83 Key Terms for Lifespan Development

adjustment of a schema by changing a scheme to accommodate new information different from what was already known
period of development that begins at puberty and ends at early adulthood
maturing of the adrenal glands
advance directive
a written legal document that details specific interventions a person wants (see living will)
adjustment of a schema by adding information similar to what is already known
long-standing connection or bond with others
authoritarian parenting style
parents place a high value on conformity and obedience, are often rigid, and express little warmth to the child
authoritative parenting style
parents give children reasonable demands and consistent limits, express warmth and affection, and listen to the child’s point of view
avoidant attachment
characterized by child’s unresponsiveness to parent, does not use the parent as a secure base, and does not care if parent leaves

cephalocaudal development
pattern of growth from the head down; also referred to as development from head to toe

cognitive development
domain of lifespan development that examines learning, attention, memory, language, thinking, reasoning, and creativity
cognitive empathy
ability to take the perspective of others and to feel concern for others
when a sperm fertilizes an egg and forms a zygote
concrete operational stage
third stage in Piaget’s theory of cognitive development; from about 7 to 11 years old, children can think logically about real (concrete) events
idea that even if you change the appearance of something, it is still equal in size, volume, or number as long as nothing is added or removed
continuous development
view that development is a cumulative process: gradually improving on existing skills
critical (sensitive) period
time during fetal growth when specific parts or organs develop
developmental milestone
approximate ages at which children reach specific normative events
discontinuous development
view that development takes place in unique stages, which happen at specific times or ages
disorganized attachment
characterized by the child’s odd behaviour when faced with the parent; type of attachment seen most often with kids that are abused
do not resuscitate (DNR)
a legal document stating that if a person stops breathing their heart stops, medical personnel such as doctors and nurses are not to take steps to revive or resuscitate the patient
preoperational child’s difficulty in taking the perspective of others
multi-cellular organism in its early stages of development
emerging adulthood
newly defined period of lifespan development from 18 years old to the mid-20s; young people are taking longer to complete college, get a job, get married, and start a family
fine motor skills
use of muscles in fingers, toes, and eyes to coordinate small actions
formal operational stage
final stage in Piaget’s theory of cognitive development; from age 11 and up, children are able to deal with abstract ideas and hypothetical situations
maturing of the sex glands
gross motor skills
use of large muscle groups to control arms and legs for large body movements
health care proxy
a legal document that appoints a specific person to make medical decisions for a patient if they are unable to speak for themselves
service that provides a death with dignity; pain management in a humane and comfortable environment; usually outside of a hospital setting
intergenerational trauma
trauma that is so significant, it impacts not only the Survivors, but subsequent generations (e.g., children and grandchildren)
living will
a written legal document that details specific interventions a person wants; may include health care proxy
beginning of menstrual period; around 12–13 years old
process of cell division
motor skills
ability to move our body and manipulate objects
genes and biology
newborn reflexes
inborn automatic response to a particular form of stimulation that all healthy babies are born with
normative approach
study of development using norms, or average ages, when most children reach specific developmental milestones
environment and culture
object permanence
idea that even if something is out of sight, it still exists
permissive parenting style
parents make few demands and rarely use punishment
physical development
domain of lifespan development that examines growth and changes in the body and brain, the senses, motor skills, and health and wellness
structure connected to the uterus that provides nourishment and oxygen to the developing baby
prenatal care
medical care during pregnancy that monitors the health of both the mother and the fetus
preoperational stage
second stage in Piaget’s theory of cognitive development; from ages 2 to 7, children learn to use symbols and language but do not understand mental operations and often think illogically
primary sexual characteristics
organs specifically needed for reproduction

proximodistal development
tendency for growth to start in the centre of the body and move outwards to the extremities

psychosexual development
process proposed by Freud in which pleasure-seeking urges focus on different erogenous zones of the body as humans move through five stages of life
psychosocial development
domain of lifespan development that examines emotions, personality, and social relationships
psychosocial development
process proposed by Erikson in which social tasks are mastered as humans move through eight stages of life from infancy to adulthood
resistant attachment
characterized by the child’s tendency to show clingy behaviour and rejection of the parent when the parent attempts to interact with the child
principle that objects can be changed, but then returned back to their original form or condition
(plural = schemata) concept (mental model) that is used to help us categorize and interpret information
secondary sexual characteristics
physical signs of sexual maturation that do not directly involve sex organs
secure attachment
characterized by the child using the parent as a secure base from which to explore
secure base
parental presence that gives the infant/toddler a sense of safety as they explores their surroundings
sensorimotor stage
first stage in Piaget’s theory of cognitive development; from birth through age 2, a child learns about the world through senses and motor behaviour
socioemotional selectivity theory
social support/friendships dwindle in number, but remain as close, if not more close than in earlier years
first penile ejaculation
stage of moral reasoning
process proposed by Kohlberg; humans move through three stages of moral development
innate traits that influence how one thinks, behaves, and reacts with the environment
biological, chemical, or physical environmental agent that causes damage to the developing embryo or fetus
uninvolved parenting style
parents are indifferent, uninvolved, and sometimes referred to as neglectful; they don’t respond to the child’s needs and make relatively few demands
structure created when a sperm and egg merge at conception; begins as a single cell and rapidly divides to form the embryo and placenta


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Introduction to Psychology & Neuroscience (2nd Edition) Copyright © 2020 by Edited by Leanne Stevens & Jennifer Stamp is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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