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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. critically discuss whether children can recover from intutionalisation of privation

    At the age of 18 months till they were 7 years old were locked in a cellar away from human company and were starved and beaten. When they were discovered they had no speech, were terrified of people and had serious health problems. They were taken to a special school for children with learning difficulties for intense rehabilitation and they were adopted by two sisters who provided a strong emotional bond with the new family. After a final study took place they found that they twins had attained average intelligence and had developed into happy and sociable boys who then attended mainstream school.

    • Word count: 891
  2. 2 explanations of love

    Sternberg believed that the type and strength of a couples love could be determined by measuring the strength of these 3 components. In order to accommodate these interactions between the 3 components, Sternberg developed a typology of love relationships. Where one or more of the components is absent, a rather different type of love may exist. E.g. relationships based on passion alone (having a crush on someone) or intimacy and passion without commitment (a holiday romance). Sternberg recognised that one of the limitations of his initial theory was that it told you where you were but not how you got there.

    • Word count: 926
  3. Critically consider evolutionary explanations of s*x differences in parental investment. (24marks)

    There are different levels of parental investment seen in females and males, one being the theory of Trivers (1972) he said that in most species males and females do not share this parental investment equally. He suggested that mammal females investment is far greater than males as the females effort during pregnancy is a huge part of the investment as she carries the baby for 9 months and deals with the physical and emotional effort that goes into pregnancy. Due to this females have to be choosier concerning potential mates for there future offspring as they can produce less gametes than men and in parental investment males only to give a teaspoon of s***n.

    • Word count: 556
  4. Discuss research into relationships in adolescence

    In fact, Frey and Rothlisberger (1996) found in a study of Swiss adolescents that that peers were of little help when it came to stressful times, and that mothers in particular were more receptive to the emotional needs of their children. This approach may, however, be criticised for a lack of cultural validity. It is only individualist cultures in particular who value the ideas of autonomy, with collectivist cultures valuing togetherness and group identity. This renders to the need for autonomy obsolete, indicating that peer relationships are in fact not a requisite for healthy development; or at least not for the aforementioned purposes.

    • Word count: 900
  5. Outline and evaluate one or more pro-social theories of moral understanding

    if they have the cognitive capability to do so. In contrast with Piaget and Kohlberg's theories, Eisenberg believed that children have a more advanced capability for moral understanding and justification of moral behaviour than previously thought. This is an advantage as the aforementioned theories are frequently criticised for undermining children's abilities. Also in contrast to Piaget and Kohlberg, Eisenberg presented participants with much simpler dilemmas, in which there is a simpler child character. This may increase internal validity, because it is impossible to assess a child's moral understanding by presenting them with a dilemma which they do not fully comprehend.

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  6. Discuss research into the formation of identity in adolescence

    This implies that, in such cultures, there are not many decisions with regard to life in the future as there are in modern individualist cultures. The population validity of Erikson's explanation of adolescent identity formation can also be questioned since, much like other psychoanalysts, his theory was grounded on case studies. Although they provide a deep insight into how the human brain may work, using case studies in the development of theories may be open to misinterpretation on the part of the researcher, as the majority of people studied are psychologically abnormal.

    • Word count: 897
  7. Describe and evaluate one or more cognitive development theories (CDT) of gender identity

    (3.5 - 4.5 years old) and gender constancy where the child is aware their gender is an unchanging quality. (4.5 to roughly 7). Research that can support this theory was done by Slaby and Frey, where they showed children pictures of boys and girls. The responses were appropriate to Kolhbergs theory and thus supporting CDT. This study has proved to be reliable as it has been similarly repeated and the same results were found. However the criticisms of this are said to be that the interview had an element of interviewer bias as he was asking leading questions. Also the pictures shown lack ecological value as there were not realistic to real life. Damon too, studied gender appropriate behaviour.

    • Word count: 989
  8. Discuss research into the effects of daycare

    Cognitive development is associated with the growth of the child's mental abilities, like language, memory and perception. Some believe that day-care can help those abilities flourish and some believe that it suppresses those abilities (Russell, 1999). There is debate over whether day-care affects social development as well, which is the ability of the child to interact with other children well, and how they react to relationships, family and how aggressive you are in later life. Some think that children who attend day care become more popular in later life, yet some think that children who attend day care are more aggressive when they grow up.

    • Word count: 981
  9. Frueds Work

    This is material to which you have no immediate access. You cannot bring unconscious material into the conscious except under extreme situations, for example; with the use of Freudian therapies. The unconscious drives our behaviour although we are unaware of it. The unconscious drives our behaviour without us knowing it and is said to consist of thoughts and desires that have been locked away in our minds by using defence mechanisms because we were unable to deal with the thoughts or they were inappropriate.

    • Word count: 862
  10. Describe and evaluate one psychological perspective on personality

    A suggestion can be made by another, but ultimately it is the one making the conscious choice that incurs the consequences. This Erickson suggests that our personality continually develops throughout various stages in our lives. This makes total sense to me, we all have various stages in our lives to go or in this case grow through. Be it family, friendship or simple social interaction at a less personal level. All this will have an ultimate impact upon ourselves, and how we deal and come through each stage will logically leave its imprint within us on a conscious and subconscious level.

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  11. Free essay

    Minority Influence

    However this study does lack ecological validity as it is not a real life situation. There is also a gender bias which poses problems with generalisations. The demand characteristics could have been affected as the people may have guessed what the study was about as they were all tested for good eyesight. There may also be ethical problems such as deception and confidentiality as people are not being told at the start what was going to happen. Nemeth and Moscovici 1974 looked at the seating positions, if you chose a seat at the head of the table then are more likely to yield to you.

    • Word count: 619
  12. Discuss the relationship between s****l selection and human reproductive behaviour

    After comparing t******e size of gorillas, chimps and humans, it was found that gorillas had the smallest testicles followed by humans and chimps. This supports Short's theory as gorillas are polygynous creatures, as the alpha male heads a harem and so have little sperm competition, compared to chimps who are promiscuous and so experience greater sperm competition. This supports intrasexual selection, as it is evidence of competition between males. Intersexual selection refers to what males and females find attractive in the opposite s*x.

    • Word count: 975
  13. Outline two explanations of attachment and evaluate their ability to explain attachment

    However, this approach is unfalsifiable. The ideas we're talking about are theoretical, hence they cannot be tested or measured. This means we can't prove it right or wrong and therefore it questions how reliable it can be. It is suggesting that food is the main priority in attachments and allows no consideration for attention and care giving. Another explanation of attachment is the behaviourist approach or the learning approach. This was tested by Pavlov who conducted an experiment on the salivation of dogs to see if he could get an automated response. Each time he fed them, he would ring a bell before hand to see if it could form a new stimulus/response action.

    • Word count: 897
  14. Discuss research into the effects of environmental stressors on aggressive behaviour

    The theory claims that as the temperature increases, the negative mood increases. But if the temperature becomes uncomfortable, we are said to display aggressive motives as well as looking for an escape, if an escape is possible the aggressive behaviour will come to an end. But if escape isn't possible the aggressive behaviour will persist. Anderson examined data and found that crime was most common in the hotter months and years. The relationship was strongest for violent crimes. Baron and Bell found experimental evidence for a direct link between temperature and aggression.

    • Word count: 800
  15. How age affects short term memory

    This showed all of the letters were momentarily available in sensory memory. Sperling concluded that we do have a visual memory store that contains a mental snapshot of what we have just seen. This mental image fades away rapidly, so that by the time a subject has reported 4.5 items, this image is no longer available to provide more information. The matrix grid of words I will be using: Playground Yellow Fire House Sound� Tree Holiday Music Aim and Hypothesis In this experiment I aim to find out how ones age affects their short term memory.

    • Word count: 781
  16. Abnormal Behaviour - Humanistic model

    OUTLINE ONE MODEL OF ABNORMAL BEHAVIOUR AND CONSIDER ITS STRENGTHS AND LIMITATIONS. The model I have chosen to focus on is the Humanistic model. The Humanistic model emphasizes that people are able to make choices in life freely and that these choices channel towards fulfilment and happiness and a sense of self-worth. From a humanistic perspective, behaviour is first determined by individual's ability to choose how to think and act. A lot of work was carried out by Carl Rogers (1951)

    • Word count: 937
  17. Free essay

    child labour

    Like in the industrial revolution children are forced to work today because of family poverty and lack of education. The worst forms of child labour are hazardous and exploitative. Work is carried out in slave like conditions and children suffer from a variety of illnesses and conditions. A United Nations report provided us with example of this: - * In Malaysia, children may work up to 17-hour days on rubber plantations, exposed to insect and snake bits. * In the United Republic of Tanzania, they pick coffee, inhaling pesticides. * In Morocco, they hunch at looms for long hours and little pay, knotting the strands of carpet for export.

    • Word count: 700
  18. Celebrities being bad influences - Persuade/argue coursework

    But media is one of the biggest forms of getting out information to the public these days. And with some studies showing that kids spend twice as much time watching TV than school means that the obvious point is that children are looking up to certain celebrities as influences. For example, when you're walking down a street, you may see a group of hooded teenagers that are wearing hats underneath the hood.

    • Word count: 562
  19. dear lord sharftesbury

    That's over eighteen hours a day. What's worse is they only get five hours of sleep. If you reduced the working hours and added more time for sleeping, the tasks would be completed with more speed. The wages for the workers are unreasonably low. From what I have heard the adults are given fifteen pence a week, and children earn five a week. This needs to be changed quickly so that the children can feed themselves and the rest of their family if they need to.

    • Word count: 827
  20. Gervase phinn on the other side of the dale

    Also he uses old phrases like "hale and hearty" and "ship-shape" which shows he is organised ,speaks oddly and he his behind his times, and the fact that he is the only child that does not speak the dale dialect indicates his uniqueness and his inferiority over the other children. Additionally the repetition of the word old-fashioned shows Phinns curiosity in Joseph and emphasises how different Joseph is compared to the other children and how he is dressed as a 1950s school boy and stands out from the rest.

    • Word count: 695
  21. How does the Simpsons Contravene the Guidlines for Children's Television?

    Its not until I think about what Homer has actually done is when I kick myself for it. And Bart is always getting in trouble and in some cases leads a rebellion all over Springfield. Okay, why is that funny and think of your children, if they see their parents laughing at that what's to say they might re-enact Bart's 'teachings'? Will you be laughing then? Moving swiftly on, the cartoon regularly releases a new episode (mainly at Halloween) called 'Tree House of Horrors'.

    • Word count: 767
  22. The Theories Of Attachment

    Bowlby believed that attachment was very important, as it helped to provide food, warmth and protection for young children. If there was a disruption in the attachment then it would conclude in developmental consequences. The learning theory of attachment is a perspective known as behaviourism. Behaviourists believe that people learn how to behave in a certain way in stead of it already been pre-programmed into a child.

    • Word count: 758
  23. My Childhood lost ?

    We were thrilled! I assumed that my life would be a bed of roses from now on. Both Berley and myself bade good bye to our friends and "home" beaming with hope and dreams of a better life ahead. Our "not so lucky" friends wished us best of luck with tears in their eyes. Berley and I would now be brothers living with a wealthy man. We entered his large palatial house with trembling legs. Before long we were taken to the backyard, which, unlike the rest of the house, resembled a slum.

    • Word count: 524
  24. Evacuation Coursework Part 1

    London was the first place from where children were evacuated as this was seen as a major target area. From what I can assess, it seems to be a quite orderly evacuation with teachers and other officials all present. I know from other evidence that this was the case, so source B is useful from this point of view. Children were walking in lines and I can see that they have Gas masks round their necks, a poignant picture. From evidence I have studied, children were told to bring a gas mask, an identity card, a ration book, clothing and personal coupons, so this also suggests that this part of the photograph is valuable evidence.

    • Word count: 766
  25. evaluate the arguments for and against the introduction of legislation on smacking children

    But, the concept of 'reasonable chastisement' dates back to 1860 and is difficult to define in the 21st century. So to protect children from harsh physical punishment the law has been clarified and brought up to date. Smacking is not completely prohibited, thus leading to a debate between the government, parents and child protection authorities. Ministers feared an outright ban would lead to a flood of unnecessary prosecutions, and have been accused of reneging on a pledge to outlaw smacking by telling peers to oppose the complete ban. And although the government agree the defence of 'reasonable chastisement' allows some parents to go beyond smacking, they also take into consideration that

    • Word count: 784

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