Provided by Spirit Lake Consulting, Inc.
"Making life better"
Developmental Psychology: An
ABOUT THIS COURSE
Why? Because learning about developmental psychology is learning about other people and yourself (and most people are INTENSELY interested in themselves, no matter what they say). Of course, a lot of courses could make that claim - anatomy, physiology, microbiology, general psychology, and to some extent, all are telling the truth. However, I am willing to bet that you probably have not often wondered very much about how your digestive system works or exactly what is the process by which your body metabolizes complex carbohydrates, and that you HAVE, on the other hand, frequently wondered about such things as:
• why children from the same family sometimes turn out so different from one another
• if a certain type of disorder runs in your family, such as epilepsy, diabetes, or even mental illness or alcoholism, what are the chances that you or any children you might have will experience the same problem
• whether the type of acting out you did as an adolescent (or that your child/niece/brother is doing), such as drinking, smoking marijuana and shoplifting, is normal for that age or the first sign of an adult criminal career.
The list could go on and on, but you get my point, and if you don't, you're clueless and beyond hope and should quit the course right now (I'M KIDDING, OKAY?!!)
In this course, you will get partial answers to those questions and many others that you have been wondering about or will begin wondering about during this course. Notice that I said partial answers, developmental psychology is not an EXACT science. (Here's a tip for you - the so-called hard sciences such as biology, chemistry and physics aren't all as exact as people think they are, either. Every field is constantly coming up with newer - and hopefully better- explanations of how and why the world is the way it is).
Many beginning students in psychology find it frustrating
that they cannot get “a straight answer” to such questions as, “Why did
my cousin, who has two parents who never drink, become an alcoholic?” or
“Why do some children who seem to be developing so well before school suddenly
have problems when they begin kindergarten or first grade?”
School success: Okay, let's drop the false modesty, as much as you love your brother, he isn't much smarter than your average Labrador Retriever. You might not go so far as to say he is dumber than a rock, but you would have a hard time proving he was smarter, right? So, you made pretty much A's and B's in school and he was lucky to get D's. When the decision to go to college came up, you decided to give it a try, while he said he'd rather eat raw worms on toast. It didn't hurt in making your decision that all of those good grades meant scholarship offers to help you pay for college.
First grade teachers:
You had a wonderful first-grade teacher who seemed to have unending patience
with you when you were first learning to read. She understood that you
didn't have a lot of books in your home and hadn't been taught the alphabet
at home, and spent extra time during class to teach you. Your sister's
teacher just assumed she wasn't very bright and gave her worksheets to
color to keep her quiet. So, when you entered second grade, you could read
already and kind of liked school. Your sister barely knew her ABC's and
had begun to hate school.
Physical (biological) - examples of physical development are growth in height and weight, puberty, and increases in strength. These biological factors can affect your success in other areas. Those students who excelled in football and basketball, and hence decided to stay in school, would not have been involved in those sports if they had been 90-pound weaklings. Other characteristics have a biological basis which is not so obvious. Differences in temperament, such as how easily irritated or distracted a person is, are present at birth. Physical attractiveness can shape a person's experiences. People who are more attractive tend to be more popular as children, even with teachers, have an easier time in relationships with the opposite sex as adolescents and adults. etc.
Cognitive (intellectual) - as your textbook states, are "those changes that occur in mental activity, including sensation, perception, memory, thought, reasoning, etc." As you will learn, children not only know less than adults, they actually THINK DIFFERENTLY. For example, older children are more able retain more items in memory than young children can. That is one reason that you do NOT give very young children directions such as "Go in your room, pick up the stuffed animals and put them away, then wipe up the juice you spilled on the floor." In that case, you may end up with a child who goes to her room, picks up the animals, sits down in the juice and starts playing with them, having completely forgotten what she was supposed to do next. The same child may honestly believe that her stuffed animals will be sad if they are put away, and argue with you in favor of leaving them on her bed. This behavior is not meant deliberately to annoy you, and that is a very important point to keep in mind when dealing with young children.
Psychosocial (personality, social) - concerns personality,
emotions, relationships with other people, roles within society (including
gender roles). Perhaps the reason your sister's first-grade teacher assumed
that she wasn't very bright is that she was a shy, quiet child, while you
were very outspoken. Certainly, social interactions affect your cognition
(the way you think about things). When I was in college, people were much
less aware of making race- and gender-based comments than they are now.
I often heard comments such as "You're Hispanic? But you're so intelligent!"
or "You're taking a spot away from some young man who could have really
used this degree to help support his family."
One thing you should have noted from the above examples is that all of these different factors are related to each other. We don't grow up in a vaccuum. All of these are both dimensions of development and factors which affect your development in other areas. For example, your weight increases as you develop physically. Your social environment, including how much money your family has to buy food, how valued thinness is in your society, etc. will have an effect on how much weight you gain. Your weight will also have an effect on your perception of yourself and other people's reactions to you.
A common issue in developmental psychology is the "nature-nurture controversy", the question of whether development is due to genetic or environmental factors. The answer is "That is not an OR question." Your physical characteristics will have some impact on your social interactions (other things being equal, ugly people have fewer dates). Also, many (if not all) human characteristics have both a genetic and environmental basis.
DIFFERENCES ON MANY CHARACTERISTICS (INCLUDING PERSONALITY) ARE NOTICEABLE ALMOST AT BIRTH. CHILDREN (EVEN SIBLINGS) DIFFER FROM THE VERY BEGINNING - ASK ANY PARENT OF TWO OR MORE CHILDREN
For example, as you will learn in the section on Prenatal and Neonatal Development, (Neonatal = newborn, the first few weeks after birth.) there are differences in temperament (that is, a consistent tendency to respond in certain ways) present very, very early in life. Some babies just seem to be born more active, less irritable, and more cheerful than others.
Almost any parent who has had more than one child will confirm this from personal experience, telling you something along the lines of,
I don't believe all of these facts. I think you are just making them up. If that describes you, read the next section. Lesson 2, RESEARCH METHODS IN DEVELOPMENTAL PSYCHOLOGY
Spirit Lake Consulting, Inc. -- P.O.Box 663, 314 Circle Dr., Fort Totten, ND 58335 Tel: (701) 351-2175 Fax: (800) 905 -2571
Email us at: Info@SpiritLakeConsulting.com
An Indian-owned business