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Introduction to Developmental Psychology

Introduction to Developmental Psychology

Author: Erick Taggart

Recognize major approaches to developmental psychology.

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Source: Toddler; Public Domain

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Hello, class. So in today's lesson, we're going to get a quick overview and introduction to the next area of study in psychology, which is developmental psychology. Now, developmental psychology is the study of how a person changes both psychologically as well as physically over the course of his or her life from birth to death. Developmental psychology studies the lifelong process of these kinds of changes, which is to say, it covers the whole spectrum of ages from infancy and prenatal to childhood and on to adolescents, then early adulthood and on to elderly and old age. So the goal of developmental psychology is to identify those kinds of psychological development, the trends that are occurring within there, as well as the underlying causes for these things.

So let's take a look at some of the dimensions involved in developmental psychology. While we're looking at these, we can see some of the important trends and figures that we'll be looking at over the course of this study. So there are six different dimensions we'll be taking a look at. The first one is the biological dimension, which is to say how internal physical and chemical processes can influence our development over time. These are things like heredity and genes.

On the opposite side of that, we've got the environmental dimension, which is to say, external forces and how they can influence our development, focusing particularly on important figures like our parents and the different attachment styles that we develop to individuals within our lives. Going along with that, one of the major areas of study in developmental psychology is the social dimension of our development. There are two major figures we'll be looking at in this area, and that's Erikson and his theory of psychosocial development, which is to say that how we develop our personality in different stages throughout our lives, depending on the experience that we have with each other.

Erikson identified each of these different stages by a corresponding conflict that we'd be having. And these conflicts help us to develop certain psychological qualities or help us to not develop those kinds of things. And again, we'll be looking at that in more detail later.

Another figure in social development is Vygotsky, who was a Russian psychologist who developed the sociocultural theory of learning and development, which says that there's a link between our linguistic and our cognitive development that occurs over time. And he said that learning was essentially a social process. So we take what we can do with the help of others through speaking to each other and communicating, and over time, we internalize those different processes.

So we take what we say and what we do together-- our social-- and create a cognitive development as a result of that. He also said that there are certain social and cultural differences in development over different groups of people and over time. Along with these different dimensions, we've also got linguistic development, which is to say, the development of language, and emotional development, how our different emotions occur, particularly with these two in younger children. That's the focus of these areas.

And finally, we've got our cognitive development, again, another key aspect of psychology. The major figure to talk about under cognitive development is Piaget and his theory of cognitive development, who had said that there are four distinct phases that young children go through when they're developing intellect and cognition at a young age. These are set stages that each person goes through and at each stage they acquire certain mental skills and ways of thinking to help them to develop into a full-fledged cognitive adult and person.

So again, we've got these six dimensions that we're going to be reviewing over the course of our study in developmental cycle.

Terms to Know
Developmental Psychology

Examine lifespan psychology and the progress of changes and abilities; identify trends in psychological development and causes.

Erikson’s Psychosocial Theory

Proposes that individuals go through eight stages of social development during which they must resolve a psychosocial conflict.

Piaget’s Theory of Cognitive Development

Intellectual development are shaped by both a biological component and environmental experiences. Throughout the four stages, the mistakes we make teach us about the world and change our mental abilities- how we encode, store, and use information.

Vygotsky’s Sociocultural Theory

Cognitive development is based on social and cultural processes; our cognitive abilities are shaped by our interactions with others.