AQA A-Level Psychology Topics - Developmental Psychology
Another post in our series of blogs on Psychology A-level topics, today we consider developmental psychology.
Developmental psychology is a scientific approach that aims to explain how children and adults change over time. A significant proportion of theories within this discipline focus on development during childhood, this being the period of an individual's lifespan whenmost change occurs.
Developmental psychologists study a wide range of theoretical areas, such as biological, social, emotion, and cognitive processes. Baltes, Reese, and Lipsitt define the three goals of developmental psychology as to describe, explain, and to optimizedevelopment.
To describe development, we need to focus both on typical patterns of change (normative development) and on individual variations in patterns of change (i.e. idiographic development).
Normative development is typically viewed as a continual and cumulative process. However, it should be noted that people can change if important aspects of one's life change. This capacity for change is called plasticity.
For example, Rutter (1981) discovered than sombre babies living in understaffed orphanages often become cheerful and affectionate when placed in socially stimulating adoptive homes.
When trying to explain development, it is important to consider the relative contribution of both nature and nurture. Nature refers to the process of biological maturation inheritance and maturation. Nurture refers to the impact of the environment, something that involves the process of learning through experiences.
One of the reasons why the development of human beings is so similar is because our common specifies heredity (DNA) guides all of us through many of the same developmental changes at about the same points in our lives.
During the 1900s three key figures have dominated the field with their extensive theories of human development, namely Jean Piaget (1896-1980), Lev Vygotsky (1896-1934) and John Bowlby (1907-1990). Indeed, much of the current research continues to be influenced by these three theorists.
Piaget believed that children think differently than adults, and stated they go through 4 universal stages of cognitive development.
Vygotsky's theories stress the fundamental role of social interaction in the development of cognition.
Last but not least, Bowlby’s theory of attachment suggests that children come into the world biologically pre-programmed to form attachments.
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