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Development through the life span


biological growth processes that enable orderly changes in behavior, relatively uninfluenced by experience


all the mental activities associated with thinking, knowing, remembering, and communicating


a concept or framework that organizes and interprets information


interpreting our new experience in terms of our existing schemas


adapting our current understandings (schemas) to incorporate new information

sensorimotor stage

in Paiget's theory, the stage (birth to 2 years) during which infants know the world mostly in terms of their sensory impressions and motor activities

object permanence

the awareness that things continue to exist even when not perceived

preoperational stage

in Piaget's theory, the stage (2-7 years) during which a child learns to use language but does not yet comprehend the mental operations of concrete logic


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


the preoperational child's difficulty taking another's point of view

theory of mind

people's ideas about their own and others' mental stages - about their feelings, perceptions, and thoughs, and the behaviors these might predict

concrete operational stage

in Paiget's theory, the stage of cognitive development (7 to 11 years old) during which children gain the mental operations that enable them to think logically about concrete events

formal operational stage

in Paiget's theory, the stage of cognitive development (about age 12) during which people begin to think logically about abstract concepts


a disorder that appears in childhood and is marked by deficient communications, 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


an emotional tie with another person; shown in young children by their seeking closeness to the caregiver and showing distress on separation

critical period

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


the process by which certain animals form attachments during a critical period very early in life

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


our understanding and evaluation of who we are


the transition period from childhood to adulthood, extending from puberty to independence


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

nonreproductive sexual characteristics, such as female breasts and hips, male voice quality, and body hair


the first menstrual period

preconventional morality

before the age of 9, morality is focused on self-interest, obey rules to avoid punishment or gain rewards

conventional morality

early adolescence, morality focuses on caring for others and upholding laws and social rules

postconventional morality

abstract reasoning of formal operational thought, actions are judged "right" because they flow from people's rights or self-defined, basic ethical principles


our sense of self; according to Erikson, the adolescent's task is to solidify a sense of self by testing and integrating various roles

social identity

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


in Erikson's theory, the ability to form close, loving relationships; a primary developmental task in late adolescence and early adulthood

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 of natural cessation of menstruation; also refers to the biological changes a woman experiences as her ability to reproduce declines

cross-sectional study

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

longitudinal study

research in which the same people are restudied and retested over a long period

crystalized intelligence

our accumulated knowledge and verbal skills; tends to increase with age

fluid intelligence

our 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

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