CLASS LECTURE NOTES
STUDY OF HUMAN DEVELOPMENT
WHAT IS HUMAN DEVELOPMENT AND WHAT WERE THE PRINCIPALS STEPS IN
THE EVOLUTION OF ITS STUDY?
“There is nothing permanent except change” (Heraclitus)
Human Development: is the study of Change and Stability throughout life. The study of human development began with studies of children during the nineteenth century. It
was not until the twentieth century that Adolescence was considered a separate phase of human development.
When researchers became interested in following development from birth through adulthood,
then life span development (concept of development as
a lifelong process, which can be studied scientifically) became
a field of study.
Consequently, of Human Development has evolved from the study of Children up through
Adulthood, thus creating what is called the study of the “Full life span”.
A fundamental question concerning Human Development has always been, are the changes we experience
innate or acquired?
We will discuss
this question in more detail in later chapters
WHAT IS THE LIFE SPAN DEVELOPMENT APPROACH, AND WHAT ARE ITS KEY
Baltes’s life span developmental
approach is a framework for the study of life span development. Its key principles
include the idea that development is life long. The importance of history
and context, is multidimensional and multidirectional and is plasticity (modifiable).
HUMAN DEVELOPMENT TODAY
WHAT ARE THE FOUR GOALS OF HUMAN DEVELOPMENT RESEARCH?
The four goals of human development research seeks to (1) describe, (2) Explain, (3)
Predict, and to (4) modify development.
WHAT DO DEVELOPMENT SCIENTISTS STUDY?
Development Scientists study developmental CHANGE. They
are concerned with both quantitative change (how much) and qualitative change (degree or kind), and
with stability of personality and behavior.
WHAT ARE THE THREE MAJOR PERIODS OF HUMAN DEVELOPMENT?
The three major periods or aspects of human development are: (or changes)
These forms of development do not occur in isolation, each affects the other.
Therefore, in each stage of development that we discuss our main focus will be on
PHYSICAL (growth, size, etc)
COGNITIVE (thought processes)
PSYCHOSOCIAL (Cultural influences
WHAT INFLUENCES ON DEVELOPMENT MAKE ONE PERSON DIFFERENT FROM ANOTHER?
Because development is complex, and the factors that affect it cannot always be precisely measured,
scientists cannot answer this question fully.
Influences on development come from both heredity (innate or inborn genetics endowment)
and environment (acquired from the world outside the self).
A very important environmental influence is the family.
In different societies, either the nuclear family (living unit made up of parents and their children) or
extended family (multigenerational kinship’s, parents, children and more distant relatives living together)
Socioeconomic status is often
related to developmental process. Consequently, such factors as the quality of
Life, neighborhood environment, medical care, and schooling are important factors. The most powerful neighborhood influences on outcomes and development seem to be neighborhood income and
Environment influences stem
from ethnic groups and culture. In large, multiethnic societies,
immigrant groups often acculturate, or adapt, to the majority culture while preserving aspects of their own.
TIMING OF INFLUENCES
The specific time at which an event occurs has much to do with differences in development.
This notion accounts for the coining of the term Critical Period:
What is a Critical Period?
Critical period is a specific
time when a given event, or its absence, has the greatest impact on development.
Example: If a women receives X rays, takes certain drugs, or contracts certain diseases at certain
times during pregnancy, the fetus may show ill effects.
A child deprived of certain kinds of experience during a critical period is likely
to show permanent stunting of physical development. (Example
of this in Video, Wild Child)
Undernourishment during the
critical period of brain growth just after birth can result in permanent brain damage.
It is believed that if language is not learned before puberty, it may never be learned. (Genie,
text, page 22).
This concept of critical period is more complex when applied to cognitive and psychosocial development. For these aspects of development there seems to be greater plasticity. In other words if an event does not occur at a specific time in cognitive development, later events can
reverse the adverse effect of an earlier event.
NORMATIVE (events experiences in a similar age group by most people; Examples of Normative
Events might be Puberty, menopause etc.)
NON-NORMATIVE (unusual events
that occur in groups; marriage at an early age, teen pregnancies, death of a
parent when a child is young)
ETHNIC GROUP (consist of
people united by ancestry, race, religion, language or national origin which contribute to a sense of shared identity)
SHOW THE ‘WILD CHILD”