Developmental Psychology

[[#|Developmental Psychology]] is the "scientific study of changes that occur in human beings over the course of their life span." There are many different branches of [[#|developmental psychology]], including cognitive, linguistic, moral, and personality development.

Developmental Stages

Prenatal and Early Development

Prenatal Development refers to a child's development that occurs before the child is born.

Zygote: 2 weeks. A zygote is the combined egg and sperm cell. It rapidly divides and cannot be harmed by taratogens, agents that harm the child (no connection with mother yet).
Embryo: 6 weeks. Differentiation, when different cells of the (previous) zygote take on different characteristics and become different parts of the body, occurs in this stage. Heart and other organs begin to develop.
Fetus: 9 weeks on. The stomach and other organs develop. In later stages, the fetus is developed enough to live outside of the mother. The fetus can recognize and respond to light and sound.

Fetal Alcohol Syndrome: physical and mental abnormalities caused by a pregnant mother's drinking. Abnormalities may include facial disproportions and/or mental retardation.

Motor and cognitive development may not occur at the same time for every person, but they do occur in the same sequence for everyone. For example, a child must learn to crawl before it learns to walk.

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Jean Piaget

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Piaget was a Swiss pyschologist who was born in 1896 and died in 1980. He explored the developmental stages of children's intelligence. The stages included Sensorimotor, Preoperational, Concrete Operational, and Formal Operational.

Lack Object Permanence
Use sensces to take in the world
2-6 or 7
Gain Object Permanence
Lack of Theory of Mind
Lack Conservation
Scale Error
Concrete Operational
6 or 7 - 11 or 12
Gain Conservation
Gain Theory of Mind
Lack of Abstract Reasoning
Formal Operational
11 or 12 and up
Gain Abstract Reasoning
Theoretical Reasoning
(Not all people reach this stage)

Children in this stage lack object permanence or the awareness that objects do not continue to exist when not perceived. (If you covered a toy with a blanket a child in the Sensorimotor Stage would believe that the object no longer existed)
Babies in this stage take in the world through all of their senses. They will use their sensory and motor interactions with objects to find out what they are. This means they can interact with an object by looking, mouthing, touching, hearing, etc.
Stranger anxiety present.
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This is the stage during the preschool period and up to about age 6 or 7 where children are too young to perform mental operations.
Preoperational children lack the concept of conservation or the principle that quantity remains the same despite changes in shape. For example a child may believe that a tall, narrow glass contains too much milk while if that same amount is poured into a short, wide glass then it is a smaller, more acceptable amount for them to drink.
Children in this stage are also egocentric: they have difficulty perceiving things from another's point of view.
Theory of Mind: People's ideas about their own and others' mental states-about their feelings, perceptions, and thoughts and the behavior theses might predict.
Pretend Play: Use toys to represent real objects and take on different roles.
Scale Error: Early preoperational, mistaking an object's size. (Example: When playing with a smalltoy [[#|car a]] child will attempt to get inside of it.)
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Concrete Operational

Children in this stage are able to think logically about concrete events.
They have reversability which is the ability to recognize that numbers or objects can be changed and returned to their original condition.

Formal Operational

People in this stage can do abstract thinking and have potential for mature moral reasoning.
Have all functions in this stage.

Lawrence Kohlberg

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Kohlberg (1927-1987) was an American [[#|psychologist]] best known for his theory of stages of moral development. The stages include Preconventional, Conventional, and Postconventional morality.

Preconventional Stage

Less than 9 years old.
Morality based on [[#|rewards]] and punishments.
Example: A kid might behave well for a treat like a cookie.
Example: A person will drive the speed limit in order to avoid getting a [[#|ticket]].
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Conventional Stage

Between 9 years old and adolescence.
Morality based on norms and social order.
Example: A child won't talk back to his dad because of social roles.
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Postconventional Stage

Adolescence and up.
Morality based on rights and principles.
Example: A man may steal bread in order to feed his starving family.

Erik Erikson

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Erikson (1902-1994) was a German-born American [[#|psychologist]] best known for his theory on psychological development of human beings. His psychological developmental stages exceed childhood and continue throughout the life span.

Trust vs. Mistrust

First year.
Babies are dependent on everything.
Have basic trust if needs are met.
Build trusting relationships.
Gain trust or do not gain trust based on needs.

Autonomy vs. Shame and Doubt

1-2 years.
Toddlers learn to exercise will and do things for themselves or they doubt their abilities.

Initiative vs. Guilt

3-5 years.
Either initiate tasks and carry out plans or they feel guilty about trying to be independent.

Competence vs. Inferiority

6 years-puberty
Either take pleasure in applying themselves to tasks or they feel inferior.
Figure out if they are good or bad at various tasks.

Identity vs. Role Confusion

Either work at refining a sense of self by testing roles or they become confused about who they are.
This is where conformity or nonconformity to society is present.

Intimacy vs. Isolation

Twenties-Early forties
Adults either struggle to form close relationships and gain the capacity for love or they feel socially isolated.
Example: "Cat" lady (isolation)

Generativity vs. Stagnation

Either feel like they can contribute to the world through family and work or they feel a lack of purpose (worthless).
This is the time where mid-life crisis occurs.
Midlife crisis example: A man in his late forties buys a boat to feel like they have done something with their lives.

Integrity vs. Despair

When reflecting on life one can either feel satisfaction with their life or failure.

Sigmund Freud

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Freud (1856-1939) was an Austrian neurologist, and later became known as the father of psychoanalysis.
Psychoanalysis - A system of psychology and therapy that involves looking at the unconscious mind and memories and connecting them to present cognition and behavior.
He is also known for Psychosexual developmental research. The stages include Oral, Anal, Phallic, Latent, and Genital stages.
Freud's work was criticized by many other psychologists, because his work had no strong basis. His work on psychosexual development was based on a case study, not research.

Oral Stage

0-18 months.
Pleasure center - mouth (sucking, biting, chewing)
Children who are weaned early become orally fixated, causing trust issues and habits that involve the mouth, like biting nails. The opposite happens for those who are weaned late; they trust others too easily.

Anal Stage

18-36 months.
Pleasure center - bowel/bladder
This stage involves coping with demands for control.
An expulsive child is very messy, and tends to become carefree and flexible. A retentive child is very neat, and tends to become a perfectionist ("anal retentive" personality).

Phallic Stage

3-6 years.
Pleasure center - genitals
This stage involves coping with incestuous feelings and gender identification.
Oedipal Complex: A boy loves his mother and may feel jealous of the relationship between his mother and father. This jealousy leads to the subconscious hatred of the father.
Electro Coplex: A girl is envious of her father and wants to be like him ("penis envy").

Latent Stage

6 years-puberty.
Pleasure center - none
This stage is characterized by dormant sexual feelings. Same sex play is common during this stage.

Genital Stage

Continuous throughout and after puberty.
Pleasure center - genitals
Sexual interests mature. Freud is known to have said that sexual interests motivate everything one does.


Harry Harlow

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Harry Harlow is known for his experiments with monkeys involving bodily contact and attachment.

In his experiment, he concluded that even thought the wire mother provided food, the baby monkey bonded more with the cloth mother which provided comfort. This shows that bodily contact plays a bigger role in attachment than does nourishment.

Konrad Lorenz

Lorenz (1903-1989) was an Austrian psychologist known for experimenting with imprinting.
Imprinting: a type of attachment when the baby becomes strongly attached to the first "motherly figure" it sees.
Lorenz was known for being imprinted on by geese.

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Mary Ainsworth
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Ainsworth's famous experiment was called "the strange situation." In this experiment, Ainsworth left infants alone/with its mother/with a stranger in a room. From this experiment, she discovered secure and insecure attachment types.

Secure Attachment

In the experiment, when the mother was present, the baby happily and comfortably explored the room. When the mother left, the baby became upset, but upon the mother's return, the baby returned to a happy state. Children with secure attachment tend to become extroverted.

Insecure Attachment

In the experiment, when the mother was present, the baby stayed close to the mother and was not willing to explore the room. When the mother left, the baby became upset, and upon the mother's return, the baby remained upset. Children with insecure attachment tend to become intraverted.

Parenting Styles

Different types of parenting styles can lead to different personalities of the child. Among the different parenting styles are permissive, authoritarian, and authoritative.


This style involves parents who make few demands and give little punishment. This style leads a child to have high self esteem, high social skills, a lack of boundaries, low chance of depression, and low achievement.


This style involves parents who make many demands and give a lot of punishment. This style leads a child to have low self esteem, low social skills, a lack of ability to think for himself, high chance of depression, and high achievement. This type of parenting style usually does not offer an explanation for punishment.

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This style involves parents who are demanding, yet responsive. This parent uses rules with reasoning. This is the "best" parenting style for the most successful child. The child may become socially and academically successful and confident. These types of parents will explain why something was done wrong or punished.

Language Development

Language is put together with phonemes and morphemes.
Phonemes are the smallest distinct sounds in words. For example, the word BATHS has 4 phonemes: B - A - TH - S
Morphemes are the smallest units of meaning in words. For example, the word BATHS has 2 morphemes: BATH - S (the S makes it plural, giving it a separate meaning)

Grammar is a system of rules that allows us to understand others.
Syntax: word order (example: "white house" vs. "casa blanca")
Semantics: rules to derive meaning (ex. "laughed" the "-ed" signifies past tense)

Critical Period is shortly after birth when the infant acquires language skills most easily.
Linguistic Determinism is the way that vocabulary determines how we think of things. For example, you may think differently when someone describes something as green than when someone describes something as chartreuse, evergreen, or lime green.

Language Development Stages

Babbling: birth-4 months
1-word: 4-14 months
2-word/Telegraphic: 14-24 months

Skinner vs. Chomsky

Skinner is known for operant conditioning. Since operant conditioning plays a huge role in learning, Skinner concluded that language must be a learned concept. He believed that children were not born with understanding of language, but slowly develop it over time. On the other hand, Chomsky believed that everyone has an innate, genetic understanding of language. He believed that all languages had the same basis of organization. Therefore, in the nature vs. nurture debate, Skinner would side with nurture, and Chomsky would side with nature.
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David G. Myers, Psychology