Nature and Nurture..

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Developmental psychology

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  • developmental psychology, the branch of psychology that studies the patterns of growth and change occurring throughout life. In large part, developmental psychologists study the interaction between the unfolding of biologically predetermined patterns of behavior and a constantly changing, dynamic environment. They ask how our genetic background affects our behavior throughout our lives and whether our potential is limited by heredity. Similarly, they are committed to understanding the way in which the environment works with—or against—our genetic capabilities, how the world we live in affects our development, and how we can be encouraged to reach our full potential. More than other psychologists, developmental psychologists consider the day-to-day patterns and changes in behavior that occur across the life span. This chapter focuses on the early part of the life cycle, beginning with conception, moving through birth and infancy, and ending with childhood. The following chapter explores aspects of development during the remainder of the life cycle from adolescence to adulthood, and finally to old age and death.
  • The similarities we see in twins Gerald Levey and Mark Newman vividly raise one of the fundamental questions posed by developmental psychologists: How can we distinguish between the causes of behavior that are environmental (the influence of parents, siblings, family, friends, schooling, nutrition, and all the other experiences to which a child is exposed) and those causes that are hereditary (those based on the genetic makeup of an individual that influence growth and development throughout life)? This question, which we explored when we considered intelligence in Chapter 9, is known as the nature–nurture issue . In this context, nature refers to hereditary factors, and nurture to environmental influences. Although the question was first posed as a nature- versus -nurture issue, developmental psychologists today agree that both nature and nurture interact to produce specific developmental patterns and outcomes. Consequently, the question has evolved to how and to what degree environment and heredity both produce their effects. No one grows up free of environmental influences, nor does anyone develop without being affected by his or her inherited genetic makeup . However, the debate over the comparative influence of the two factors remains active, with different approaches and theories of development emphasizing the environment or heredity to a greater or lesser degree (Scarr, 1996; Saudino, 1997; de Waal, 1999).
  • The similarities we see in twins Gerald Levey and Mark Newman vividly raise one of the fundamental questions posed by developmental psychologists: How can we distinguish between the causes of behavior that are environmental (the influence of parents, siblings, family, friends, schooling, nutrition, and all the other experiences to which a child is exposed) and those causes that are hereditary (those based on the genetic makeup of an individual that influence growth and development throughout life)? This question, which we explored when we considered intelligence in Chapter 9, is known as the nature–nurture issue . In this context, nature refers to hereditary factors, and nurture to environmental influences. Although the question was first posed as a nature- versus -nurture issue, developmental psychologists today agree that both nature and nurture interact to produce specific developmental patterns and outcomes. Consequently, the question has evolved to how and to what degree environment and heredity both produce their effects. No one grows up free of environmental influences, nor does anyone develop without being affected by his or her inherited genetic makeup . However, the debate over the comparative influence of the two factors remains active, with different approaches and theories of development emphasizing the environment or heredity to a greater or lesser degree (Scarr, 1996; Saudino, 1997; de Waal, 1999).
  • For example, some developmental theories stress the role of learning in producing changes in behavior in the developing child, relying on the basic principles of learning discussed in Chapter 6. Such theories emphasize the role of environment in accounting for development. In contrast, other approaches emphasize the influence of one’s physiological makeup and functioning on development. Such theories stress the role of heredity and maturation— the unfolding of biologically predetermined patterns of behavior—in producing developmental change. Maturation can be seen, for instance, in the development of sex characteristics (such as breasts or body hair) that occurs at the start of adolescence. Furthermore, developmental psychologists have been influenced by the work of behavioral geneticists, who study the effects of heredity on behavior, and the theories of evolutionary psychologists, whose goal is to identify behavior patterns that are a result of our genetic inheritance from our ancestors. Both behavioral geneticists and evolutionary psychologists have highlighted the importance of heredity in influencing our behavior (Bjorklund, 1997). On some points, however, agreement exists among developmental psychologists of different theoretical persuasions. It seems clear that genetic factors not only provide the potential for particular behaviors or traits to emerge, but also place limitations on the emergence of such behavior or traits. For instance, heredity defines people’s general level of intelligence, setting an upper limit which—regardless of the quality of the environment—people cannot exceed. Heredity also provides limits on physical abilities; humans simply cannot run at a speed of 60 miles an hour, nor will they grow as tall as 10 feet, no matter what the quality of their environment (Plomin, 1990; Plomin & McClearn, 1993; Steen, 1996).
  • It is clear that the relationship between heredity and environment is far from simple. As a consequence, developmental psychologists typically take an interactionist position on the nature–nurture issue, suggesting that a combination of hereditary and environmental factors influences development. The challenge facing developmental psychologists is to identify the relative strength of each of these influences on the individual, as well as identifying the specific changes that occur over the course of development. Developmental psychologists use several approaches to determine the relative influence of genetic and environmental factors on behavior. Researchers can, for example, experimentally control the genetic makeup of laboratory animals by carefully breeding them for specific traits. For example, by observing animals with identical genetic backgrounds in varied environments, researchers can ascertain the effects of particular kinds of environmental stimulation. Although generalizing the findings of nonhuman research to a human population must be done with care, findings from animal research provide important information that could not be obtained, for ethical reasons, by using human participants. Human twins also serve as an important source of information about the relative effects of genetic and environmental factors. If identical twins (those who are genetically identical) display different patterns of development, such differences have to be attributed to variations in the environment in which the twins were raised. The most useful data come from identical twins (such as Gerald Levey and Mark Newman) who are adopted at birth by different sets of adoptive parents and raised apart in differing environments. Studies of non-twin siblings who are raised in totally different environments also shed some light on the issue. Because they share relatively similar genetic backgrounds, siblings who show similarities as adults provide strong evidence for the importance of heredity (Lykken et al., 1992; Gottesman, 1997; McClearn et al., 1997).
  • In the most frequently used, cross-sectional research , people of different ages are compared at the same point in time. Cross-sectional studies provide information about differences in development between different age groups. Suppose, for instance, we were interested in the development of intellectual ability in adulthood. To carry out a cross-sectional study, we might compare a sample of 25-, 45-, and 65-year olds on an IQ test. We then can determine whether average IQ test scores differ in each age group. Cross-sectional research has limitations, however. For instance, we cannot be sure that the IQ score differences we might find in our example are due to age differences alone. Instead, they may reflect cohort differences in educational attainment. A cohort is a group of people who grow up at similar times, similar places, and under similar conditions. One way around the problem is to employ the second major research strategy used by developmental psychologists: a longitudinal study. In longitudinal research , the behavior of one or more participants is traced as the participants age. Longitudinal studies assess change in intellectual ability over time, unlike cross-sectional studies, which assess differences among groups of people. By examining changes over several points in time, we can clearly see how individuals develop. Unfortunately, longitudinal research requires an enormous expenditure of time (as the researcher waits for the participants to get older), and participants who begin a study at an early age may drop out, move away, or even die as the research continues. To make up for the limitations in cross-sectional and longitudinal research, investigators have devised an alternative strategy. Known as cross-sequential research , it combines cross-sectional and longitudinal approaches by taking a number of different age groups and examining them over several points in time. For example, investigators might use a group of 3-, 5-, and 7-year-olds, examining them every six months for a period of several years. This technique allows the developmental psychologist to tease out the effects of age changes themselves from other possibly influential factors.
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  • Nature and Nurture..

    1. 1. Copyright © 2005 The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc. Permission required for reproduction or display.Module 37: Nature andNurtureD. Berry/PhotoLink/Getty Images-Both nature and nurture interact toproduce specific developmental patternsand outcomes.-How and to what degree doenvironmental and heredity bothproduce their effects?
    2. 2. MODULE 37Copyright © 2005 The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc. Permission required for reproduction or display.DevelopmentalPsychologyDevelopmental PsychologyThe branch of psychology thatstudies the patterns of growthand change occurring throughoutlifeSW Productions/Getty Images
    3. 3. MODULE 37Copyright © 2005 The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc. Permission required for reproduction or display.Nature and Nurture:The EnduringDevelopmental Issue Nature – Nurture issue– The issue of the degree to which environmentand heredity influence behavior.
    4. 4. MODULE 37Copyright © 2005 The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc. Permission required for reproduction or display.Nature and Nurture:The EnduringDevelopmental Issue HereditaryInfluencesbased on thegeneticmakeup of anindividual thatinfluencegrowth anddevelopmentthroughout life Environment(NURTURE)The influence of parents,siblings, family, friends,schooling, nutrition, andall other experiences inwhich a child is exposedPhotoLink/Getty Images© Getty Images/RF
    5. 5. MODULE 37Copyright © 2005 The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc. Permission required for reproduction or display.Nature andNurture
    6. 6. MODULE 37Copyright © 2005 The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc. Permission required for reproduction or display.Strategies for StudyingDevelopment Determining therelative influence ofnature and nurtureStudy of identicaltwins (those who aregenetically identical)Royalty-Free/CORBIS
    7. 7. MODULE 37Copyright © 2005 The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc. Permission required for reproduction or display.Specific ResearchApproaches Cross-sectional researchPeople of different ages are compared at thesame point in time Longitudinal researchBehavior of one or more participants is tracedas the participants age Cross-sequential researchCombines above by taking a number ofdifferent age groups and examining them overseveral points in time
    8. 8. MODULE 37MEMORY
    9. 9. MODULE 37Chapter 5 MEMORY : Module 1: The foundations ofmemory Module 2: Recalling long termmemories Module 3: Forgetting: Whenmemory fails or why we forget?
    10. 10. MODULE 37Content : What is memory? Three – stage model of memory Three types of memory: SM, STM, LTM Recalling long term memories Why do we forget? How can you improve your memory? References
    11. 11. MODULE 37What ismemory?Memory - is the process by which weencode , store , and retrieveinformation.
    12. 12. MODULE 37 Encoding-initial recording ofinformation / convertinginformation into useable formStorage-informationsaved for future use.Retriever- recovery ofstored information.Memory is built on three basic processes:
    13. 13. MODULE 37Three-stage model of memory
    14. 14. MODULE 37Types of memory1.Sensory: Storing an exact copy of incoming information for less thana second; the first stage of memory2.Short Term memory: second stage of memory; stores smallamounts of information briefly; very sensitive to interruption orinterference (7 -+ bits)3.Long term memory: Storing information relatively permanently• Stored on basis of meaning and importance
    15. 15. MODULE 37Sensory memorySensory memory – The initial momentary storage ofinformation lasting only an instant.Types of sensory memory:•Iconic memory•Echoic memory
    16. 16. MODULE 37Short-term memoryShort-term memory -is the capacity forholding a small amount of information inmind in an active, readily available state fora short period of time. 15 to 25 secShort-term memory lasts from a fewseconds to a minute.
    17. 17. MODULE 37Long-term memoryLong Term Memory -contains information that you haverecorded in your brain in the past.Long-term memory can last as little as a few days or as long asdecadesLong-term memory modules :-Declarative memory*Semantic memory*Episodic memory-Procedural memory
    18. 18. MODULE 37Types of memory•Declarative memory: memory for factual information e.g. names,faces, dates, and the like.•Procedural memory: Memory for skills and habits, such as ridinga bike or hitting a shot.•Semantic memory: Memory for general knowledge and factsabout the world, as well as memory for the rules of logic that areused to deduce other facts.•Episodic memory: Memory for events that occur in a particulartime, place, or context. (personal knowledge)

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