Current Issues in Developmental Psychology

As discussed by Professor Goss...

Professor Goss's resources

Human Genome Project

•genetic counseling

•cloning and gene therapy

•treatment for health and mental health problems

Brain Development, 0-3 Years and Beyond
•prenatal experience is important, too

•brain development continues after age 3

•the aging brain

Nature AND Nurture
•an either/or perspective is outdated and overly simplistic
Interaction among Domains and Levels
•Bronfenbrenner’s bioecological theory:

child ) microsystem ) mesosystem ) exosystem ) macrosystem ) chronosystem

Importance of a Cross-cultural Perspective
•parenting and child care practices (e.g., sleeping arrangements, toilet training)

•conceptualizing the transition from adolescence to adulthood

•gender roles

•treatment of and beliefs about older adults

A Lifespan Perspective is Valuable
•Development is ongoing, involving both growth and decline, change and stability
Influence of Societal and Historical Context
•workforce participation of mothers of young children

•economic hardship (e.g., the Great Depression vs. Farm Crisis, Elder’s studies)

•changing notions about adult development (e.g., the possibility of retirement)

•demographic characteristics (e.g., the greying of America -- and other countries)

Research Methods are Important
•consider the demands of the task (e.g., Piaget’s studies)

•cross-sectional vs. longitudinal studies (e.g., intelligence & aging)

•sampling (e.g., study healthy brains to understand changes due to normal aging)

•the "grand" theories of the past have been replaced, in many areas, by problem-specific mini-theories (e.g., Piaget’s theory vs. models for the development of memory)

•the field is still responding to the classic theories of Piaget, Erikson, Bowlby/Ainsworth, Kohlberg

•psychologists are "scientific problem solvers"

Core Concepts of Development*

1. Human development is shaped by a dynamic and continuous interaction between biology and experience.

2. Culture influences every aspect of human development and is reflected in childrearing beliefs and practices designed to promote healthy adaptation.

3. The growth of self-regulation is a cornerstone of early childhood development that cuts across all domains of behavior.

4. Children are active participants in their own development, reflecting the intrinsic human drive to explore and master one’s environment.

5. Human relationships, and the effects of relationships on relationships, are the building blocks of healthy development.

6. The broad range of individual differences among young children often makes it difficult to distinguish normal variations and maturational delays from transient disorders and persistent impairments.

7. The development of children unfolds along individual pathways whose trajectories are characterized by continuities and discontinuities, as well as by a series of significant transitions.

8. Human development is shaped by the ongoing interplay among sources of vulnerability and sources of resilience.

9. The timing of early experiences can matter, but, more often than not, the developing child remains vulnerable to risks and open to protective influences throughout the early years of life and into adulthood.

10. The course of development can be altered in early childhood by effective interventions that change the balance between risk and protection, thereby shifting the odds in favor of more adaptive outcomes.

Studying Development across the Lifespan: The Case of Language

Prenatal Period

•newborns show a preference for the language that was spoken by their mother

•newborns recognize stories read by their mother before they were born

Infancy and Toddlerhood
•"prewired" abilities include categorical perception for sounds of human speech and the capacity to learn to perceive the functionally important phonemes of any human language ("un-development" actually occurs during the first year of life)

•communication begins at birth; infants are able to use gestures/signs before words

•biases and constraints exist that aid in word learning (e.g., whole-object assumption)

•there are predictable stages of production and comprehension

•parents do not teach children their first language

•language development requires human interaction and an adequate model

•babies of teen mothers and depressed mothers receive less language input and are slower to develop language

•babies who overhear an adequate amount of language spoken by others develop language normally, even if the speech is not directed to them (e.g., Kaluli practices/beliefs)

•in some extraordinary cases, children have developed language "on their own" (e.g., Nicaraguan Sign Language)

•language (esp. speech from the parents and other caregivers) is an early foundation for the child’s developing self-concept

•parents influence which language is learned, as well as vocabulary, dialect, and accent

•language is a tool for thinking (e.g., conversations about past experiences seem to help preserve those experiences in memory)

•shared book reading is an important foundation for emergent literacy; family resources and parental education are strong predictors of shared book reading, which is a strong predictor of school readiness and achievement

•language is a tool for socialization (e.g., parents shape how and when children use language to express themselves)

•language marks peer group membership, beginning in elementary school years and intensifying during adolescence
•gender differences have been documented in the use of language for self-expression and for instrumental purposes

•the words adults use to describe their life stories shed light on significant personality variables and issues of adult development (e.g., generativity; contamination vs. redemption)

•linguistic ability in early adulthood is associated with cognitive function and Alzheimer’s disease in late adulthood (the Nun Study -- Snowdon et al., 1996)

*From Neurons to Neighborhoods (2000)

Developmental Psychology Web Sites

Teaching of Psychology Web Sites

Videos for Teaching Developmental Psychology

Key References

Black, J. E. (1998). How a child builds its brain: Some lessons from animal studies of neural plasticity. Preventive Medicine, 27, 168-171.

Chisholm, K. (1998). A three year follow-up of attachment and indiscriminate friendliness in children adopted from Romanian orphanages. Child Development, 69, 1092-1106.

Culp, A. M., Osofsky, J. D., & O'Brien, M. (1996). Language patterns of adolescent and older mothers and their one-year-old children: A comparison study. First Language, 16, 61-75.

Dunn, J., & Shatz, M. (1989). Becoming a conversationalist despite (or because of) having an older sibling. Child Development, 60, 399-410.

Danesi, M. (1994). Cool: the signs and meanings of adolescence. Toronto; Buffalo, NY: University of Toronto Press.

Damon, W. (Editor-in-chief). (1998). Handbook of child psychology (5th ed.). New York: Wiley.

DeCasper, A. J., & Fifer, W. P. (1980). Of human bonding: Newborns prefer their mothers’ voices. Science, 208, 1174-1176.

DeLoache, J., & Gottlieb, A. (2000). A world of babies: imagined childcare guides for seven societies. New York: Cambridge University Press.

Dunn, J., & Shatz, M. (1989). Becoming a conversationalist despite (or because of) having an older sibling. Child Development, 60, 399-410.

Fernald, A., & Morikawa, H. (1993). Common themes and cultural variation in Japanese and American mothers’ speech to preverbal infants. Journal of Child Language, 16, 477-501.

Field, T. (1995). Infants of depressed mothers. Infant Behavior and Development, 18, 1-13.

Field, T. (1998). Maternal depression effects on infants and early interventions. Preventive Medicine, 27, 200-203.

Jusczyk, P. W., & Hohne, E. A. (1997). Infants’ memory for spoken words. Science, 277, 1984-1986.

Haden, C. A. & Fivush, R. (1996). Contextual variation in maternal conversational styles. Merrill-Palmer Quarterly, 42, 200-227.

Huttenlocher, J. (1998). Language input and language growth. Preventive Medicine, 27, 195-199.

Kuhl, P. K., Andruski, J. E., Chistovich, I. A., Chistovich, L. A., Kozhevnikova, E. V., Ryskina, V. L., Stolyarova, E. I., Sundberg, U., & Lacerda, F. (1997). Cross-language analysis of phonetic units in language addressed to infants. Science, 277, 684-686.

Masataka, N. (1996). Perception of motherese in a signed language by six-month-old deaf infants. Developmental Psychology, 32, 874-879.

McAdams, D. P., Diamond, A., de St. Aubin, E., & Mansfield, E. (1997). Stories of commitment: The psychosocial construction of generative lives. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 72, 678-694.

McLoyd, V. (1998). Socioeconomic disadvantage and child development. American Psychologist, 53, 185-204.

Miller, P. J., Wiley, A. R., Fung, H., & Liang, C. (1997). Personal storytelling as a medium of socialization in Chinese and American families. Child Development, 68, 557-568.

Minami, M., & McCabe, A. (1995). Rice balls and bear hunts: Japanese and North American family narrative patterns. Journal of Child Language, 22, 423-445.

Moon, C., Cooper, R. P., & Fifer, W. P. (1993). Two-day-olds prefer their native language. Infant Behavior and Development, 16, 495-500.

Ramey, C. T., & Ramey, S. L. (1998). Early intervention and early experience. American Psychologist, 58, 515-523.

Ramey, C. T., & Ramey, S. L. (1998). Prevention of intellectual disabilities: Early interventions to improve cognitive development. Preventive Medicine, 27, 224-232.

Shonkoff, J. P. & Phillips, D.A. (Eds.) (2000). From neurons to neighborhoods: the science of early childhood development. Washington, DC: National Academy Press.

Snowdon, D. A., Kemper, S. J., Mortimer, J. A., Greiner, L. H., Wekstein,

D. R., & Markesbery, W. R. (1996). Linguistic ability in early life and cognitive function and Alzheimer's disease in late life: Findings from the Nun Study. JAMA, 275(7), 528-532.

Tannen, D. (1990). You just don’t understand: women and men in conversation. New York: Morrow.

Whitehurst, G. J., Arnold, D. S., Epstein, J. N., Angell, A. L., Smith, M., & Fischel, J. E. (1994). A picture book reading intervention in day care and home for children from low-income families. Developmental Psychology, 30, 679-689.

Whitehurst, G. J., & Lonigan, C. J. (1998). Child development and emergent literacy. Child Development, 69, 848-872.