About This Chapter
About This Chapter
Developmental psychologists focus their research on the changes and continuities we experience as we age. Some study mainly infants, and use their insights about the development of cognition, behavior and emotions to better understand how these important systems function. The question of whether personalities and behaviors are shaped more by nurture or by nature may be directly addressed in many cases by this sort of research. Other developmental psychologists extend their studies into aging populations and look at the changes that take place near the ends of our lives. For all psychologists in the field, the relationship between biological and psychological change is of great interest.
In this topic, we'll begin with lessons on biological and psychological development in infants. We have one lesson on the prenatal stages and another on newborns. Though it may not be immediately clear how these lessons relate to psychology, normal physical development is actually crucial for infants' development of healthy minds. Additionally, infants learn about their world in important ways, both in utero and after birth; babies learn to prefer their mother's voice while still in the womb, and use some of their early innate reflexes to explore their environments safely soon after they're born.
Our next lessons seek to highlight some of the key concepts in developmental psychology. We devote a lesson to Jean Piaget's concepts of assimilation and accommodation, important ways in which children absorb and organize new information. Another focuses on the Harlows' famous study of love and attachment in infant monkeys. A third examines the different kinds of parenting styles and their effect on children's emotional and intellectual growth.
Finally, we devote three lessons to three major theories of development put forth by Piaget, Erik Erikson, and Lawrence Kohlberg. Piaget proposed a series of stages of cognitive development, highlighting changes in the ways children think. Kohlberg focused on stages of moral development, or how we acquire our senses of right and wrong. Erikson studied identify formation, proposing key emotional conflicts for each stage of our lives that affect the way we think about ourselves. None of these theories of development are without criticism, but all represent important attempts to scientifically describe the subjective experiences of change and growth in thinking, moral reasoning, and self-concept.
After watching the lessons in Developmental Psychology, you should have a good sense of the biological and psychological changes people experience as they grow and age. You'll have learned several key principles and theories that attempt to explain these changes, and understand the importance of developmental research to the more general study of psychology.
1. Intro to Developmental Psychology
Why do we study psychological development? People change over their lifetimes, and developmental psychology helps us explore what changes and what stays the same. Learn about some of the big names in this field whose work and theories you'll explore in other lessons
2. Prenatal Development
How is prenatal development related to psychology? How are minds forming in the womb still linked to the outside environment? This lesson explores the stages of prenatal development and a mother's ability to affect her unborn child.
3. Infant Development
Watch babies brave heights at the insistence of their smiling mothers! You'll learn how instinct and attachment can help infants explore their environments through the visual cliff experiments.
4. Harlow's Monkeys
What happens when you make a baby monkey choose between food and comfort? The Harlows answered this question in a series of primate experiments. Love is important, so how will these lonely monkeys function without it?
5. Assimilation and Accommodation
How do assimilation and accommodation help a child adapt to his environment? You'll explore how established and changing patterns of information drive a child's intellectual growth as he learns about cats and dogs.
6. Piaget's Stages of Cognitive Development
How does a child's thinking change as she gets older? When does she learn about object permanence, conservation and abstract reasoning? You'll see that thought processes we take for granted as adults are actually important milestones in a child's cognitive development.
7. Kohlberg's Stages of Moral Development
How do people learn to make morally sound decisions? To illustrate Kohlberg's levels of moral development, we'll follow Lauren as she makes difficult decisions.
8. Parenting Styles
How do parenting styles differ from one another, and which are most effective? You'll follow expectant parents, Mary and Larry, as they walk their neighborhood and try to learn from other parents.
9. Erikson's Stages of Identity Formation
How do we form identities as we age and grow? To answer this question, Erik Erikson came up with eight stages of identity formation that revolve around conflict and resolution. Who are you, and who will you become after completing this lesson?
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