Chapter One: An Intro to Lifespan Development

What is lifespan development?

Lifespan development is the field of study that examines patterns of growth, change, and stability in behavior across the lifespan

What are the areas of development?

Social Development

How long does development in human occur?

From Birth to Death

What are the 4 topical areas of human development?

Physical Development
Cognitive Development
Personality Development
Social Development

What is the focus of physical development

Nervous System
The need for food, drink, and sleep

What is the focus of cognitive development?

Intellectual capabilities
(Learning, memory, problem solving skills, and intelligence)

What is the focus of personal development?

Enduring characteristics of an individual

What is the focus of social development

Social interactions and relationships
How they grow, change, and remain stable

What are the periods of development and the age ranges?

Prenatal Period-Conception to birth
Infancy & Toddlerhood-Birth to 3 Years
Early Childhood/Preschool-3 to 6 years
Middle Childhood-6 to 12 years
Adolescence-12 to 20 Years
Young Adulthood-20 to 40 years
Middle Adulthood-40 to 65 Years

What is a social construction?

A social construction is a shared notion of reality, one that is widely accepted but is a function of society and culture at a given time

What is emerging adulthood?

-A period beginning in the late teenage years and continuing into the mid-twenties.
-During emerging adulthood, people are no longer adolescents, but they haven't fully taken on the responsibilities of adulthood.
-Trying out different identities and engag

What are individual differences?

The different rates at which people mature and reach developmental milestones

What are the 4 influences on development?

History-Graded influences
Age-graded influences
Sociocultural Infliuences
Non-normative life events


A group of people born around the same time in the same place

Examples of History graded influences/cohort effects

-Living in New York during 9/11

Examples of age-graded influences


Examples of sociocultural-influences?

-Schooling for middle class vs. lower class

Examples of non-normative life events?

-Unexpected death
-Illness in the family

What are the 4 key issues of lifespan development?

1. Continuous vs. Discontinuous
2. Critical periods vs. Sensitive periods
3. Focus on lifespan vs. Individual periods
4. Nature vs. Nurture

What is continuous and discontinuous change?

Continuous Change:
-Change is gradual.
-Achievements at one level build on previous level.
-Underlying developmental processes remain the same over the life span.
-E.g.: Child learns to speak in words, phrases, and then sentences
Discontinuous Change:

What are critical periods and sensitive periods?

Critical Periods:
-Certain environmental stimuli are necessary for normal development.
-Emphasized by early developmentalists.
-E.g. Need exposure to language during first few years
Sensitive Periods
-People are susceptible to certain environmental stimul

What is focus on lifespan and individual periods?

Lifespan Approach:
-Current theories emphasize growth and change throughout life, relatedness of different periods.
Focus on Particular Periods
-Infancy and adolescence emphasized by early developmentalists as most important periods.

What is Nature and Nurture?

Nature (Genetic Factors)
-Emphasis is on discovering inherited genetic traits and abilities.
-Biological maturation
Nurture (Environmental Factors)
-Emphasis is on environmental influences that affect a person's development.
-Influences of physical and so


The predetermined unfolding of genetic information

What is the degree of influence?

Interaction between genes and environment

What is a theory?

-A set of ideas used to describe, explain, and predict
-A theory provides a framework for understanding the relationships among a seemingly unorganized set of facts or principles.

What are the six theoretical perspectives?


Psychodynamic Perspective

-Focus on link between internal processes and behavior
-Children move through series of stages/conflicts
-Resolution of conflicts impacts future development and relationships
-Freud and Erikson

Psychoanalytic Theory

The theory proposed by Freud that suggest that unconscious forces act to determine personality and behavior

What are the 3 parts of personality in Freud's Psychoanalytic Theory?



-Raw, unorganized, inborn part of personality
-Present at birth.
-Represents primitive drives related to hunger, sex, aggression, and irrational impulses.
-Pleasure principle= maximize satisfaction and reduce tension.


-Rational and reasonable.
-Redirects Id's impulses
-Reality principle= instinctual energy is restrained in order to maintain the safety of the individual and help integrate the person into society.
-Emerges in early infancy


-Represents a person's conscience, -Distinctions between right and wrong.
-Develops around age five or six
-Learned from an individual's parents, teachers, and other significant figures.

Psychosexual Development

According to Freud, a series of stages that children pass through in which pleasure, or gratification, focuses on a particular biological function and body part

Freud's Psychosexual Stages and their meanings

Oral: Birth-1 year
-Interest in oral gratification from sucking, eating, mouthing, biting
Anal: 1-3 years
-Gratification from expelling and withholding feces; coming to terms with society's controls relating to toilet training
Phallic: 3-6 years

What is fixation?

-Behavior reflecting an earlier stage of development due to an unresolved conflict.
-Example: fixation at the oral stage might produce an adult who is unusually absorbed in oral activities´┐Żeating, talking, or chewing gum.

Psychosocial Development

The approach that encompasses changes in our interactions and understanding of one another, as well as in our knowledge and understanding of ourselves as a member of society

What are Erikson's Psychosocial Stages?

1. Basic trust vs. mistrust (Birth- 1 year)
2. Autonomy vs. shame and doubt (1-3 year)
3. Initiative vs.guilt (3-6 years)
4. Industry vs. inferiority (6-11 years)
5. Identity vs. role diffusion (Adolescence)
6. Intimacy vs. Isolation (Early Adulthood)

What are the positives and negatives of each Psychosocial stage?

1. Basic trust vs. mistrust
-Positive: Feelings of trust from environmental support
-Negative: Fear and concern regarding others
2. Autonomy vs. shame and doubt
-Positive: Self-sufficiency if exploration is encouraged
-Negative: Doubts about self, lack of

What is the Behavioral Perspective?

-Focus on observable behavior rather than internal motivations
-Development as individualistic rather than universal
-Heavy emphasis on nurture/environmental stimuli
-Views development as continuous
-Important psychologists who studied this perspective: W

Classical Conditioning

-A type of learning in which an organism responds in a particular way to a neutral stimulus that normally does not bring about that type of response.
-Dog's salivating to the sound of a bell (Pavlov)
-Dwight and the Altoids

Operant Conditioning

-A form of learning in which a voluntary response is strengthened or weakened by its association with positive or negative consequences
-Response is voluntary, not automatic
-Reinforcement: the process by which a stimulus is provided that increas

Behavior Modification

-Part of Operant Conditioning
-a formal technique for promoting the frequency of desirable behaviors and decreasing the incidence of unwanted ones

Social Cognitive Theory

-An approach that emphasizes learning by observing the behavior of another person, called a model
- Behavior is learned primarily through observation and not through trial and error

What are the four steps to the social cognitive theory?

An observer must:
1. Observe Behavior
2. Recall Behavior
3. Reproduce Behavior
4. Motivation to Act

What is cognitive perspective?

-Focuses on the processes that allow people to know, understand, and think about the world.

How does Piaget's Theory of Cognitive Development work?

-Proposed universal stages of development
-Focused on change in cognition
-Thinking organized into schemes or mental patterns
-Assimilation and Accommodation

What is Assimilation and Accommodation?

-Assimilation: Understand world through current stage of thinking
-Accommodation: Change way of thinking in response to environment

What is the information processing approach?

-A model that identifies ways that the mind takes in, uses, and stores information-
-The mind as a computer
-Input from environment, output = behavior
Quantitative development
Mind grows in capacity, speed, and efficiency
No qualitative changes

Quantitative development

-Mind grows in capacity, speed, and efficiency
-No qualitative changes

Neo-Piagetian Theory

-Considers cognition as being made up of different types of individual skills.
-Cognitive development proceeds quickly in certain areas and more slowly in others.
-Example, reading ability and the skills needed to recall stories may progress sooner than t

Cognitive Neuroscience Approach

-Links cognitive activity to neurological activity/processes of the brain
-Identify locations and functions in the brain associated with particular cognitive activity
-Use of brain scanning techniques
-Discovering genes associated with mental health disor

The Humanistic Perspective

-Argues that individuals have natural capacity to make decisions about their life and control their behavior
-Try to reach full potential
-Reject idea that behavior is result of unconscious processes
-Humans act on free will

Who are the major theorists of the humanistic approach?

-Carl Rogers (everyone needs to feel loved and respected)
-Abraham Maslow: Primary goal in life is self-actualization

What is self-actualization

A state of self-fulfillment in which people achieve their highest potential in their own unique way

What is the contextual perspective?

-The theory that considers the relationship between individuals and their physical, cognitive, personality, and social worlds.
-Constant interaction between all areas of development
-Shouldn't study areas of development in isolation
-Must consider cultura

Who are the major theorists of the contexual perspective?

Bronfenbrenner Bioecological approach & Vygotsky sociocultural theory

What is Brofenbrenner's Bioecological Approach

-The perspective suggesting that different levels of the environment simultaneously influence individuals
-5 levels:
1. Microsystem
2. Mesosystem
3. Exosystem
4. Macrosystem
5. Chronosystem

What is Vygotsky's Sociocultural Theory?

-The approach that emphasizes how cognitive development proceeds as a result of social interactions between members of a culture
-Culture impacts development
-Children learn through scaffolding by adults
-Learn values of society through cooperation with o

What is the Evolutionary Perspective?

-Links human behavior to genetic inheritance of our ancestors
-Physical, social, and personality traits

Who are the major evolutionary perspective theorists?

-Charles Darwin: Natural selection creates traits in species adaptive to the environment
-Conrad Lorenz: Imprint in geese (Ethology-examines the ways in which our biological makeup influences our behavior)

Behavioral Genetics

Studies the effects of heredity on behavior.

What does the scientific method do?

1. Identify question of interest
2. Formulate an explanation
3. Conduct research to test question


Systematic body of ideas used to explain, describe, and predict a phenomenon


-Tentative idea or question tested in an experiment
-Not a fact

Correlational Research

-Identifies if there is an association or relationship between 2 variables
-Does NOT indicate causation

Correlation Coefficient

-Statistic that describes strength of relationship between 2 variables
-From -1 to 1
-0 indicated no relationship
-Values closer to -1 and 1 indicate stronger relationships
-Can be positive or negative relationship (direction)

Cause and Effect

-If we find a relationship between 2 variables in a correlational design, can't determine the direction of the relationships
-E.g. Does exercise decrease depression, or do less depressed people exercise more?

Third Variable Problem

-What if a 3rd variable (confounding variable) causes changes in both variables?
-E.g.- warm weather results in a decrease in depression and an increase in exercise

Experimental Research

-Research that invovles directly manipulating and controlling variables
-Can determine causality
-Involves at least 2 different conditions: Treatment group and Control group
-Compare differences between groups
-E.g. Comparing marital satisfaction between

Independent Variable

-Variable being manipulated
-Hypothesized to have an effect on dependent variables

Dependent Variable

-Variable being measured
-Hypothesized to be affected by the independent variable

What are the 6 steps of Experiemental Design?

1. Form hypothesis
2. Identify participants
3. Randomly assign participants to a condition (Treatment v. Control)
4. Manipulate the independent variable
5. Measure the dependent variable
6. Compare the dependent variable of the 2 groups

What are the 2 ways to measure developmental change?

Longitudinal study and cross-sectional study

What is longitudinal study?

-Same participants studied at different times
-Can measure change in same individuals
-Time consuming and expensive
-Participants may drop-out

What is the cross-sectional study?

-Participants in different ages studied at same time
-Cheaper and quicker
-Doesn't tell us about individual change
-May have cohort effects or selective drop-out

Ethical Principles in research

Individuals in studies have:
-Protection from physical and psychological harm
-Informed consent/assent
-Use of deception must be justified and cause no harm
-Participants have right to privacy

Naturalistic Observation

-The observation of a naturally occurring behavior without intervention in the situation
-However, Researchers are unable to exert control over factors of interest

Case Studies

-Study that involve extensive, in-depth interviews with a particular individual or small group of individuals.

Survey Research

-A group of people chosen to represent some larger population are asked questions about their attitudes, behavior, or thinking on a given topic.

What are psychphysiological methods

-Focuses on the relationship between physiological processes and behavior.

What are the three most frequently used psychophysiological measures?

-Electroencephalogram (EEG).
-Computerized axial tomography (CAT) scan.
-Functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) scan.

Electroencephalogram (EEG).

-Reports electrical activity within the brain recorded by electrodes placed on the outside of the skull.
-Brain activity is transformed into a pictorial representation of the brain, permitting the representation of brain wave patterns and diagnosis of dis

Computerized axial tomography (CAT) scan.

-A computer constructs an image of the brain by combining thousands of individual X-rays taken at slightly different angles.
-Does not show brain activity,
-Illuminate the structure of the brain.

Functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) scan.

-Provides a detailed, three-dimensional computer-generated image of brain activity
-Aims a powerful magnetic field at the brain.
-Offers one of the best ways of learning about the operation of the brain, down to the level of individual nerves.

Sequential studies

-Researchers examine a number of different age groups at several points in time