Issues in the Study of Development

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Chapter # 1

Issues in the Study of Development

Two Key Questions
* inborn tendencies vs. environmental factors
* does age related change occur in stages?

* The Nature-Nurture Debate
* also known as nativism vs. empiricism
* nature side was represented by idealists and rationalists (Plato & Descartes) * nurture side was represented by empiricists (John Locke) * insisted that at birth, the mind is a blank slate (tabula rasa) * all knowledge is created by experience

* other philosopher believed that it was an interaction between external/internal forces * original sin teaches that children are born with a selfish nature and must be reborn * Rousseau believed in interaction between forces, but claimed that all human beings are naturally good and seek out experiences that help them grow * the goal of human development was to achieve one’s inborn potential * good developmental outcomes = growing up in an environment that didn’t interfere with a child’s expression of his own innate characteristics * bad developmental outcomes = learned from others or arose when a child experienced frustration in his efforts to follow the dictates of the innate goodness with which he was born * G. Stanley Hall believed that the milestones of childhood were dictated by an inborn developmental plan * norms – average ages at which milestones happen * could be used to learn about the evolution of the species as well as to track the development of individual children * mostly about the nature side of the debate

* John Watson did not believe in an inborn developmental plan of any sort * behaviourism – behaviour changes cause by environmental influences * through manipulation of environment, children could be trained to be/do anything * known for the Little Albert experiment

* based on this he claimed that all age-related changers are a result of learning * Stages and Sequences
* continuity-discontinuity issue: is a child’s expanding ability just more of the same or does it reflect a new kind of activity * quantitative change – change in amount
* changes in friendship are continuous in nature
* qualitative change – change in kind or type
* changes in friendships are discontinuous
* if development consists only of additions (quantitative change), then the concept of stages is not needed to explain it * concept can however be useful if related to the idea of qualitative change

* Maturation
* Gesell used the term maturation to describe genetically programmed sequential patterns of change * marked by three qualities:
* universal across cultural boundaries
* sequential, involving some patter of unfolding skill/characteristic * relatively impervious to environmental influence
* The Timing of Experience
* specific experience interacts with maturational patterns * experience is required to maintain neural connections for vision * critical period – organism MUST be exposed to certain stimuli to develop skill * sensitive period – particular time when an experience can be best incorporated in the maturational process (mostly seen in humans) * Inborn Biases and Constraints

* another kind of internal influence
* babies come into the world with certain pre-existing conceptions * Behaviour Genetics
* study of genetic contributions to individual behaviour * uses identical and fraternal twins, as well as adopted children * heredity affects a broad range of behaviours
* intellectual, social and emotional functioning
* Gene-Environment Interaction
* child’s genetic heritage may predict something about his environment * child’s unique pattern of inherited qualities affects the way...
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