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PSYCH302A: Lifespan Development

Unit 1: Introduction to Lifespan Development   In order to help you build a firm base from which to explore the details of developmental processes, milestones, and stages, this unit will introduce you to central issues, theories, and methods in the study of lifespan development. While myriad theories historically and currently have guided our endeavors to discern how we become who we are, Paul Baltes, a contemporary German psychologist, formulated an overarching lifespan perspective on human development. Understanding the major features and assumptions of this perspective may especially help you see the processes of aging in a more positive light.

Unit 1 Time Advisory
This unit will take you approximately 4.5 hours to complete.

☐    Subunit 1.1: 1 hour

☐    Subunit 1.2: 1 hour

☐    Subunit 1.3: 1 hour

☐    Subunit 1.4: 1.5 hours

Unit1 Learning Outcomes
Upon successful completion of this unit, the student will be able to: - define what “development” means in the field of psychology; - explain three general issues of interest to developmental psychologists: universal versus specific change, sequential versus kaleidoscopic development, and nature versus nurture; - explain the major components (five systems) of Bronfenbrenner’s Ecological Systems Theory; - identify and explain the major assumptions or tenets underlying Baltes’s lifespan perspective on development; - identify and describe advantages and disadvantages of the following common methods of collecting data: observation (naturalistic and controlled), standardized testing, surveys, interviews; - explain the difference between correlational and experimental research studies; - compare and contrast three common types of research designs for studying lifespan development: longitudinal, cross-sectional, and sequential; and - describe why twin studies are particularly useful for gaining an understanding of idiosyncratic differences in development.

1.1 Basic Issues in Lifespan Development   1.1.1 What is Development?   - Reading: Connexions: Kelvin Seifert’s “Student Development: Why Development Matters” Link: Connexions: Kelvin Seifert’s “Student Development: Why Development Matters” (HTML, PDF, or ePub)

 Instructions: After clicking on the link above, you will be taken
to a webpage. Read this page in its entirety to gain an
understanding of why psychologists study development and what,
exactly, development means (especially as opposed to “learning”).
Although this reading is drawn from a text geared specifically
toward future educators of children, the issues it highlights
regarding the nature of developmental trends are broadly applicable
to the study of individuals throughout the lifespan. Note that this
reading will cover the material you need to know for subunits
1.1.2-1.1.3. You may also download the PDF or ePub version of this
text by clicking on the appropriate link under “Download” at the
bottom of the webpage.   

 Completing this assignment should take approximately 30 minutes.  
    
 Terms of Use: This work is licensed by Kelvin Seifert under a
Creative Commons Attribution License (CC-BY 3.0) 

1.1.2 Universal versus Specific Trends   Note: This subunit is covered within the reading assigned for subunit 1.1.1. Focus on the third paragraph under the section, “Why Development Matters.”

1.1.3 Sequenced Versus Kaleidoscopic Trends   Note: This subunit is covered within the reading assigned for subunit 1.1.1. Focus on the fourth paragraph under the section, “Why Development Matters.”

1.1.4 Nurture versus Nature   1.1.4.1 Overview of the Nature-Nurture Debate   - Reading: Connexions: OpenStax College’s “Why Socialization Matters” Link: Connexions: OpenStax College’s “Why Socialization Matters” (HMTL, PDF, or ePub)

 Instructions: Click on the link above and read the webpage in its
entirety for insight into one of the central debates of
developmental psychologists: the role of nature (genetics) versus
nurture (environment) in development. The contemporary view of
psychologists is that these forces play essentially equally
important and highly interactive roles in development. You may also
download the PDF or ePub version of this text by clicking on the
appropriate link under “Download” at the bottom of the webpage. Note
that this topic is also briefly touched upon in the reading for
subunit 1.2.1.  

 Reading this webpage should take approximately 15 minutes.  

 Terms of Use: This work is licensed by Rice University under a
Creative Commons Attribution License (CC-BY 3.0).

1.1.4.2 The Role of Nature and Nurture in Personality   - Reading: Introduction to Psychology: “Personality” Link: Introduction to Psychology: “Personality” (HTML)

 Instructions: After clicking on the link above, read the material
in the gray box entitled “Identical Twins Reunited After 35 Years.”
Be sure to also click on the video within the box to hear the twins’
personal account of their experiences (5:50 minutes).  

 Reading these resources should take approximately 15 minutes.   

 Terms of Use: The textbook above is released under a [Creative
Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0
License](http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/3.0/)
(HTML) without attribution as requested by the work’s original
creator or licensee.

1.2 Major Developmental Theories   1.2.1 Overview of Theories   - Reading: Connexions: Carol Laman’s “Psychology of Lifespan Development: Introductory Material” Link: Connexions: Carol Laman’s “Psychology of Lifespan Development: Introductory Material” (HTML)

 Instructions: After clicking on the link above, you will be taken
to a webpage. Scroll down to and read the section entitled
“Theories,” which will give you a sense of the variety of theories
that shape research on lifespan development. Several of these
theories will be studied in great detail in other portions of this
course.  

 Reading this webpage should take approximately 15 minutes.   

 Terms of Use: This work is licensed by Carol Laman under a Creative
Commons Attribution License (CC-BY 3.0).

1.2.2 A Focus on Bronfenbrenner’s Bioecological Systems Theory   - Reading: Wikipedia’s “Ecological Systems Theory” Link: Wikipedia’s “Ecological Systems Theory” (PDF)

 Instructions: After clicking on the link above, you will be taken
to a webpage describing Ecological Systems Theory, which was
originated by Urie Bronfenbrenner. He was a longtime Cornell
University professor and cofounder of Head Start, a program that
provides preschool and other services for low-income U.S. children
and their families. Bronfenbrenner’s theory is one of the most
influential contemporary developmental theories. To help you
understand the five systems in his theory, try to identify at least
three influences within each of those systems on your life as a
young child.  

 Completing this activity should take approximately 30 minutes.  
    
 Terms of Use: The article above is released under a [Creative
Commons Attribution-Share-Alike License
3.0](http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/) (HTML). You can
find the original Wikipedia version of this article
[here](http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ecological_systems_theory)
(HTML).

1.3 An Overarching Lifespan Perspective   - Reading: Wikipedia’s “Paul Baltes” Link: Wikipedia’s “Paul Baltes” (PDF)

 Instructions: Click on the link above and read the webpage in its
entirety. While developmental psychologists work from many of the
theoretical perspectives presented in the reading for subunit 1.2.1,
there is an overarching framework that broadly guides thinking about
human development. Paul Baltes was the key formulator of this modern
“lifespan perspective.” Before you begin reading, think about how
you expect to grow and change – or not – as you age. Compare your
own assumptions about development with those of Baltes.  

 Reading this resource should take approximately 1 hour.   

 Terms of Use: The article above is released under a [Creative
Commons Attribution-Share-Alike License
3.0](http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/) (HTML). You can
find the original Wikipedia version of this article
[here](http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paul_Baltes) (HTML).

1.4 Research Methods for Studying Development   - Reading: Connexions: Carol Laman’s “Psychology of Lifespan Development: Introductory Material” Link: Connexions: Carol Laman’s “Psychology of Lifespan Development: Introductory Material” (HTML)

 Instructions: After clicking on the link above, you will be taken
to a webpage. Read the first major section of the page, entitled
“Subject and Methods,” for an overview of key terms related to
research methods often used in the study of lifespan development.  

 Reading this webpage should take approximately 15 minutes.   

 Terms of Use: This work is licensed by Carol Laman under a Creative
Commons Attribution License (CC-BY 3.0).

1.4.1 Data Collection Methods   - Reading: Russell A. Dewey, PhD’s “Observational Research” Link: Russell A. Dewey, PhD’s “Observational Research” (HTML)

 Instructions: Click on the link below to review data collection
methods commonly employed by developmental researchers. This reading
is also included in [PSYCH202A: Research
Methods](http://www.saylor.org/courses/psych202a/), so it will be
either a review or preview for you of the material covered in that
course.  

 Reviewing this resource should take approximately 30 minutes.  

 Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use
displayed on the webpage above.

1.4.2 General Study Designs   - Reading: William Trochim’s “Types of Designs” Link: William Trochim’s “Types of Designs” (HTML)

 Instructions: Click on the link above and read this page in its
entirety. It reviews material on social science research designs and
was also included in [PSYCH202A: Research
Methods](http://www.saylor.org/courses/psych202a/).  

 Reviewing this resource should take approximately 30 minutes.  

 Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use
displayed on the webpage above. The Saylor Foundation is grateful to
Professor William Trochim for his kind permission to reference
students to this site.

1.4.3 Designs Specifically for Studying Development   1.4.3.1 Cross-Sectional   Note: This subunit is covered in the reading assigned for subunit 1.2.1, in the upper section of the page, entitled “Subject and Methods.”

1.4.3.2 Longitudinal   Note: This subunit is covered in the reading assigned for subunit 1.2.1, in the upper section of the page, entitled “Subject and Methods.”

1.4.3.3 Cross-Sequential   Note: This subunit is covered in the reading assigned for subunit 1.2.1, in the upper section of the page, entitled “Subject and Methods.” In essence, cross-sequential studies employ a combination of the cross-sectional and longitudinal designs.

1.4.3.4 Family (Twin and Adoption) Studies   Note: This subunit is partly covered by the reading assigned for subunit 1.1.4.

  • Reading: Introduction to Psychology: “Is Personality More Nature or More Nurture? Behavioral and Molecular Genetics” Link: “Is Personality More Nature or More Nurture? Behavioral and Molecular Genetics” (PDF)

    Instructions: As indicated earlier in this unit, in the study of the nature-nurture debate, developmental psychologists are highly interested in the relative contributions of genes and the environment to human abilities and characteristics. Click on the link above and read the material under the main heading as well as the following section (“Studying Personality Using Behavioral Genetics”).

    Reading this resource should take approximately 30 minutes.

    Terms of Use: The textbook above is released under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 License (HTML) without attribution as requested by the work’s original creator or licensee.