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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.

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  1. 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.

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    Examine the extent of, and the reasons for, changes in the position of children since industrialisation.

    P Aries (1962) also supports the view that childhood is a recent invention. The industrialisation showed the beginning of attitudes towards children not differing much at the beginning for working classes, but that middle class attitudes started to change from an economic view to a more romantic loving view. This view is supported by P Aries. Child labour laws started to make life foe children a little bit easier, saying that children could not work under a certain age, which allowed children to become more involved in activities in their age group.

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    Should mothers stay at home to raise their children?

    If they would rather work than look after their children, then why shouldn't they be given the choice to do so? Shouldn't this be considered equally valid? In many cases, women who are forced to give up work that they enjoy, fall into deep depression and find it hard to recover. Subsequently, many childcare options are of very poor standard; in some cases with only one adult looking after many children at once. It can leave children bored, which in turn can slow their rate of development.

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    For this assignment I am going to describe my own personality and compare it to what my friend thinks of my personality. I am also going to describe the evolution of behaviour and why people behave in the way they do.

    What I think of my personality, ' I think I have different types of personalities. In college I am very outgoing and flirtatious, I speak my mind and let people know what I think of them. Out of college I am also outgoing and quite loud. I socialise a lot with my friends and like to have a good time. I do have a sensitive side when people talk about my business but I need to learn to ignore them and let it go over my head. I try not to judge people on first impressions and I like to get to know as many people as possible.'

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    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.

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    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).

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    Teenage Criminals.

    If there was a stricter law an alcohol consume, the amount of aggressive teens would go down. Alcohol is know as a people drug. On the other side a lot of teens commit crimes in order to finance their drug consumption. Young teens have the need to be in a group. Don't all teens want to feel important of popular? Teens in high school always want to be accepted and recognized.

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    OCR G544 - Using examples of research that you have studied, discuss the strengths and limitations of using the nurture debate to explain human behaviour (12 marks)

    5 star(s)

    Negative school experiences, weak family bonds and growing up in an impoverished area where life prosperity is low were all contributing risk factors, but even so, this study does not attribute any behaviour to the nature side of the debate and therefore ignores important genetic factors that may also predetermine behaviour from birth (such as explored in a study by Raine where he observed brain dysfunction as a reason the crimes committed by serial murderers). Another weakness of the nurture debate is shown in Meichenbaum?s study, whereby a comparison group of students suffering exam anxiety enrolled on a course of

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    OCR G543 - Evaluate the use of a longitudinal research design when considering upbringing as an explanation for criminal behaviour.

    5 star(s)

    study conducted at just one point in time – and consists of a singular analysis of the school reports of 2,000 14/15 year olds and one interview, thus making the practicality of psychological research far easier than the 40 year-long longitudinal study Farrington conducted. On top of this, the most commonly used approach to collecting data from longitudinal research is self report; both Farrington and Wikstrom & Täfel used them. Self report techniques are a good indicator of partiality to criminal behaviour because you can ask personal questions and learn about smaller crimes that unreliable criminal records (used by Farrington in a bid for concurrent validity)

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    Freuds Psychosexual Stages of Development

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    The stage finishes at the weaning stage. The stage lasts approximately one and one-half years. The Anal Stage At one and one-half years, the child enters the anal stage. With the advent of toilet training comes the child's obsession with the erogenous zone of the anus and with the retention or expulsion of the faeces. This represents a classic conflict between the id, which derives pleasure from expulsion of bodily wastes, and the ego and superego, which represent the practical and societal pressures to control the bodily functions. Two types of anal characters: the anal expulsive character (The child wants to fight, takes pleasure in excreting maliciously, perhaps just before or just after being placed on the toilet)

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    Outline and evaluate one Social Learning Theory explanation of personality development

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    However, although unnecessary, reinforcement will affect the performance of the behaviour; this is known as vicarious reinforcement. Bandura's theory incorporates cognitive factors into its explanation, and for a model's behaviour to be imitated, there must be some internal mental representation of the model. There are five steps to the modelling process. The first step is availability: for the observation to occur, the learner must be able to see the model exhibiting the behaviour. Then, the learner must, voluntarily or involuntarily, pay attention to the model's behaviour. Third, the child must be able to store mental images of the model's behaviour.

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    Outline the development of attachments

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    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.

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    Outline and Evaluate Bowlby's Theory of Attachment

    4 star(s)

    Since attachment is innate there is likely to be a limited window for development. This is said to be when a child is 3-6 months when a child is most sensitive to an attachemnt. After this stage attachment can become more difficult. The internal working model is a cluster of concepts about relationships and what to expect from others. In the short term it gives the child and insight into the caregivers behaviour. In the long term it acts as a template for future relationships as it generates expectations.

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    Stages of Development. Piaget's Stages of Cognitive Development, Freud's Stages of Psychosexual Development, and Erikson's Theory of Psychosocial Development. These three theories all approach this topic in very different ways, yet they all may be correc

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    Firstly, we have look at how these approaches are similar. The most obvious one is that they all show how the common human being develops, but not in the same way. Also, Freud's theory and Erikson's theory are similar in several ways. Both stress and show the emotional dynamics of social development. Basically, this is saying that they both believe that learning the rules of society are different than learning how to walk or how to swim. Also, they both present four similar stages in he beginning, oral, anal, phallic/genital, and latency.

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    Outline and evaluate psychological explanations of schizophrenia

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    people - although the incidence of schizophrenia in Caribbean countries is similar to that of white people in this country (Cooper 2005). These findings suggest that the experience of racism, added to other inner-city stressors of unemployment, poor housing and poverty, makes people more vulnerable to schizophrenia. For many years psychologists have suggested that certain patterns of family interaction can induce or at least contribute to the maintenance of schizophrenia symptoms. Two theories have been suggested: double-bind communications and expressed emotion.

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    Strange Situation

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    Procedure: This was a longitudinal study. Meaning it was conducted over a long period of time, where Ainsworth visited 26 mother - child couples at home every month of the child's first year of life. Every aspect of the mother and babies behaviour was recorded, but Ainsworth was primarily interested in the reunion behaviour of both the child and mother. The study was broken down into seven stages, each three minutes long: Stage 1: Mother and child enter room; child is free to play with toys while mother is passive.

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    Discuss explanations of the development of gender identity and / or gender roles

    4 star(s)

    People can also model their behaviour on gender roles shown in the media, which affects their self-efficacy. Additionally, the principle of self-efficacy suggests that we learn what is possible for our own gender through seeing others succeed or fail. Therefore we are more likely to engage in behaviour that we've seen our own gender succeed in. Perry and Bussey (1979) support modelling by showing that children copied the fruit choices of same sex models but this was limited by existing stereotypes e.g. men don't wear dresses. However, fruit choice is a trivial example and it is not clear that one modelling session had long-term effects.

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

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    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.

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

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    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.

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    Evaluate 2 theories of attachment.

    3 star(s)

    the behaviour that produced this likely to be repeated i.e. positive reinforcement . A behaviour which stops something unpleasant taking a painkiller is known as negative reinforcement. An example of learning theory is physiologist Ivan Pavlov who experimented on classical conditioning dogs to see if dogs produced saliva (UCR) before they received food (UCS) reflex response. This has shown that unconditioned responses (salivation)

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    Describe & Evaluate Freuds Theory Of Psychosexual Development

    3 star(s)

    In this stage, the anus & the expulsion or retention of faeces is the focus of pleasure, due to the experience of toilet training. Any fixation at this stage would be either parents being too lenient on the child, which were allowed to make a mess. An adult personality would therefore be an anally expulsive character who would be messy or disorganised. However, if the parents were very harsh if the child were to make a mess, the personality would be more anally retentive; where they would be careful, obstinate & perhaps a perfectionist.

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    Outline and Evaluate the Psychodynamic Approach to Psychopathology

    3 star(s)

    In the Oral stage, the mouth is the focus where the child who is in between 0-18 months will focus on eating, sucking, drinking etc. The infant is completely dependent on the mother and only the id is in existence at this stage. The Anal stage takes place in the infant between 18 months and 3 years. This stage focuses on potty training, where the child is learning to control their environment and their ego is starting to develop. Thirdly is the Phallic stage, which happens when the child is 4-5 years old.

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    Classical And Operant Conditioning

    3 star(s)

    The next time Albert was given the rat, they hit the bar at the same time. After this had been repeated, they gave Albert the white rat (conditioned stimulus) without hitting the bar. Albert cried and tried to crawl away from the rat (conditioned response), showing he had learnt to be scared of the rat. The conditioned response also extends to similar objects, which is called Generalisation. For example, Albert also became scared of white rabbits and cotton wool. Responses learnt by classical conditioning can also be removed in a process called Extinction. To extinguish a conditioned response, the conditioned stimulus must be repeatedly presented without the unconditioned stimulus, so the response can be unlearnt.

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    Ways of dealing with ethical issuers when using human participants in psychology experiments

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    Informed consent is also another safeguard taken by psychologists to indicate a formal agreement between the experimenter and study participant. However the experimental design, eg. field experiment, may not always enable this as it could potentially seriously affect the validity of the results. Yet a precaution used is to debrief participants on the true aim of the study after if has been conducted, in order to justify deception and then to obtain informed consent off the participants once valid results have been produced.

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    Describe and evaluate Bowlbys theory of attachment.

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    Therefore, it is clear to see why Bowlby played a major part in the psychology of child development. Bowlby argued that attachment was an evolved mechanism that ensured the survival of the child. In other words, forming a bond with someone, often the child's primary care giver was essential in order to survive, which is why they strive to maintain close proximity to the significant adult. He argued that babies have abilities such as crying and smiling to encourage the primary care giver to look after them, and vice versa, the parents, particularly mothers, possess instincts designed to protect their child from hurt or harm.

    • Word count: 919

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