In this lesson, we'll discuss the importance of environment in the realm of developmental psychology.
The specific areas of focus include:
Environmental influences can have a large impact on development over time. In fact, people have certain sensitive or critical periods during development when they are more affected by their environment.
The prenatal period is a stage when children are especially susceptible to drugs or chemicals in their environment.
Environment can thus be defined as any external conditions that can affect development.
This can include a wide variety of different conditions, but they can be broken down into three categories to make them easier to remember:
The physical environment is comprised of the physical objects and resources around us. This includes everything from food and water to dangerous objects or substances.
The social environment includes the effect that others can have on development. This is an important area for children since they mimic the behaviors and language of others in their social environment as they grow and learn.
The cognitive environment is the stimulating intellectual environment surrounding a person. This includes all the factors that can help a person to grow cognitively, and that influence the way he or she thinks or feels.
There are many ways in which an environment can affect development, including having a lack of influence.
Deprivation is when an environment doesn't have something normal or essential for growth, which can in turn affect the development of an individual.
Feral children are children raised outside of human interactions. These cases usually involve extreme abuse or neglect, and cause a child to grow without any kind of cognitive or linguistic stimulation. This leaves the child with little to no language skills, as well as cognitive defects.
Enrichment falls on the opposite end of the spectrum, and is when an environment is deliberately made more stimulating, nutritional, comforting, etc.
This has a biological effect as well— enrichment encourages a brain to develop and create more neural connections, which in turn contributes to intelligence, social development, and cognitive development later in life.
There are certain factors that go into making an enriching environment for a developing child:
Temperament refers to the natural part of a person's personality that's inherited and generally unchanged throughout that person's life.
This can include aspects like energy level or how moody or temperamental a person might be. Babies in particular exhibit different types of temperaments.
50% -- the majority of children -- are easy-going; 10% are difficult; 15% are slow to warm up.
Additionally, the effect of environment on temperament is reciprocal.
Say a child displays a certain kind of temperament, and then a parent responds to that in kind. The environment (the parent) adapts to the child, while the child's temperament can also change as a result of parental influence.
In this lesson, you learned how environmental influences play a role in human development. An environment is any variety of external conditions that can affect development. There are three categories of environment: physical, social, and cognitive.
You now understand that the effects of environment on development can be significant. Deprivation of environmental stimulation can inhibit development, while enrichment of the environment can ensure that a person develops normally. Conversely, temperament is the part of human personality that is inherited and can have a reciprocal effect on the environment.
Source: This work is adapted from Sophia author Erick Taggart.
Under-stimulating and unhealthy environment.
Stimulating environment with emotional support.
External environment and experiences (cultural influences, maternal/paternal influences, parenting styles, school, etc.).
Period of neuronal/physical growth that facilitates learning skills and abilities.
Refers to infant differences in attention, activity levels, emotional sensitivity, arousal, and reactivity to new novel situations.