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Infancy and Childhood

developmental psychology

The study of how people grow, mature, and change over the life span.

nature-nurture debate

The debate over the extent to which human behavior is determined by genetics and the environment.

twin-study method

A method of testing nature and nurture by comparing pairs of identical and fraternal twins of the same sex.

adoption studies

A method of testing nature and nurture by comparing twins and other siblings reared together with those separated by adoption.

heritability

A statistical estimate of the percentage of the variability of a trait within a group that is attributable to genetic factors.

cross-sectional study

A method of developmental research in which people of different ages are tested and compared.

longitudinal study

A method of developmental research in which the same prople are tested at different times to track changes related to age.

chromosomes

Rod-like structures, found in all biological cells, that contain DNA molecules in the form of genes.

deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA)

The complex molecular structure of a chromosome that carries genetic information.

genes

The biochemical units of heredity that govern the development of an individual life.

zygote

A fertilized egg that undergoes a two-week period of rapid cell division and develops into an embryo

embryo

The developing human organism, from two weeks to two months after conception

fetus

The developing human organism, from nine weeks from conception to birth

teratogens

Toxic substances that can harm the embryo or fetus during prenatal development.

fetal alcohol syndrome (FAS)

A specific pattern of birth defects (stunted grown, facial deformity, and mental retardation) often found in the offspring of alcoholic mothers.

habituation

The tendency for attention to a stimulus to wane over time (often used to determine whether an infant has "learned" a stimulus.

recovery

Following habituation to one stimulus, the tendency for a second stimulus to arouse new interest (often used to test whether infants can discriminate between stimuli)

grasping reflex

In infants, an automatic tendency to grasp an object that stimulates the palm.

rooting reflex

In response to contact on the cheek, an infant's tendency to turn toward the stimulus and open its mouth.

schemas

In Piaget's theory, mental representations of the world that guide the processes of assimilation and accommodation.

assimilation

In Piaget's theory, the process of incorporating and, if necessary, changing new information to fit existing cognitive structures.

accomodation

In Piaget's theory, the process of modifying existing cognitive structures in response to new information.

sensorimotor stage

Piaget's first stage of cognitive development, from birth to two years old, when infants come to know, the world through their own actions.

object permanence

Developing at six to eight months, an awareness that objects continue to exist after they disappear from view.

separation anxiety

Among infants with object permanence, a fear reaction to the absence of their primary caretaker.

preoperational stage

Piaget's second stage of cognitive development, when two to six year olds become capable of reasoning in an intuitive, prelogical manner

egocentric

Self-centered, unable to adopt the perspective of another person.

conservation

Te concept that physical properties of an object remain the same despite superficial changes in appearance.

concrete operational stage

Piaget's third stage of cognitive development, when six year olds become capable of logical reasoning.

formal operational stage

Piaget's fourth stage of cognitive development, when adolescents become capable of logic and abstract thought.

babbling

Spontaneous vocalizations of basic speech sounds, which infants begin at about four months of age.

telegraphic speech

Early short form of speech in which the child omits unnecessary words--as telegrams once did ("More milk")

imprinting

Among newly hatched ducks and geese, an instinctive tendency to follow the mother.

critical period

A period of time during which an organism must be exposed to a certain stimulus for proper development to occur.

attachment

A deep emotional bond that an infant develops with its primary caretaker.

strange-situation test

A parent-infant "separation and reunion" procecure that is staged in a laboratory to test the security of a child's attachment.

secure attachment

A parent-infant relationship in which the baby is secure when the parent is present, distressed by separation, and delighted by reunion.

insecure attachment

A parent-infant relationship in which the baby clings to the parent, cries at separation, and reacts with anger of apathy to reunion.

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