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developmental psychology

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


the fertilized egg


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


the developing human organism from 9 week after conception to birth


agents that can reach the embryo or fetus during prenatal development and cause harm

fetal alcohol syndrome

physical and cognitive abnormalities in children caused by a pregnant woman's heavy drinking


decreasing responsiveness with repeated stimulation


biological growth processes that enable orderly changes in behavior relatively influenced 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


adapting our current understandings to incorporate new information

sensorimotor stage

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


the principle that properties 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 ideas about their own and other's mental states

concrete operational stage

in Piaget's theory, the stage of cognitive development (6-11) 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 (starting at 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


an emotional tie with another person

critical period

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

a sense that the world is predictable and trustworthy


our understanding and evaluation of who we are


the biologically influenced characteristics by which people define male/female


physical or verbal behavior intended to hurt someone

X chromosome

the chromosome found in both men and women

Y chromosome

the sex chromosome found only in men


the most important of the male sex hormones


a set of expectations 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 that make sexual reproduction possible

secondary sex characteristics

nonreproductive sexual characteristics


the first menstrual period


our sense of self

social identity

the "we" aspect of our self-concept


in Erikson's theory, the ability to form close, loving relationships

emerging adulthood

for some period 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 menstration

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

our accumulated knowledge and verbal skills

fluid intelligence

our intelligence to reason speedily and abstractly

social clock

the culturally preferred timing of social events

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