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Vocabulary for Unit 9 of Myer's Psychology for AP (Developmental Psychology)

developmental psychology

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


the fertilized egg; it enters a 2-week period of rapid cell division and develops into an embryo


the developing human organism from 2 weeks after fertilization through the second month


the developing human organism from 9 weeks after conception to birth


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

fetal alcohol syndrome (FAS)

physical and cognitive abnormalities in children caused by a pregnant woman's heavy drinking. In severe cases, symptoms include noticeable facial misproportions


decreasing responsiveness with repeated stimulation. As infants gain familiarity with repeated exposure to a visual stimulus, their interest wanes and they look away sooner


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 experiences in terms of our existing schemas

sensorimotor stage

in Piaget's theory, the stage (from birth to about 2 years of age) 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 (from 2 to about 6 or 7 years of age) during which a child learns to use language but does not yet comprehend the mental operations of concrete logic


the principle (which Piaget believed to be a part of concrete operational reasoning) that properties such as mass, volume, and number remain the same despite changes in the forms of objects


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

theory of mind

people's idea about their own and others' mental states - about their feelings, perceptions, and thoughts, and the behaviors these might predict

concrete operational stage

in Piaget's theory, the stage of cognitive development (from about 6 or 7 to 11 years of age) during which children gain the mental operations that enable them to think logically about concrete events

formal operational stage

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


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


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


a person's characteristic emotional reactivity and intensity

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


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


physical or verbal behavior intended to hurt someone

x chromosome

the sex chromosome found in both men and women. females have two x chromosomes; males have one. An x chromosome from each parent produces a female child

y chromosome

the sex chromosome found only in males. When paired with an x chromosome from the mother, it produces a male child


the most important of the male sex hormones. Both males and females have it, but the additional testosterone in males stimulates the growth of the male sex organs in the fetus and the development of the male sex characteristics during puberty


a set of expectations (norms) about a social position, defining how those in the position ought to behave

gender role

a set of expected behaviors for males or for females

gender identity

our sense of being male or female

gender typing

the acquisition of a traditional masculine or feminine role

social learning theory

the theory that we learn social behavior by observing and imitating and by being rewarded or punished


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 characteristics

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


the first menstrual period


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 mid-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 crystallized intelligence

crystallized 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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