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AS and A Level: Developmental Psychology

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Five key cognitive development theorists

  1. 1 Jean Piaget was a Swiss psychologist who developed a maturational four stage theory of cognitive development: he said that all children go through the same sequence of sensori-motor, pre-operational, concrete operational and formal operational thought. Learning occurs through assimilation of ideas and accommodation of schemas. His ideas have been hugely influential in education, particularly mathematics.
  2. 2 Lev Vygotsky was a Russian psychologist. He proposed the influential zone of proximal development (ZPD) concept in learning and stressed the importance of cultural mediation – the internalisation of knowledge through the social interaction between adult and child. Unlike Piaget, he argued that language was crucial for cognitive development.
  3. 3 Jerome Bruner is an American psychologist proposed three ‘modes’ of learning as opposed to a strict sequence of stages: enactive, iconic and symbolic. He proposed the ‘spiral curriculum’ and coined the term ‘scaffolding’ -two very influential ideas in education.
  4. 4 Robbie Case is one of a group of neo-Piagetian theorists who have developed Piaget's theory by incorporating ideas and methods from Vygotsky's social-constructivist theory, information-processing, linguistics and developmental neuroscience.
  5. 5 Simon Baron Cohen is a prominent autism researcher. He has contributed much to our understanding of the development of Theory of Mind. This concept is crucial to the development of social cognition and empathy through the ability to take another person’s perspective.

Key attachment theorists

  1. 1 Melanie Klein’s Id-based object relations theory was a key influence on John Bowlby. Psychoanalytic ideas by Klein, Donald Winnicott and other British psychoanalysts were significant in the later development of attachment theory.
  2. 2 John Bowlby was an important attachment theorist. He was director of the psychoanalytic Tavistock Institute in London, where he ran a child guidance clinic. His Maternal Deprivation Hypothesis, proposing the link between attachment and mental health was published in an influential report for the World Health Organisation in 1951. He developed his attachment theory over decades, publishing a three volume series ‘Attachment and Loss’ between 1969 and 1980. His ideas stimulated a significant body of research into attachment and his work paved the way for a revolution in childcare in the 20th century.
  3. 3 James and Joyce Robertson worked with Bowlby and were also very influential. James Robertson developed the Protest- Despair–Detachment model of bond disruption (1953a). The Robertsons also concluded that consistent substitute ‘mothering’ was vital for the maintenance of attachment bonds and the emotional wellbeing of the child.
  4. 4 Mary Ainsworth – was a Canadian researcher who worked with John Bowlby at the Tavistock in the 1950s, and later carried out important research in Africa and the US. She is best known for identifying attachment types and her Caregiver Sensitivity Hypothesis, which has been disputed by Jerome Kagan – who proposed the temperament hypothesis in direct contradiction.
  5. 5 Michael Rutter is Bowlby’s main critic. His book ‘Maternal Deprivation Reassessed’ (1972) was an influential critique of Bowlby’s research. Rutter made the distinction between deprivation and privation and argued that privation, poor parenting and family conflict were more significant in attachment disorders than deprivation.

Five classic studies of attachment

  1. 1 Bowlby’s ‘44 Juvenile Thieves’ (1944) were the inspiration for his Maternal Deprivation Hypothesis. They were children who he saw in his child guidance clinic and examined for signs of ‘affectionless psychopathy’ – a condition that he argued would result from separation during the critical period for attachment.
  2. 2 Harlow’s monkeys (1959): Harlow’s experiments on rhesus monkeys provided an unintentional insight into the importance of responsive care in infancy for good emotional development and subsequent parenting skills in adulthood.. His work had a huge influence on John Bowlby.
  3. 3 Ainsworth’s ‘Strange Situation’ (1970): Ainsworth found ways to test Bowlby’s ideas in controlled procedures. She designed the 'strange situation', a tool which has been used across the world to study the attachment types that underlie parent and child interactions.
  4. 4 Robertson & Robertson’s ‘Young Children in Early Separations’ (1971): A series of highly influential films following on from Robertson and Bowlby’s seminal ‘A Two Year Old Goes to Hospital’; these case studies revolutionised the care of children in hospital and fostering.
  5. 5 Hodges & Tizard’s 'Social and family relationships of ex-institutional adolescents' (1989): An influential longitudinal study of children who had experienced early privation resulting from institutional care. The study showed that children could form good bonds with adoptive or biological parents beyond the so called ‘critical period’. They were likely to have difficult or disinhibited peer relationships, but not the affectionless psychopathy predicted by Bowlby.

  • Marked by Teachers essays 61
  • Peer Reviewed essays 18
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  1. Marked by a teacher

    Outline and Evaluate 2 Cognitive Developmental Explanations of Gender Development

    4 star(s)

    In each of these stages, the child grasps increasingly more complex concepts about the nature of gender. Gender Identity: the first and most simple concept the child has to gasp relates to their own sex - that of a girl or boy. Between the age of about two and three-and-a-half, the young child starts to use the label 'boy' or 'girl' to refer to themselves and then to other people. Gender Stability: when the child reaches the age of about three-and-a-half they begin to realise that their own sex will not change.

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  2. Marked by a teacher

    Piaget's and Freud's Child development theories

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    This lead to Piaget's research into young child development. (Vialle & Verenikina, 2000) Through Piaget's research into early childhood development, he focused on how children process and change as they mature and adapt to the environment around them. He came up with the idea that every child has a schema which is a structure in the mind used to store knowledge and ideas of the world. As children develop and learn new information the schema grows, it does this through the process of accommodation and assimilation. Assimilation is when new information is added to the already existing schema.

    • Word count: 1766
  3. Marked by a teacher

    Dibs In Search of Self:Book Report

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    One without the other is incomplete. Together, the inch along the road in search of truth, wherever it may be found" (pg. 21) A pioneer of play therapy and a gifted therapist, Virginia Axline, takes you on an incredible journey through the malleable mind of a child. Dibs in Search of Self is the story of the dauntless struggle of a young boy to establish his own identity, enabling him to become the person he is meant to be. His nursery school teachers strive to include Dibs in the classroom activities he is very uncommunicative and withdrawn and will sometimes attack other children if they try to approach him.

    • Word count: 1792
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    The Theme of Ethics in Psychological Research making reference to Social Psychology and Developmental Psychology research

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    Has the use of deception in the study been approved by other psychologists or a board of control e.g. the British Psychology Society. * Debriefing - Have the subjects been effectively debriefed. Has any stress psychological or physical been caused by the procedures? * Withdrawal - Are the subjects aware that they have the right to withdraw from the procedure at any time without penalty? * Confidentiality - The subjects taking part in the procedures have the right to expect that the information that they provide will be treated confidentially. * Protection of Participants - Investigators must protect subjects from any physical or mental harm during the research * Observational research - Unless the participants give their informed consent

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    How current provision and practice is influenced by the work of the early years educators and approaches to practice.

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    Genuine relationships: high-scope practitioners aim to bring warmth and trust to the children, respect and value their cultural diversity. Appropriate curriculum: high-scope was developed through observations of the children and was designed to give key learning experiences. High-scope approach has a range of resources similar to the mainstream early years settings. The Reggio Emilia Approach The Reggio approach is child-centred, based on individual children's needs and interests and on educators respect for the differences between individual children. Children are encouraged to develop their own ideas and theories about the world and will use these theories as a starting point for projects with other children and adults.

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    Outline and evaluate research into the effects of deprivation/separation.

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    (AO1) Robertson's research reliably showed the effects of deprivation over a two-year period. Nevertheless this research used an opportunity sample which was very small consequently it may lack external validity in that it may mean that the findings cannot be generalised to situations other than hospitals or residential nurseries nor situations involving reasons for separation other than hospitalisation of the child or main caregiver. However because this study was a naturalistic observation of children experiencing real deprivation in a real-life situation the study might well have high external validity in that the research situation does represent real life.

    • Word count: 1350
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    What makes a successful Early Years Practitioner?

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    There are many courses available today to enhance/ensure early years settings are providing the best possible care to young children. Early years practitioners need to understand the educational guidelines provided by the government. They must be able to teach children each aspect of the curriculum in an enjoyable and stimulating way. Children need support physically, intellectually, emotionally and socially. Young children will not learn if they are not enjoying themselves. Practitioners need to understand what children can and want to do at different stages of growth.

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    An investigation into the language acquisition of children

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    Without experience, children were assumed incapable of reaching their highest cognitive ability. The investigation will focus upon the language learning of a child of different ages; 1. The sensorimotor stage: a child of 0-2 years, this is the first of the four stages in cognitive development which ?extends from birth to the acquisition of language?. 2. The pre-operational stage: a child from the age of 2-7, during this stage, children become increasingly adept at using symbols as evidenced by the increase in playing and pretending. Children of this age are egocentric and cannot mentally manipulate information or understand concrete logic.

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    If a child does not form a significant attachment to a main caregiver within the first five years of life, he/she will grow up to become an affectionless psychopath- Discuss

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    It describes attachment as having an adaptive nature in that through the successful formation of an attachment, an infant is ensured survival and protection through provision for its emotional and physical needs. This would then give the well off infant an opportunity to reproduce in a later stage of its life. Evolutionary theory states that attachment is a two way process, in that the caregivers sensitivity and level of responsiveness to the infants "social releasers" (which consist of crying or smiling for example), ultimately determine the strength of the attachment bond between the caregiver and the infant.

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    Psychology in everyday life

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    * The public attack recently on Gordon Brown has raised many questions for the public by the media. * People will now know that he has had a rough time and battled to save the sight in one eye and lost it in the other as a result of the rugby accident. * Has he got some sort of dependency or addiction to prescription medication? * This man cannot hold his own in an interview. He has to return to pre-prepared statements and grandstanding in response to almost every question.

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    Describe the main theoretical models of child abuse.(

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    Another affect of not having an attachment in this critical period as it was also known in Bowlby's eyes was development retardation which meant the child may grow up with learning difficulties or slower intellectual skills. So if the main caregiver failed to have a strong bond when they were young then they may find it difficult to form a bond with the child. It is a vicious cycle that goes round and round. This type of abuse is shown in the case study in some ways.

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  12. Marked by a teacher

    Smacking Children right or wrong

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    As an adult can be protected by violence but a child does not have the same right. The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child expresses that children should not be physically abused. Therefore a number of countries (Austria, Denmark, Finland, Norway and Sweden) have already passed laws forbidding all forms of physical punishment of children whether at home or school. Therefore showing that they believe its wrong and things are beginning to change to protect children. Some people think that smacking a child teaches discipline but how does that work when smacking a child causes so many negative affects.

    • Word count: 1556
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    Outline and evaluate evolutionary explanations of parental investment

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    For this reason, females are typically concerned with the quality of a male and the resources they can supply, whilst males are more concerned with the quantities of females he can impregnate. After birth, human women have babies that are far more immature that other species, due to evolution of scull size, so have to spend longer rearing their children, such as breastfeeding. There are two consequences of this maternal investment- females wish for male providers because of the dependency that their children have on them, and because of the effort in rearing children, women do not want their efforts wasted on bad quality offspring.

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  14. Marked by a teacher

    Behaviourism essay

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    Therefore the goal of behaviourism is to predict, modify and condition human behaviour (" The Behavioural Approach"). A behaviourist psychologist aims to recondition patients' behaviour and reactions to stimuli. These goals would be used in circumstances such as drug abuse, alcoholism, overcoming phobias and teaching children and teenagers. According to behaviourism basically all behaviour can be explained as the product of learning and all learning consists of conditioning (Colman, 2001). The belief is that human behaviour can be trained because human emotions are so malleable therefore personality is forever changeable (Cohen, 1979). Behaviour is simply a reaction to a stimulus which once learned becomes part of learned habit.

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    Critically evaluate the impact behaviourism has had on psychology.

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    (Watson 1924) Behaviourist theories of learning are often called "stimulus-response" (S-R), and though only classical conditioning fits the S-R model, the other major form, operant conditioning, is often included under the same heading, though it is significantly different. Classical conditioning is triggered involuntarily by a particular environmental stimulus. This means that a stimulus that does not normally produce a particular response can be paired with another stimulus that does, eventually resulting in both stimuli inducing the same effect, even when used separately.

    • Word count: 1420
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    Psychological explanations and theories of stress

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    Pale faces, people feeling sick, anxious conversations prior to the exam, tears afterwards, anger at the wrong questions being asked, and annoyance at the lack of revision that had taken place because there would always be time for that (except there wasn't because you didn't set aside any!) Stress is a word that we readily use as a way of explaining why our behaviour is not at its best. "I'm stressed. Stressed about work; about my relationships; about others expectations of me; my expectations of myself; my ability to cope; my finances; my career; my future ......."

    • Word count: 1747
  17. Marked by a teacher

    How does the media influence young people in today’s society?

    3 star(s)

    These days we cannot escape the constant media attack, whether it be from television, radio, magazines, newspapers or the Internet. Two of the biggest manipulative mediums are television and magazines. With the huge the market for 'teen mags', it seems that the choice is endless. Yet they all have the same role, which is to sell to teenagers. Not just products but these magazines are also selling us the "perfect" figure, the "perfect" man and the "perfect" life. Many use their control over young people to promote the awareness of issues such as drug and alcohol abuse, teenage pregnancies and

    • Word count: 1062
  18. Marked by a teacher

    An Introduction to Learning Styles and Methods

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    Ivan Pavlov (1849-1936) was born in Russia and studied medicine, receiving a degree in 1893. Pavlov believed that the environment controlled behaviour. He researched may ways of classical conditioning, as it was called, and found that learning is strengthened by repetition, and being in an environment with a lot of stimuli we respond to these as a process of learning. Babkin, Boris P, Pavlov A biography, Chicago: University of Chicago press When I started school this was done by my teacher constantly repeating everyday the ABC.

    • Word count: 1887
  19. Marked by a teacher

    Compare biological and psychological explanations of gender development

    In a genetically male embryo, the testes release testosterone which is believed to impact brain development. Geschwind and Galaburda (1987) noticed that in males the right side of the brain develops earlier than the left side, development being especially slow near the Wernicke's area (concerned with language). This could explain why men tend to have superior spatial abilities and women have superior verbal abilities. The psychological explanation of gender development would be the gender schema theory. Gender schema is an organised body of knowledge about the attributes and behaviours associated with a specific gender. The theory assumes children acquire their gender identity through their active processing of information.

    • Word count: 1070
  20. Marked by a teacher

    The Strange situation has been used in many different countries to investigate attachments." Outline and evaluate research (theories and/ or studies) into cross - cultural variation in attachment.

    The SS has been criticised for its artificiality, the limited amount of information actually gathered, especially in regarding the mother's behaviour, and the increasing stress the infants are unnecessarily exposed to. A pioneering study of individual differences in children's attachment to their mothers was conducted by Ainsworth (1967) in Uganda. Ainsworth studied 28 un-weaned babies from several villages near Kampala, Uganda. At the beginning of the study, the babies ranged from 15 weeks to two years and they were observed every two weeks, for two hours at a time, over a nine month period.

    • Word count: 1795
  21. Marked by a teacher

    Humanistic Psychology

    viewpoint Humanistic Psychology acknowledges that the mind is strongly influenced by intrinsic forces within society and the unconsciousness, some of which are negative and destructive. Nevertheless, humanists focus upon the independent importance and value of human beings and their conscious ability to develop personal competence and self-respect. This value orientation has led to the development of therapies, promoting personal and interpersonal skills as well as enhancing the quality of life. Carl Rogers was not only one of the founders of the Humanistic Approach but also arguably the most influential therapist in the 20th Century.

    • Word count: 1309
  22. Marked by a teacher

    Critical evaluation of whether certain assumptions are present in Erikson's psychosocial development theory and how important these assumptions are in the context of South Africa.

    Consequently, development follows a predictable pattern. For example, his second stage occurs in early childhood, from approximately age 2 - 4, and ties in with the natural physical progression during that period. Erikson posited that human development involved the resolution (in a positive or negative sense) of a crisis (AKA a turning point) in different stages and ages (Hergenhahn, 1994). For example, in the above stage, the polarities to be resolved were autonomy versus shame and doubt, the positive synthesis of which would be will-power (Louw, van Ede & Louw, 1999).

    • Word count: 1407
  23. Peer reviewed

    Outline the development of attachments

    5 star(s)

    Describe the procedures and findings of one study of individual difference in attachment The type of attachment between an infant and its caregiver is very important to the child's emotional development, however assessing infant-caregiver attachments is hard to do, as it isn't always possible to observe such relationships over a long period of time. Ainsworth and Bell developed the Strange Situation procedure to assess infant's attachment type. The procedure lasts for about 20 minutes and takes place in a laboratory.

    • Word count: 1319
  24. Peer reviewed

    Outline the theoretical framework of Classical Conditioning and consider whether humans can be classically conditioned

    4 star(s)

    Therefore learning is defined by psychologists as 'a relatively permanent change in behaviour due to past experience' (Coon, 1983) or 'a relatively permanent change in behavioural potential which accompanies experience but which is not the result of simple growth factors or of reversible influences such as fatigue or hunger' (Kimble, 1961). The latter of these definitions is far more precise as Kimble talks about behavioural potential and how it is different from performance. The behavioural potential is learning whereas performance is actual performance. This is a better definition because performance is the thing that fluctuates due to fatigue, hunger etc but the actual learning doesn't fluctuate.

    • Word count: 1381
  25. Peer reviewed

    Discuss the Freewill Versus Determinism Debate As It Applies To Psychology.

    4 star(s)

    Humanists such as Carl Rogers and Abraham Maslow strongly believe that people exercise choice in their behaviour and that the idea that we are not in control of our behaviour is 'de-humanising.' Freewill essentially means that we have a choice over what we do and that our behaviour is voluntary and not coerced or constrained in any form. Those supporting freewill argue that we are responsible for our own actions and are free to choose how we want to behave.

    • Word count: 1137

Conclusion analysis

Good conclusions usually refer back to the question or title and address it directly - for example by using key words from the title.
How well do you think these conclusions address the title or question? Answering these questions should help you find out.

  1. Do they use key words from the title or question?
  2. Do they answer the question directly?
  3. Can you work out the question or title just by reading the conclusion?
  • Outline and evaluate the behaviourist/learning theory for attachment.

    "Validity is also questionable of the learning theory. Studies are largely based with animals and therefore there is not sufficient data to draw conclusions from their studies to directly apply to humans. Human behaviour is more influenced by emotions and the thinking process, which does not support the learning theory as it is oversimplified version of human behaviour. Overall the evidence for the learning theory is very weak. Although principles of the theory have been proved (Pavlov's dogs and the Skinner box) the main idea that food is the primary incentive for attachment is opposed by many studies. This suggests that the theory is too simple; it does not take in other 'rewarding' factors and is too oversimplified to be applied in human behaviour."

  • Outline and evaluate Bowlbys explanation for attachment

    "In conclusion I believe that bowlbys explanation for attachment is a strong theory as there is plenty of evidence and supporting points. Every theory will have one or two criticisms, however one of bowlbys was simply an alternative explanation that in itself has much less support than bowlbys theory. Bowlbys attachment theory has had a big influence on many aspects of everyday life and everyone's understanding of emotional development."

  • Evaluate the evolutionary explanation of attachments.

    "In conclusion this is just a basic theory and many arguments can be made for and against Bowlby's evolutionary theory of attachment. However even though various pieces of research have shown elements of his theory to be incorrect or not thoroughly supported enough the research still suggests that the theory provides a good understanding of attachment. Also Bowlby's work has been very influential to others therefore it can be considered fundamental to our understanding."

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