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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

    Outline and Evaluate research into the effects of day care on social development

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    Another study which found positive effects on social development was by Moely and Frank (1998) found that children who spend more time in daycare played more pro-socially with others. Both these studies show how regular interaction between familiar people (peers and nursery workers) allow the child to gain social competence and increasing the child's confidence allowing for a more co-operative and happier child. However some research looks at the possible negative effects daycare can have on a child's social development. Belsky (2006) suggests that children who have experienced daycare tend to show higher levels of problem behaviours including aggression towards peers.

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    discuss into different types of attachment

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    The result if a child is deprived of this type of relationship then the child may suffer long term emotional maladjustment. Bowlby says that an attachment gives us an internal working model, which is a prototype for future relationships, and when the attachment is broken then the child may not be able to form a proper relationship in the future. He also said that the attachment is needed for the promotion of survival; if the child is cared for by parents they can then carry the genes on to the next generation.

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    Outline and evaluate one or more explanations of attachment

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    Bowlby's Monotropic Theory of attachments is that the infant bonds with one special attachment figure who is usually the mother because she is special and unique in attachment. The bond with the mother is special because it is different from all other bonds the child makes. Bowlby believed that attachment behaviour was innate and had been passed down through evolution for the survival of the infant. They are born programmed to become attached and that adults are also programmed to attach to their infants.

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    compare and contrast two theories of language development

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    He suggests this structure consists of speech-producing mechanisms, the ability to understand, and parts of the brain. Chomsky's theory is therefore a nature theory as he states the "ability to learn language is instinctive." (Tassoni, P. 2006. p.424). Skinner's theory is a nurture theory, as he believes that we learn language through encouragement and reinforcement. He suggests that "we learn language mainly because when babies try to communicate, their efforts are rewarded or reinforced in some way" (Tassoni, P. 2006. p.423) and so this is a nurture approach. Parents or carers reinforce or encourage the baby through smiles, eye contact and spoken encouragement.

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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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    Outline and evaluate one or more explanations of attachment

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    Behaviourists came up with the theory that attachment is either learnt through classical conditioning or operant conditioning. Classical conditioning is learning through association; food is an unconditioned stimulus and provides pleasure, which is an unconditioned response. The individual who feeds the infant is a conditioned stimulus and this individual becomes associated with pleasure, which is a conditioned response. When this association is made an attachment bond is formed between infant and 'feeder'.

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    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.

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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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    Contrast Principles of Classical and Operant Conditioning

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    Because of what Pavlov found he then chose to study learning, which he hoped might enable him to better understand what was happening. Pavlov and his assistants began work by pairing various neutral stimuli such as sound when food was present in the dog's mouth to see if the dog would eventually learn to salivate to the just the sound on it's own. To get rid of extraneous stimuli, they kept the dog in isolation, secured it into a harness and measured its saliva with a special device.

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    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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    Consider what psychological research has shown us about cross-cultural variations in attachment

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    The key question was whether the Strange Situation is a valid procedure for cultures other than the original carried out on American, middle-class, white, home-reared infants and their mothers. Takahashi, therefore observed a group of children in the strange situation, who matched the Americans on every variable except culture. His findings were revealing 68% of the infants were classified as securely attached; this is almost identical to the original American sample. No infants were classified as avoidant-insecure; however, 32% were classified as resistant-insecure.

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    An investigation of self-descriptions based on data collected from two participants of differing age, and how this age gap influences the focus of their self-descriptions based on the findings of Morris Rosenberg (1979)

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    who originally study the work of Bannister and Agnew (1977). Rosenberg suggests that young children describe themselves in terms of physicality, activities and behaviour, while older children/adults use character and relationships, a more psychological perspective. Rosenberg's study involved interviewing a group 8-18 year olds selected from 25 schools in a random procedure. He then classified the answers to the question he asked these students "Who am I" into four groups, these were: Physical - descriptions of features and activities, Character - descriptions of personal characteristics, personality, Relationships - descriptions of interpersonal traits and relationships with others, Inner - descriptions of inner thoughts, feelings, desires, knowledge of oneself.

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    Compare and contrast two of the main approaches to personality psychology

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    The id (biological part of personality) is present at birth and consists of inherited instincts and all psychological energies. The id operates according to the pleasure principle, seeking to reduce tension, avoid pain and obtain pleasure. The ego (executive part of personality) is conscious part of the mind, the "real" us. The function of the ego is to express and satisfy the desires of the id in accordance with reality and the demands of the superego. The ego operates in accordance with reality principle. The third structure is superego (moral/judicial part of personality), it's subdivided into conscience and the ego-ideal.

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    Outline the major theoretical perspectives in psychology and evaluate two of these paridigms.

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    The sight/smell of food leading to salivation is an unconditioned S-R. He introduced a neutral stimulus when food was presented so the dogs associated the two. After this conditioning was complete the dog salivated when presented with the neutral stimulus alone (see fig. 1). Another area of behaviourism involves Skinner (1904-1990) and his theory of Operant Conditioning. He used rats put into a small maze to investigate his ideas. Rewards were placed at certain points around the maze to reinforce the rat's behaviour towards that particular route. After this conditioning process the rat's behaviour was reinforced to the extent that it was able to complete the maze on upon entering (see fig.2).

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    The five major perspectives in Psychology and their main strengths and weaknesses.

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    The EGO is the rational part of the personality, that does the planning and decision making. It makes us see the difference between wanting/ wishing and the actual reality of things. The SUPEREGO is the guilty conscience it determines what is right or wrong and what is acceptable and unacceptable and looks at the moral and judicial part of our personality. The SUPEREGO is there to assist the EGO and to keep the ID under control. Freud's theory of Development comes in four different stages. The first of these is the oral stage, which comes at birth, whereby Babies will explore by using their mouths, finding pleasure from this and finding out things by doing it.

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    Discuss how childcare workers can combat the effects of oppression, racism and discrimination, making reference to the relationship between personal and professional values.

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    Discriminatory attitudes in behaviour, language and actions must not be shown so that children can grow up determining a positive self-attitude. Infants are adept at interpreting signals. They learn through watching and imitating. Workers are powerful impressionists. It only takes one sneer, one 'paki' comment, for words to empower. As we see parents' attitudes being passed down, the same happens with workers. It is vitally important that workers realise how influential they are in a child's life as it is not until we develop ourselves as young adults that we start to question and judge our beliefs.

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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.

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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 ......."

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    Behaviourist Perspective

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    This learning process can be speeded by rewarding it earlier, for example, when the rat goes near to the lever, the food is delivered, until the rat has learned to press the lever. Animals tend to repeat actions, if they are previously rewarded. Animal's behaviour is reinforced. This term is called positive reinforcement. Skinner's theory relies on law of reinforcement, which states 'actions' which are immediately followed of the rewards, which are repeated and learned where as actions or behaviour which are not followed by reinforcement and are dropped.

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

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    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

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    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.

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    Define Psychology using four perspectives; Psychoanalytical, Behaviourist, Humanistic and Cognitive

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    The technique of psychoanalysis and much of the psychoanalytic theory were developed by Sigmund Freud (1856-1939). His work concerning the structure and the functioning of the human mind had far-reaching significance, both practically and scientifically. Contemporaries of Freud, such as Carl Jung and Alfred Adler, despite being inspired by Freudian theory, emphasized different issues in human development and experience. This wider theoretical framework is known as the psychodynamic approach. The first of Freud's innovations was his acknowledgment of unconscious psychiatric processes that follow laws different from those that preside over conscious experience. The laws of logic, indispensable for conscious thinking, do not apply to the unconscious mental productions.

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    "Fear is a contributing factor in power relations between adults and children". Critically discuss this statement in relation to at least two of the research papers you have studied so far.

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    Power means different thing to different people, however, it is generally thought of as the ability of individuals or groups to influence others and put forward their point of view despite the resistance or objections of others. Sometimes the direct use of force is used to exercise power, however idealogies are usually used to justify the application of this force (Giddens 1995) cited in Doing Research with Children and Young People Edited by Fraser et al pg81. Thus the old adage that knowledge is power can be said to be true.

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    Piaget's theory of children's cognitive development

    Centristic thought is replaced by ability to consider multiple factors simultaneously, giving the ability to solve increasingly complex problems. The child learns how to group non identical objects. Seriation, the ability to place things according to size, develops. Formal operational 11+ years Abstract way of thinking, form and elate things scientifically. The child develops a broader understanding of the world. Able to hypothesize possible outcomes and think of ways to test theories. Deductive reasoning develops so a child is able to start to draw conclusions. Reasoning is the last thing to develop in a child and does not appear until 16 + years.

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    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

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