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This is often referred to as " nature and nurture " or nativism versus empiricism. A nativist account of development would argue that the processes in question are innate, that is, they are specified by the organism's genes. An empiricist perspective would argue that those processes are acquired in interaction with the environment. Today developmental psychologists rarely take such polarised positions with regard to most aspects of development; rather they investigate, among many other things, the relationship between innate and environmental influences.

One of the ways this relationship has been explored in recent years is through the emerging field of evolutionary developmental psychology. One area where this innateness debate has been prominently portrayed is in research on language acquisition. A major question in this area is whether or not certain properties of human language are specified genetically or can be acquired through learning. The empiricist position on the issue of language acquisition suggests that the language input provides the necessary information required for learning the structure of language and that infants acquire language through a process of statistical learning.

From this perspective, language can be acquired via general learning methods that also apply to other aspects of development, such as perceptual learning. The nativist position argues that the input from language is too impoverished for infants and children to acquire the structure of language. Linguist Noam Chomsky asserts that, evidenced by the lack of sufficient information in the language input, there is a universal grammar that applies to all human languages and is pre-specified.

This has led to the idea that there is a special cognitive module suited for learning language, often called the language acquisition device. Chomsky's critique of the behaviorist model of language acquisition is regarded by many as a key turning point in the decline in the prominence of the theory of behaviorism generally.

Since theorists believe that development is a smooth, continuous process, individuals gradually add more of the same types of skills throughout their lives. Other theorists, however, think that development takes place in discontinuous stages. People change rapidly and step up to a new level, and then change very little for a while. With each new step, the person shows interest and responds the world qualitatively. This issue involves the degree to which we become older renditions of our early experience or whether we develop into something different from who we were at an earlier point in development.

It considers the extent to which early experiences especially infancy or later experiences are the key determinants of a person's development. Most lifespan developmentalists, recognise that extreme positions are unwise. Developmental psychology is concerned not only with describing the characteristics of psychological change over time but also seeks to explain the principles and internal workings underlying these changes. Psychologists have attempted to better understand these factors by using models. A model must simply account for the means by which a process takes place.

This is sometimes done in reference to changes in the brain that may correspond to changes in behavior over the course of the development. Mathematical modeling is useful in developmental psychology for implementing theory in a precise and easy-to-study manner, allowing generation, explanation, integration, and prediction of diverse phenomena. Several modeling techniques are applied to development: symbolic , connectionist neural network , or dynamical systems models. Dynamic systems models illustrate how many different features of a complex system may interact to yield emergent behaviors and abilities.

Nonlinear dynamics has been applied to human systems specifically to address issues that require attention to temporality such as life transitions, human development, and behavioral or emotional change over time. Nonlinear dynamic systems is currently being explored as a way to explain discrete phenomena of human development such as affect, [33] life transitions, [34] second language acquisition, [35] and locomotion.

Cognitive development is primarily concerned with the ways that infants and children acquire, develop, and use internal mental capabilities such as: problem-solving, memory, and language.


Major topics in cognitive development are the study of language acquisition and the development of perceptual and motor skills. Piaget was one of the influential early psychologists to study the development of cognitive abilities. His theory suggests that development proceeds through a set of stages from infancy to adulthood and that there is an end point or goal.

Other accounts, such as that of Lev Vygotsky , have suggested that development does not progress through stages, but rather that the developmental process that begins at birth and continues until death is too complex for such structure and finality. Rather, from this viewpoint, developmental processes proceed more continuously. Thus, development should be analyzed, instead of treated as a product to obtain. Warner Schaie has expanded the study of cognitive development into adulthood.

Rather than being stable from adolescence, Schaie sees adults as progressing in the application of their cognitive abilities. Modern cognitive development has integrated the considerations of cognitive psychology and the psychology of individual differences into the interpretation and modeling of development. These increases explain differences between stages, progression to higher stages, and individual differences of children who are the same-age and of the same grade-level. However, other theories have moved away from Piagetian stage theories, and are influenced by accounts of domain-specific information processing, which posit that development is guided by innate evolutionarily-specified and content-specific information processing mechanisms.

Stage Theory of Cognitive Development (Piaget)

Developmental psychologists who are interested in social development examine how individuals develop social and emotional competencies. For example, they study how children form friendships, how they understand and deal with emotions, and how identity develops.

Research in this area may involve study of the relationship between cognition or cognitive development and social behavior. Emotional regulation or ER refers to an individual's ability to modulate emotional responses across a variety of contexts. In young children, this modulation is in part controlled externally, by parents and other authority figures.

As children develop, they take on more and more responsibility for their internal state. Studies have shown that the development of ER is affected by the emotional regulation children observe in parents and caretakers, the emotional climate in the home, and the reaction of parents and caretakers to the child's emotions.

Music also has an influence on stimulating and enhancing the senses of a child through self-expression. A child's social and emotional development can be disrupted by motor coordination problems as evidenced by the environmental stress hypothesis. The environmental hypothesis explains how children with coordination problems and developmental coordination disorder are exposed to several psychosocial consequences which act as secondary stressors, leading to an increase in internalizing symptoms such as depression and anxiety. Secondary stressors commonly identified include the tendency for children with poor motor skills to be less likely to participate in organized play with other children and more likely to feel socially isolated.

Physical development concerns the physical maturation of an individual's body until it reaches the adult stature. Although physical growth is a highly regular process, all children differ tremendously in the timing of their growth spurts. Traditional measures of physical maturity using x-rays are less in practice nowadays, compared to simple measurements of body parts such as height, weight, head circumference, and arm span. A few other studies and practices with physical developmental psychology are the phonological abilities of mature 5- to year-olds, and the controversial hypotheses of left-handers being maturationally delayed compared to right-handers.

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A study by Eaton, Chipperfield, Ritchot, and Kostiuk in found in three different samples that there was no difference between right- and left-handers. Researchers interested in memory development look at the way our memory develops from childhood and onward. According to Fuzzy-trace theory , we have two separate memory processes: verbatim and gist. These two traces begin to develop at different times as well as at a different pace. Children as young as 4 years-old have verbatim memory, memory for surface information, which increases up to early adulthood, at which point it begins to decline.

On the other hand, our capacity for gist memory, memory for semantic information, increases up to early adulthood, at which point it is consistent through old age. Furthermore, our reliance on gist memory traces increases as we age. Developmental psychology employs many of the research methods used in other areas of psychology. However, infants and children cannot be tested in the same ways as adults, so different methods are often used to study their development. Developmental psychologists have a number of methods to study changes in individuals over time.

Common research methods include systematic observation, including naturalistic observation or structured observation; self-reports, which could be clinical interviews or structured interviews ; clinical or case study method; and ethnography or participant observation. Most developmental studies, regardless of whether they employ the experimental, correlational, or case study method, can also be constructed using research designs. In a longitudinal study , a researcher observes many individuals born at or around the same time a cohort and carries out new observations as members of the cohort age.

This method can be used to draw conclusions about which types of development are universal or normative and occur in most members of a cohort. As an example a longitudinal study of early literacy development examined in detail the early literacy experiences of one child in each of 30 families. Researchers may also observe ways that development varies between individuals, and hypothesize about the causes of variation in their data. Longitudinal studies often require large amounts of time and funding, making them unfeasible in some situations.

Also, because members of a cohort all experience historical events unique to their generation, apparently normative developmental trends may, in fact, be universal only to their cohort. In a cross-sectional study , a researcher observes differences between individuals of different ages at the same time. This generally requires fewer resources than the longitudinal method, and because the individuals come from different cohorts, shared historical events are not so much of a confounding factor. By the same token, however, cross-sectional research may not be the most effective way to study differences between participants, as these differences may result not from their different ages but from their exposure to different historical events.

A third study design, the sequential design , combines both methodologies. Here, a researcher observes members of different birth cohorts at the same time, and then tracks all participants over time, charting changes in the groups. While much more resource-intensive, the format aids in a clearer distinction between what changes can be attributed to an individual or historical environment from those that are truly universal.

Because every method has some weaknesses, developmental psychologists rarely rely on one study or even one method to reach conclusions by finding consistent evidence from as many converging sources as possible. Prenatal development is of interest to psychologists investigating the context of early psychological development.

The whole prenatal development involves three main stages: germinal stage, embryonic stage and fetal stage. Germinal stage begins at conception until 2 weeks; embryonic stage means the development from 2 weeks to 8 weeks; fetal stage represents 9 weeks until birth of the baby. The sense of touch develops in the embryonic stage 5 to 8 weeks.

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Some primitive reflexes too arise before birth and are still present in newborns. One hypothesis is that these reflexes are vestigial and have limited use in early human life. Piaget's theory of cognitive development suggested that some early reflexes are building blocks for infant sensorimotor development. For example, the tonic neck reflex may help development by bringing objects into the infant's field of view.

Other reflexes, such as the walking reflex appear to be replaced by more sophisticated voluntary control later in infancy. This may be because the infant gains too much weight after birth to be strong enough to use the reflex, or because the reflex and subsequent development are functionally different.

Ultrasound has shown that infants are capable of a range of movements in the womb, many of which appear to be more than simple reflexes. With the advent of cognitive neuroscience , embryology and the neuroscience of prenatal development is of increasing interest to developmental psychology research. Several environmental agents— teratogens —can cause damage during the prenatal period. These include prescription and nonprescription drugs, illegal drugs, tobacco, alcohol, environmental pollutants, infectious disease agents such as the rubella virus and the toxoplasmosis parasite, maternal malnutrition, maternal emotional stress, and Rh factor blood incompatibility between mother and child.

A leading example of this would be that, in America alone, approximately ,, 'cocaine babies' are born on an annual basis. This is a result of an expectant mother abusing the drug while pregnant. The drug also encourages behavioural problems in the affected children, as well as defects of various vital organs. From birth until the first year, the child is referred to as an infant. The majority of a newborn infant's time is spent in sleep.

At first, this sleep is evenly spread throughout the day and night, but after a couple of months, infants generally become diurnal. Infant perception is what a newborn can see, hear, smell, taste, and touch. These five features are better known as one's "five senses". Babies are born with the ability to discriminate virtually all sounds of all human languages.

At this stage infants also start to babble , producing phonemes. Piaget suggested that an infant's perception and understanding of the world depended on their motor development, which was required for the infant to link visual, tactile and motor representations of objects. Piaget's sensorimotor stage comprised six sub-stages see sensorimotor stages for more detail. In the early stages, development arises out of movements caused by primitive reflexes. Piaget came to his conclusion that infants lacked a complete understanding of object permanence before 18 months after observing infants' failure before this age to look for an object where it was last seen.

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  6. Instead, infants continue to look for an object where it was first seen, committing the " A-not-B error. In the s and s, researchers have developed many new methods of assessing infants' understanding of the world with far more precision and subtlety than Piaget was able to do in his time. Since then, many studies based on these methods suggest that young infants understand far more about the world than first thought. Based on recent findings, some researchers such as Elizabeth Spelke and Renee Baillargeon have proposed that an understanding of object permanence is not learned at all, but rather comprises part of the innate cognitive capacities of our species.

    Other research has suggested that young infants in their first six months of life may possess an understanding of numerous aspects of the world around them, including:. There are critical periods in infancy and childhood during which development of certain perceptual, sensorimotor, social and language systems depends crucially on environmental stimulation. The concept of critical periods is also well-established in neurophysiology , from the work of Hubel and Wiesel among others. Children with developmental delays DD are at heightened risk for developing clinically significant behavioral and emotional difficulties as compared to children with typical development TD.

    However, nearly all studies comparing psychopathology in youth with DD employ TD control groups of the same chronological age CA. This comorbidity of DD and a mental disorder is often referred to as dual diagnosis. Studies that include comparison samples of children with typical development TD highlight the considerable difference in risk for psychopathology, with the relative risk for youth with DD to youth with TD ranging from 2. Infants shift between ages of one and two to a developmental stage known as toddlerhood. In this stage, an infant's transition into toddlerhood is highlighted through self-awareness, developing maturity in language use, and presence of memory and imagination.

    During toddlerhood, babies begin learning how to walk , talk, and make decisions for themselves. An important characteristic of this age period is the development of language , where children are learning how to communicate and express their emotions and desires through the use of vocal sounds, babbling, and eventually words. At this age, children take initiative to explore, experiment and learn from making mistakes. Caretakers who encourage toddlers to try new things and test their limits, help the child become autonomous, self-reliant, and confident.

    The child's autonomic development is inhibited, leaving them less prepared to deal with the world in the future. Toddlers also begin to identify themselves in gender roles , acting according to their perception of what a man or woman should do. Socially, the period of toddler-hood is commonly called the "terrible twos".

    A person at this stage testing their independence is another reason behind the stage's infamous label. Tantrums in a fit of frustration are also common. Erik Erikson divides childhood into four stages, each with its distinct social crisis: [70]. Play or preschool ages 3—5. In the earliest years, children are "completely dependent on the care of others. During their preschool years , they "enlarge their social horizons" to include people outside the family. Preoperational and then operational thinking develops, which means actions are reversible, and egocentric thought diminishes.

    The motor skills of preschoolers increase so they can do more things for themselves. They become more independent. No longer completely dependent on the care of others, the world of this age group expands. More people have a role in shaping their individual personalities. Preschoolers explore and question their world. Play is a major activity for ages 3—5. For Piaget, through play "a child reaches higher levels of cognitive development. In their expanded world, children in the age group attempt to find their own way. If this is done in a socially acceptable way, the child develops the initiative.

    If not, the child develops guilt. Middle childhood ages 6— For Erik Erikson, the psychosocial crisis during middle childhood is Industry vs. Inferiority which, if successfully met, instills a sense of Competency in the child. In all cultures, middle childhood is a time for developing "skills that will be needed in their society.

    The "peril during this period is that feelings of inadequacy and inferiority will develop. Lack of encouragement or ability to excel lead to "feelings of inadequacy and inferiority".

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    6. The Centers for Disease Control the CDC divides Middle Childhood into two stages, 6—8 years and 9—11 years, and gives "developmental milestones for each stage. Middle Childhood Entering elementary school, children in this age group begin to thinks about the future and their "place in the world. This leads to "more independence from parents and family. They become less self-centered and show "more concern for others". For children ages 9—11 "friendships and peer relationships" increase in strength, complexity, and importance.

      This results in greater "peer pressure. To meet this challenge, they increase their attention span and learn to see other points of view.

      Personal Identity and Ethics

      It is the period known for the formation of personal and social identity see Erik Erikson and the discovery of moral purpose see William Damon. Intelligence is demonstrated through the logical use of symbols related to abstract concepts and formal reasoning. A return to egocentric thought often occurs early in the period. Huitt, W. January [84]. The adolescent unconsciously explores questions such as "Who am I?

      Who do I want to be? Different roles, behaviors and ideologies must be tried out to select an identity. Role confusion and inability to choose vocation can result from a failure to achieve a sense of identity through, for example, friends. Error rating book. Refresh and try again.

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      Open Preview See a Problem? Details if other :. Thanks for telling us about the problem. Return to Book Page. The central thesis of Adolescent Psychological Development is that a more coherent picture of adolescence can come from a renewed focus on development.

      By reflecting carefully on what is meant by development and examining the literature with this in mind, one can identify major developmental changes associated with adolescence. The volume begins with an introduction to the The central thesis of Adolescent Psychological Development is that a more coherent picture of adolescence can come from a renewed focus on development. The volume begins with an introduction to the concept of development and its relevance in adolescent psychology. The first three major parts address each of the three domains in turn - cognitive development, moral development, and identity formation - and the final section provides a more general account of advanced psychological development in adolescence and beyond.

      This is a text that is accessible to advanced undergraduate and graduate students, and also useful to scholars, especially those interested in connections across standard topics and research programs in adolescence and in processes of developmental change. Get A Copy. Hardcover , pages. More Details Original Title. Other Editions 1. Friend Reviews. To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up. To ask other readers questions about Adolescent Rationality and Development , please sign up. Be the first to ask a question about Adolescent Rationality and Development.

      Facebook Instagram Twitter. Sign In Register Help Cart. Cart items. Toggle navigation. Note: Cover may not represent actual copy or condition available. Psychology Press, Log-in or create an account first! Ask the seller a question. Also Recommended Exploring Psychology David G Myers A great guide for beginners to learn the basics of psychology; ideal for students or anyone interested in the scientific and human aspects of the field of study