Glossary
Chapter 1
accommodation According to Piaget, the modification of existing schemes to permit the incorporation of new events or knowledge.
adaptation According to Piaget, the interaction between the organism and the environment. It consists of two processes: assimilation and accommodation.
assimilation According to Piaget, the incorporation of new events or knowledge into existing schemes.
behaviour modification The systematic application of principles of learning to change problem behaviours or encourage desired behaviours.
behaviourism John B. Watson's view that a science or theory of development must study observable behaviour only and investigate relationships between stimuli and responses.
case study A carefully drawn biography of an individual.
child A person undergoing the period of development from infancy through puberty.
chronosystem The environmental changes that occur over time and have an impact on the child (from the Greek chronos, meaning ?time?).
classical conditioning A simple form of learning in which one stimulus comes to bring forth the response usually brought forth by a second stimulus by being paired repeatedly with the second stimulus.
cognitive-developmental theory The stage theory that holds that the child's abilities to mentally represent, or perceive, the world and solve problems unfold as a result of the interaction of experience and the maturation of neurological structures.
cohort effect Similarities in behaviour among a group of peers that stem from the fact that group members are approximately of the same age. (A possible source of misleading information in cross-sectional research.)
conception The process of becoming pregnant; the process by which a sperm cell joins with an ovum to begin a new life (i.e., when the chromosomes of each of these cells combine to form 23 new pairs).
conditioned response (CR) A learned response to a previously neutral stimulus.
conditioned stimulus (CS) A previously neutral stimulus that elicits a response because it has been paired repeatedly with a stimulus that already elicited that response.
conservation In cognitive psychology, the principle that properties of substances such as weight and mass remain the same (are conserved) when superficial characteristics such as their shapes or arrangement are changed.
control group A group made up of participants in an experiment who do not receive the treatment but for whom all other conditions are comparable to those of participants in the experimental group.
correlation coefficient A number ranging from 11.00 to 21.00 that expresses the direction (positive or negative) and strength of the relationship between two variables.
cross-sectional research The study of developmental processes by taking measures of children of different age groups at the same time.
cross-sequential research An approach that combines the longitudinal and cross-sectional methods by following individuals of different ages for abbreviated periods of time.
dependent variable A measure of an assumed effect of an independent variable.
development The processes by which organisms unfold features and traits, grow, and become more complex and specialized in structure and function.
ecological systems theory The view that explains child development in terms of the reciprocal influences between children and the settings that make up their environment.
ecology The branch of biology that deals with the relationships between living organisms and their environment.
elicit To bring forth; evoke.
empirical Based on observation and experimentation.
equilibration The creation of an equilibrium, or balance, between assimilation and accommodation as a way of incorporating new events or knowledge.
ethnic groups Groups of people distinguished by cultural heritage, race, language, and common history.
ethology The study of behaviours that are specific to a species.
exosystem Community institutions and settings that indirectly influence the child, such as the school board and the parents' workplaces (from the Greek exo, meaning ?outside?).
experiment A method of scientific investigation that seeks to discover cause-and-effect relationships by introducing independent variables and observing their effects on dependent variables.
experimental group A group made up of participants who receive a treatment in an experiment.
extinction The decrease and eventual disappearance of a response in the absence of reinforcement.
fixed action pattern (FAP) Instinct; a stereotyped behaviour pattern that is characteristic of a species and is triggered by a ?releasing stimulus?; an instinct.
gender The psychological state of being female or being male, as influenced by cultural concepts of gender-appropriate behaviour. Compare and contrast the concept of gender with anatomic sex, which is based on the physical differences between females and males.
gender role A complex cluster of traits and behaviours that are considered stereotypical of females and males.
gene The basic unit or building block of heredity. Genes are composed of deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA).
growth The processes by which organisms increase in size, weight, strength, and other traits as they develop.
hypothesis A Greek word meaning ?groundwork? or ?foundation? that has come to mean a specific statement about behaviour that is tested by research.
identity crisis A turning point in development during which one examines one's values and makes decisions about life roles.
independent variable A condition in a scientific study that is manipulated (changed) so that its effects can be observed.
infancy The period of very early childhood, characterized by lack of complex speech; the first 2 years after birth.
life crisis An internal conflict that attends each stage of psychosocial development. Positive resolution of early life crises sets the stage for positive resolution of subsequent life crises.
longitudinal research The study of developmental processes by taking repeated measures of the same group of children at various stages of development.
macrosystem The basic institutions and ideologies that influence the child, such as the American ideals of freedom of expression and equality under the law (from the Greek makros, meaning ?long? or ?enlarged?).
maturation The unfolding of genetically determined traits, structures, and functions.
mental representations The mental forms that a real object or event can take, which may differ from one another. (Successful problem solving is aided by accurate mental representation of the elements of the problem.)
mesosystem The interlocking settings that influence the child, such as the interaction of the school and the larger community when children are taken on field trips (from the Greek mesos, meaning ?middle?).
microsystem The immediate settings with which the child interacts, such as the home, the school, and one's peers (from the Greek mikros, meaning ?small?).
motor development The development of the capacity for movement, particularly that made possible by changes in the nervous system and the muscles.
naturalistic observation A method of scientific observation in which children (and others) are observed in their natural environments.
nature The processes within an organism that guide that organism to develop according to its genetic code.
negative correlation A relationship between two variables in which one variable increases as the other variable decreases.
negative reinforcer A reinforcer that, when removed, increases the frequency of a response.
nurture The processes external to an organism that nourish it as it develops according to its genetic code or that cause it to swerve from its genetically programmed course. Environmental factors that influence development.
observational learning The acquisition of expectations and skills by means of observing others.
operant conditioning A simple form of learning in which an organism learns to engage in behaviour that is reinforced.
phenylketonuria (PKU) A genetic abnormality in which phenylalanine builds up and causes mental retardation.
positive correlation A relationship between two variables in which one variable increases as the other variable increases.
positive reinforcer A reinforcer that, when applied, increases the frequency of a response.
preconscious In psychoanalytic theory, that which is not in awareness but is capable of being brought into awareness by focusing of attention.
prenatal period The period of development from conception to birth (from roots meaning ?prior to birth?).
psychosexual development In psychoanalytic theory, the process by which libidinal energy is expressed through different erogenous zones during different stages of development.
psychosocial development Erikson's theory, which emphasizes the importance of social relationships and conscious choice throughout the eight stages of development.
punishment An unpleasant stimulus that suppresses behaviour.
reinforcement The process of providing stimuli following a response, which has the effect of increasing the frequency of the response.
scaffolding Vygotsky's term for temporary cognitive structures or methods of solving problems that help the child as he or she learns to function independently.
scheme According to Piaget, an action pattern (such as a reflex) or mental structure that is involved in the acquisition or organization of knowledge.
shaping In learning theory, a procedure for teaching complex behaviour patterns by means of reinforcing small steps toward the target behaviour.
SIDS See sudden infant death syndrome.
social cognitive theory A cognitively oriented learning theory that emphasizes observational learning in the determining of behaviour.
socialization A process through which children are encouraged to adopt socially desirable behaviour patterns through a system of guidance, rewards, and punishments.
stage theory A theory of development characterized by hypothesizing the existence of distinct periods of life. Stages follow one another in an orderly sequence.
standardized test A test of some ability or trait in which an individual's score is compared to the scores of a group of similar individuals.
stimulus A change in the environment that leads to a change in behaviour.
sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) The death, while sleeping, of apparently healthy babies who stop breathing for unknown medical reasons. Also called crib death.
theory A formulation of relationships underlying observed events. A theory involves assumptions and logically derived explanations and predictions.
time lag The study of developmental processes by taking measures of children of the same age group at different times.
time-out A behaviour-modification technique in which a child who misbehaves is temporarily placed in a drab, restrictive environment in which reinforcement is unavailable.
treatment In an experiment, a condition received by participants so that its effects may be observed.
unconditioned response (UCR) An unlearned response; a response to an unconditioned stimulus.
unconditioned stimulus (UCS) A stimulus that elicits a response from an organism without learning.
unconscious In psychoanalytic theory, that which is not available to awareness by simple focusing of attention.
variables Quantities that can vary from child to child or from occasion to occasion, such as height, weight, intelligence, and attention span.
zone of proximal development (ZPD) Vygotsky's term for the situation in which a child carries out tasks with the help of someone who is more skilled, frequently an adult who represents the culture in which the child develops.