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The sequence of predictable age-related changes that occur as a person progresses from conception to death; including both behavioral and biological changes

germinal stage

(first 2 weeks)
The placenta begins to form between the mother and the zygote

germinal stage

(first 2 weeks)
The zygotic cell mass implants itself in the mother's uterine wall

embryonic stage

(2 weeks-2 months)
Most of the vital organs and bodily systems begin to form

embryonic stage

(2 weeks-2 months)
Structures such as the heart, spine, and brain begin to emerge as cell division becomes specialized.

embryonic stage

(2 weeks-2 months)
This stage represents particular vulnerability for the embryo because all of its organs are beginning to form; if anything interferes with these processes the effects can be devastating for the baby

embryonic stage

miscarriages and birth defects typically occur in this stage of development.

fetal stage

(2 months- birth)
rapid bodily growth occurs as muscles and bones form

fetal stage

(2 months - birth)
embryo can now be referred to as a fetus and becomes capable of physical movements.

fetal stage

(2 months-birth)
Sex organs begin to develop towards the 3rd month.

age of viability

The age at which a baby can survive in the event of a premature birth
(between 22-26 weeks)

fetal alcohol syndrome

Symptoms include a small heard, heart defects, irritability, hyperactivity, and delayed mental and motor development

fetal alcohol syndrome

Children affected are more susceptible to drug abuse, depression, suicide, and criminal behavior later in life

fetal alcohol syndrome

Most common known cause of mental retardation

motor development

The progression of muscular coordination required for physical activities.

Cephalocaudal trend

The head-to-foot direction of motor development
(children gain control over the upper part of their body before the lower)

Proximodistal trend

The center-outward direction of motor development
(children gain control of their torso before their limbs)

developmental trends

Indicate the median age at which individual's display various behaviors and abilities


Refers to the characteristic mood, activity level, and emotional reactivity of an infant.

longitudinal design

For a study, investigators observe one group of participants repeatedly over a period of time.

cross-sectional design

Investigators compare groups of participants in a study of differing ages at a single point in time
(can be completed more quickly and easily)

inhibited temperament

(caused by predetermined genetics)
Shyness, timidity, and wariness of unfamiliar people, objects and events.

uninhibited temperament

(caused by predetermined genetics)
Less restrained, approaching the unfamiliar with little anxiety.


Refers to close emotional bonds of affection that develop between infants and their caregivers.
(typically the mother)

separation anxiety

Emotional distress seen in many infants when they are separated from people with whom they have formed an attachment.
(typically peaks around 14-18 months and then begins to decline)

anxious-ambivalent attachment

child tends to engage in visual checking; signaling to re-establish contact, clinging. The child appears anxious even when its mother is near, but are not particularly relieved when she returns.

avoidant attachment

child tends to maintain proximity while avoiding close contact. These infants seek little contact with their mothers, and are not distressed if she leaves.

disorganized-disoriented attachment

these children appear confused about whether they should approach or avoid their mothers and are especially insecure.


A developmental period during which characteristic patterns of behavior are exhibited and certain capacities become established.

Psychosocial Personality Development Theory

Each stage presents a different psychosocial crisis involving transitions in social relationships; personality is shaped by how each person reacts to these crises.

cognitive development

Refers to transitions in young peoples' patterns of thinking, including reasoning, remembering, and problem solving.


integrating new and old experiences together.
(doesnt change previous experiences)


Involves changing existing mental structures in order to explain new experiences.

object permanence

Develops when a child recognizes that an object continues to exist even when it can no longer be seen.

sensorimotor period

(birth-2 years)
Infant begins to develop the ability to coordinate their sensory input with their motor actions

sensorimotor period

the development of object permanence occurs.

pre-operational period

(2-7 years)
marked by irreversibility, centration, and egocentrism development.

pre-operational period

(2-7 years)
Children gradually improve their use of mental images, and can begin to solve simple problems.


The awareness that physical quantities remain constant no matter the shape of their container or their appearance.


The tendency to focus on just one feature of a problem, neglecting other important aspects.


The inability to envision reversing an action.


Thinking characterized by a limited ability to share another person's point of view.

concrete operational period

(7-11 years)
Mental operations applied to concrete events; mastery of conservation and hierarchical classification.

formal operational period

(11 years +)
Mental operations applied to abstract ideas; logical thinking is present.

formal operational period

(11 years +)
Children begin to think through their actions and consider possible consequences.


Suggests that an increase in information-processing capacity is one of the attributes that forms the basis of cognitive development.


refers to the maximum number of concepts that in individual can have in their mind at one time.
(increases with age)

Sociocultural Theory

Places emphasis on how cognitive development is influences by social interactions with people who can provide guidance.

Sociocultural Theory

children's gradual mastery of language plays a crucial role in cognitive development.

Sociocultural Theory

Saw cognitive development as an apprenticeship- children learned from more experienced members of society.

Sociocultural Theory

Viewed cognitive development as a universal process that should proceed in relatively the same way across cultures.

zone of proximal development

(ZPD) the gap between what a learner can accomplish alone and what he or she can achieve with guidance from more skilled partners.


Occurs when the assistance provided to a child is adjusted as learning progresses.
(Less and less help is provided as a child's competence at a task increases)

Staircase Model of Development

There are four main stages of cognitive development; each stage masters a specific cognitive operation.


A gradual reduction in the strength of a response when a stimulus event is presented repeatedly.


Occurs if a new stimulus elicits an increase in the strength of a habituated response.


assert that humans are pre-wired to readily understand certain concepts without making assumptions of why this is.

evolutionary theorists

interested in why we are wired as above (natural selection, adaptive benefits)

critical period

A limited time span in development which is optimal for certain capacities or abilities to emerge.

sensitive period

implies that a critical period is ideal for a development, but not concrete.

six-month threshold

If a critical period is deprived for less than 6 months, there is little residual impairment on the child.

Theory of Mind

Examines the development of childrens' understanding of the mind and how it works, and how children conceive of another person's thoughts, beliefs, feelings etc.

Theory of Mind

Seeks to understand the nature of the processes that account for early development.


involves the ability to discern between right and wrong and to behave accordingly.

Stage Theory of Moral Development

focuses more on the process of moral reasoning rather than actually acting according to this reasoning.

marginal status

subjects are capable of reproduction and are therefore physiologically mature, yet have not achieved emotional and economic independence from their parents which is a common milestone to adulthood.


reflects the body's fat cell storage, may be behind adolescent growth spurts.


Describes the two year span preceding puberty, during which the changes leading to physical and sexual maturity take place.
(secondary sex characteristics develop)

secondary sex characteristics

children begin to develop the physical features of their respective sex. These features are not essential for reproduction.


Stage during which sexual functions reach maturity, considered as the beginning of adolescence.

primary sex characteristics

Structures necessary for reproduction develop fully.


first menstruation

synaptic pruning

occurs in adolescence; unnecessary neural developments are destroyed.

Sense of Identity Theory

The presence or absence of a sense of commitment to life goals and a sense of crisis can combine to form different personality types.

mid-life crisis

A difficult, turbulent period of doubts and reappraisal of one's life that occurs approximately mid-way through the life span- the subject contemplates what they want to do and who they want to be with the remainder of their years
(Not typical)


An abnormal condition marked by multiple cognitive deficits that include memory impairment; plaque build up is typical.
(Can be caused by multiple diseases such as Alzheimer's, Parkinson's etc.)

fluid intelligence

intelligence which is much more likely to decrease with age.

crystallized intelligence

remains fairly stable through the ageing process.

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