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Child Development Studies

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I. What is development?

- systematic continuities & changes in an individual between conception and death

A. Causes

1. maturation - allows us to change and follow our biological path

2. learning - process through which our experience produce relatively permanent changes in our feelings, thoughts, and behaviors.

* We change in response to our environment

B. Goals for developmentalists

1. To describe, explain, & optimize development

* They must focus on normative development: typical patterns of change, and on ideographic development: individual variations

Chronological overview of human development

Life Period Age Range

Prenatal Conception to birth

Infancy/toddler 1st 2 years

Preschool 2-6 years

Middle childhood 6-12 / until onset of puberty

Adolescence 12-20

Young adulthood 20-40

Middle age 40-65

Old age 65+

Holistic Process: humans are physical, cognitive, and social. Each of these developmental areas change, and are dependent on each other

Plasticity: change in response to positive or negative experiences. This can help children who were raised in bad situations to be changed by positive influences.

Disclaimer ("historical/cultural context"): these statements about development do not hold true to all cultures/ethinc groups, etc. Some crazy societies make no sense, therefore you cannot expect the same results in all similar situations. Generations change too. For example, areas other than the U.S aren't civilized, so they don't develop at all.

II. Historical Perspectives

A. Old important people

1. Thomas Hobbes - believed in original sin: children are inherently selfish egoists who must be restrained by society

2. Jean Jacques Rousseau - believed in innate purity: infants are born with a sense of right and wrong that is often misdirected by the demands and restrictions of society

3. John Locke: believed in Tabula Rasa: "blank slate" where kids minds are blank upon being born and they are molded by their experiences. Him and Hobbes felt that ids should be disciplined to develop good habits.

B. Famous creepy scientists

1. G. Stanley Hall - studied kids minds and found that they don't think very logically at all. Their understanding of the world grows rapidly during childhood.

2. Sigmund Freud - he was a pioneer, and came up with the psychoanalytic theory. He came up with his ideas while treating patients for various emotional disturbances.

Theory: set of concepts and propositions designed to organize, describe, and explain an existing set of observations.

Hypothesis: theoretical prediction about some aspect of experience

III. Ways to study development

A. Cross sectional design - different age groups (cohorts) are studied at the same time, and you can find age related changes. Historical events can skew results if certain age groups have been exposed to different things.

Cohort effect: age related difference among cohorts that is attributable to cultural or historical differences in cohorts growing up experiences rather than to true development change

B. Longitudinal design - observing the same people over a period of time. This shows the stability of certain attributes, and developmental trends. This can show differences in development if multiple participants are tracked over time.

1. problems: practice effect: changes in participants natural responses as a result of repeated testing




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