PSY 171 Exam 1

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What is development?

The study of interindividual differences, intraindividual change, and interindividual differences in intraindividual change

How people differ from one another.
How people change over time.
How people differ in how they change over time.


What makes a theory good?

Parsimonious –simplest explanation for the phenomenon, precise

Internally Consistent – any ideas that go to the theory all have to work together

Falsifiable- be able to be proven

Applicable- needs to be applied in the real world


continuity vs discontinuity

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Left pic- continuity, smooth and gradual change over time, no abrupt shifts or changes (ex. playing an instrument)

Middle- discontinuity, development is a series of transformative changes (ex. learning how to walk)

Right- “overlapping ways model” shifts are gradual on a short time frame (looks continuous) but shifts are more abrupt in a large time view (discontinuous) (ex. Learning how to talk)


The issue of universality

Goal is to identify universal laws of development and at the same time understand important variations

which aspects of development are stable and which vary?



multiple pathways to the same endpoint, convergence of developmental paths

ex. College binge drinking- someone may have a genetic predisposition towards alcoholism, someone doing it as a social activity, drinking to cope with a mental health issue



start at the same developmental point, but end up in different places

ex. Children who are abused- some may become successful, some go down the wrong path


Freud's Psychoanalytic Theory

Development is shaped by basic biological drives and instincts (mostly sexual).

Development is also a result of environmental encounters (primarily with parents).

Defined roles of early experiences and how parents help in developing pathways

Environment influences are very powerful


Erikson's Psychosocial Theory

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One of the best-known stage theories of development

Lifespan approach- focused on the who life, not just childhood

Emphasized environment over biology

Theory emphasizes resolutions to conflicts or turning points- the better you succeeded at each stage, the more successful you will be in development


trust vs mistrust

Erikson's Psychosocial Theory- First year of life.

Relationships with caregivers are key- Trust is the cornerstone of social development

Children can learn (or not) that the world is a safe place to be.

Study: parents who picked up their baby in the first year often, had babies who cried less in their second year since they become more trusting


autonomy vs shame and doubt

Erikson's Psychosocial Theory- 1-3 years

Children begin to assert their independence.-Kids love “no” and “I want to do it myself”

Kids want to be independent and make their own decisions

If they have some choices they can build that autonomy

Too much restraint leads to shame.


Initiative vs guilt

Erikson's Psychosocial Theory- 3-6 years (early childhood)

Develop a sense of responsibility and ambition
Big developmental task: taking initiative, feeling like they have purpose, taking on responsibilities

Begins to develop morality and a conscience

If made to feel too anxious, feelings of guilt arise.


industry vs inferiority

Erikson's Psychosocial Theory- 6-10 years (middle/late childhood)

Children learn to master tasks.

Primary tasks: good interactions with peers, learning to read, do math, learning to type, learning skills

Evaluation is important in school, grades so kids can learn about their skill levels

Repeated failure leads to feelings of inferiority.


identity vs confusion

Erikson's Psychosocial Theory- 10-20 years (adolescence)

Trust, autonomy, initiative, etc. pave the way for this stage

answering "Who am I?"

Teachers, peers, environment still play a role but puberty makes children more into adults

Many identity questions, want to explore adult roles (relationships, jobs, etc.)

Integrate all of those roles into one sense of self

If a positive identity is not achieved, confusion sets in.


intimacy vs isolation

Erikson's Psychosocial Theory- 20s, 30s (early adulthood).

The task is to form intimate relationships (intimate friendships and romantic partners)

Erikson says this can only happen after identity formation.

Failure to form healthy relationships leads to isolation.


generativity vs stagnation

Erikson's Psychosocial Theory- 40s, 50s (middle adulthood)

Raising children, generative in career, giving back to community.

Generativity- contributing to future generations
People find a lot of satisfaction about giving back to others
Primarily focused on having children
can also be about being philanthropic

Doing nothing to help the future generation leads to stagnation (feeling like you haven’t done anything meaningful).


integrity vs despair

Erikson's Psychosocial Theory- 60s and older

Life well spent -> Integrity.

People are coming to terms with their life
Reflect on your life and make sense of it

Integrity-> not afraid of death since you lived a good life
Despair-> afraid of death since you don’t feel like you have accomplished anything yet

Negative reflections on life lead to despair


strengths of psychodynamic perspectives

freud and erikson

Emphasis on early experience (eg. Parents role)

Emphasis on social interactions


weaknesses of psychodynamic perspectives

freud and erikson

Both: Difficult to test empirically (not testable)

Freud: Focus on sexuality too narrow (not broadly applicable)

Erikson: Mechanisms for transitioning across stages not identified
Doesn’t mention why, or how people transition between stages
Erikson thought you can only move forward with stages, you cannot go back to a previous stage
Now its thought that you can resolve one previous stage while you are in a different stage


piaget's theory of cognitive development

Transactional perspective- development is caused by an interaction between a person and their environment
Children are active agents in exploring their environment

Important processes – assimilation and accommodation

Stage theory spanning ages 0 to 12+
After 12 cognitive development was relatively stable

object permanence and conservation


assimilation vs accommodation

Assimilation-taking a new experience and adding it to your existing schema

Accommodation- modifying your existing schema to fit a new experience


object permanence


knowing an object exists even when you cannot see it (like playing peek a boo with a baby that hasn’t developed it yet, or finding a toy under a blanket as they development object permanence)

Related to relationships- knowing the parent will be there even if they leave the room

discovered in infancy




knowing size or spacial relationships, despite appearances
Ex. 2 rows each have 5 quarters, you space one row of quarters out and now the child thinks the spaced out row has more quarters
Good for logical and moral reasoning (issues relating to fairness and equality), understanding complexity of social issues


strengths and weaknesses of piaget's theory

Identified important cognitive changes across childhood (first person to document the changes)
Links between cognitive and social development

Neglect of social, emotional, and cultural influences on development (Thought of environment more like a “scientific laboratory” , did not think cognitive abilities could be shaped by culture)
Stage theory criticized (stages are not so clear cut, more like an overlapping waves models)


bandura's cognitive social learning theory

Observational learning, through cognitive processes:
Attention- based off their relationship to who is modeling the behavior, and previous experiences
Retention- children must analyze and remember the event, varies with learning abilities
Reproduction- abilities to reproduce the behavior

Bobo Doll Experiment: kids learned aggression on a bobo doll by seeing a model do it first


Bandura's reciprocal determination

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Focused on the role of environment on behavior
Reciprocal determination- based off individual factors (attitude, personality) and the environment in determining behavior
Vice versa occurs too

Eg. A child has behavioral problems in a class (behavior), teacher starts to treat that child negatively (environment), teachers behavior might be hurtful to the child and he might believe he is a troublemaker (person), thinking he is a troublemaker might make him act out more (behavior)


strengths and weaknesses of cognitive social learning theory

Strong empirical evidence (lots of studies)
Many practical applications (beyond aggression, positive aspects, media affects on children, teaching techniques)

Not very developmental in scope
Not much thought into how the behaviors might change with age


brondenbrenner's ecological systems theory

Development results from interactions between individuals and immediate environment that
(a) become increasingly complex with age &
(b) occur over extended period of time.

Individual is an active agent in his or her own development-Individuals can change their developmental paths

Developmental processes are culture- specific, and broader cultural context is important.


brofenbrenner's ecological systems theory diagram

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Child is in the center and surrounded by the microsystem (immediate environment)
Mesosystem (parents and peers, parents and teachers, playground and peers)- each microsystem works together to influence development
Exosystem- affect the child indirectly (parents work environment affects parents which then affects the child)
Macrosystem- broader culture of a society (attitudes, policies) distant from a childs day to day life


strengths and weaknesses of ecological systems theory

Increased recognition of impact of many social contexts
Interdisciplinary perspective (useful in many areas of psychology)

Too broad and difficult to test- Need specific theories to understand specific issues


What do psychology researchers do?

Describe how people at different ages think feel, act, and physically change

Explain why people develop the way they do

Predict later development (focused on the link between early experiences and later development)

Modify to enhance quality of life


types of research design



correlational studies

Correlation = the degree of the relationship between two variables

Direction of relationship: positive or negative

magnitude of relationship (-1 to +1)
Studies typically have correlations between 0.2 (small correlation) -0.5 (strong correlation)

correlation does not equal causation


experimental studies

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A researcher causes something to happen then you look at the effect of the variable

Random selection-
Random assignment- individuals have equal probability of being assigned the experimental or control group


strengths and limitations of correlational studies

-Obtain information without altering participants’ experiences

-No information about cause & effect relationships


strengths and limitations of experimental studies

-Information about cause & effect relationships

-Cannot manipulate everything (ex. You cannot ethically or practically force people to divorce just for a study)
-Generalizability- Just cause it happened in a lab doesn't mean it works like that in real life


data collection methods

surveys and interviews
psychophysiological measures


surveys and interviews

quick and easy way to get information

picking a reporter is important: self-report, parent-report, teacher or peer-report


survey strengths and limitations

Wide-scale implementation (low cost)
Sensitive information (people will be more honest)

Social desirability (you want to appear in a positive light towards the researcher)


interview strengths and limitations

Allowance for detail, tailoring and probing
You can ask follow up questions

Social desirability (you want to appear in a positive light towards the researcher)


observational research methods

involve the systematic observation of behaviors

Researcher is observer
Researcher observing avoids social desirability biases

Naturalistic- going into the natural setting, could be correlation or experimental study, more realistic especially if observer can fade into the background
Structured- good when behaviors are not common or are hard to observe in a natural setting

Still face example- young infants have the ability to initiate social interaction


naturalistic observation strength and limits

May be more generalizable
Less participant effort

Less control (Researcher isn’t isolating anything in particular due to environment)
Some behaviors occur infrequently
Influence of being observed (People may change their behavior slightly since they know the researcher is there)


structural observation strength and limits

Controlled Environment
Participants have equal chance to exhibit behavior
More easily accommodate experimental design
Situation is the same for everybody (see how each individual responds)

Generalization to real world?
Influence of being observed? (People may change their behavior slightly since they know the researcher is there)


physiological research measures

used for autonomic nervous system, central nervous system, endocrine measurement

ANS- heart rate, blood pressure
endocrine- blood draw (hormones), salivettes (other hormones)


physiological strengths and limitations

Typically the “gold standard”
Accurate and detailed



ethnography strengths and limitations

Rich description

Researcher bias


time span research

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cross sectional- different age participants at one time

longitudinal- same participants at different ages
intra and inter personal changes
doesn't have to be over a long time

sequential design is pictures (powerful since it blends all the research designs)


cross-sectional strengths and limitations

-Time & cost-efficient
-No participant dropout (since they are only needed ones)

-Individual developmental trends?
-Age differences = cohort effects?


longitudinal strengths and limitations

-Can study individual developmental trends

-Expensive, time consuming
-Participant dropout



early developmental skill that appears to be innate in infants

recognition of mother (while still in the womb recognizes her voice, prefers mother smell to other smells)

prefer faces to other objects

precursor to empathy (infants seem disturbed when other infants cry)

social smile- learn to smile at 6 weeks old


brain activity with experience

brain synapses are lost if they are not used to make room for other connections

connectivity increases and becomes more complex in response to skills learned or practiced


social brain hypothesis

human intelligence has become more social since that is what we need to survive and reproduce in complex social groups


twin studies

Twins who live together- Comparing Monozygotic (MZ) to Dizygotic (DZ) twins

Twins who live apart- Ensures that similarity between twins is not due to shared environment


adopted children studies

helps determine relative roles of genes and environment

children adopted at birth share their environment with their adopted parents (environment) and their genes with their birth parent (genes)


limitations with twin studies

Assume a precise amount of genetic material that twins share (identical assume 100% genetic material, fraternal twins 50% genetic material)

Adoption agencies do “selective placement”- place the children in a family most similar to the family that they came from


passive genetic-environment correlations

parents provide genes and environments for children

Ex. A parent likes to read an stocks the home with books and storytimes. A child like to read due to shared genes that predispose the child to enjoy reading and also the exposure to reading as a positive task in the environment


evocative genetic-environment correlations

children's characteristics elicit reactions from their environments

Happy babies elicit more positive parenting behaviors
Negative emotion of children elicit negative responses from parents

Ex. Teachers support and interact more with the intelligent kids which causes the intelligent ones to flourish more


active genetic-environmental correlations

children seek out certain environments

Child is intentionally picking an environment that aligns with their genetic tendencies

Ex. A child is dispositioned to music and may ask the parent for music lessons which changes the environment


gene x environment interactions

the environment has an impact as to whether the genes are expressed or not

Dandelions fare well in all conditions (mothers without DRD2 gene), orchids are very delicate and suffer in harsh environments (mothers with DRD2 do poorly in the recession, but do very well when there is no recession)



biologically based individual differences in reactivity and self-regulation, in the domains of affect, activity, and attention

part genetic, part environment

Lifespan concept- gets so complicated with age that you cannot easily separate it from other factors later in life


temperament typologies (Thomas and Chess)

Easy babies (40%) – friendly, happy, and adaptable, cry for reasons that were easy to understand

Difficult (feisty) babies (10%) – irregular (sleeping and eating times), easily upset (in new situations), moody

Slow-to-warm-up babies (15%) – low in activity level, high in withdrawal (lessens with exposure), respond negatively to new stimuli


rothbart temperament dimensions

effortful control: attentional focus, inhibitory control

negative affectivity: negative emotions, soothability

extraversion-surgency: positive emotions, activity level

didn't focus on categorizing kids


measuring temperament

parental report- parents know their kids best (but could be biased)
researcher observations
physiological measures
molecular genetics
self report: available for adolescents and older


temperament changes over time

Manifestations of temperament change with age.

Different dimensions become measurable at different ages.

Most dimensions become increasingly stable over time.

temperament ages into personality


goodness of fit

need parenting that is sensitive to child's characteristics

Parenting style and environment must be compatible with the child’s temperament

Parent must adapt to their child’s needs- depends on the child’s characteristics

Learn what works for your child and what doesn’t before you react in terms of punishment, etc.


social dyad

a pair of social partners, such as friends, parent and child, or marital partners


What role do children play in their own development?

transactional- reciprocal interactions with other people

children influence their own development


classical conditioning

a type of learning in which a new stimulus is repeatedly presented with a familiar stimulus until that individual learns to respond to the new stimulus in the same way as the familiar stimuls


operant conditioning

a type of learning that depends on the consequence of behavior

rewards increase the likelihood that a behavior will recur, but punishment decreases that likelihood


ethological theory

a theory that behavior must be viewed in a particular context and as having adaptive or survival value

in terms of attachment:
Attachment is the result of biologically programmed responses from the infant and the mother.

imprinting -> critical period -> maternal bond


critical period

a specific time in an organism's development during which external factors have a unique and irreversible impact

important concept in ethology


age cohorts

people who were born in the same time period and share historical experiences


ecological validity

the degree to which a research study accurately represents events or processes that occur in the real world


laboratory analogue experiment

researchers try to duplicate in the laboratory features or events that occur naturally in everyday life in order to increase the ecological validity of the results


observer bias

an observer's tendency to be influenced by knowledge about the research design or hypothesis


experience sampling method (ESM)

a data collection strategy by which participants are signaled at random times throughout the day and record answers to researchers questions, such as: Where are you? who are you with? What are you doing?

Also called beeper method


specimen record

researchers record everything a person does within a given period of time


event sampling

investigators record participant's behavior only when an event of particular interest occurs


time sampling

researchers record any of a set of predetermined behaviors that occur within a specified period of time



use of intensive observations and interviews to gather data about the beliefs, practices, and behaviors of individuals in a particular context or culture


participant observation

research strategy used to gain familiarity with a group of individuals by means of involvement in their activities, usually over an extended period of time



“An affectional tie that one person forms with another person binding them together in space and enduring over time.” -Ainsworth, 1973


secure attachment


Use parent as secure base to explore, may or may not show distress at separation, but show joy/relief at reunion, easy to soothe by parent.


insecure-avoidant attachment


Little concern for parent’s absence, in place of greeting parent at reunion they may show active avoidance, ignoring their parent’s bids for communication


insecure ambivalent


Unable to use parent as secure base to explore, distressed by parent’s absence, but show anger and resentment upon reunion – seek contact and then reject offer.




Greatest insecurity and most rare, contradictory patterns of behavior

e.g., give a smile and then abruptly look away, approach by backing up to mother, frozen postures


attachment and parenting

Secure Attachment -> sensitivity, flexibility, acceptance, availability, synchrony, insightfulness

Insecure-Avoidant -> intrusive, rejecting, angry or irritable

Insecure-Ambivalent -> inconsistent, unaffectionate

Insecure-Disorganized -> neglect, abuse, severe depression


experience-expectant processes vs experience dependent processes

brain processes that are universal, experienced by all human beings across evolution

brain processes that are unique to the individual and responsive to particular cultural, community, and family experiences


reaction range

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the range of possible developmental outcomes established by a person's genotype in reaction to the environment in which development takes place


internalizing vs externalizing problems

a type of childhood behavior problem in which the behavior is directed at the self rather than others, including fear, anxiety, depression, loneliness, and withdrawal

a type of childhood behavior problem in which the behavior is directed at others, including, hitting, stealing, vandalizing, and lying



birds and other infrahuman animals develop a preference for the person or object to which they are first exposed during a brief, critical period after birth


secure base

a safety zone that the infant can retreat to for comfort and reassurance when stressed or frightened while exploring the environment


internal working model

a person's mental representation of himself or herself as a child, his or her parents, and the nature of his or her interaction with the parents as he or she reconstructs and interprets that interaction


What matters most? Attachment vs. parenting

Three explanations tested
Extreme early effects: attachment cannot be easily reversed by parenting

Mediating experiences: continuity exists due to consistent parenting rather than early attachment

Dynamic interaction: attachment styles shape how children react to parenting


What are emotions?

subjective reaction to the environment that can be pleasant or unpleasant and often accompanied by physiological arousal


emotional expression

emergence of discrete emotions in response to environmental stimuli


emotional understanding

how people recognize and understand other peoples and their own emotions


emotional regulation

controlling your emotions to be able to achieve goals


primary emotions

fear, joy, disgust, surprise, sadness, and interest, which emerge early in life and do not require introspection or self-regulation


biological theory of emotion

limited number of emotions that are innate, universal, tied to anatomy/biology
Identifying and describing the basic emotions in research
Looking across cultures for evidence of universality

Twin studies show similarity in frequency and intensity of emotions.


functional theory of emotion

emotions are relational
Environment plays a big role in determining your reactions, culturally specific
Primary purpose- achieve goals
Research- How emotions change in different contexts and when people express emotions

Positive emotional displays increase likability.
Emotions are contagious.


learning theory of emotion

Children learn emotions from their parents and others (through observation and learning experiences).

Evidence that fear, positive emotion, and displays can be shaped by parents.


development of emotions

Birth: Diffuse emotions
Positive, Negative

2-7 months: Development of primary emotions
Anger, sadness, fear, joy, surprise

1-3 years: Development of secondary emotions
Self-conscious emotions
E.g., embarrassment, shame, guilt, pride

Early developing emotions become more elaborated with age.


smile development

reflex smile, newborns- due to internal stimulus

social smile, 2 months- upturned mouth in response to a human face or voice

duchenne smile, 10 months- smile reflecting genuine pleasure, shown in crinkles around the eyes and an upturned mouth


fear of strangers

develops in 2 phases: wariness and fear
Shows wariness of strangers and compares the face to what is familiar to them
2nd stage: fear of strangers, immediate negative reactions

emerges around 9 months

social referencing


social referencing

the process of "reading" emotional cues in others to help determine how to act in an uncertain situation


separation anxiety

begins around 7-9 months old and peaks around 15 months


development of emotional understanding

3 -7 months: prefer happy faces
7-10 months: social referencing
18 months: expressions represent feelings
3-4 years: correct labeling of emotions
3-5 years: understand causes of primary emotions
5-7 years: understand two compatible emotions
8-10 years: understand two conflicting emotions
9-11 years: understand causes of secondary emotions


emotional display rule

an implicit understanding in a culture of how and when an emotion should be expressed

variation in standardization of emotions
varies among cultures