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developmental psychology

The branch of psychology taht studies how people change over the lifespan.


The single cell formed at conception from the union of the egg cell and the sperm cell.


A long, threadlike structure composed of twisted parallel strands of DNA, found in the cell nucleus.

deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA)

The double-stranded molecule that encodes genetic instructions, the chemical basis of heredity.


A unit of DNA on a chromosome that encodes instructions for making a particular protein molecule
The basic unit of heredity.


The genetic makeup of an individual organism.

human genome

The scientific description of the complete set of DNA in the human organism, including gene locations


One of the different forms of a particular gene.


The observable traits or characteristics of an organism as determined by the determined by the interaction of genetics and environmental factors.

sex chromosomes

Chromosomes, designated as X or Y, that determine biological sex.
23rd pair of chromosomes in humans

parental stage

The stage of development before birth; divided into the germinal, embryonic, and fetal periods

germinal period

The first two weeks for prenatal development.

embryonic period

The second period of prenatal development, extending from the third week through the eight week.


Harmful agents or substances that can cause malformationa or defects in an embryo or fetus.

fetal period

The third and longest period of prenatal development, extending from the ninth week until birth.


Inborn predispositions to consistently behave and react in a certain way.


The emotional bond that forms between an infant and caregiver(s), especially his or her parents.

Mary D. Salter

Came up with the idea of a secure base, an idea that the caregiver porovides a sense of comfort and security for the infant.

comprehension vocabulary

The words that are understood by an infant or child.

production vocabulary

The words that an infant or child understand and can speak.

sensorimotor stage

In Piaget's Theory, the first stage of cognitive development, from birth to about age 2, the period during which the infant explores theenvironemtna nd acquires knowledge through sesing and manipulating objects.

object permanence

The understand that an object continues to exist when it can no longer be seen.

preoperational stage

In Piaget's theory, the second stage of cognitive development,which lasts from about age 2 to age 7;
Characterized by increasing use symbols and prelogical thought processes.

symbolic thought

The ability to use words, images and symbols to represent the world.


In Piaget's theory, the inability to take another person's perspective or point of view


In Piaget's theory, the inability to mentally reverse a sequence of events or logical operations.


In Piaget's theory, the tendency to focus, or center, on only one aspect of a situation and ignore other important aspects of the situation.


In Piaget's theory, the understading that two equal quantitites remain equal eventhrough the form or apperance is rearranged, as long as nothing is added or subtracted.

concrete operational stage

In Piaget;s theory, the third stage of cognitive development, which lasts from about age 7 to adolescence;
Characterized by the ability to think logically about concrete objects and situations.

formal operational stage

In Piaget's theory, the fourth stage of cognitive development, which lasts from adolescence through adulthood;
Characterized by the ability to think logically about abstract principles and hypothetical situations.

Lev Vygotsky

Believed cognitive development is strongly influenced by soical and cultural factors. Created zone of proximal development.

Zone of proximal development

In Vygotsky's theory of cognitive development, the difference between what children can accomplish on their own and what they can accomplish with the help of others who are more competent.

Information-processing model of cognitive development

The model that views cognitive development as a process that is continued over the lifespan and that studies the development of basic mental processes such as attention, memory, and problem solving.


The traditional stage between late childhood and the beggining of adulthood, during which sexual maturity is reached


The stage of adolescence in which an individual reachessexual maturity and becomes psychologically capable of sexual reproduction.

primary sex characteristics

Sexual organs that are directly involved in reproduction, such as the uterus, overies, penis and testicles.

secondary sex characteristics

Sexual chracteristics that develop during puberty and are not directly involved in reproduction but differiantiate between the sexes, such as male facial hair and female breast development

adolescent growth spurt

The period of accelrated growth during puberty, involving rapid increases in height and weight.


A female's first menstrual period, which occurs during puberty.


A person's definition or description of himself or herself, including the value, beliefs and ideals that guide the individual's behavior.


The natural cessation of menstruation and the end of reproductive capacity in women.

activity theory of aging

The psychosocial theory that life satisfaction in late adulthood is highest when people maintain the level of activity they displayed later in life.

authoritarian parenting style

Parenting style in which are demanding and unresponsive toward their children's needs or wishes.

permissive parenting style

Parenting styke in which parents are extremely tolerant and not demanding;
Permissive-indulgent parents are more responsive to their children's needs and wishes.


A discipline technique that combines parental control with explaining why a behavior is prohibited.

Renee Balliargeon

Candian-born psychologist whose studies on cognitive development during infancy using visual rather than manual tasks challenged beliefs about an age at which object permanence first appears.

Jean Piaget

Swiss psychologist whose influential theory proposed that children progress through distinct stages of cognitive development.

Erik Erikson

German-born American psychoanalyst who proposed an influential theory of psychological development throughout the lifespan.

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