Ch 8: Developmental Psychology Theories & Stages

About This Chapter

Learn the principles of developmental psychology through videos on baby instincts, bad parents and monkey love. We'll cover how babies are made, how children learn and how we pass through stages of mental development as we age.

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.

9 Lessons in Chapter 8: Developmental Psychology Theories & Stages
Test your knowledge with a 30-question chapter practice test
Developmental Psychology: Definition, Theorists & Types of Growth

1. Developmental Psychology: Definition, Theorists & Types of Growth

Developmental psychology is the area of psychology that focuses on the cognitive, physical, and affective changes throughout life. Explore the definition of developmental psychology, the work of different theorists in this area, and the types of growth.

Prenatal Development & Psychology: Stages & Abnormal Development

2. Prenatal Development & Psychology: Stages & Abnormal Development

Anything that happens during prenatal development can have not only physical but also psychological consequences later on. Explore the development stages from zygote to fetus, learn about abnormalities, including fetal alcohol syndrome, and discover the psychological development that occurs at the end of pregnancy.

Studying Infant Development in Psychology: Experiments, Instincts & Abilities

3. Studying Infant Development in Psychology: Experiments, Instincts & Abilities

Infants' instincts and bonding with their mothers are important parts of their development, helping babies stay safe, survive, and thrive. Learn about the visual cliff experiment that was designed to study infant development, and explore other psychological concepts, such as instinct, attachment, and abilities.

Harlow's Monkeys: Experiment, Comfort & Socialization

4. Harlow's Monkeys: Experiment, Comfort & Socialization

Husband and wife psychologists Harry and Margaret Harlow's monkey experiment in the middle of the 20th century studied the impact of basic needs on love. Explore how the Harlow's monkeys demonstrated their preference for warmth and comfort, examine the relationship between comfort and security, and learn about the monkeys' need for socialization.

Assimilation & Accommodation in Psychology: Definition & Examples

5. Assimilation & Accommodation in Psychology: Definition & Examples

Assimilation and accommodation are concepts developed by psychologist Jean Piaget that help explain how children develop schemas in their minds based on world observations. Learn the definition of assimilation and accommodation in psychology and explore some examples.

Piaget's Stages of Cognitive Development

6. Piaget's Stages of Cognitive Development

Jean Piaget's stages of cognitive development consist of the sensorimotor, preoperational, concrete operational, and formal operational stages. Explore Piaget's model of cognitive development and discover the problems associated with these stages.

Kohlberg's Stages of Moral Development

7. Kohlberg's Stages of Moral Development

Lawrence Kohlberg is known for his theory on how children develop moral reasoning. Explore Kohlberg's stages of moral development, such as the pre-conventional, conventional, and post-conventional levels, and learn about his critic, Carol Gilligan.

Parenting Styles: Authoritarian, Permissive & Neglectful

8. Parenting Styles: Authoritarian, Permissive & Neglectful

Parenting styles significantly impact a child's behavior and have long-term consequences. Explore three main parenting styles, including authoritarian, permissive, and neglectful, and examine their near-term and potential long-term effects on children.

Erikson's Stages of Psychosocial Development: Theory & Examples

9. Erikson's Stages of Psychosocial Development: Theory & Examples

According to psychologist Erik Erickson, people go through eight stages of psychosocial development. Explore how these stages play a key role in forming a person's psychosocial identity and see examples of the different stages.

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