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FSU / Department / DEP 3103 / Why do we learn about child development?

Why do we learn about child development?

Why do we learn about child development?


DEP Study Guide 1

Why do we learn about child development?

Why do we learn about child development?

∙ Improves how we care for our children

o Ex. Research has proven spanking makes the  problem worse

o Develops new techniques for healthy emotion  management

∙ Helps us get accurate information in legal and social  crisis’s

o Ex. Using “Simon Says” in children who suffer from  physical abuse

o The younger the child, the more likely for false  memories

∙ Understand human nature If you want to learn more check out What is the nature of stress in psychology?

o Differentiate nature vs. nurture

o Scientific observation allows us to better care for  children in the developmental stages

o Shows how poor environments can affect children  Ex. Kids who grew up in healthy families’ vs  orphanages

What is historical foundation education?

Historical foundations

∙ Plato + Aristotle

o Believed long-term societal development and  welfare began with how children develop

o Plato emphasized self-control and discipline

 Believed children have innate knowledge that  occurs naturally

o Aristotle emphasized the specific needs of children  on an individual basis

 Believed an infants’ mind was a blank slate

o John Locke (1632-1704) + Jean-Jacques Rousseau  (1712-1778)

 Lock believed character building through good  parental example was essential

∙ Discipline before freedom

 Rousseau believed in maximum freedom from  the beginning Don't forget about the age old question of What are the different outcomes of engaging in entrepreneurship?
Don't forget about the age old question of What is a dipole in chemistry called?

∙ Social reform movements

What are the social factors affecting child development?

o Child labor was found to be developmentally  harmful

o Improved harsh conditions and environments of  children

∙ Darwin’s Theory of Evolution

o “A Biological Sketch of an Infant” Don't forget about the age old question of Clothing, housing material, and using other aspects of the surroundings to live off of is a part of which theme?
We also discuss several other topics like When does the marketing of a product begin?

 Darwin observed his own infant son

 Presented careful observations in the  

development of his infant son

 Influenced topics such as

∙ Infants’ attachment to their mothers If you want to learn more check out What are the 3 different types of inequality?

∙ Innate fears of natural dangers

∙ Sex differences

∙ Aggression and altruism

∙ Mechanisms underlying  

The Beginnings of Research-Based Theories of Development

∙ Nature & nurture: How do they shape development? o Nature: biological endowment; genes

 Ex. DNA, biological traits given from birth  


o Nurture: wide range of physical and social  


 Ex. School, social class, the womb in which the  baby develops

o Work together to produce development

o Genome: each person’s complete set of hereditary  information

 Genomes affect behavior and experience, but  behavior and experience can also affect the  



 Genomes include both DNA and gene  

expression regulating proteins, which turn gene activity on and off

 Behavior and experiences alter gene  

expression proteins NOT DNA itself, but can  

cause changes in behavior or emotion

o Epigenetics: study of stable changes in gene  expression that are mediated by the environment;  how experiences shape genomes

o Methylation: biochemical process that reduces  expression of a variety of genes involved with stress regulation

 Depressed mothers during infancy correlated  with methylation in the children’s genomes 15  years later

∙ The active child: how do children shape their own  development?

o Instinctively, infants will be drawn to moving  objects, sounds, faces (especially their mothers’),  begin smiling, cooing, and forming bonds

o Once children begin to speak, which is usually  around 9-15 months, they often talk when alone,  showing the inner motivation of the child

∙ Continuity/Discontinuity: in what ways is development  continuous and discontinuous

o Continuous development: the idea that changes  with age occur gradually

 Ex. Slow growth of a pine tree

o Discontinuous development: the idea that  changes with age include occasional large shifts  Ex. Transition from caterpillar to cocoon to  


o Stage theories: approaches that propose what  development of discontinuous, age-related phases o Cognitive development: the development of  thinking and reasoning


 Theory that children go through 4 stages of  

cognitive growth

∙ Piaget’s theory states that 2-5 year-olds  

are in a stage of development in which  

only one type of information can be  

processed at one time

o By 7, children can focus on multiple  


∙ Mechanisms of development: how does change occur o Effortful attention: voluntary control of ones  emotions and thoughts

 Important analysis of developmental change  Ex. Inhibiting impulses (obeying parents),  

controlling emotions (not crying), focusing  

attention (concentrating on homework)

o Limbic area: part of the brain that plays a big role  in emotional reaction

 Develops considerably during childhood

o Neurotransmitters: chemicals involved in  communication among brain cells

∙ The sociocultural context: how does the sociocultural  context influence development

o Sociocultural context: physical, social, cultural,  economic, and historical circumstances that make  up any child’s environment

 People the child interacts with, physical, social,  cultural, economic, and historical  

circumstances that make up any child  


∙ People the child interacts with, physical  

environment, religious institutions,  

educational systems, etc.

o Cross-cultural comparisons

 U.S. parents move babies to another room to  sleep alone at around 2-6 years while other  


cultures have their babies sleep in the same  


∙ U.S. culture prizes itself on independence  

and self-reliance  

o Socioeconomic status (SES): a measure of social class based on income and education

 Children from poor families have more  

developmental challenges

∙ Individual differences: How do children become so  different from one another?

o Differences in

 Genetics

 Treatment by parents and others

 Reactions to similar experiences

 Choices of environments

∙ Research and children’s welfare: how can research  promote children’s well-being?

o Some view intelligence as a fixed entity that cannot  be changed, while others believe it can be

 Those who believe intelligence is fixed have  worse problem solving skills

o This finding allowed children to improve their  grades by telling them they could improve their  intelligence

Methods for studying child development

∙ The scientific method

o Four steps

 Choosing a question to be answered

 Forming a hypothesis regarding the question  Developing a method for testing the hypothesis  Draw conclusions based on collected data and  evaluate the hypothesis


o Reliability: the degree in which independent  measurements of a given behavior are consistent o Interrater reliability: the amount of agreement in the observations of different raters who witness the  same behavior

 Interrater reliability is attained when different  raters can come to a consensus regarding their observations

o Test-retest reliability: the degree of similarity of  a child’s performance on two or more occasions  Test-retest reliability is attained when  

measures of a child’s performance of a test  

under the same conditions are similar on two  

or more occasions

o Validity: degree to which a test measures what it is intended to measure

o Internal validity: degree to which effects  

observed within experiments can be attributed to  the factor that the researcher is testing

o External validity: the degree to which results can  be generalized beyond the particulars of the  


Contexts for gathering data about children

∙ Interviews

o Structured interviews: a research procedure in  which all participants are asked the same questions  Very useful to collect self-reports on the same  subjects among many participants

o Clinical interviews: a procedure in which  

questions are adjusted in accord with the answers  the interviewee provides

 Very useful in collecting in-depth information  about an individual diagnosis

∙ Ex. Depression diagnosis in children


∙ Naturalistic observation: examination of ongoing  behavior in an environment not controlled by the  researcher

o Psychologists will often conduct these by sitting at  dinner tables with families

∙ Structured observation: a method that involves  presenting an identical situation to each child and  recording the child’s behavior

Correlation and causation

∙ Variables: attributes that vary across individuals and  situations, such as age, sex, and popularity

∙ Correlational designs: studies intended to indicate  how two variables are related to each other

∙ Correlation: the association between two variables o Direction-of-causation problem: the concept  that a correlation between two variables does not  indicate which, if either, variable is the cause of the  other

 Correlation does not equal causation!

o Third-variable problem: the concept that a  correlation between two variables may stem from  both being influences by some third variable

o Experimental designs: a group of approaches  that allow inferences about causes and effects to be drawn  

 Used when correlational designs are  


 If children in a group are exposed to an  

experience that the second group is not  

exposed to, and they react differently, the  

behavior can be explained through the  

exposure to the experience


 Two crucial techniques: random assignment  and experimental control

 Random assignment: a procedure in which  each child has an equal chance of being  

assigned to each group within an experiment

∙ The random assignment allows for more  

precise results

∙ The logic is that random groups should be  

comparable on all variables except the  

different treatment conducted

 Experimental control: the ability of  

researchers to determine the specific  

experiences that children have during the  

course of an experiment

∙ Refers to the researchers’ ability to  

determine child’s experience during the  


 Experimental group: group of children in an  experimental design who are presented with  

the experience of interest

 Control group: group of children in an  

experimental design who are NOT presented  

with the experience of interest

 Independent variable: the experience that  children in the experimental group receive and  that children in the control group do not  


 Dependent variable: a behavior that is  

measured to determine whether it is affected  

by exposure to the independent variable

Designs for examining development

∙ 3 types of research designs: cross-sectional, longitudinal, micro genetic


∙ Cross-sectional: a research method in which children  of different ages are compared on a given behavior or  characteristic over a short period of time

o Compares children across different  

ages/behaviors/ability that are all being studied  simultaneously  

o Useful in revealing similarities and differences in  younger and older children, but do nothing for  behavior stability in individual children

∙ Longitudinal design: a method of study in which the  same children are studied twice or more over a  substantial amount of time

o Monitors patterns of behavior in children for a long  time (usually > 1 year)

o Not practical, hard to conduct, but very efficient  ∙ Micro genetic design: a method in which the same  children are studed repeatedly over a short period o Designed to provided in-depth deception of  

processes that produce change

o Recruits children on brink of developmental change, heighten exposure to the experience provoking  change, and studies development as it is occurring

∙ Counting-on strategy: counting up from the larger  addend the number of times indicated by the smaller  addend

o Discovered through micro genetic design by Siegbur + Jenkins

o Child counting from “5” to “6” in small increments  to reach end number

Ethical issues in child development research

∙ Cannot harm children physically or psychologically ∙ Provide informed consent

∙ Preserve autonomy


∙ Discuss any info withheld from child with parent ∙ Counteract any unforeseen negative consequences that  arise


∙ Responding less to stimuli over time after being exposed to the same stimuli repeatedly

Prenatal development

∙ Epigenesis: emergence of new structures and functions in the course of development

∙ Conception: union of sperm and egg

o Gametes (germ cells): reproductive cells (egg  and sperm) that only contain ½ the genetic material of all the other cells in the body

o Meiosis: cell division that produces gametes o Strongest sperm get to egg; survival of the fittest ∙ Periods of prenatal development:

o Germinal: conception to two weeks

 Beings with conception, ends with implantation of zygote to uterine wall. Rapid cell division

o Embryonic: 3rd to 8th week

 Following implantation; major development in  organs and systems

 Cell division, cell migration, cell differentiation,  and cell death

o Fetal: 9th week to birth

 Rapid growth of body, increasing levels of  

behavior, learning, sensory experience

∙ Developmental processes

o Embryo: name given to the developing organism  from the 3rd to 8th week of prenatal development


o Fetus: name given to the developing organism 9th  week to birth

o Mitosis: cell division that produces 2 identical cells o Embryonic stem cells: embryonic cells, which can develop into any type of body cell

o Transformation of a zygote (4 major developments):  Cell division (mitosis): within first 12 hours,  

zygote divides into 2 equal parts

 Cell migration: movement of newly formed  


 Cell differentiation: stem cells mutate to over  350 types of body cells

 Cell death: death of certain cells

∙ Apoptosis: genetically programmed cell  


o Hormones play big role

 Androgens (sex hormones) influence sex of a  child

∙ Early development

o Identical twins: twins that result from the splitting of the zygote in half, resulting in two zygotes with  the same genetic info

o Fraternal twins: twins that result when 2 eggs  happen to be released at the same time and are  fertilized by 2 different sperm; only share ½ genetic  makeup

o Neural tube: groove formed in the top layer of  differentiated cells in the embryo that eventually  become the brain and spinal cord

o Amniotic sac: a transparent, fluid-filled membrane  that surrounds and protects the fetus

 Protective buffer cushion, temp regulation

o Placenta: support organ for fetus; separates mom  and fetus while allowing nutrients and waste to pass through


o Umbilical cord: tube containing the blood vessels  connecting fetus to placenta

∙ An illustrated summary of prenatal development o Cephalocaudal development: the pattern of  growth in which areas near the head develop earlier than areas father from the head

 Ex. Head before body; hands before feet

Fetal behavior

∙ Movement

o 5 or 6 weeks after conception the fetus begins  movement

 Simple bending of the head followed by  

increasingly complex movement

o Hiccups in fetus occur around 7 weeks

 Thought to be burping reflex

∙ Behavior cycles

o Once fetus is in motion (around 5-6 weeks) it is  almost in constant motion for the next month or so o Sleep cycles begin forming near the end of  


Fetal experience

∙ Sight and touch

o Visual experience is minimal

o Fetuses experience tactical stimulation by touch,  and grabs at umbilical

∙ Taste

o Amniotic fluid has a variety of flavors in which the  fetus can detect, and likes some more than others o DeSnoo demonstrated taste sensitivity and flavor  preferences by injecting saccharin  

∙ Smell

o Amniotic sac takes on odors from what the mother  has eaten


o Smells transmit through liquid, and amniotic fluid  comes into contact with the odor receptors through  fetal breathing

∙ Hearing

o External sounds are audible to the fetus

o The fetus responds to these sounds from around the 6th month of pregnancy

o Maternal sounds – heartbeat, blood, breathing,  swallowing of the mother – may also be heard

Fetal learning

∙ Habituation: simple form of learning that involves a  decreased response to a repeated or continued  simulation

∙ Newborns retain info learning in the womb

o Can lead to long-lasting taste preferences

Hazard to prenatal development

∙ Teratogen: an external agent that can cause damage or death during a fetal development

∙ Sensitive period: period of time in which the  developing organism is most susceptible  

∙ Dose-response relation: relationship in which the  effect of exposure to an element increases with the  extent of exposure (more teratogen = more defects)

Maternal factors

∙ Age

o Infants born to girls 15 or younger are 4x as likely to die within the year

o Older mothers (above 30ish?) = more risk

∙ Nutrition

∙ Disease

∙ Maternal emotional state


The newborn infant

∙ State: level of arousal and engagement in the  environment ranging from deep sleep to intense activity ∙ Crying – reasons change over development

o Initially crying is used in times of discomfort, but  over time the baby learns they can communicate  with their care giver

o Soothing – techniques for soothing include rocking,  singing, giving a pacifier

o Swaddling: soothing technique that involves  tightly wrapping a baby in cloths or a blanket

o Response to distress

o Colic: excessive, inconsolable crying by a young  infant for no apparent reason

Negative outcomes at birth

∙ Infant mortality

∙ Low birth weight: birth weight < 5.5 lbs

o Premature: a child born under 35 weeks, as  opposed to 38

o Small for gestational age: babies who weigh  substantially less than whatever is normal for their  gestational age

Nature and nurture

∙ Genetic and environmental

o Three key elements

 Genotype: genetic material an individual  


 Phenotype: observable expression of the  

genome, including both body characteristics  

and behavior

 Environmental: every aspect of an individual  and his or her surroundings other genes

o Parent genotype – child genotype

 Nucleus contains chromosomes and DNA


∙ Chromosomes: molecules of DNA that  

transmit genetic information and are  

made up of DNA (humans have 46)

∙ DNA (deoxyribonucleic acid):  

molecules that carry all the biochemical  

instructions involved in the formation and  

functioning of an organism

 Genes: section of chromosomes that are basic  unit of heredity in all living things

 Sex determination is determined by sex  


∙ Sex chromosomes: chromosomes (X and

Y) which determine an individual’s  

biological sex

 Diversity and individuality

∙ Mutation: change in section of DNA

o Random assortment

o Child’s genotype – child’s phenotype

 Reulator genes: genes that control the  

activity of other genes

 Allele: two or more different forms of a gene  Dominant allele: an allele that, if present,  gets expressed

 Recessive allele: the allele that is not  

expressed if a dominant allele is present

 Homozygous: having two of the same allele  for a trait

 Heterozygous: having two different allels for  a trait

o Child’s environment – child phenotype

 Norm the reaction: all the phenotypes that can  theoretically result form a given genotype in  

relation to all the environments in which it can  survive and develop


 Phenylketonuria (PKA): a disorder related to a  defective recessive gene on chromosome 12


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