Complete Psychology

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Section 4 Developmental psychology

Chapter 17 An introduction to developmental psychology
This chapter starts by considering what is meant by the term 'development' and then there is a brief review of the way that development is influenced by genetics and experience. This is followed by a consideration of the effects of extreme environments on development, and then a consideration of the way genetics influences development. The chapter ends with a discussion of the research designs and methodologies used by developmental psychologists.

Chapter 18 Cognitive development: thinking, information and representations
Cognitive development involves the study of the way children's thinking develops. The topic can be extended to cover almost any aspect of children's activities. This chapter focuses on children's thinking about their physical world and their ability to solve problems. (Thinking about social aspects of their world is considered in Chapter 20.) Piaget's theory of cognitive development in infancy is the first topic considered here. This is followed by a consideration of his ideas about cognitive development in childhood. Piaget's work has influenced the study of moral judgement and this is discussed next. The final section outlines more recent views about cognitive development, those involving the information processing approach, children's representations and a social perspective.

Chapter 19 Communication, language and literacy
This chapter is divided into four sections. The first section begins with a discussion of the development in the first year of the ability to process speech and produce vocalisations. This is followed by discussion of the role of social interaction in language acquisition and the differences between communication and language. The second section considers explanations of language acquisition that emphasise the role of innate abilities, while the third section considers the opposite perspective, which emphasises the role of experience. Evidence for and against these perspectives is evaluated and discussed. The final section considers the development of literacy; reading is a way of acquiring information that involves language and the development of literacy appears to be associated with a number of linguistic abilities.

Chapter 20 The self, others and social relationships
The way in which children think about themselves and the relationships they have with others are important and interconnected aspects of development. The chapter starts off by describing representations that infants may have of their self and the further development of this concept is then discussed. This is followed by a consideration of attachment, the history of this research, the way in which attachment develops and the consequences of separation. Attachment forms a bridge between the self and others; another bridge involves children being able to understand what goes on in the minds of others. This is the topic of the third section. The final section considers another aspect of the self and others - the way that relationships with parents and peers change in adolescence and the factors that may be responsible for this.