While Wilhelm Wundt is generally viewed as the father and founder of psychology, Sigmund Freud is the most commonly associated name with the discipline, primarily due to his controversial theory and focus on sexual pleasure during childhood. Sigmund Freud developed the theory of psychosexual development, which claims that personality is determined at an early age. His theory is based on pleasure-seeking behaviors and characterized by 5 stages of development: oral, anal, phallic, latency, and genital.
Other famous psychologists like Erik Erikson also focused on children's emotional and social development, but Jean Piaget focused on children's cognitive development. Piaget was particularly curious to understand how children develop logic and learn how to apply logical operations. In this model, he differentiates between the following stages of development: sensorimotor, preoperational, concrete operational, and formal operational.
Unlike the other psychologists, Harry Harlow, John Bowlby, and Mary Ainsworth studied attachments, the bonds and relationships between children and their primary caregivers. The relationships we have with family and friends are a foundation of childhood and affect child and human development. Harlow worked with monkeys to understand the infant/mother bond. He found that there is more to the bond between mother and child than nourishment.
John Bowlby developed a more formalized attachment theory and differentiated between secure, avoidant, resistant, and disorganized attachments. Children with a healthy attachment are believed to have a secure relationship with their parents in which are allowed to explore their surroundings under a caring eye. A secure child has a parent that is responsive to his needs and both engage in mutually enjoyable interactions.
Mary Ainsworth studied the separation between infants/toddlers and their mothers and concluded there were three types of attachments: secure, avoidant, and resistant. Similar to Bowlby's work, Ainsworth finds that secure attachments are characterized by responsive and attentive parents.
Freud was concerned with childhood development, whereas Erikson focused on people's entire lifespan. Freud's model was very deterministic, and viewed childhood as the time when a person's personality was determined. Erikson provided more autonomy to the individual by suggesting that each person struggles with a different conflict at various stages in their life, and that personality is dependent on the resolution of conflicts. Both theorists offer stages of human development.
Jean Piaget was concerned with children's cognitive development and trying to understand how they perceive and make sense of the world. Lawrence Kohlberg, on the other hand, was concerned with children's moral development. Piaget developed his work based on observable interactions with children whereas Kohlberg had to rely on hypothesized situations.
Each of these theorists presented a unique way of thinking about childhood and human development. There is ample research supporting each approach, and there is no consensus that only one theorist is correct. Rather, psychologists today draw on all of these foundations.
To review, see section 9.2 of the textbook.
Children experience rapid physical development from birth until early childhood. Children grow in height and weight, and their brains develop just as quickly. As children develop their fine and motor skills, there are a number of milestones parents can look for. For example, children should be able to kick a ball and communicate in simple sentences by age 2.
Children around age 3 are expected to climb stairs and pedal a tricycle. 4-year olds should be able to catch a ball and remember songs and rhymes, while 5-year olds should be able to use a fork and spoon.
Adolescence is a socially-constructed stage of development during which young people form their own identities and slowly retreat from parental oversight. Puberty is usually the onset of this stage. Adolescents' sexual and reproductive systems mature, and their brains continue to grow. Boys and girls also grow rapidly in height during this stage and the frontal lobe of the brain continues to develop.
Adulthood is divided into 3 stages: early (roughly age 20-40), middle (40-60), and late (60 and older). Once we reach early adulthood, our physical development is complete. Our physical abilities reach their peak during the early part of this stage. Physical decline begins during middle adulthood. You may see your first wrinkles, and vision may begin to decline. Late adulthood is characterized by more decline, such as increased skin elasticity, weight gain, and problems with sensory stimulation. The brain may also slow down during this stage, leading to common problems such as memory loss and dementia.
To review, see section 9.3 of the textbook.
Psychological disorders generally affect adults more often than children. However, there are two common disorders of childhood (ADHD and autism) that are receiving attention in recent years. The causes of either disorder have not been fully determined yet but there is some evidence suggesting genetic factors.
According to the APA, children with ADHD show a constant pattern of inattention and/or hyperactive and impulsive behavior that interferes with normal functioning. For example, they might be disruptive at school, unable to sit still or follow directions, and greatly disorganized in their everyday life.
Children with autism disorder show signs of significant disturbances in three main areas: deficits in social interaction, deficits in communication, and repetitive patterns of behavior or interests. There is no scientific evidence to suggest that vaccinations cause or are related to the onset of autism.
Early detection and treatment of any of these conditions can lead to improved outcomes for the child.
Studying human lifespan would not be complete without focusing on the biology and process of conception and pregnancy. The first two weeks of pregnancy are called the germinal stage of development, during which the child's DNA is created. Cells rapidly multiply. The embryonic stage lasts until week 8 of pregnancy. During this stage the embryo is formed and a placenta develops. The last stage of prenatal development, the fetal stage, lasts from weeks 9 through birth (week 40). Sex organs begin to develop during the early part of this stage, and body parts and internal organs develop later.
Growing embryos experience much of what their mothers do; they can hear sounds and digest the same food. Pregnant women are advised to avoid harmful agents such as alcohol, nicotine, and illegal substances, because these teratogens have been linked to negative effects on a developing fetus. For example, children of mothers who consumed a lot of alcohol during pregnancy may develop mental retardation and demonstrate changed facial features, such as smaller head and eye sizes.
To review, see section 9.3 of the textbook.
This vocabulary list includes terms that might help you with the review items above and some terms you should be familiar with to be successful in completing the final exam for the course.
Try to think of the reason why each term is included.