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Lifespan Development

Study of human behavioral change from conception to death that examines patterns of growth, change, and stability.



Pattern of movement and change which allows for the potential for growth or decline of abilities in each stage.


Lifespan Developmental Science

*Describe people’s behavioral characteristics at different ages
*Identify how people are likely to respond to life’s experiences at different ages
*Formulate theories that explain how and why we see the typical characteristics and responses that we do
*Understand what factors contribute to developmental differences from one person to another


Reflective practice

*Emphasizes beliefs and knowledge as precursors to practice
*Use theory as a lens through which to consider problems, along with experience
*Problem solving depends on deep background knowledge in interaction with applications
*Begin by examining your beliefs


Lifespan Perspective views development as:

*Multidimensional (biological, cognitive & socioemotional)
*Development is a process that involves growth, maintenance, and regulation of loss
*Development is constructed through biological, sociocultural, and individual factors working together.



Behavior patterns, beliefs, and all other products of a particular group of people that are passed on from generation to generation



Cultural heritage, nationality, race, religion, and language


Socioeconomic Status

A person's position within society based on occupational, educational, and economic characteristics



Characteristics of people as males and females


Mutlidimensional Development

*Development is the product of biological, cognitive, and socioemotional processes
*Biological: changes in an individual's physical nature
*Cognitive: changes in thought, intelligence, and language
*Socioemotional: changes in relationships with other people, changes in emotions, and changes in personality


Developmental Period

*A time frame in person's life that is characterized by certain features
-Prenatal period
-Early childhood
-Middle and Late Childhood
-Early Adulthood
-Middle Adulthood
-Late Adulthood


Prenatal period

*Conception to birth (9 months)
-Tremendous growth



*Birth to 18-24 months
-Dependence upon adults
-Development of many psychological activities


Early Childhood

*End of infancy to 5-6 years
-Preschool years
-Self-sufficiency and increased play


Middle and late childhood

*6-11 years
-Reading, writing, and arithmetic
-Focus on achievement and self-control



*Varying endpoints
-From 10-12 to 18-22 years
-Rapid physical changes
-Pursuit of independence and identity


Early adulthood

*Late teens to early 30's
-Personal and economic independence
-Selecting a mate


Middle adulthood

*40-60 years
-Social involvement and responsibility
-Assisting the next generation


Late adulthood

*60's -70's to death
-Life review
-Adjustment to new social roles
-Longest development span
-"Youngest old" vs. "Oldest old"


Chronological age

*Number of years that have elapsed since birth


Biological age

*A person's age in terms of biological health


Psychological age

*An individual's adaptive capacities compared with those of other individuals of the same chronological age


Social age

*Social roles and expectations related to a person's age


Classic Stage Theories

*Activities have similar qualities within stages but different qualities across stages. After long periods of stability, qualitative shifts in behavior seem to happen relatively quickly
-Imply periods of relative stability (within stages) and periods of rapid changes (between stages)
-Freud's psychosexual stages of development
-Erikson's psychosocial stages of development
-Piaget's cognitive developmental stages of development



*Period of time
-During which a person’s activities (at least in one broad domain) have certain characteristics in common.
-A person’s activities have similar qualities within stages but different qualities across stages.
-There seems to be discontinuity in these changes rather than change being a gradual, incremental process
-One person might progress through a stage more quickly or slowly than another


Qualitative or transformational change

*New forms of behavioral organization are both different from and more complex than the ones at previous stages.


Psychoanalytic theory

Sigmund Freud
*describe the complex functioning of the adult personality and offers an explanation of the processes and progress of its development throughout childhood.


Three aspects of personality in psychosexual stages

*In conflict with one another
*Id: the biological self, the source of all psychic energy
-Babies are born with an id
-Blindly pursues the fulfillment of physical needs or “instincts”
-Driven by the pleasure principle: by the pursuit of gratification
-Keep the individual, and the species, alive
-Inborn aggressive, destructive instincts
*Ego: begins to develop as cognitive and physical skills emerge
-Some psychic energy is invested in these skills, and a rational, realistic self begins to take shape
-Seeks to meet these needs in sensible ways that take into account all aspects of a situation
-Operate on the reality principle: garnering your understanding of the world and of behavioral consequences to devise a more sensible and self-protective approach
*Superego: last of the three aspects of personality to emerge
-“Internalized parent” during the preschool period as children begin to feel guilty if they behave in ways that are inconsistent with parental restrictions
-Ego: meet the needs of the id without upsetting the superego to avoid the unpleasant anxiety of guilt


Psychosexual stages

*changes in the id and its energy levels initiated each new stage


Oral stage

*Birth- 1.5 years
-The mouth is the body part that provides babies with the most pleasure


*Oral fixation

*grow up to need oral pleasures more than most adults, perhaps leading to overeating, to being especially talkative, or to being a chain smoker
-Also exhibit the fixation in more subtle ways,maintaining behaviorsor feelings in adulthood that are particularly characteristic of babies
-Fixations at any stage could be the result of either denial of a child’s needs or overindulegence of those needs
-Specific defense mechanisms can also be associated with the conflicts that arise at a particular stage


Critical (sensitive) periods

*time frames during which certain developments must occur
-Much of personality development occurs before age 5, during the first three stages


Anal stage

*1.5 to 3 years
-Pleasure focused on anus, eliminative functions reduces tension


Phallic stage

*3-6 years
-Pleasure focused on genitals
-Self-manipulation as enjoyable
-Oedipus complex: intense desire to replace the same-sex parent


Latency stage

*6 years to puberty
-Child represses sexual interest & develops social & intellectual skills


Genital stage

*Puberty onward
-Sexual reawakening; source comes from outside the family
-Unresolved conflicts with parents can re-emerge


Erikson's Psychosocial Stages

*Deemphasized the id as the driving force behind all behavior
*Emphasized the more rational processes of the ego
*Explaining the psychosocial aspects of behavior: attitudes and feelings toward the self and toward others
*In each stage the individual faces different "crises" or developmental tasks


The “Eight Stages of Man”

*Trust vs. Mistrust
*Autonomy vs. Shame & Doubt
*Initiative vs. Guilt
*Industry vs. Inferiority
*Identity vs. Role Confusion
*Intimacy vs. Isolation
*Generativity vs. Stagnation


Trust vs. Mistrust

*Birth to 1 year
*Events: Child develops a sense that the world is a safe and reliable place because of sensitive caregiving
*Positive outcome: Hope
*Negative outcome: Fear & mistrust of others


Autonomy vs. Shame & Doubt

*1 to 3 years
*Events: Child develops a sense of independence tied to use of new mental and motor skills
*Positive outcome: Willpower
*Negative outcome: Self-doubt


Initiative vs. Guilt

*3 to 5 or 6 years
*Events: Child tries to behave in ways that involve more "grown-up" responsibility and experiment with grown-up roles
*Positive outcome: Purpose
*Negative outcome: Guilt over thought & action


Industry vs. Inferiority

*6-12 years
*Events: Child needs to learn important academic skills and compare favorably with peers in school
*Positive outcome: Competence
*Negative outcome: Lack of competence


Identity vs. Role Confusion

*12 to 20 years
*Events: Adolescent must move toward adulthood by making choices about values, vocational goals, etc.
*Positive outcome: Fidelity
*Negative outcome: Inability to establish sense of self


Intimacy vs. Isolation

*Young adulthood
*Events: Adult becomes willing to share identity with other and to commit to affiliations and partnerships
*Positive outcome: Love
*Negative outcome: Fear of intimacy, distantiation


Generativity vs. Stagnation

*Middle adulthood
*Events: Adult wishes to make a contribution to the next generation, to produce, mentor, create something of lasting value, as in the rearing of children or community services or expert work
*Positive outcome: Care
*Negative outcome: Self-absorption


Ego integrity vs. Despair

*Late adulthood
*Events: Adult comes to terms with life's successes, failure, and missed opportunities and realizes the dignity of own life
*Positive outcome: Wisdom
*Negative outcome: Regret


Piaget's Cognitive Developmental Theory

*Children’s reasoning and understanding emerges naturally in stages and that parents and educators can help most by allowing children freedom to explore their environments and by giving them learning experiences that are consistent with their level of ability
*Outlined stages in the development of cognition, especially logical thinking- operational thought
-Conscious thoughts, children actively construct their understanding of the world
*Normal adults are capable of thinking logically about both concrete and abstract contents


Piaget's Cognitive Stages of Development

*Preoperational Thought
*Concrete operational thought
*Formal operational thought
*Cognitive abilities are qualitatively similar within stages
*Each stage is fairly long & is partly defined by contrast to other stages
*Stages unfold in an invariant sequence, regardless of culture or context, with similar patterns of physical or mental activity
*Each stage becomes integrated into more complex organizational systems at the next stage
*Despite qualitative differences across stages, there are functional similarities or continuities from stage to stage


Sensorimotor stage

*Birth to 2 years
*Through 6 substages, the source of infants' organized actions gradually shifts.
*At first, all organized behavior is reflexive- automatically triggered by particular stimuli.
*By the end of this stage, behavior is guided more by representational thougt.


Preoperational thought

*2 to 6 or 7 years
*Early representational thought tends to be slow.
*Thought is "centered", usually focused on one salient piece of information, or aspect of an event, at a time.
*As a result, thinking is usually not yet logical.


Concrete operational thought

*7 to 11 or 12 years
*Thinking has gradually become more rapid and efficient, allowing children to now "decenter", or think about more than one thing at a time.
*This also allows them to discover logical relationships between/among pieces of information.
*Their logical thinking is best about information that can be demonstrated in the concrete world.


Formal operational thought

*12 years though adulthood
*Logical thinking extends now to "formal" or abstract material.
*Young adolescents can think logically about hypothetical situations.



within-stage variations


Hierarchical integration

the simpler patterns of physical or mental activity at one stage become integrated into more complex organizational systems at the next stage



children (and adults) build knowledge and understanding



view of development: children actively build their knowledge, using both existing knowledge and new information


Incremental models

*they can be very different in the types and breadth of behaviors they attempt to explain
*Differ in the kinds of processes they assume to underlie psychological change
*All agree that developmental change is not marked by major, sweeping reorganization that affect many behaviors at once, as in stage theories
*Change is steady and specific to particular behaviors or behavioral domains
*Incremental theorists tend to see “change for the better” as a key feature of development
*Social learning theory
*Many incremental models


Behaviorist tradition

*most widely accepted class of theories through much of the 20th century, influenced by many thinkers from John B. Watson (e.g., 1913) to B.F. Skinner (1938), to Albert Bandura (1974)
*Knowledge and skill are thought to accumulate as the result of each person’s individual experiences
*Environment gradually leaves its imprint on one’s behavior and mind, a mind that in infancy is like a blank slate
*Simple processes- association, repetition, imitation, reward, and punishment


Classical and operant conditioning

change in behavior takes place because environmental events (stimuli) are paired with certain behaviors


Classical conditioning/Respondent conditioning

*Respondent: an automatic response to a stimulus
*Conditioned stimulus: when a neutral event or stimulus is associated with a stimulus that causes an automatic response
*Conditioned response: cause the person to make the same automatic response in the future
*Behavior is a result of continuing exposure to specific environmental factors; pairing occurs


Operant Conditioning

*First, a person performs some behavior- operant: any act with potential to lead to consequences in the environment
*Immediately after the operant occurs, there is a “reinforcing event” or reinforcement: something that is expeienced by the person as pleasurable or rewarding
*Positive reinforcement: something pleasurable is presented after the operant occurs
*Negative reinforcements: an aversive experience stops or is removed after the operant occurs


Social Learning Theories

*have focused specifically on how children acquire personality characteristics and social skills
*Emphasize “observational learning”/modeling: one person (the learner) observes another (the model) performing some behavior, and just from close observation, learns to do it too
-Observer may or may not imitate the modeled behavior, immediately or in the future, depending on many factors
*Emphasize many similar cognitive, self-regulated determiners of performance and suggest that they too are often learned from models



*if new events are experienced that are very similar to events in the original learning context, the learned behaviors may be extended to these new events


Information Processing Theories

*Likened human cognitive functioning to computer processing of information
*Do not hypothesize broad stages, emphasize incremental changes in narrow domains of behavior or thought
*The mind works on information, holding it in a temporary store or “working memory,” putting it into long-term storage, using strategies to organize it or to draw conclusions from it
*Changes with age
-Attentional capacity
-Changes in the strategies
*Processing changes are not stagelike, do not extend beyond the particular situation or problem space in which they occur


Multidimensional/systems theories

*Acknowledge and incorporate many kinds of change: qualitative, transforming changes, both great (stagelike) and small, as well as continuous, incremental variations that can even be reversible
*Addressing all domains of development
*Explain interacting causes for change both within the organism and in the environment
*Bidirectional, interacting, reciprocal causal processes


Bidirectional processes/reciprocal processes

* what happens at one level both causes and is caused by what happens at other levels


Urie Bronfenbrenner"s Bioecological Theory

described all developments- as a function of proximal processes
*Changes in the organism can be emergent, stagelike, qualitative changes or they can be more continuous, graded changes


Proximal processes

reciprocal interactions between organism and environment


Distal processes

Influences that modify proximal processes (genes, educational system, broader culture)


Demand characteristics

behavioral tendencies that often either encourage or discourage certain kinds of reactions from others



the immediate environment, where proximal processes are played out



*Relations among the microsystems



Setting that children may not directly interact with, but that influence the child nonetheless



the customs and character of the larger culture that help shape the microsystems


Life span developmental theories

Continue throughout adulthood until death
Developmental change is part of what it means to be alive
Adaptation continues from conception to death, with proximal interactions, and immediate context
Within the individual and in the environment


New Look at Three Developmental Issues

*Nature and Nurture
-Genetic and environmental process interact
*Neuroplasticity and critical periods
*Universality and specificity
-Critical influence of culture
-Importance of context as causal in development



*the alternation of gene expression by the environment
*Gene-environment interaction
*Long-term, important effects on development
*Can even be transmitted transgenerationally



changes in the brain that occur as a result of some practice or experience.


Sociocultural theories

*Cognitive developments may be qualitatively different in different cultures
*The bulk of social science research has been done on a relatively narrow sample of WEIRD (Western, Educated, Industrialized, Rich, and Democratic) people and developmental research is no exception



*Shared ancestry, language, a common place of origin and a sense of belonging to the group are elements commonly used to describe membership in an ethnic group



shared values, rituals, psychological processes, behavioral norms and practices


Socioeconomic status (SES)

s based on social standing or power, and is defined by characteristics of the adults in a household, including educational background, income, and occupation


Protective factors

Individual's strengths and environment's supports that help promote healthy outcomes


Risk factors

Environmental stressors and individual experiences that can interfere with healthy development


Mediating variables

Intervening factors that link influences to developmental outcomes


Moderating variables

Variables that affect the strength of the relationship between other variables



*Mediators and moderators
Biobehavioral processes that can be traced to genes
Serve as intermediary links between the actual genes that contribute to disorders and their expressed behavioral manifestations


Principle of multifinality

individual pathways of development may result in a wide range of possible outcomes.


Principle of equifinality

* different early developmental pathways can produce similar outcomes
*Allows for a more realistic look at the problems people face


Prevention science

*designing and testing prevention and intervention techniques for promoting healthy development in at-risk groups
*Emphasizethe value of studying individuals at the extremes of disordered behavior, for the purpose of enlightening us about how developmental processes work for everyone


Primary Prevention

Forestalling problems by promoting wellness in the general population


Secondary prevention

Reducing incidence of disorders among those at high risk, or providing treatment to forestall serious psychopathology


Tertiary prevention

Rehabilitating persons with established disorders