Psychology 2012 - Chapter 3

Psychology 2012 - Chapter 3 - I . NATURE AND N UR T U RE...

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I. NATURE AND NURTURE The issue of whether heredity (nature) or environment (nurture) is more important in human development has been debated for centuries. In general, current research shows that both heredity and environment are equally important. Maturation refers to growth or bodily changes that are relatively independent of environment. Thus motor development in infancy is primarily a function of maturation. Maturation also refers to changes in the behavior of an infant over a period of time. Stages of development – All children undergo the same order of stages after birth. Although environment may speed up or slow down development, the order of stages does not change. At the time of birth, we refer to the individual as a neonate . About two to three weeks, we call this person an infant . After two years, we refer to him or her as a child . Motor development also follows same stages for all children. The first motor behavior is crawling, followed by climbing, walking and finally running. In short, a concept of stages of development proposes that such stages follow a fixed sequence for all children. I I. CAPACITIES OF THE NEWBORN At the time of birth all the five senses of the neonate function. A short summary of each sense is given in this section. 1. Vision Newborns have poor visual acuity and their ability to change focus is limited. Newborns have problems with focus and accommodation and are very nearsighted.Hearing even during the pre-natal period (the period before birth) a fetus responds to a sharp sound. Neonates turn their heads towards the source of the sound at the time of birth. 2. Taste and Smell Shortly after birth, infants can discriminate between tastes. They prefer sweet-tasting liquids over salty, bitter, sour or bland ones. Neonates can also discriminate among odors. They turn their heads towards sweet smells. Odors such as ammonia or rotten eggs cause them to turn their heads away. 3. Touch and Emotional Reactions
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The neonate enjoys being touched, held close to the body of caregiver and receives strokes on his/her body. Emotional reactions are noted at the time of birth including rage, love and fear of loud noise. Neonates do not show hatred of strangers. III. Cognitive Development in Childhood 1. Piaget’s Stage Theory Through observation of children, Jean Piaget became interested in the relationship between the child’s naturally maturing abilities and his/her interactions with the environment. He proposed one of the major theories in psychology called stages of cognitive development including four major stages: Stage One – The Sensory-Motor Stage – Birth to two years. During this stage, the infant tries to discover the relationship between
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Psychology 2012 - Chapter 3 - I . NATURE AND N UR T U RE...

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