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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. Free essay

    Nature and nurture debate.

    However, the contest of personality inheritance still remains as of yet, an unsolved mystery. Scientists and regular citizens alike study the affects of ones environment versus ones hereditary, weighing their affect on the development of human personality, skills and talents. Research supports both theories, with proponents of environment, also known as "empiricists", arguing that it is the events and surroundings of our life that create who we are, while hereditary supporters, otherwise known as "nativists" insist that all our traits come from the genes we inherit from our family.

    • Word count: 497
  2. What is child abuse? Child abuse is the act of harming a child physically, emotional, and sexual or putting a child at risk of harm can be considered as child abuse.

    There are four different types of child abuse, which are physical, emotional, sexual, and neglect. These types of abuse are found combined rather than being by themselves (Segal 2012). Child abuse can have a negative effect on the child as they grow up and become adults. Physical abuse is a type of harm done to a child deliberately. There are no excuses for physically abusing a child this way. In 2009, the number of physical abuse cases that were reported was 16.4 percent (United States Census Bureau 2011).

    • Word count: 1458
  3. Free essay

    Outline and evaluate one evolutionary perspective on attachment

    Phase 3 is the sensitive period; this takes place during 3-6 months but it possible up until 2 years. This time is the period in the infant's life when the attachment is meant to form. Phase four is monotropy; this is the idea that the child is to form a 'special' attachment with one caregiver, creating the primary attachment figure. The last phase, phase five, is secure base; this is where the infant is more likely to explore the surroundings and interact.

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  4. Discuss the impact of Day Care on Peer Relations

    It is often suggested that day care can have positive effects on the sociability of the child, particularly in respect of relationships with peers. Using the peer relationships with the link to day care, Shea in 1981 carried out a study on infants in nursery. Shea videotaped 3-4 years old infants at playtime during their first 10 weeks at nursery school. Shea found that children became more sociable the longer they were in daycare. They stood closer together and engaged in more games together, and consequently moved further away from teachers.

    • Word count: 640
  5. Discuss research into cultural variations in attachment

    Takahashi's reaserch also found a differencein attachment across cultures. Middle class Japanese infants and mothers were studdied. They showed high rates of insecure-resistant attachement, the opposit to what Ainsworth found. Grossman and Grossman also found that German infants were generally classified as insecurely attached which supports the idea that there are cultural variations in attachment because insecurely attached is usually the minority. Fox found a similarity in attachment across cultures by studdying children in a children's home. It was found that infants had a greater attachment to their mothers, despite spending most of their time with nurses.

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  6. How does watching television influence the behaviours and cognitions of young children?

    This shows how important technology, and indeed having the latest technology, was back then, which is something that arguably hasn't changed in today's society, in developed countries. In 1992 it was recorded that there were averagely 900 million television sets in use around the world, it was estimated that 201 million of these were in the United States alone.[4] How has the introduction of television therefore altered behaviours or cognitions of people since its invention in 1926? This is a key question which I shall later study in order to help me answer the question ''to what extent does television influence behaviour in young children?''

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  7. How has the use of new research methods contributed to a greater understanding of the development of infants perceptual abilities during the first 18 months of life?

    The presence of so many potential confounding variables creates challenges for researchers trying to devise studies that have true relevance but still provide unambiguous and conclusive answers. Further adding to that challenge are the subjects themselves. Physiological immaturity will have some impact on how a baby perceives its universe and as long as explicit communication of those perceptual differences is not possible, inferences from observable behaviour become the window into the infant perceptual world. Pioneering visual ability testing through behavioural responses, Robert L.

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  8. Childcare Project Psychology. I wanted to experiment and see if by putting children into Day care such as nurseries can effect childrens development or a change in their behaviour.

    It was important to find out if children miss the Critical Period where no bond is formed if they can grow up and appear to be seen as a normal child. I was also trying to gain information to see if a specific age can affect the child more than the child being older or younger. This is following up research to see if a child has been put into day care after the Critical Period so a bond has been formed but has not been through the Sensitive Period.

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  9. Disruption of attachment. Bowlbys MDH has suggested that attachment is essential for healthy social and emotional development. It therefore follows that disruption of attachment might have negative effects on emotional and social development.

    Aim To see whether frequent early separations were associated with a risk of behavioural disorders, in particular, affectionless psychopathy. Procedure 88 children age 5-16 were referred to Bowlby's clinic for guidance counselling. 44 of the children were referred due to stealing, bowlby identified 16 of them as having affectionless psychopathy. The remaining 44 children had committed no crime they were just emotionally disturbed, none of these had emotionless psychopathy. Bowlby interviewed the children and their families and was able to build up a record of early experience. Findings Bowlby found a large number of thieves were diagnosed with affectionless psychopathy (86%)

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  10. Explanations of attachment At attachment is an affectional bond that one person forms between themselves and another that binds them in space and endures over time.

    First the animal will press the lever by accident but being given a reward of food increases the behaviour and the animal will press it again. The lever is then changed to give an electric shock through the cage, this punishment decreases the behaviour. Dollard and miller (1950) suggested human babies go into a drive state when they're hungry and feeling uncomfortable. This motivates baby to relieve the discomfort, so babies cry to show their hunger, and the caregiver feeds them and the behaviour is reinforced.

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  11. Evaluate your personal levels of self-discipline by giving an honest summary of the positive and negative aspects of your self-discipline.

    The possession of self discipline enables one to choose, and then persevere with actions, thoughts and behaviour, which lead to improvement and success. It also gives the power and inner strength to overcome addictions, procrastination and laziness and to follow through on a goal. I realise that it is incredibly important to develop my self discipline in numerous areas. I would regard myself as having a reasonably high level of self discipline although I must concede that when circumstances beyond my control begin to alter my own routine, I find it incredibly difficult to find the discipline needed to get myself back on track.

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  12. Evaluate Bowlby's Theory of Attachment

    Sroufe et al's (2005) longitudinal study, supports Bowlby's theory of attachment by following participants from infancy to late adolescence & finding that early attachment type predicted later emotional & social behaviour. For example, secure infants were more likely to be rated as more popular. This supports the continuity hypothesis, because the infants showed continuity as the infant's attachment in childhood became their adult social & emotional behaviour. Also supporting Bowlby's theory of attachment is Erickson et al (1985).

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  13. Children develop at their own pace, so it's impossible to tell exactly when a child will learn a given skill. However, the developmental milestones give a general idea of the changes to expect as a child gets older.

    � Preoperational Stage:2-7 years(Language skills develop rapidly, allowing kids to better express themselves. In this stage children are 'egocentric', meaning that they believe that everyone sees the world the way that they do) � Concrete Operations Stage:7 to 11 years(Children gain the ability to solve increasingly complex problems.) � Formal Operations Stage:11 and beyond(Children hold a much broader understanding of the world around them and are able to think in abstract ways.)

    • Word count: 618
  14. Describe and evaluate theories of attatchment

    Also, when extrapolating results from animals to humans one must be aware that, even in very similar species, very different outcomes can occur, e.g. Guiton found that imprinting could be reversed in chickens that had initially imprinted onto a rubber glove. It would also appear that humans who have had very poor early experiences of abuse and neglect can learn new behaviours when placed in loving and responsive environments, e.g. both Genie and the Koluchova twins who suffered extreme privation made great advances in their social and emotional development, although not necessarily within the normal range for their age.

    • Word count: 757
  15. Discuss biological influences on gender.

    Therefore, if your genes which stimulate hormones are XX you should develop into a female and if you have XY chromosomes, then you should develop into a male. However, the case of pseudo-hermaphrodites may refute the theory of biological factors on gender development. True hermaphrodites are born with both male and female genitalia and are therefore both sexes to some extent. Pseudo-hermaphrodites are chromosomally one sex but appear physically as the opposite sex. This means that there must have been the wrong hormones must have been stimulated in order for different sex organs to be produced.

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  16. Piaget's Developmental Psychology. He believed that childrens logic changed as they developed through their four stages of life Piaget came to this conclusion after completing his cognitive development test.

    Piaget's first stage stated that a baby (0-2) first explores the world using motor and reflex actions. For example a child reaches towards an object and after many attempts will be able to eventually grasp the object and then bring the object to its mouth and will continue to explore it uses the senses of taste and smell. A child is said to have completed this stage of development once they have obtained object permanence (a child understands that an object still exists even when it is not visible).

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  17. This essay shall discuss Bowlby`s views on the negative impact of maternal deprivation early on in life; as well as the changes in care provided to children, that was brought about by his work.

    Bowlby proposed that the mental health of deprived children would suffer, and that such children were likely to display 'affectionless psychopathy'. Affectionless psychopaths, according to Bowlby, were characterised by a lack of social conscience and a high level of delinquency, (Hayes and Stratton, 2004). As well as psychoanalysis, his theory was also influenced by ethology; Bowlby believed that both infant and caregiver act on 'instinctual' behaviours, that are designed to aid survival. Infants commonly focus on their carers face, and have rounded facial features, big eyes (and a pleasant smell), to make them look 'adorable', to the caregiver, whom the child is dependent on.

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  18. The nature nurture debate is one of the oldest theories debated in psychology.

    Psychologists have been studying both identical and non identical twins that have been bought up in different environments. "The researcher conducted a 'twin study' to find the correlation between the IQ scores of 37 pairs of identical twins who had been raised apart. Twins were obtained by advertising on TV. A correlation of 0.76 in monozygotic (identical) twins was found, compared to 0.55 previously found in dizygotic (fraternal) twins. It was concluded that there is a strong genetic component to IQ.

    • Word count: 570
  19. Outline the Procedure of Gibson and Walk's Visual Cliff

    Due to the fact that the children were required to be mobile, and this meant the minimum age was six months, Gibson Walk had to use animals as control groups to certify that the babies had not simply learnt depth perception in their first five months through experience and observation in their environment. Animals such as turtles, rats, cats, lambs, kittens, chicks and kids were used. The results of the chicks, kids and lambs were particularly important as all of these animals are precocial and would have had little opportunity in the few hours between birth and being tested to develop depth perception.

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  20. Summarise the Aims and Context of Gibson and Walk's Visual Cliff

    Nurturists believe we develop this ability over time, through experience and observation in our environment. For example, a child may reach for an object and will develop their hand-eye coordination by repetition of this action, as they begin to learn how far an object is, from how far away it appears to be. Nurturists support the nurture side of the nature/nurture arguments. Nativists, on the other, believe that depth perception is an innate ability that we possess from birth.

    • Word count: 443
  21. Discuss Piaget's theory of cognitive development

    Instead, he preferred a less structured and formal approach. He used the clinical method, in which children are questioned informally to reveal the nature of their understanding of problems. Piaget focused very much on describing the strengths and limitations of children's thinking at different developmental stages. However, he failed to explain why and how children's thinking develops, and he attached little importance to the role of learning. It is important to consider each of Piaget's stages individually as there are some who support and others who reject his ideas.

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  22. Learning Theory

    This concept can be applied to attachment. Food (UCS) produces a sense of pleasure (UCR) in an infant. When they are fed, the infant begins to associate the person (who is the CS) to food and eventually associates them with a sense of pleasure. So, association between the person and a sense of pleasure is what forms an attachment bond. OPERANT CONDITIONING Operant conditioning is about learning through reinforcement (via rewards) and punishment. If a person is rewarded with a pleasant consequence when they show a behaviour, it is likely they will repeat the behaviour in the future (so the behaviour is reinforced).

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  23. Disruption of Attachment

    Though they did show reluctance to leave foster mother, which shows they had formed emotional bonds. THOMAS suffered when they experienced physical disruption with no emotional care He was put into a residual nursery for 9 days. For the first 2 days he behaved normally. However, once he failed to gain the attention of the nurses, he turned to his teddy bear for comfort. His behaviour deteriorated: * Refused to eat/drink * Stopped playing * Cried a lot * Cuddling his teddy bear. In the first week, he greeted his father enthusiastically, but by the second week he just sat quietly.

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  24. Kohlbergs Cognitive Development Theory Essay

    However, they believe that gender can change in different situations, such as doing an 'opposite-sex activity' (e.g. knitting or playing football). This stage usually occurs between 3 to 5 years of age. The third and final stage is gender consistency. The child is aware that gender remains fixed over time and in different situations. This usually occurs between the ages of 6 and 7. Evidence for gender labelling comes from Thompson (1975) who showed that gender identification was more accurate in 3 years (90%) than 2 years old (76%) Gender stability was investigated by Slaby and Frey (1975)

    • Word count: 581
  25. Theories of Crime in Psychology

    In support of this, Sheldon suggested that there is a strong correlation between body morphology (shape) and criminal behaviour in teenagers. However, there are some contradictions to this research. The classification into the somatotypes was unreliable and the delinquent group chosen was selective. Jacobs suggested that men with the XYY syndrome were more aggressive than normal XY men. There are 15 sufferers per 1,000 in prisons and 1 per 1000 in general public. However, as the research was a correlation study, it can't establish cause and effect.

    • Word count: 1083

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