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The pattern of movement or change that begins at conception and continues trough the human life span.

Life span perspective

Views development as lifelong, multidimensional, multidirectional, plastic, multidisciplinary and contextual, and as a process that involves growth, maintenance, and regulation of loss.

Normative age graded influences

Describes influences that are similar for individuals in a particular age group.

Normative history graded influences

Describes influences common to individuals of a particular generation because of historical circumstances.

Nonnormative life events

Unusual events that have major impact on an individual's life.


The behavior patterns, beliefs, and all other products of a group that are passed on from generation to generation.

Cross cultural studies

Comparison of one culture with one or more other cultures. These provide information about the degree to which children's development is similar, or universal, across cultures, and to the degree to which it is culture specific.


A characteristic based on cultural heritage, nationality, race, religion, and language.

Socioeconomic status (SES)

Refers t a person's position within society based on occupational, educational, and economic characteristics.


Refers to the characteristics of people as males or females.

Social policy

The laws, regulations, and government programs designed to promote the welfare of its citizens.

Biological processes

Changes in an individual's physical nature.

Cognitive processes

Changes in an individual's thought, intelligence, and language.

Socioemotional process

Changes in an individual's relationships with other people, emotions, and personality.

Nature nurture issue

The issue that involves the extent to which development is influenced by nature and by nurture. The "nature" proponents claim biological inheritance is the most important influence on development; the "nurture" proponents clim that environmental experiences are the most important.

Stability change issue

Involves the degree of which early traits and characteristics persist through life or change.

Continuity discontinuity issue

The issue regarding whether development involves gradual, cumulative change or distinct stages.

Scientific method

An approach that can be used to obtain accurate information. It includes these steps: (1) conceptualize the problem, (2) collect data, (3) draw conclusions, and (4) revise research conclusions and the theory.


An interrelated, coherent set of ideas that helps to explain phenomena and make predictions.


Specific assertions and predictions that can be tested to determine their accuracy.

Psychoanalytic theories

Describe development as primarily unconscious and heavily colored by emotion Behavior is merely a surface characteristic, and the symbolic workings of the mind have to be analyzed to understand behavior. Early experiences with parents are emphasized.

Erikson's theory

Includes eight stages of human development. Each stage consists of a unique developmental task that confronts individuals with a crisis that must be resolved.

Piaget's theory

States that children actively construct their understanding of the world and go through four stages of cognitive development.

Voygotsky's theory

A sociocultural cognitive theory that emphasizes how culture and social interaction guide cognitive development.

Information processing theory

Emphasis that individuals manipulate information, monitor it, and strategize about it. Central to this theory are the processes of memory and thinking.

Social cognitive theory

The view of psychologists who emphasize behavior, environment, and cognition as the key factors in development.


Stresses that behavior is strongly influenced by biology, is tied to evolution, and is characterized by critical or sensitive periods.

Bronfenbrenner's ecological theory

Maintains that development reflects the influence of five environmental systems: microsystem, mesosystem, exosystem, macrosystem, and chronosystem.

Eclectic theoretical orientation

An orientation that does not follow any one theoretical approach, but rather selects from each theory whatever is considered the best in it.


A controlled setting in which many of the complex factors of the "real world: are removed.

Naturalistic observation

Observing behavior in real world settings.

Standardized test

A test with uniform procedures for administration and scoring. Many standardized tests allow a person;s performance to be compared with the performance of other individuals.

Case study

An in depth look at a single individual.

Descriptive research

Has the purpose of observing and recording behavior.

Correlational research

The goal is to describe the strength of the relationship between two or more events or characteristics.

Correlation coefficient

number based on statistical analysis that is used to describe the degree of association between two variables.


A carefully regulated procedure in which one or more of the factors believed to influence the behavior being studied are manipulated while all other factors are held constant.

Cross sectional approach

A research strategy in which individuals of different ages are compared at one time.

Longitudinal approach

A research strategy in which the same individuals are studied over a period of time, usually several years or more.

Cohort effects

Describe effects due to a person's time or birth, ra, or generation but not to actual age.

Ethnic gloss

Using an ethnic label such as African American or Latino in a superficial way that portrays an ethnic group as being more homogeneous than it really is.

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