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The genetically determined natural unfolding course of growth

Normative Approach

Measures of behavior are taken on large numbers of individuals, and age-related averages are computed to represent typical development.

Psychoanyalytic Perspective

Emphasizes the role of unconscious conflicts in determining behavior and personality (Freud).

Pscyhosexual Theory

Emphasizes that how parents manage their child's sexual and aggressive drives in the first few years is crucial for healthy personality development.

Psychosocial Theory

Erickson sees 8 stages of development characterized by psychological conflicts that must be resolved for healthy development to occur.


An approach to psychology that emphasizes observable measurable behavior.

Behavior Modification

Consists of procedures that combine conditioning and modeling to eliminate undesirable behaviors and increase desirable responses.

Cognitive-Developmental Theory

Children actively construct knowledge as they manipulate and explore their world.


Piaget's theory (stage) 0-2 years. Child interacts with environment by reflex response. Reflexes are replaced by purposeful movement. Child is self centered & recognizes people, both familiar and not familiar.


2-7 years, lacks operations (reversible mental processes); exhibits egocentric thinking; lacks concept of conservations; uses symbols (such as words or mental images) to solve simple problems or to talk about things that are not present.

Concrete Operational

Piaget's third stage of cognitive development; 7-11 yrs; replaces intuitive reasoning with logical reasoning in concrete situations; can see things in another perspective; develop ability to empathize; principle of conservation seen.

Formal Operational

Piaget's fourth and final stage of cognitive development, from age 11 and beyond, when the individual begins to think more rationally and systematically about abstract concepts and hypothetical events. Thought is abstract and hypothetical. Logical thought. Hypothetico-deductive reasoning. Idealism (understand love and justice). Imaginary audience (others are evaluating as much as you evaluate yourself).

Information Processing

An approach that views the human mind as a symbol-manipulating system through which information flows and that regards cognitive development as a continuous process.

Developmental Cognitive Neuroscience

It brings together researchers from psychology, biology, neuroscience, and medicine to study the relationship between changes in the brain and the developing person's cognitive processing and behavior patterns.

Sensitive Period

A time that is optimal for certain capacities to emerge and in which the individual is especially responsive to environmental influences.


An approach concerned with the adaptive, or survival, value of behavior and its evolutionary history.

Evolutionary Developmental Psychology

It seeks to understand the adaptive value of specieswide cognitive, emotional, and social competencies as those competencies change with age.

Sociocultural Theory

It focuses on how culture is transmitted to the next generation. According to Vygotsky, social interaction is necessary for children to acquire the ways of thinking and behaving that make up a community's culture.

Ecological Systems Theory

It views the person as developing within a complex system of relationships affected by multiple levels of the surrounding environment.


In ecological systems theory, the innermost level of the environment, consisting of activities and interaction patterns in the child's immediate surroundings.


The middle sphere of the ecological model, which encompasses the connections among settings that include the child and how these connections influence the child. (home, school, neighborhood, and childcare)


In ecological theory, this is involved when experiences in another social setting - in which the individual does not have an active role - influence what the individual experiences in an immediate context.


Outermost level of bronfenbernner's model that is not a specific context but consists of cultural values, laws, customs, and resources.


In ecological systems theory, temporal changes in environments, which produce new conditions that affect development. These changes can be imposed externally or arise from within the organism, since people select, modify, and create many of their own settings and experiences.

Dynamic System Perspective

The child's mind, body, and physical and social worlds form an integrated system that guides mastery of new skills. The system is constantly in motion.

Naturalistic Observations

Observing and recording behavior in naturally occuring situations without trying to manipulate and control the situation.

Structured Observation

Investigator sets up a lab situation that evoke the behavior of interest so that every particpant has equal opportuniity to display response.

Clinical Interview

An interview method in which the researcher uses a flexible, conversational style to probe for the participant's point of view.

Structured Interviews

Each participant is asked the same set of questions in the same way.

Case Study

Research method that involves an intensive investigation of one or more participants


A qualitative technique that is directed toward understanding a culture or a distinct social group through participant observation.

Correlational Design

Researchers gather information on already-existing groups of individuals, generally in natural life circumstances, and make no effort to alter their experiences.

Correlation Coefficient

A number that describes how two measures, or variables, are associated with one another.

Experimental Design

Permits inferences about cause and effect because researchers use an evenhanded procedure to assign people to two or more treatment conditions.

Independent Variable

Variable that is changed in an experiment.

Dependent Variable

Variable that is measured in an experiment.

Random Assignment

Assigning participants to experimental and control conditions by chance, thus minimizing preexisting differences between those assigned to the different groups.

Longitudinal Design

A research design in which the same people are studied or tested repeatedly over time.

Cohorts Effects

Longitudinal studies examine that development of cohorts - children born at the same time who are influences by particular popular cultural and historical conditions. Results based on one cohort may not apply to all children developing at other times.

Cross-Sectional Design

Comparing groups of participants of differing age at a single point in time.

Sequential Designs

Conduct several similar cross-sectional or longitudinal studies at varying times.

Microgenetic Design

An adaptions of the longitudinal approach, presents children with a novel task and follows their mastery over a series of closely spaced sessions. Researcher observe how change occurs.


The physical appearence or visible traits of an organism.


The genetic makeup, or combination of alleles.


Rodlike structures in the cell nucleus that store and transmit genetic information.


Chromosomes are make this chemical substance.


A segment of DNA along the length of the chromosome.


THe process of DNA duplicating itself.


Sex cells.


(Cell division that produces reproductive cells in sexually reproducing organisms,

Crossing Over

The interchange of sections between pairing homologous chromosomes during the prophase of meiosis.


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


Any chromosome that is not a sex chromosome.

Sex Chromosomes

One of the 23 pairs of chromosomes in the human, contains genes that will determine the sex of the individual.


Alternative forms of a gene for each variation of a trait of an organism.


Having two identical alleles for a trait.


An organism that has two different alleles for a trait.

Dominant Recessive Inheritance

A pattern of inheritance in which, under heterozygous conditions, the influence of only one allele is apparent.

Modifier Genes

Genes that can enhance or dilute the effects of other genes.

Incomplete Dominance

One allele is not completely dominant over the other allele.

X Linked Inheritance

A pattern of inheritance in which a recessive gene is carried on the X chromosome, so that males are more likely to be affected.

Genomic Imprinting

Alleles are imprinted, or chemically marked, so that one pair member (either the mother's or father's) is activated, regardless of its makeup.


A sudden but permanent change in a segment of DNA.

Polygenic Inheritance

A pattern in which many genes all influence a single trait.

Genetic Counseling

Guidance for prospective parents on the likelihood of genetic disorders in their future children.

Prenatal Diagnostic Methods

Medical procedures that permit detection of developmental problems before birth.


Mutually supporting each other's parenting behaviors.

Socioeconomic Class

Factors that affect include educational level, employment stability, wages, marital status, household income, household size, citizenship, access to healthcare.


Subgroups within a larger culture that have unique values, ideas, and attitudes.

Extended-Family Households

A household in which one of more adult relatives live with the family unit.

Individualistic Societies

People think of themselves as separate entities and are largely concerned with their own personal needs.

Collectivist Societies

People define themselves as part of a group and stress group goals over individual goals.

Behavioral Genetics

Field of study devoted to discovering the genetic bases for personality characteristics.

Heritability Estimates

Measure the extent to which individual differences in complex traits in a specific population are due to genetic factors.

Kinship Studies

Compare the characteristics of family members.

Range Reaction

Each person's unique, genetically determined response to a range of environmental conditions.


The tendency of heredity to restrict the development of some characteristics to just one or a few outcomes,

Genetic-Environments Correlation

Our Genes influence the environments to which we are exposed.


The tendency to actively choose environments that complement our heredity.


Stage of early development in mammals that consists of a hollow ball of cells.

Embryonic Disk

A small cluster of cells on the inside of the blastocyst, from which the new organism will develop.


Outermost membranous sac enclosing the embryo.


Organ in placental mammals through which nutrients, oxygen, carbon dioxide, and wastes are exchanged between embryo and mother.

Umbilical Cord

A cord or funicle connecting the embryo or fetus with the placenta of the mother and transporting nourishment from the mother and wastes from the fetus.


Thin innermost membranous sac enclosing the developing embryo.

Amniotic Fluid

The serous fluid in which the embryo is suspended inside the amnion.


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

Neural Tube

A tube of ectodermal tissue in the embryo from which the brain and spinal cord develop.


An unborn or unhatched vertebrate in the later stages of development showing the main recognizable features of the mature animal.


A white cheese-like protective material that covers the skin of a fetus.


Downy hair on face or limbs.

Age of Viability

The age at which a baby can survive in the event of a premature birth.


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

Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD)

A consequence of prenatal alcohol exposure that causes multiple problems, notably brain damage.

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.

Partial Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (p-FAS)

Characterized by 2 of the 3 facial abnormalities & brain injury, again evident in a least 3 areas of impaired functioning. Mothers of children with p-FAS generally drank alcohol in smaller quantities and children's defects vary with the timing & length of alcohol exposure

Alcholol-Related Neurodevelopmental Disorder (ARND)

Three mental functioning are impaired, despite typical physical growth and absence of facial abnormalities (from alcohol).

Rh Factor Incompatibility

When the mother is Rh-negative (lacks the Rh blood protein) and the father is Rh-positive (has the protein), the baby may inherit the father's Rh -positive blood type. If even a little of a fetus's Rh-positive blood crosses the placenta into the Rh-negative mother's bloodstream, she begins to form antibodies to the foreign Rh protein. If these enter the fetus's system, they destroy red blood cells, reducing the oxygen sypply to organs and tissues.

Dilation and Effacement of the Cervix

A process where the cervix begins to thin forming a clear channel from the uterus into the birth canal.


Frequency and strength of contractions are at their peak and the cervix opens completely.

Apgar Scale

Evaluates infant on heart rate, respiratory condition, muscle tone, reflex irritability, and color

Fetal Monitors

Electronic instruments that track the baby's heart rate during labor.

Induced Labor

A labor started artificially by breaking the amnion and giving the mother a hormone that stimulates contractions.

Cesarean Delivery

The delivery of a fetus by surgical incision through the abdominal wall and uterus.

Breech Position

A position of the baby in the uterus that would cause the buttocks or feet to be delivered first.


Deprivation of oxygen.

Preterm Infants

Infants born three weeks or more before the pregnancy has reached its full term.

Small Fordate Infants

Babies below their expected weight.


A simple, automatic, inborn response to a sensory stimulus, such as the knee-jerk response.

States of Arousal

Degrees of sleep and wakefulness.

Rapid-Eye Movement (REM) Sleep

An "irregular" sleep state in which brain wave activity is similar to that of the waking state; eyes dart beneath the lids; heart rate, blood pressure, and breathing are uneven; and slight body movements occur.

Non-Rapid-Eye Movement (NREM) Sleep

A "regular" sleep state in which the body is almost motionless and heart rate, breathing, and brain wave activity are slow and regular.

Sudden Infant Death Syndrome

Completely unexpected and unexplained death of an apparently well, or virtually well, infant. The most common cause of death between the second week and first year of life (crib death).

Visual Acuity

Sharpness of vision for either distance or near.

Neonatal Behavioral Assessment Scale (NBAS)

Evaluates the newborn's reflexes, state changes, responsiveness to physical and social stimuli, and other reactions.

Cephalocaudal Trend

An organized pattern of physical growth and motor control that proceeds from head to tail.

Proximodistal Trend

The center-outward direction of motor development.

Skeletal Age

A measure of physical maturation based on the child's level of skeletal development.


Special growth centers in the bones at the ends.


A soft, membrane-covered space between the bones at the front and the back of a newborn's skull.


Cells in the nervous system that communicate with one another to perform information-processing tasks.


Chemical messengers that traverse the synaptic gaps between neurons.

Synaptic Pruning

A process whereby the synaptic connections in the brain that are frequently used are preserved, and those that are not are lost.

Glial Cells

Cells in the nervous system that are not neurons but that support, nourish, and protect neurons.


The process by which axons become coated with myelin, a fatty substance that speeds the transmission of nerve impulses from neuron to neuron.

Cerebral Cortex

The fabric of interconnecting cells that blankets the brain hemispheres; the brain's center for information processing and control.

Prefrontal Cortex

A region of the frontal lobes, especially prominent in humans, important for attention, working memory, decision making, appropriate social behavior, and personality


Localization of function on either the right or left sides of the brain.

Brain Plasticity

The brain's capacity for modification, as evident in brain reorganization following damage and in experiments on the effects of experience on brain development.

Experience-Expectant Brain Growth

The young brains rapidly developing organization, which depends on ordinary experiences - opportunities to see and touch objects, to hear language and other sounds, and to move about and explore the environment.

Experience Dependent Brain Growth

Consists of additional growth and refinement of established brain structures as a result of specific learning experiences that occur throughout our lives, varying widely across individuals and cultures.

Growth Faltering

When child has below average hight weight of circumference.

Classical Conditioning

A type of learning in which one learns to link two or more stimuli and anticipate events.

Unconditioned Stimulus

Naturally and automatically—triggers a response.

Unconditioned Response

An automatic response to a particular natural stimulus, such as salivation to meat.

Conditioned Stimulus

An originally irrelevant stimulus that, after association with an unconditioned stimulus, comes to trigger a conditioned response.

Conditioned Response

An acquired response that is under the control of (conditional on the occurrence of) a stimulus,

Operant Conditioning

A type of learning in which behavior is strengthened if followed by a reinforcer or diminished if followed by a punisher.


Any event that strengthens the behavior it follows.


Any event that weakens the behavior it follows.


A gradual reduction in the strength of a response due to repetitive stimulation.


A new stimulus causes responsiveness to return to a high level.


Learning through copying the actions of someone else.

Mirror Neurons

Neurons that are activated by performing an action or be seeing another person perform the same.

Dynamic Systems Theory of Motor Development

Mastery of motor skills involves acquiring increasingly complex systems of action. when motor skills work as a system, separate abilities blend together, each cooperating with others to produce more effective ways of exploring and controlling the environment.

Statistical Learning Capacity

Analyzing the speech stream for patterns- regularly occurring sequences of sounds-they acquire a stock of speech structures for which they will later learn meanings, long before they start to talk around age 12 months.

Contrast Sensitivity

The ability to detect differences in light and dark areas in a visual pattern.

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.


Mental representations of categories of objects, events, and people.

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