Chapter 9: Life Span and Developement
Vocabulary1. Developmental Psychology: Study of age-related changes in behavior and mental processes from conception to death.
2. Nature v Nurture: theoretical issue, nature argues that human behavior/development are governed by maturation, nurture argues that at birth our minds are a tabula rasa (blank slate) and therefore the environment shapes us
3. Maturation: development governed by automatic, genetically predetermined signals.

4. Critical Period: a period of special sensitivity to specific types of learning that shapes the capacity for future development.
5. Tabula Rasa: Blank Slate, part of the Nurture Argument
6. Continuity v Stages: theoretical issue, continuity argues development is continuous with new abilities, skills and knowledge gradually added at a relatively uniform pace, stages argue development occurs at different rates, alternating between periods of little change and periods of abrupt, rapid change
7. Stability v Change: theoretical issue, stability argues personal characteristics generally remain the same throughout life, change states personality changes
8. Biopsychological model: biological factors, psychological influences, and social forces all affect and are affected by one another
9. Cross sectional method: measures individuals of various ages at one point in time and gives information about age differences.
10. Cohort effect: differences in cross-sectional studies that result from specific histories of the age group studied
11. Longitudinal method: measures a single individual or group of individual over an extended period and gives information about age changes.
12. Zygote: rapidly dividing mass of cells that is created at conception, 1/175 of an inch in diameter
13. Germinal period: first stage of prenatal development, which begins with conception and ends with implantation in the uterus.
14. Embryonic Period: second stage of prenatal development, which begins after uterine implantation and lasts though the eighth week.
15. Fetal Period: the third, and final, stage of prenatal development, characterized by rapid weight gain in the fetus and the fine detailing of body organs and systems.
16. Conception: when the mothers egg and father ‘s sperm unite.
17. Proximodistal: near to far

18. Cephalocaudally: head to tail
19. Placenta: the vascular organ that unites the fetus to the mother’s uterus.

20. Critical point: first 3 months of pregnancy, fetus is most vulnerable to the devastating effects of environmental hazards that can cross the placental barrier
21. Teratogen: environmental agent that causes damage during prenatal development.
22. Fetal Alcohol Syndrome: a combination of birth defects, including organ deformities and mental, motor, and growth retardation, that results from maternal alcohol abuse.
23. Myelination: the accumulation of fatty tissue coating the axons of nerve cells.
24. Reflexes: involuntary responses to stimulation.
25. Puberty: biological changes during adolescence that leads to an adult-sized body and sexual maturity.
26. Adolescence: is the loosely defined psychological period of development between childhood and adulthood.
27. Menarche: onset of menstruation
28. Spermarche: the first ejaculation
29. Encoding: putting information into long-term storage
30. Primary Aging: gradual, inevitable age-related changes in physical and mental processes
31. Menopause: the cessation of the menstrual cycle.
32. Programmed Theory: aging is genetically controlled and built in at the moment of conception
33. Damage Theory: accumulation of damage to cells and organs over the years ultimately causes death
34. Hayflick limit: the point at which cells cease to divide
35. Ageism: Prejudice or discrimination based on physical age.
36. Schema: Cognitive structures or patterns consisting of a number of organized ideas that grow and difference with experience.
37. Assimilation: In Piaget’s theory, absorbing new information into existing schemas.
38. Accommodation: In Piaget’s theory, adjusting old schemas or developing new ones to better fit with new information.
39. Sensorimotor Stage: Piaget’s first stage in which schemas are developed through sensory and motor activities.
40. Object Permanence: Piagetian term for an infant’s understanding that objects continue to exist even when they cannot be seen, heard or touched.
41. Preoperational Stage: Piaget’s second stage, characterized by the ability to employ signifcant language and to think symbolically.
42. Egocentrism: The inability to consider another’s point of view
43. Animism: belief that all things are living (or animated)
44. Concrete Operational Stage: Piaget’s third stage, that child can perform mental operations on concrete objects and understand reversibilty and conversations.
45. Conservation: Understanding that certain physical characteristics remain unchanged, even when their outward appearance changes.
46. Formal Operational Stage: Fourth Piaget stage, characterized by abstract and hypothetical thinking.
47. Adolescent Egocentrism: reemergence of egocentrism during the teenage years, characterized by the personal fable (believing that one’s thoughts are unique and no one else would understand) and an imaginary audience (think everyone is focused on them and their behavior)
48. Attachment: A strong affectional bond with special others that endures over time.
49. Imprinting: An innate form of learning within a critical period that involves attachment to the first large moving object.
50. Securely attached (65 %): an infant who when exposed to a stranger seeks closeness and contact with the mother, uses the mother as a safe base from which to explore, shows moderate distress on separation, and is happy when the mother returns
51. Avoidant (25 %): an infant that does not seek closeness or contact with the mother, treats the mother much like the stranger, and rarely cries when the mother leaves the room
52. Anxious/Ambivalent (10 %): the infant becomes very upset when the mother leaves the room; when she returns the infant seeks close contact and then squirms angrily to get away
53. Permissive: parenting style consisting of 2 parts

    • permissive-indifferent: parent sets few limits and provides little attention, interest, or emotional support
    • permissive-indulgent: parent who is highly involved but places few demands or controls on a child
54. Authoritarian: rigid and punitive parent; they value unquestioning obedience and mature responsibility from their children while remaining aloof and detached
55. Authoritative: tender, caring, and sensitive toward their children; they set firm limits and enforce them while encouraging increasing responsibility


Life Span Development I

Developmental Psychology

  • studies age-related changes
    • behavior
    • mental process

Studying Development
Theoretical Issues: Ongoing Debates:
  • Nature versus Nurture
    • Nature position: generated by maturation, predetermined signals both human and developmental behavior. Also optimal period, critical periods, that shape for future growth.
    • Nurture position: Starting with a blank slate, tabula rasa, in which humans learn through experience.
  • Continuity versus stages
    • Continuity: development is continuous adding on skills and new abilities.
    • Stage: development changes at different rates. Such as times of large growth and learning and others of little growth.
  • Stability versus change
    • Stability: Personality at childhood predict adult personality.
    • Change: Personality at childhood will hold change throughout their life.

Which is right?
Interactionist Perspective
  • Nature vs. Nurture: That both developmental behavior and learning from experience shape a person.
  • Interactionist Perspective= biopsychosocial model
    • Biological factors
      • genetics
      • brain functions
      • biochemistry
      • evolution
    • Psychological influences
      • learning
      • thinking
      • emotion
      • personality
      • motivation
    • Social forces
      • family
      • school
      • culture
      • ethnicity
      • social class
      • politics

Research Methods: Two Basic Approaches
  • Cross-Sectional Method
  • Longitudinal Method

Cross-Sectional Method (taking from different sections):
  • Advantages
    • gives information about different ages
    • quick
    • less expensive
    • typically larger sample
  • Disadvantages
    • cohort effects (think of cohort- a hoarder- who wont separate from his stuff) are difficult to separate
    • restricted generalizability

Longitudinal (think long study- takes long time)
  • Advantages
    • gives information about age changes
    • increased reliability
    • more in depth information
  • Disadvantages
    • more expensive
    • time
    • restricted generalizability

Gender and Culture Diversity
  • Culture may be the most important determinant of development
  • Human development cannot be studied outside in sociocultural context
  • Each culture’s ethnotheories are important in behavior
  • Culture is invisible to most participants

Physical Development
  • Prenatal
    • begins with conception--zygote (think zygote starts with a “Z” last letter of the alphabet starts the creation of a baby)
    • 3 periods
      • germinal period
      • embryonic period
      • fetal period
        • growth is both proximodistal (internal parts of the body developing before outermost parts) and cephalocaudally (head is much larger than rest of body)
        • (To remember the order of the periods think Girls Even Fart)
    • hazards to prenatal development
      • harmful substances cross the placenta barrier
      • critical period-first three months
      • teratogens
      • Fetal Alcohol Syndrome
  • Early Childhood Physical development
    • brain development
      • birth-newborn’s brain is ¼ its full adult size
      • age 2-3/4 its adult size
      • age 5-9/10 its adult size
      • synaptic pruning-eliminating unused synapses
      • myelination-continues until early adulthood
    • motor development
      • reflexes
      • voluntary movementexternal image qz2jmAqJg35dgwZ53Jmr2I8snJPHhxAHwzYWyuYg5FbrZ51WIDO8jD2rC7FwK1d3y71COAnJKd_DM6tWVkV2XfPmrmQBZzA0MfQYsaAEUCUWZg6jnMA
    • sensory and perceptual development
      • senses of smell, taste, touch, and pain are highly developed at birth
      • vision is poorly developedage 2 reaches a near adult level
      • easily recognize mothers voice while still in womb
      • Robert Fantz-early experimenter of infant perceptual abilities ”looking chamber”

Adolescence and Adulthood: A Time of Both Dramatic and Gradual Change
  • Adolescence
    • Associated with puberty, which is the time when one is capable of reproduction
    • Adolescence is the general time period of rapid growth and puberty is a milestone of Adolescence
    • Between “childhood” and “adulthood”
    • Also defined by growth spurt, rapid increases in height, weight, skeletal growthexternal image hWhJARRA4Mp9YCxfhlXazk1Hz0q3s-RixjnNpdDaUPRFNA4HJQ5L021_u0GW3zFooGpBBb-uD6h_n4mY0B28wFa4O-leBjEbENTmlva4mJF945XOxY8:
  • Female begins the onset of menstruation (menarche) while man undergoes spermarche (the first ejaculation)
  • leads to “secondary sex characteristics”: pubic hair growth (think “puberty”), growth of breasts, etc.
  • Menopause
    • occurs between 45 and 55, decreased production of estrogen (think menoPAUSE, production of estrogen decreases because it pauses)
    • cessation of menstrual cycle
    • for males, decline in sperm and testosterone, male climacteric
  • Late Adulthood
    • physical changes occur through heart, arteries, and sensory receptors
    • vision acuity and depth perception decline
    • ageism (think age + discrimination = ageism): prejudice or discrimination based on physical age
    • primary aging : (Think that your primary caretakers, your parents, pass down aging) aging is genetically controlled
    • damage theory: an accumulation of damage cells and organs over the years eventually causes death

Cognitive Development
  • Jean Piaget – 3 Major Concepts
o Schemas compartmentalize our information about our environment into categories for organization. Can lead to prejudice and racism.
o Assimilation takes new learned information and absorbs it into an already existing schema, for example taking what you already know about birds to understand new information about woodpeckers.
o Accommodation takes new learned information that doesn’t fit into an already existing schema, and must create new one. For example, discovering that although butterflies have wings they are not birds, and therefore belong in their own category.
Jean Piaget Sees Angry Acrobats (Jean Piaget- Schemas, Assimilation, Accomodation)
  • Stages of Cognitive Development : Birth to Adolescence

1. Sensorimotor Stage (birth to about age 2)
a. Children explore their environment, use their senses and motor skills to learn about the world.
b. Object permanence acquired after about 3-4 months.
2. Preoperational Stage (age 2 – 7)
a. Begin using language and thinking in symbols.
b. Cannot reverse concepts…are set in their ways.
c. Egocentrism, very concerned with their own needs and life view.
d. Animistic thinking, believe that inanimate objects have feelings.(think animation- inanimate objects)
3. Concrete Operational Stage (age 7-11)
a. Thinking skills and reversibility.
b. Conservation is learned.
4. Formal Operational Stage (age 11 and up)
a. Abstract concepts are understood, can manipulate objects in the mind without seeing them.
b. Hypothetical thinking and logical conclusions
c. Trial and Error, Metacognition
d. Not every adult reaches this stage
Mnemonic Device: Sally Poops Concrete Farts: Sensorimotor, Preoperational, Concrete Operational, Formal Operational
  • Problems with Early Formal Operational Thinking

o Personal Fable: adolescents who experience the early stages of Formal Operational Thinking often believe that they are the only ones with problems, and no one could understand them. They revert back to egocentrismadolescent egocentrism (think: ego is central, “all about me”).
o Imaginary Audience: Adolescents usually believe they are the center of everyone’s attention, and all focus is on them. They tend to be very self-conscious and concerned with appearance.
  • Piaget’s Theory: Criticisms and Contributions

o Underestimated young children’s cognitive development
o Did not take cultural and genetic differences into consideration.
  • Information Processing

o Alternative to Piaget’s model
o Compares the mind to a computer and emphasizes attention and memory.
§ Attention: the focus of the mind on a specific part of the environment. Infants have short attention spans, and as they grow older they learn to concentrate better.
§ Memory: determines what is saved in the brain, and gradually improves throughout childhood.
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(Remember the Mnemonic: Sally Poops Concrete Farts)
Sensorimotor: (birth - 2 years) infants are just learning how to move around functionally
Preoperational: (2 - 7 years) toddlers use symbols and objects to get small tasks done (small operations)
Concrete Operational: (7 - 9) children use some concrete logic in reasoning
Formal Operational: (11 ->) formal thinking can occur, abstract concepts and difficult problems

Social-Emotional Development
  • Attachment
    • attachment: a strong affectionate bond that endures through time
    • the most important social construct that an infant must develop; innate process
    • Nature vs. Nurture
      • Biological position- newborns are born with verbal and nonverbal behaviors
      • Konrad Lorenz studies on imprinting (think Twlight- Jacob on Bella’s baby)
        • imprinting: attaching to the first large moving object
    • Contact Comfort
      • Harry Harlow and Robert Zimmerman Monkey studies
        • found that monkeys needed touch to form attachments
        • also saw that touch was more important than food
        • critical period: the period after birth when an organism’s exposure to stimuli or other exposures further development
    • Problems that may occur if attachments are not formed:
      • minimal language skills developed
      • formation of shallow/anxious relationships
      • possible mental, physical, and perceptual retardation; possible death
  • Levels of Attachment; Mary Ainsworth
    • Securely Attached
      • seeks closeness, mother= safe base, 65%
      • sensitive/contacting parents
    • Avoidant
      • does not seek closeness, attitude towards mother= stranger, 25%
      • little to no attention given to child
    • Anxious/Ambivalent (think of ambivalent-mixed feelings, mixed reactions)
      • upset when mother leaves, seeks closeness then shys away, 10%
      • inconstant parents
  • Parenting Styles; Diana Baumrind
    • Authoritarian (think strict authority)
      • high value on obedience and respect for authority; rigid
      • children- upset, moody, aggressive
    • Permissive (think over-permissive)

a.) permissive-indifferent- few rules, little attention
b.) permissive-indulgent- lots of attention, few rules
      • imposing few rules on child
    • Authoritative (think- sounds less harsh/strict than Authoritarian)
      • rules but with verbal give-and-take allowed; caring and sensitive
      • children- high achieving, content, self-reliant
  • Evaluating Baumrind
    • temperament and cultural difference change effectiveness of parenting styles

1. Child temperament- temperament of child and reactions to parenting style
2. Child expectations- how a child expects a parent to play out their role
3. Parental warmth- degree of warmth vs. rejection; cultural expectations
      • (think of cultural examples... Chinese parents tend to be Authoritarian, but it leads to successful child upbringing in that specific culture)

Important People
  • Jean Piaget - Cognitive Development. He developed the Stages of Cognitive Development, and theorized that infants begin at a low level of cognitive awareness, and their intellectual growth undergoes transformation in stages. The stages inclued Sensorimotor, Preoperational, Concrete Operational, and Formal Operational. Criticisms include underestimating the abilities of newborn babies as well as the effect culture and genetics have on development.
  • Harry Harlow and Robert Zimmerman (1959) - Attachment and Contact Comfort. Created the “wire monkey surrogate” experiment. Baby monkeys bonded with the soft, terry cloth mothers over the wire mothers that provided food. Developed their theory that contact comfort was important in developing attachment between mothers and infants.
  • Konrad Lorenz - Studied imprinting; looked how baby geese attach to and follow the first large moving object they see during a period in their development.
  • Mary Ainsworth- Differences in level of attachment between infants and mothers; securely attached, avoidant and anxious/ambivalent.]
  • Diana Baumrind - found the three different parenting styles; permissive, authoritarian and authoritative. Criticism’s fall into three areas: child temperament, child expectations and parental warmth.
  • Robert Fantz - studied infants by creating a display board on which he hung two pictures to see which one babies looked at more. The infants looked at the picture of the human face twice as much as the other picture, suggesting that they have some ability to identify patterns and forms.
  • John Bowlby - studied attachment in babies; published the 3 volume study Attachment and Loss. He theorized that without a warm and affectionate attachment to the mother (or primary caregiver), an infant would not go on to live and healthy and successful life.

Interesting Facts
  • Piaget’s Cognitive Development Stages:


  • Research has suggested there are over 800 known teratogens that can be classified into three broad categories: drugs, disease and environment. The effects these teratogens produce can vary due to different factors, especially prolonged exposure.

Argument for Nature vs. Nurture:
In August of 1965, Janet Reimer gave birth to two identical twin boys, Bruce and Brian. She left her twins overnight at a local hospital in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada to be circumcised. For one of the sons, Bruce, the doctors had chosen to use an unconventional new method, not with a knife, and in the process his penis was completely destroyed. An American Psychologist, John Money, advised Mrs. Reimer to raise Bruce as a female, so Bruce underwent the fairly new sex-change surgery and became Brenda. Brenda was raised as a female, but eventually rejected this nurtured persona. At age 14, Brenda was told his true genetic gender and now lives as David Reimer.

Brain Developement
  • A 3 year old’s brain is twice as active as an adult’s brain.
  • The brain is not fully developed at birth, it continues to develop through infancy and childhood.

  • A mother's distress and/or severe fatigue results in increased fetal activity. Hormones such as epinephrine transmit the mother's anxiety directly to baby. (**Dr. Lester Sontag**)
  • The fetus is capable of listening to conversations in its environment. These early experiences have an impact on the child's later speech patterns. (**Dr. Henry Truby**)

"Teratogens and Developmental Psychology." 30 Mar 2011

“Sex: Unknown.” NOVA. 30 March 2011.

“Understanding Brain Development in Young Children”, Sean Brotherson, April 2005.

"Interesting Facts in Prenatal Psychology." Home. Web. 31 Mar. 2011.
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