Developmental Psychology

David Howlett

Developmental Psychologists study physical, cognitive, and social changes throughout the life span.

3 Key Issues

1. Nature vs. Nurture

2. Continuity and Stages

3. Stability and change

Prenatal Development

Prenatal development progresses through stages starting with a woman's ovary releasing  a mature egg. This link describes the stages in detail as it goes through the stages.

Infancy and Childhood
Physical Development

Most of the infants brain development involves brain development the pruning process and maturation. Motor development is essentially leaning to walk. Usually, our earliest memories don't predate our third birthday. However, we still process information as demonstrated by the experiment in which an infant was able to learn that kicking moves a mobile and that they can retain that learning for about a month.   

Cognitive Development

Jean Piaget concluded that the mind of the child is not a miniature model of the adult's. He believed that a child's cognitive development occurs through stages. His main idea was that the driving force of intellectual progression is an unceasing struggle to make sense of our experience.

Piaget's Stages of Cognitive Development

Social Development

One of the biggest themes of social development in the infant is stranger anxiety and attachment. This occurs through a critical period and a process called imprinting. Ainsworth also put infants in "strange situations" and explored the effects of secure attachment and insecure attachment. The strange situation was created by having the parent leave the child and see how they behave. Most infants were distressed by the absence of the parent.   


During infancy, the main achievement is attachment. During childhood, the goal is to have a positive sense of self by created a self-concept which is a understanding and evaluation about who they are.

Parenting Styles

1. Authoritarian parents impose rules and expect obedience. A parent using this style would most likely say something like, "Do it because I said so."

2. Permissive parents submit to their children's desires, make few demands, and use little punishment.

3. Authoritative parents are both demanding and responsive. They exert control by making rules and enforcing them but they also explain the reasons for rules. When their children are older they also encourage open discussion when making rules and allow exceptions.  

Gender Development

Under the influence of our culture, our gender influences our social development.

Adulthood and Successful Aging
The Biopsychosocial Approach

Biological Influences- no genes predisposing dementia or other diseases, and appropriate nutrition

Psychological Influences- optimistic outlook and physically and mentally active lifestyle

Social-cultural Influences- Support from family and friends, meaningful activities, cultural respect for aging, and safe living conditions.

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