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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. Social Learning Theory

    Albert Bandura believed we can learn simply by observing models in the environment and that rewards and punishments are not essential for learning. He looked at the cognitive processes involved in learning e.g. memory and thinking is essential for learning. We can also learn by imitating and copying behaviour. We copy models. We identify with someone we like to be which results in copying and imitating their behaviour. This can be a result of direct or indirect reinforcement. Observational learning has four conditions for effecting modelling to occur.

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    may be needed. (APA 1998) The cognitive behavioral therapies reassure the patient that there is nothing that could possibly harm them. This is done by approaching a situation which may be frightening for the patient and then breaking it down into pieces to allow ways to cope with that (such as muscle relaxation). These therapies have been in practice for a while and have been proven fruitful. A limitation of this treatment is lack of therapists to take care of such situations.

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  3. Dicuss the continuity hypothesis

    The study is different and has better data because it brings together a number of factors which could affect adult relationships. It is also the most longitudinal study of all those related to the continuity hypothesis. A problem with this study is that it only goes up to people ages mid-20's, and it would be more accurate following them up to marriage. Relationships within the family may well act as a 'training ground' for later adult relationships which is behavioural.

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  4. Outline and evaluate psychological therapies for schizophrenia

    The therapist and client work together to improve the effectiveness of the client's coping strategies, and to identify additional strategies. The strategy is practised during the therapy session and the client is then given homework to ensure continued practise. Zimmerman et al (2005) found that CBT was more effective in treating the positive symptoms than having no treatment. Tarrier (2005) reviewed 20 studies and concluded that there was consistent evidence that CBT reduces positive symptoms in the short-term. In a review of the overall benefits of CBT Kopelowicz & Liberman (1998)

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  5. importance of nursery rhymes - child psychology

    Signing songs such as, one, two, three, four, five can be the easiest way to remember the order in which the numbers come to toddlers and young children. A nursery rhyme like this can also be used with actions. For a child to be able to sing the words and do the actions at the right times the child needs to be able to concentrate and follow the actions of an adult or older child.

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  6. Free essay

    Critical Review of `The awkward moments test: a naturalistic measure of social understanding in autism`

    This ability is known as the theory of mind, Dennett (1978) proposed `...if a person was unable to understand the thoughts or intentions of another person, much of social interaction and communication would be a mystery`. Diagnosis is a complex process which can contribute to individual needs such as education needs of an individual. The awkward moments test can demonstrate difficulties for individuals with autism spectrum disorder and there has been a great deal of research into autism, similarly, there is a multitude of research into the notion of theory of mind a lot of which is with children and in this study, adults are utilized as the participants.

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    The terms 'positive' and 'negative' refer to the presentation or removal of an environmental stimulus. So, for example, 'positive reinforcement' refers to the presentation of a stimulus that increases the occurrence of behaviour. 'Negative reinforcement' refers to an increase in a behaviour following the removal of an unpleasant stimuli. An antecedent is an event that sets the occasion for behaviour or what happens right before a behaviour occurs. Antecedents can be factors in an individual's external environment such as going to the shop. Behaviour is anything that someone does. The behaviour of the child in the shop is a tantrum simply because the individual wants some sweets.

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    Albert Bandura was an American psychologist; he explained that learning involved observing people and modelling their behaviour. For us to learn off other people availability, attention, retention, reproduction and motivation needs to be present. Latent learning is when learning has taken place and stored in our memory till a later date when it is appropriate to use it, this concept explains why sometimes behaviour seems to come from nowhere.

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  9. Learning Theory of Attachment

    In terms of operant conditioning, crying brings food, and food brings pleasure (positive reinforcement) and so makes the crying behaviour likely to be repeated. It also stops the feeling of hunger (negative reinforcement), thus making the crying response, again, more likely. In terms of classical conditioning, the infant stops crying when they are fed. The caregiver brings the food, and soon, the infant associated the presence of the caregiver with being fed. The infant then stops crying at the sight of the caregiver, thus responding to a conditioned stimulus.

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  10. Psychology AS memory notes

    The sound of the letters matter in encoding in the STM. * Chunking: it increases the capacity of the STM. It is when you group a couple of letters together so that it becomes easier to remember. * Study: Jacobs (1890). 7 plus or minus 2 digits are remembered. Investigated the serial digit span. Used letters and numbers but not 7 and W as they have 2 syllables. Used a metronome which he presented every half a second. Found that the average digit span was just over 9 whereas the average span for letter was just over 7. Also found that the older we get, we remember digits and letters better.

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  11. The study of short term memory

    STM retrieves memory from the LTM. Bahrick et al (1975) Bahrick wanted to find out how long memory stayed in the LTM they used participants from the US because they made a year book from university they wanted to get into the participants very long term memory. There were three steps in this investigation. First the participants had to remember the names of the ex-classmates Second participants were shown pictures from the year book and mixed with other participants and told to identify the students they recognise.

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  12. Discuss psychological insights into the development of identity in adolescence

    future career). In other words, adolescents typically face an identity crisis, because they do not know who they are, or where they are going. Thus Erickson seemed to think that it was almost essential for adolescents to go through an identity crisis in order to resolve the identity issue and move on to the experienced uncertainty has four major components: 1. intimacy 2. diffusion of time 3. diffusion of industry 4. negotiating identity Erickson (1969) assumed that there are some important differences between males and females in identity development: females develop a sense of identity later than males, allegedly because

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  13. Cultural variations in attachment

    They work for each other and not for themselves Individualistic Culture: A culture that focuses on achievement of the individual rather than everyone working together. More selfish Child rearing practice: How a child is raised - by mother, grandmother, daycare etc Proximity seeking: Wanting to be near their parent Studies of Cultural Variations Cross Cultural Similarities Cross Cultural differences Meta Analysis Overall Conclusions Ainsworth's Uganda studies showed that infants there, like those in UK and USA, used their mothers as a secure base.

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  14. Discuss evidence which supports Bowlbys maternal deprivation hypothesis

    They also had difficulty forming relationships with others. The key factor affecting this was a disrupted bond in childhood. They had spent their early years in residential homes or hospitals. This supports the idea that early separation leads to later developmental problems. Whilst this is used to support Bowlby's own ideas we have to remember that the diagnosis of affectionless psychopathy was made by Bowlby himself. He may have been bias - looking for what he hoped to find. Equally problematic is the idea that much of Bowlby's data was retrospective . He was looking back at and recalling past events.

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  15. Free essay

    Why Unrestricted Information is Important for Childhood Development

    Children shouldn't be shielded too much from any ideas, negative or not, because even negative ideas are still a part of reality. The reason why many people don't believe in the practice of censorship, especially for adults, is because it is a blatant violation of our First Amendment right to freedom of speech, or freedom to openly express our ideas, feelings, and opinions. This is a right that should be extended to all Americans, even children.

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  16. Free essay

    Explanations of Attachment

    The procedure involves a pairing of stimulus and response, with a subject that comes to represent the given response. For example, if an infant were happy after being fed by its caregiver, it would soon learn so associate through food and soon the caregiver will produce a learned or conditioned response of pleasure and relief. Operant conditioning is a process by which humans and animals learn to behave in such a way as to obtain rewards and avoid punishments. The procedure involves the infant getting pleasure from the presence of the caregiver and therefore engages in behaviour that encourages it.

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  17. Types of Attachment

    Secure infants used their mother as a safe base and were happy to explore the room when she was present. They showed distress by crying when she left, and welcomed her back on her return, settling back down to play fairly quickly. They were wary of the stranger and treated them very differently to their mother. 70% of babies fell into this category. 15% of the babies fell into insecure-avoidant type of attachment. In this type of attachment infants did not orient their behaviour towards their mother in the same way.

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  18. Discuss factors associated with the development of measured intelligence

    The fact that MZ twins raised apart had a higher correlation than DZ twins raised together indicates a definite genetic link, as the twins do not share the same environment. However, even though they were raised apart, environmental factors are still likely to play a role, since it is probable that adoptive families are likely to to have similar characteristics to other adoptive families. It may therefore be environmental factors rather than genetic ones that affect intelligence. Adoption studies are further methods of studying genetic factors in the development of characteristics such as IQ.

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  19. Outline and evaluate two or more explanations of the development of gender identity and/or gender roles

    This suggests that direct tuition not only influences how children act with respect to their gender, but also what their expectations of others are in terms of their gender. Modelling is the process of identification and imitation, whereby a person identifies to somebody who is similar or who has desirable characteristics and then imitates their behaviour. Therefore, the theory would suggest that gender is learnt by a child by identifying with their same-s*x parent or siblings and imitating their behaviour.

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  20. Discuss gender bias in psychological theories and/or studies (e.g. androcentrism and alpha-beta-bias)

    Kohlberg's moral dilemmas were based largely on situations about justice. Gilligan suggested that this may be flawed - women operate, according to her theory, on a care-based morality, and men on a justice-based one. Her research partially supports this claim, but also exposes the alpha-bias of her own theory, in that she may have overestimated the gender differences. That is, she found an almost-even distribution of women across care-based and justice-based morality systems and a combination of the two, whereas men were weighted towards the justice-based side of the scale.

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  21. Describe and evaluate social learning as an explanation of personality development

    This demonstrates that reinforcement is not a necessary condition for personality development to take place, and is therefore an improvement on traditional learning theory. The process of modelling requires a number of cognitive factors to take place, but particularly important, according to Bandura, is motivation. This can take place by means of reinforcement or self-motivation, the latter having particular significance in personality development. Self-motivation covers a variety of self-evaluative cognitive processes, such as self-response (rewarding or punishing oneself for carrying out a behaviour)

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  22. Discuss the role of genetics in the development of measured intelligence

    This does indicate a genetic link, but since the research is correlational, it is impossible to infer causation. Twins raised together share a similar environment and, especially in the case of identical twins, may be treated similarly; this could have an effect on their cognitive development, and their consequent IQs are likely to be similar. Additionally, those raised apart are likely to have been put up for adoption by their biological parents, and it is likely that similar types of families would adopt them, so even though the same environment is not shared, a similar one is. Furthermore, since the correlation for the identical twins is not 100%, it would follow that there must be environmental factors involved.

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  23. To what extent do parental characteristics influence the effect of day care on their children?

    As a result, choosing the right day care for the earlier years in life would be beneficial for the parents, and especially the child. Since each family has a different wealth status, this has an effect on which major decisions are made in life. A family in which are highly wealthy would choose a higher status day care, while in comparison a family which is less than middle class would choose a poorer quality day care. Even if both the higher and poorer quality day care supports children while primary caregivers are away, the day cares differ in individual quality.

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  24. Outline and evaluate 1 or more explanations (theories) of attachment

    This then associates the mother with pleasure and this period has a very long lasting effect. Freud argued that the mother's status was "established" for a whole lifetime as the first and strongest love-object and as the prototype of all later love-relations, meaning she acts as a model influencing their choice of partners and experiences. Freud's theory states attachment behaviour is related to feeding but this is not the whole case. Harlow's research with infant monkeys led researchers to believe the need for closeness and affection goes a lot deeper than the need for warmth.

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