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About this book

This accessible introduction to developmental psychology examines how children develop, from language development to social learning and the development of emotion. Comprehensive and engaging, it is the ideal introduction for A-level and undergraduate students, and for anyone interested in learning more about development in childhood.

Table of Contents

Chapter 1. Introduction

Abstract
The process in which we develop occurs in continuous stage-like patterns, starting from conception and continuing throughout the lifespan. There are critical developmental milestones that children are expected to reach as their development progresses through from neonatal, infancy, childhood, adolescence, adulthood and older adulthood. The period of child development refers specifically to the changes that occur in biological, social, emotional and cognitive domains from birth to the end of adolescence. By studying which behaviours undergo changes, we can better understand critical time periods in development, possible causes of these changes in behaviours, as well as a better understanding of adulthood.
Amanda Ludlow, Roberto Gutierrez

Chapter 2. Developmental Theories

Abstract
Children change dramatically in their behaviour throughout their development. However, it is not always clear as to what influences changes in a child’s behaviour. For example, is the behaviour of the child affected primarily by the age of the child or do individual factors such as temperament have a larger influence? In order to understand which factors influence these changes in development, psychologists have proposed theories to understand, explain and predict behaviour. Developmental theories help us to organise and make sense of a vast amount of information. They provide a broad and coherent view of the complex influences on human development. These theories also provide a basis for hypothesis development and give a current summary of our knowledge of development.
Amanda Ludlow, Roberto Gutierrez

Chapter 3. Research Methodology

Abstract
We can understand what influences behavioural and mental processes by using the scientific method of acquiring knowledge through observation and/or experimentation. Observation helps researchers answer the question ‘What is really happening?’ and its product is descriptive research. Experimentation can help the researcher answer ‘Why might this be happening?’ and its product is explanatory research. Good accurate descriptive research can challenge prevailing assumptions about how something is and provoke questions leading to the formation of new explanations derived from well-designed experiments. There are five basic steps to carrying out explanatory research: (1) identify the problem; (2) generate a hypothesis — a testable explanation of some phenomenon; (3) test the hypothesis by collecting data; (4) analyse the collected data; (5) make a decision on whether the data supports or refutes the hypothesis. These basic steps remain true for both research on adult and child populations. However, infants and children can be more difficult to test than some adults and they are also more vulnerable than adults. Therefore some research methods are seen as more appropriate for research on child development.
Amanda Ludlow, Roberto Gutierrez

Chapter 4. Biological Psychology

Abstract
What role does genetic inheritance play in a child’s development and how much is contributed by the environment? This question has puzzled scientists and psychologists for centuries, most frequently referred to as the nature (genetic background) versus nurture (our environment) debate.
Amanda Ludlow, Roberto Gutierrez

Chapter 5. Cognitive Psychology

Abstract
Early childhood is a time when children make marked progress in their mental development. Although less obvious to the eye than a child’s physical growth, their cognitive development such as their thought processes, intellect and brain development are constantly growing. Children are steadily gaining new abilities in mental reasoning, cause and effect and these cognitive abilities are apparent from children solving a mathematical problem to a child simply understanding how to make a sound from a toy.
Amanda Ludlow, Roberto Gutierrez

Chapter 6. Language and Communication

Abstract
Learning to speak is one of the biggest achievements of early childhood. This important tool presents children with new opportunities for social understanding, learning about the world and for sharing experiences. Spoken language development also provides the foundations for learning to read. Whilst language acquisition and reading are two distinct processes they have been shown to directly impact upon on each other. For example, language skills have been linked to later successful reading. Equally, pre-literacy and literacy activities can help further children’s language competencies in both the preschool years and later schooling (Dickinson & Tabors, 1991). It is impossible to underestimate the importance of language to a child’s development. There are many cases in everyday life where children who have difficulty understanding others and in expressing themselves, have been shown to suffer psychosocial and emotional adjustment problems (Cohen, Farnia & Im-Bolter, 2013). Children with delayed or disordered language are therefore at increased risk for social, emotional and behavioural problems. As well, research shows that most children who have poor reading skills at the end of their first year in primary school will continue to experience difficulties reading later on in life (Snow, Burns & Griffin, 1998).
Amanda Ludlow, Roberto Gutierrez

Chapter 7. Emotional Development

Abstract
Understanding a child’s emotional development helps to make sense of a child’s behaviour. It will help to think about, and acknowledge how the child might be feeling at a particular time and enable one to help him/ her to work through what has been experienced. It is important to remember that each child develops in his or her own unique way depending on personality, and that children develop at different rates.
Amanda Ludlow, Roberto Gutierrez

Chapter 8. Moral Development

Abstract
Moral reasoning also known as moral judgement refers to how we reason, or judge, whether an action is right or wrong. How children learn this important skill and use this knowledge to decide how to act when faced with difficult choices is part of moral development. Children learn the moral rules which govern their behaviour and to act in accordance with the right decision, even when it may not be the most convenient thing to do.
Amanda Ludlow, Roberto Gutierrez

Chapter 9. Social Learning

Abstract
The social development of a child begins as soon as the child enters into the world. Developing language to communicate and understanding one’s own and others’ emotions is particularly important in being able to develop social relationships and to successfully interact. In fact, the relationships children establish with their parents and siblings during the first two years are crucial, and these early bonds set the blueprint to the child’s future relationships. As a child enters schools, peers become more influential.
Amanda Ludlow, Roberto Gutierrez

Chapter 10. Developmental Psychopathology

Abstract
In its simplest terms, psychopathology can be considered behaviour that is atypical to that accounted by others of a similar age and culture, is of long-lasting duration not sufficiently explained by a recent trauma or stress (loss of a family member, family divorce) and impacts on everyday life (Cicchetti, 2014).
Amanda Ludlow, Roberto Gutierrez
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