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Developmental Psychology

a branch of psychology that studies physical, cognitive, and social change throughout the life span


a fertilized egg


the developing human organism from 9 weeks after conception to birth


stage in prenatal development from 2 to 8 weeks


agents, such as chemicals and viruses, that can reach the embryo or fetus during prenatal development and cause harm


The strong bond (social-emotional) a child forms with his or her primary caregiver.


the internally programmed growth of a child


the process of assimilating new ideas into an existing cognitive structure


in the theories of Jean Piaget: the modification of internal representations in order to accommodate a changing knowledge of reality

Sensorimotor Stage

the first stage in Piaget's theory, during which the child relies heavily on innate motor responses to stimuli

Object Permanence

the awareness that things continue to exist even when not perceived

Preoperational Stage

the second stage in Piaget's theory, marked by well-developed mental representation and the use of language


In Piaget's theory, the preoperational child's difficulty taking another's point of view.

Concrete Operational Stage

the third of Piaget's stages, when a child understands conversation but still is incapable of abstract thought


the principle that properties such as mass, volume, and number remain the same despite changes in the forms of objects

Theory of Mind

an awareness that other people's behavior may be influenced by beliefs, desires, and emotions that differ from one's own


individuals characteritc manner of behavior or reaction assumed to have a strong genetic basis


the time period between the beginning of puberty and adulthood


the period of sexual maturation, during which a person becomes capable of reproducing

Primary Sex Characteristics

the body structures (ovaries, testes, and external genitalia) that make sexual reproduction possible

Secondary Sex Characteristics

Physical features that are associated with gender but that are not directly involved in reproduction.

Formal Operational Stage

in Piaget's theory, the stage of cognitive development during which people begin to think logically about abstract concepts

Mary Ainsworth

developmental psychology; compared effects of maternal separation, devised patterns of attachment; "The Strange Situation": observation of parent/child attachment

Erik Erikson

neo-Freudian, humanistic; 8 psychosocial stages of development: theory shows how people evolve through the life span. Each stage is marked by a psychological crisis that involves confronting "Who am I?"

Harry Harlow

development, contact comfort, attachment; experimented with baby rhesus monkeys and presented them with cloth or wire "mothers;" showed that the monkeys became attached to the cloth mothers because of contact comfort

Lawrence Kohlberg

moral development; presented boys moral dilemmas and studied their responses and reasoning processes in making moral decisions. Most famous moral dilemma is "Heinz" who has an ill wife and cannot afford the medication. Should he steal the medication and why?

Jean Piaget

Four stage theory of cognitive development: 1. sensorimotor, 2. preoperational, 3. concrete operational, and 4. formal operational. He said that the two basic processes work in tandem to achieve cognitive growth-assimilation and accomodation

Fetal alcohol syndrome

a medical condition in which body deformation or facial development or mental ability of a fetus is impaired because the mother drank alcohol while pregnant


a general accommodation to unchanging environmental conditions


the psychological result of perception and learning and reasoning


In observational learning, a generalized idea that captures the important components, but not every exact detail. Pertaining to memory and person perception, a generalized idea about objects, people, and events that are encountered frequently.


a disorder that appears in childhood and is marked by deficient communication, social interaction, and understanding of others' states of mind

Stranger Anxiety

the fear of strangers that infants commonly display, beginning by about 8 months of age

Critical Period

an optimal period shortly after birth when an organism's exposure to certain stimuli or experiences produces proper development

Basic Trust

according to Erik Erikson, a sense that the world is predictable and trustworthy; said to be formed during infancy by appropriate experiences with responsive caregivers

Self Concept

a sense of one's identity and personal worth

Gender Typing

The process of developing the behaviors, thoughts, and emotions associated with a particular gender.

Social Learning theory

Bandura's view of human development; emphasizes interaction


in psychology, the biologically and socially influenced characteristics by which people define male and female.

X chromosome

the sex chromosome that is present in both sexes: singly in males and doubly in females

Y Chromosome

the sex chromosome that is carried by men


a potent androgenic hormone produced chiefly by the testes


the actions and activities assigned to or required or expected of a person or group

Gender Identity

your identity as it is experienced with regard to your individuality as male or female


the first occurrence of menstruation in a woman


the individual characteristics by which a thing or person is recognized or known

social identity

the "we" aspect of our self-concept; the part of our answer to "who am I?" that comes from our group memberships


a usually secretive or illicit sexual relationship

emerging adulthood

For some people in modern cultures, a period from the late teens to early twenties, bridging the gap between adolescent dependence and full independence and responsible adulthood


the time in a woman's life in which the menstrual cycle ends

cross-sectional study

a study in which people of different ages are compared with one another

longitudal study

Research in which the same people are restudies and retested over a long period

crystallized intelligence

one's accumulated knowledge and verbal skills; tends to increase with age

fluid intelligence

one's ability to reason speedily and abstractly; tends to decrease during late adulthood

social clock

the culturally preferred timing of social events such as marriage, parenthood, and retirement

alzheimers disease

an irreversible, progressive brain disorder, characterized by the deterioration of memory, language, and eventually, physical functioning


violent action that is hostile and usually unprovoked

gender role

the overt expression of attitudes that indicate to others the degree of your maleness or femaleness

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