-where a word is placed in a sentence- to determine the meaning of the word) emerges.
  • ~1 y: babies holophrases (single-word sentences, can serve different functions, i.e. name, question, request, demand). At 18 months, children experience a vocabulary spurt and learn a large amount of words. Within 3 months, infants will learn up to 300 words, but make common mistakes, which may result from trying to communicate with a limited vocabulary rather than misunderstanding meaning:
  • Overextension is using words to refer to a too wide range of objects/events (i.e. child calls all furry four-legged animals “doggie”), while underextension is using word to a too narrow range of objects (i.e. using the word “doggie” to refer only to basset hounds like the family pet). Both are examples of Piaget’s concept of assimilation.
  • School-age children improve pronunciation, produce complex sentences and improve their vocabulary. Development depends largely on the language level spoken at home. This creates big individual differences between children. In the first grade of elementary school, children know ~10000 words and add 5-13 every day.During late childhood and adolescence, children develop metalinguistic awareness, knowledge about language, (i.e. language as a system)
  • Adults retain knowledge of grammar and refine their language abilities. In older age, people use less complex sentences. Knowledge of semantics expands until 70s/ 80s. Increasing incidents of top-of-tongue experience (not able to retrieve a word one usually knows). Speech becomes slower in the process of aging.

Chapter 11: Conceptualisation of Self and Personality

  • Over the first 6 months of life, infants discover properties of their physical selves, distinguish between the self and the rest of the world, and appreciate that they can act upon other people and objects. Infants classify themselves into social categories based on age, sex, and other visible characteristics. The ability to recognize oneself physically depends on cognitive development and social interaction.
  • Parent-child conversations that focus on past experiences and the emotions associated with them help young children pull together what they know about themselves into a consistent self-concept. Pre-school aged children tend to use global terms (nice, good). Their descriptions of their characteristic behavioral patterns and preferences may provide the foundation for their later personality trait descriptions.
  • Self-esteem becomes more differentiated and multidimensional with age. Preschool-aged children only distinguish between competence and personal/social adequacy.In middle school, children begin to differentiate among 5 aspects of self-worth: scholastic competence (feeling smart/ being good at school), social acceptance, behavioral conduct, athletic competence and physical appearance (feeling good-looking). As children get older they integrate their self-perceptions in these distinct domains and form an overall abstract self-worth. Self-esteem has then become multidimensional and hierarchical. Around age 8, children’s self-evaluations become more accurate. They develop a sense of what they “should” be like (Ideal Self) and self-doubts.
  • During adolescence, self-descriptions become less physical and more psychological. Self-portraits become less concrete and more abstract. Adolescents have a more differentiated self-concept (describe psychological and subjective attributes about the self that cannot be observed). Older adolescents gain the ability to organize their self-perceptions into a more integrated, coherent self-portrait. Adolescents are more self-aware and reflective about the self (they become painfully self-conscious and compare themselves with others). Social comparison increases drastically.
  • Self-esteem tends to be relatively high in childhood, drop in adolescence, rise gradually through the adult years until the mid-60s, then drop again in old age. People’s goals and standards change with age so that what seem like losses or failures to a younger person may not be perceived as such by an older adult. The elderly apply different measuring sticks in evaluating themselves and do not mind failing to achieve goals that are no longer important to them.

Chapter 12: Gender and Sexuality

  • A person’s biological sex is the physical characteristics that are basis for sex differences. Gender incorporates all those features that a society associates with or considers appropriate for being men and women. Gender Roles are patterns of behavior that females and males should adopt in a particular society, and Gender-Role Norms are societal expectations or standards concerning what males and females should be like.
  • At 3-4 months of age, infants can distinguish between male and female faces. In infancy, boys are more active than girls. Infant sex determines how adults interpret their behavior (i.e. assume a crying girl to be scared, a boy to be angry). Mothers tend to treat boys and girls more equally than fathers. Children are actively encouraged to engage in gender role behavior. Boys are more socially restricted (“Stop crying, boys don’t cry!”), while girls’ deviant behavior is more accepted (“She is just a little tomboy.”) By 12 months of age, babies look longer at male (or female) faces when they hear a male (or female) voice than when they hear a voice that does not match the gender of the face. By 18 months, most toddlers seem to have an emerging understanding that they are either like other males or like other females. By 24 months of age infants look longer at males and females performing gender-inconsistent activities than at those performing gender-consistent activities. By age 2 ½ - 3 years, children acquire an awareness of their own gender.
  • Children become aware that they are biological males or females but also acquire the motives, values, and patterns of behavior that their culture considers appropriate for members of their biological sex in the age range 3-6. This is called gender typing. Once their gender identities are more firmly established, children can afford to be more flexible in their thinking about what is “for boys” and what is “for girls”. Other research suggests that children’s rigidity about gender-role violations depends on how essential a behavior is to children’s understanding of gender identity.
  • Adolescents are more likely than younger children to make negative judgments about peers who violate expectations by engaging in cross-sex behavior and interests. Gender differences may be magnified by hormonal changes associated with puberty which increases the pressure to conform to gender roles. Also, social pressures or the perception of peers’ thoughts and expectations can affect behaviors and lead to gender intensification. Teens conform to gender stereotypes in order to appeal for dating. Later in adolescence, they become more flexible
  • Gender roles become more distinct and are expressed differently in different life phases. Society doesn’t yet treat women equally in work environments. Higher standards for are posed on women. Prejudices prevail. Manly traits of agency (competitiveness) are rated less likable in women, which can lead to exclusion from job offers.

Chapter 13: Social Cognitive and Moral Development

  • Social Cognition is thinking about the perceptions, thoughts, emotions, motives, and behaviors of self, other people, groups, and even whole social systems. Seeing oneself in relation with others. False Belief Task assesses the understanding that people can hold incorrect beliefs and that these beliefs, even though incorrect, can influence behavior. Theory of Mind is the understanding that people have mental states such as desires, beliefs, and intentions and that these mental states guide (or cause) their behavior.
  • Researchers have detected forerunners of theory of mind in the first 2 years of life and believe that theory of mind develops long before children pass the false belief test. Some researchers even claim that infants as young as 15 months understand that people can hold false beliefs. Others suggest that the intuitions shown by infants may be achieved by reading situational and behavioral cues or by applying a simple rule that says people look where they last saw an object rather than where they believe an object to be. Theory of mind unfolds in 2 stages:
    • Desire Psychology (age 2): They talk about what they want and explain their own behavior and that of others in terms of wants and desires.

    • Belief-Desire Psychology (age 4): They appreciate that people do what they do because they desire certain things and because they believe that certain actions will help them fulfill their desires.

  • Morality involves the ability to distinguish right from wrong, to act on this distinction, and to experience pride when we do the right things and guilt or shame we do not. Early relationships with parents contribute to moral development. Warm, empathetic caregivers induce good morality. Children must internalize moral standards if they are to behave morally even when no authority figure is present to detect and punish their misbehavior.
  • It is through social learning experiences, accumulated over years, that children come to understand and internalize moral rules and standards. By 18-24 months, children already begin to show visible signs of distress such as disapproval when they break things, spill their drinks, or otherwise violate standards of behavior. Newborns display a primitive form of empathy (they are distressed by the cries of other newborns). By ages 1-2, infants become capable of a truer form of empathy that motivates helping and other forms of moral behavior.
  • From preschool years on, children understand that moral rules are more compelling and unalterable than social-conventional rules. Children appear to be quite capable of questioning adult authority. It is important for parents to enforce rules against stealing and other moral violations, but it can be inappropriate and unjustifiable for parents to arbitrarily restrict their children’s friendship choices.
  • The main developmental trend in moral reasoning during adolescence is a shift from pre-conventional to conventional reasoning. Most individuals begin to express a genuine concern with living up to the moral standards that parents and other authorities have taught them and ensuring that laws designed to make human relations just and fair are taken seriously and are maintained.
  • Most adults in their 30’s still reason at the conventional level, although many of them had shifted from stage 3 to 4. Older adults feel that they have learned important lessons from moral dilemmas they have faced during their lives.

Chapter 14: Human Development and Relationships

  • Many noted theorists have argued that no social relationship is more important than the bond between parent and infant. Sigmund Freud (1930) argued that a warm and stable mother-child relationship is essential for normal personality development. Erik Erikson emphasized the importance of responsive parenting on the development of trust in the parent-infant relationship.
  • Emotions are complex phenomena that involve a subjective feeling, physiological changes and behavior. Universally in all cultures, babies show contentment (smiling), interest (staring), and distress (grimaces) from birth on. Social referencing (9 months) is when infants begin to monitor their companions’ emotional reactions in ambiguous situations and use this information to decide how they should feel and behave. The process is involved in imitating, maintaining, and altering emotional responses is called emotional regulation. Young infants are able to reduce negative emotions by turning away from unpleasant stimuli or by sucking vigorously on a pacifier. Around 12 months, they use the behaviors rocking, moving away from unpleasant stimuli and actively seeking their attachment figure to reduce negative emotions. By 18-24 months, toddlers will try to control the actions of people and objects. As they gain the ability for symbolic thought and language, they become able to regulate their distress symbolically.
  • During childhood, parent-child attachment becomes more goal-directed. Parent and child accommodate to each other’s needs and the child becomes more sensitive and grows more independent of the parent. In elementary school years, children turn to the parent when they really need comfort, but rely on their parents less and less frequently. Girls prefer playing in duos while boys often play in packs. Play becomes increasingly social as children age and children begin to care more about fitting in.
  • Sociometric techniques are methods for determining who is liked and disliked in a group. Long-term negative effects of being disliked can be prevented by being liked by someone else, i.e. friends outside of school.
  • Adolescents seem to need the security, as well as the encouragement to explore provided by supportive parents to become independent and autonomous individuals. Going to college is a “Strange Situation” that activates attachment behaviors, such as hugging and emailing, designed to maintain contact with attachment figures. In any kind of attachment relationship, fights become more frequent and emotional expressions more extreme in adolescence. Friendships serve as a source of intimacy and self-disclosure. Teens form friendships with peers who are similar to themselves in observable ways.
  • In late childhood cliques of friends emerge. Later, these cliques start to interact with each other. Over time, relationships generally become longer and more stable. In very young teens and in young adults, not having a partner is associated with increased parental support.
  • Our social convoy is a social network and support system (aid, affection, affirmation) that accompanies us during our life’s journey, changing as we go. Socio-emotional Selectivity Theory (Carstens) explains the shrinking social convoy as a choice older adults make to better meet their emotional needs once they perceive their time left as short.
  • Relationship satisfaction depends on the type of love a couple shares. Many relationships start out (after initial attraction) as consummate love. The quality rather than the quantity of an individual’s social relationships is most closely related to well-being and life-satisfaction. Perceived social support is more important than the social support actually received. The size of an adult’s social network is not nearly as important as whether it includes at least one confidant, a spouse, relative, or friend to whom the individual feels especially attached and with whom thoughts and feelings can be shared.
  • Social support had a positive effect on the cardiovascular, endocrine, and immune systems; improves the body’s ability to cope with stress and illness; and contributes to better physical and cognitive functioning and a longer life.

Chapter 15: Human Development and the Family

  • The family should be viewed according to the bioecological perspective, as a changing social system embedded in a larger social system that is also changing. Society has moved towards having more single adults, later marriage, unmarried parents, fewer children, and more women working, as well as other shifts in social attitudes.
  • Infants affect and are affected by their parents. Often times, mothers spend more time as caregivers than fathers. When parents co-parent, they have a positive influence on each other, resulting in positive developmental outcomes.
  • Children often benefit from parents adopting an authoritative parenting style. Parenting styles vary along two axes: acceptance-responsiveness and demandingness-control. Studies have found that problems in children’s behaviour is not necessarily caused by ineffective parenting, although it may have an influence. When a second child enters a family, firstborns often experience a great deal of stress. They must learn to cope with having a new sibling, and sibling relationships are characterised by ambivalence.
  • During adolescence, parent-child relationships tend to remain close but undergo many problems during puberty. In adulthood, marital satisfaction declines as newlyweds adjust to each other and become parents. However, this is more strongly affected by personality than stage in the family life cycle.

Chapter 16: Human Development and Psychopathology

  • According to the Diathesis Stress Model of Psychopathology (Coyne), psychopathology results from interaction of predisposition and experience of stressful events over time. Diathesis encompasses genes, physiology, cognitions, personality and disorders are triggered by accumulation of negative events. A vulnerable person having one bad experience (divorce) may develop mild depression. A vulnerable person having several bad experiences (divorce, death of parents) may develop a severe depression. A resilient person having one bad experience does not develop a disorder. A resilient person having several bad experiences may develop mild depression. There is a reciprocal relationship between stress and disorder (stress can determine the onset of a disorder, having a disorder can lead to experiencing more stress).
  • One common infantile psychopathology is autism. It begins in infancy and stays pervasively. Symptoms include abnormal social development, impaired language and communication skills, and repetitive, stereotyped behavior and restricted interests. Autism is a continuum, but measuring it is difficult due to communication issues. Autistic people differ from each other as much as or even more than healthy people.
  • Some autists have above average IQ scores and special abilities (if tested non-verbally). The longer autism goes undetected, the later the onset of intervention (there is not treatment, only ongoing intervention available), the worse the individual outcome. Early treatment can establish some “normality” in development. Savants are individuals with some extreme ability, which are otherwise mentally retarded. Autistic development is not qualitatively different from normal development, but could be seen as occurring at one (the negative) extreme of social responsiveness. Suspected Causes of autism include genes (concordance identical twins 60%), environmental factors, and neurological abnormalities
  • As infants neither possess self-awareness nor mature cognition, they cannot suffer from major depressive disorder according to DSM IV.
  • In childhood, a different set of psychopathologies are more prominent. Externalizing problems (under controlled disorders) are expressed by disturbing others or violating social expectations (i.e. ADHD and conduct disorder), while internalizing problems (over-controlled disorders) include severe inner distress, which becomes disruptive to oneself (i.e. anxiety and depression).
  • Adolescents do not have a higher incidence rate of psychological issues than adults; but they often experience greater stress, substance abuse and show diligent behavior. Teenagers often develop an eating disorder after being praised for losing some weight and overly internalizing this praise for slimming down, or standards set by the media to which teenagers are more attentive than any other age group. Spontaneous weight gain in puberty can induce feelings of being fat and having to lose weight. Anorexia nervosa is characterized by a strong fear of overweight, distorted body image, no menstrual cycle in girls, and constant preoccupation with eating, body weight and the control of them. Eating disorders are more common in females. But incidence rates for males are recently rising. Bulimia nervosa is characterized by binge eating (associated with feelings of shame and guilt) and purging afterwards.
  • Substance abuse has adverse consequences (experience dangerous situations, decreased performance, interpersonal problems). Substance dependence is the continued use despite significant problems (compulsive use, withdrawal symptoms).
  • Depression and suicide are also potential psychopathologies that develop during adolescence. This can be brought on by puberty, genetic influences, or an accumulation of stressful events.
  • Early adulthood is the most straining, therefore the most vulnerable period in life. There are age differences in experiencing stress. 28 % of the population is diagnosed with some mood disorder until the age of 75. The early 20s are the average onset point of mood disorders. Adults are less vulnerable to depression, but have increasing suicide rates with age. Depressive symptoms increase from age 70 onwards and cases of depression in older people are easily missed, because they are seen as signs of neural aging, not as psychological issues.
  • Dementia includes progressive deterioration of neural functioning and cognitive decline (becoming senile). Alzheimer’s disease accounts for 70 % cases of dementia. Brain functioning is impaired due to senile plaques (with toxic protein beta amyloid), neurofibrillary tangles and deterioration of neurons. Alzheimer’s can affect the brain in early and middle adulthood, but first signs are only detectable years later. First free recall becomes difficult, but cued recall functions well. Later, recall is severely impaired or impossible even when cued. Vascular dementia is caused by a series of minor strokes. Executive functions are greatly damaged (memory is almost spared).


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