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Theories of Infant development
Terms in this set (57)
What are the four approaches to infant development?
1. Biological Approaches
2. Learning Theories
3. Cognitive Theories
4. Systems Theories
Major proponent of Biological approach?
Darwin, theory of natural selection
What is a genotype?
-raw genetic code, what is possible
-affected by the environment surrounding the genes via the epigenome
What is a epigenome?
biochemical markers that turn on or off the actions of particular genes within each cell
What is a phenotype?
the products of genotype-environment interactions
-what is actually expressed
The study of behavior from an evolutionary perspective:
all animals have species-specific behaviors that evolved through the process of natural selection
Describe the behavior ecology theory
-the first 6 prenatal months
-the early years (language, attachment)
What are the two main questions in infant research?
1. how do children change overtime and what are the mechanisms and processes that lead to this change
2. what is the origin of individual differences: nature, nuture
Describe the behavior genetic theory
the study of possible environmental and genetic explanations for individual differences in behavior and personality characteristics
How do we do experiments with genetics?
-twin studies, regular siblings, adopted siblings
-shared or non-shared environment
What is heritability
the extent to which individual differences are due to genetic factors
-aprox. 30% of the variability b/t people can be explained by genetic factors
*the environment variability has a larger probability of predicting phenotypes than genetic variability
What are the main problems with Biological approaches?
1. Hard to apply phenomena that did not occur in the original species-specific environment
2. hard to sort out environment and genetic effects
3. Don't tell us who will inherit a genetic potential
4. Don't tell us about the ways genes and environment act to produce a phenotype
Major types of Learning Theories
1. Classical conditioning (Pavlov, Skinner)
2. Operant conditioning
3. Social learning theory (Bandura - more cognitive)
the process by which the frequency of an opernat (spontaneous behavior) is controlled by its consequences
What are reinforcers?
consequences that increase the frequency of a behavior
Positive - something is added
Negative - something is taken away
What are punishers?
unrewarding consequence that decreases the frequency of a behavior
What does social learning theory propose?
1. Infants can learn to control their behavior and that of those around them (active)
2. New behaviors are acquired through observational learning
3. The self is an intelligent actor and organizer of info
Problems with learning theory
1. real life is more complex than lab
2. many other processes influence the way behavior is acquired
3. doesn't explain the sequence and timing of dev. stages
4. doesn't explain the spontaneous emergence of new behaviors
What are the aims of Cognitive Theories?
1. focus on mental experience and aim to understand intelligence
2. behavior is considered a form of intelligence
What are the two main Cognitive Theories?
1. Constructivist Theory
2. Information Processing Theories
Who is the major proponent of Constructivist Theory?
What does the Constructivist Theory propose?
1. Intelligence is a form of adaptation to the environment
2. knowledge is an active process of co-construction
3. individuals play an active role in their own development
4. infants learn better from experiences that can be assimilated to their current skill
What are the two principles of biological adaptation?
What is assimilation?
When individuals use their existing abilities in response to challenges from the environment
-when one applies what one already knows to the current situation
What is accommodation?
The alteration of existing abilities to better fir the requirements of the task or situation
What is the stage of the first 2 years of life in Piaget's theory?
What are the main features of the sensorimotor substage?
growth of understanding of their bodies and it's relationship to other things.
Problems with Constructivist theory
1. Development does not always occur in the stages defined by Piaget
2. Piaget did not take into account the effects of adults on infants
What is the goal of Information processing theory?
1. to specify the way that the mind handles the information presented by the environment
2. to see how the information is handled
What do info processing studies typically measure?
visual fixation time, eye movement patterns, auditory sensitivities
What are the problems with information processing theory?
1. doesn't discuss how each component develops: more of an theory of how infants act and think than how action and thought develop
2. no broad theoretical framework, they are mini-theories
What are the three main system theories?
Ecological systems theory
Interactive systems theory
Dynamic systems theory
What are the goal of system theories?
1. To understand developmental change in the whole child in the whole environment
How do "systems" function in system theories?
a set of interdependent components, each of which affects the others in reciprocal fashion
What is meant by transaction? (system theories)
the process by which systems components affect each other in a bidirectional and reciprocal way
-a mini system where the parent and child are the components
What is means by self-organization? (system theories)
-organized patterns emerge out of the mutual influences of each component of the system on the others. Something new emerges and builds on previous skills.
EX: language development: you need an umbrella of skills before language develops: memory, phonological ability, ability to hear.
How does the concept of "feedback" work in system theories?
components of a system have an effect on their own behavior during their transactions with other components
What is deviation-correcting feedback?
-maintains a system's characteristics overtime in spite of small deviations
EX: parent stressed, baby smiles, parent relaxed
What is deviation-amplifying feedback?
-changes a system as a result of a small deviation
EX: parent stressed, infant fussy, parent more stressed (deviation amplified), infant cries more
What is Ecological System Theory?
A series of four systems that interact with the infant and it's environment:
What is the microsystem?
direct relationships b/t the child and environment
What is the mesosystem?
relationships between the microsystems
EX: relationship between family and daycare
What is the exosystem?
social systems that affect (but don't include) the child
EX: parents' work
What is the macrosystem?
written and unwritten principles that regulate everyone's behavior
Problems with Ecological systems theory
1. doesn't specify how these systems affect the child
2. which system is more impt?
3. doesn't explain development
What are the key concepts concerning Interactive Systems Theory?
-child is active, but defined by social group
-adults follow the child's motivation to learn
mutual, cooperative transaction (scaffolding)
What is the zone of proximal development?
-the time during which the next skill is about to emerge, but hasn't yet
-ripe learning opportunity
What is guided participation?
-the active role that children play while observing and participating in organized activities in the company of adults
Problems with Interactive Systems Theory
1. focus is only on short-term changes
2. only focuses on infant-parent relationships (not broader family systems)
What does Dynamic Systems Theory propose to do?
model to understand how novelty emerges - why new behavior emerges.
Who are the major proponents of Dynamic Systems Theory?
What is the concept of self-organization (Dynamic systems)
the ability of systems to maintain themselves and to develop new forms
What are the two main properties of Dynamic Systems?
1. form predictable and stable patterns in their macroscopic behavior (general stages)
2. relatively unpredictable in terms of microscopic behavior (behavior unpredictable on a given day)
What is determinism? (Dynamic systems)
all events have a cause (if it is unknown, it's because we have insufficient data)
What is indeterminism? (Dynamic systems)
even if we could measure all variables, it would still be impossible to fully predict behavior EX: butterfly effect
What is co-regulation? (Dynamic systems)
synonym for self-organization as applied to interpersonal communication
IE: continuous mutual adjustment and co-creativity in spontaneous communication
Problems with Dynamic Systems
1. theory in the making, could take years of research to fully develop
2. Because it's based on a physics model, it doesn't account for measurable qualities.
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