Human Growth and Development - General Psychology - Lecture Notes, Study notes for Psychology. Alliance University


Description: Human Growth and Development, Nature Vs Nurture, Stability Vs Change, Continuity Vs Stage, Prenatal Development, Three Stages, Embryonic Stage, Personality Development, Theory of Personality Development, Attachment and Child Care are points from the lecture.
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General Psychology

Human Growth and Development


The changes in physical, cognitive, and social abilities that occur throughout the


Important Issues:

Nature vs. Nurture

Stability vs. Change

Continuity vs. Stage

Research Methods:

Longitudinal Method

Study one group of people over long period of time

Cross-Sectional Method

Study different age groups at the same time

Prenatal Development

Three Stages:

Germinal Stage


Conception to 2 weeks

Embryonic Stage

2 weeks to 2 months

Fetal Stage

2 months to birth

Prenatal Nutrition: Teratogens

Motor Development


Development from head to foot


Development from center outward


Unfolding of genetic blueprint

Developmental Norms

Median age for behaviors to appear



At birth an infant can see in color

At birth child prefers human faces

By age 6 months acuity matches an adults


Auditory localization, distinguish voices and speech

Personality Development


Established within first few months of life

Remains stable through life

Primarily depends on genes


Easily approach unfamiliar people, objects, situations


Tend to be fearful of unfamiliar people, objects, situations

Easy Children

Happy, easy-going

Slow to Warm-up Children

Less happy, slowly adapt to change

Difficult Children

Downcast, resist change

Erik Erikson’s Theory of Personality Development

Eight Stage Theory

Focuses on psychosocial development

Personality development through social interactions

Attachment Theory

Attachment Type


Anxious Resistant

Anxious Avoidant

Maternal Care


Responsive, Loving


Incompetent, Negligent


Incompetent, Overbearing

Research Shows:

Attachment type stays the same as child ages

Attachment a child has to one parent will be similar to that for another parent

Attachments develop with fathers and mothers at different times

Children living in poverty are less likely to develop secure attachments

A child with a secure attachment is more likely to be competent, happy

Attachment depends on culture

Attachment & Child Care

The effects of a child being in daycare depend on:

Age, gender, temperament

Social and economic status

Amount of time spent in daycare

Quality of the daycare

Attachment and Patterns of Adult Intimacy:


Stable relationships, high satisfaction


"Love at first sight", partners smothered


Avoid close relationships, prefer flings

Parenting Style


Respect for child’s individuality

Clear cut standards consistently upheld


Little affection expressed

Unquestioning obedience is demanded


Little is demanded from the child

Child makes own decisions

Jean Piaget

Core Principles

Children are active not passive learners.

Try to develop more complex ways of understanding the world

Children engage in meaning making.

Making sense out of the world by asking "why?"

Thought processes depend on assimilation.

Making new information fit our existing thought structure

Thought processes depend on accommodation.

Changing our thought structure to fit new information

Piaget’s Stage Theory

Each stage comes in a fixed order

Each stage must be completed before the next one can begin

Each stage differs qualitatively from the previous one.

Theory of Cognitive Development

Sensorimotor Stage (ages 0-2)

Thinking centers on the senses.

Thinking centers also on movement.

Development involves coordinating motor activity with sensory perception

Main task is the development of object permanence.

Preoperational Stage (Ages 2-7)

Symbolic thought emerges.

Child uses language to represent thought


All things are alive


The child can only se their own view of the world.

Concrete Operational (Ages 7-11)

Mental operations begin

Child learns how to manipulate information in new ways

Logical thinking and reasoning

Decentration and Reversibility

Conservation is achieved

An object keeps the same quantity even when the shape changes

Formal Operational Stage (Ages 11+)

Person can use abstract reasoning

Things don’t have to be physically present to be reasoned about

Person can think scientifically

Hypotheses can be formed and tested

Alternative solutions to problems can be proposed

Evaluation of Theory:

Not everyone will necessarily change at the same age

Infants are more capable than Piaget believed.

Children can be in more than one stage at the same time.

Cognitive development is more continuous than stage-like.


Physical Changes

Timing depends on genetics and environment


Changes preceding puberty


Capable of sexual reproduction

Early Adolescence


Peer groups become important

Shy and modest

Middle Adolescence

Want independence from parents

Aware of inner experience

Develop ideals and role models

Late Adolescence

Ability to think things through

More emotional stability

Ability to compromise


Physical Changes


Perceptual Changes:



Cognitive Development


Working Memory

Capacity reduced

Long-term Memory

Changes only in explicit recall

Changes also due to slower processing speed

Cognitive Development


Formal Operational Thinking

Post-formal Thought


Stable across the lifespan

Changes in fluid intelligence

Moral Development

Kohlberg’s Theory

Preconventional Morality


Conventional Morality

Internalized Standards

Postconventional Morality


Evaluating Kohlberg’s Theory


Based on North American values

Based on male values

Research has shown:

Moral reasoning is closely tied to cognitive development

Order of stages is correct

Age of change may vary

Identity Development

Erickson’s Psychosocial Development

Stage 5

Crisis of identity vs confusion

Stage 6

Crisis of intimacy vs isolation

Stage 7

Crisis of generativity vs self-absorption

Stage 8

Crisis of integrity vs despair

Marcia: Theory of Identity

Identity depends on dealing with crisis and commitment

Possible Identity Processes:



Identity Diffusion

Identity Achievement

Career Development

Donald Super’s Stage Theory


Test career choice


Time of skill building


Hold position


Prepare for retirement

Gender Issues

Career Choice

Women have increased options

Salary Equity

Career Advancement

Glass ceiling

Love Relationships


Three Stages:

First few years

High satisfaction

Middle years

Reduced satisfaction

Later years

Satisfaction increases

Marital satisfaction depends on feeling valued, respected

Marital Stability depends on age, education, life circumstances

Adults in their Later Years

Developmental Issues: Death

Kubler-Ross Stages

Denial, anger, depression, acceptance

Hospice movement

Stresses improving quality of life



Bias against the elderly and aging process

Media view

Double standard of aging

Some cultures value the elderly

Quality of Life

Age does not impact:



Quality of life depends on:

Access to social support

Physical health

Level of control


Personality Development

Personality Definition:

An individual’s unique constellation of consistent behavioral traits

Big Five Model

Traits include:





Openness to experience

Five Factor Theory does not claim to describe all of personality

Psychodynamic Theory

Central Concepts:

Personality is determined by childhood experiences

Daily behavior is influenced by unconscious thought

Behavior and personality results from unconscious conflict

Three components to personality:


Basic drives (libido)

Pleasure principle

Primary process thinking



Mediates between conflicting forces

Reality principle

Secondary process thinking


Holds learned values and ideals

Functions as the conscience

Conflict comes when the ego is unable to satisfy the id needs in a way that fits

reality and the rules set by the superego. This conflict determines personality

Three levels of awareness:




The unconscious is the storehouse for buried wishes and traumatic


Defense Mechanisms

Protect us from overwhelming anxiety




Reaction formation


Theory of Psychosexual Development

During each stage of development the libido (id’s energy) centers on a different

erogenous zone

When a conflict develops during one stage of development, the person becomes


Point of fixation determines later personality traits

Oral Stage (birth – 1 year)

Libido focuses on the mouth

Fixation results in:



Oral Habits

Anal Stage (ages 2-3)

Conflict occurs around social standards controlling biological urges

Fixation results in:


Orderliness (OCD)


Phallic (ages 4-5)

Libido focused on the genitals

Boys develop an Oedipus complex

Girls develop an Electra complex

Success is marked by identification with the same sex parent

Fixation results in sexual exploitation of others

Latency (ages 6 – puberty)

Sexual feelings are repressed

Same gender socialization

Emphasis is on building social skills

Genital Stage

Focus of libido returns to the genitals

Pleasure is based on have mature sexual relations with others

Recent Developments

Karl Jung

Analytic Psychology

Unconscious has two parts:

Personal unconscious

Collective unconscious

Alfred Adler

Individual Psychology

Striving for superiority

Inferiority complex

Birth Order

Psychodynamic Approach Strengths:

Acknowledges the unconscious

Describes internal psychological conflict

Recognizes the impact of childhood

Describes defense mechanisms

Provides a comprehensive theory


Concepts are difficult to test with research

Studies are methodologically flawed

Theory is biased

Takes a pessimistic and deterministic stance

Personality Assessment:

Projective tests

Uses ambiguous stimuli to see a person’s needs, emotions, personality

Includes: Rorschach/Thematic Apperception Test (TAT)

Some are not standardized, and reliability and validity is questionable

Behavioral Theory

Personality can only be studied as behavior


Behavior is determined by the environment

Personality is a collection of response tendencies

Albert Bandura

Social Learning Theory

Acknowledges role of cognition

Reciprocal determinism

Behavior and environment impact each other

Behavior is a cause and an effect

Observational learning and models


A person’s belief in their ability to do what is necessary to reach

desired goals


Personality is an illusion; behavior is situation specific

Person-Situation Debate:

Person: Every person acts the same across various situations because

there are stable, internal traits that guide him or her (trait approach)

Situation: Behavior changes depending on a situation’s demands

Mischel’s Criticism

People appear to behave consistently because we only see them in a limited

number of situations

Resolving the Consistency Debate:

Behavior across situations isn’t as consistent as we think

Must consider both the person’s traits and the external demands of the situation

Behavioral Theory of Personality Advantage:

Rooted in empirical research


Research may not generalize

Downplays the role of cognition

Breaks personality into stimulus-response

Humanistic Theory

Founders were Abraham Maslow and Carl Rogers

Developed as a reaction against psychodynamic and behavioral theory

Takes an optimistic view

All humans work toward realizing their individual potential

Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs

Humans constantly work to improve their condition by meeting a series of needs

Needs are the basis for all motivation

Needs go from most basic to higher

The needs must be satisfied in a certain order

Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs:









The struggle for self-actualization is the key to personality development

Conditions needed for self-actualization:


Unconditional positive regard

Humanistic Theory of Personality Advantages:

Focuses on subjective factors

Promotes healthy personality


Methodological limitations

Overly optimistic

Doesn’t address self-destructive acts

Biological Theory


Personality is determined by genes

Genes determine arousal level

Arousal level determines conditioning

Genes provide higher-order traits

Higher–order traits:




Behavioral Genetics

Research supports the influence of genes on some traits

Index of Heritability: Big Five: 37-55%

Evolutionary Approach

The personality traits we have today are the result of natural selection

Big Five traits promote survival

Biological Theory of Personality Advantage:

Strong research support


Heritability ratios can only estimate

Nature/Nurture confounds

Lagging theory development

Contemporary Approaches

Sensation Seeking

Determines amount of sensory stimulation a person seeks out


Experience seeking


Boredom susceptibility


Impression management

Impacts quantity and quality of relationships

Personality Measurement

Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory (MMPI)

Most widely used personality test

567 true-false items

Developed by comparing normal and psychiatric populations

Newest version is MMPI-2

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