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Child Psychology 1/c/e
Child Psychology: A Contemporary Viewpoint, First Canadian Edition
E. Mavis Hetherington, University of Virginia
Ross D. Parke, University of California
Mark Schmuckler, University of Toronto at Scarborough

Heredity and the Environment

Application Questions


Over the last few years, news stories have focused on new methods and technological advances designed to support infertile couples who desire children. Over time, we have seen the creation of test tube babies as well as ads on the Internet requesting healthy, young individuals to sell their ova or sperm. What are the ethical implications of these behaviours for society? Of late, much discussion has focussed on the hiring of surrogate women to carry a pregnancy to term. What are the ethical issues involved in "renting an uterus"? Just because society has the technological means to create life, should we? Can society dismiss as "out-of-hand" the desires of infertile individuals using these approaches? What does the term "parent" mean in the context of surrogate parenting - can we divorce the biological functions of conception and pregnancy from the psychological nuances engendered by the term "parenthood"? Ultimately, are the issues and challenges of surrogate parenting any different from those faced by infertile couples who adopt children from orphanages? Comment.

The fields of medicine and psychology seek to reduce human suffering, where possible. Suggest ways that society might reasonably intervene to reduce morbidity and mortality in infancy, specifically considering the role that genetic counseling, prenatal diagnostic techniques, and behaviour genetics might play.

Sometimes, the information gleaned from prenatal diagnostic techniques (such as amniocentesis) proves to be heartbreaking for a pregnant women and her partner. Consider, for example, the scenario in which the couple learns to their dismay that their fetus has a genetic disorder that will interfere significantly with its development. What is the role of the medical genetics counsellor or the psychologist who counsels the couple about genetic disorders and options for the pregnancy? Write a script including possible dialogue and information shared during the counselling session.

A basic theme of your textbook is that nature and nurture interact to determine human development. The concept of range of reaction suggests that the individual's "genetic makeup establishes a range of possible developmental outcomes"; the specific environment experienced then determines individual development within those boundaries. Consider children who have been diagnosed with a chromosomal abnormality, such as Down syndrome, Turner syndrome, Klinefelter's syndrome, or Fragile X syndrome. Considering each syndrome in turn, how does genetic makeup affect the child's range of reaction? How might a stimulating environment support the child's development? Provide examples. How might the chromosomal abnormality affect the ability of the child to respond to environmental stimulation? Speculate.

Sue and Sam had their first child, Andrew, fairly late in life. They remember very well how challenging a baby he was - for example, he rarely slept through the night, he seemed to cry constantly, and fussed greatly at even small changes in his routine. Even today, at age 6 years, Andrew is more difficult and demanding in temperament than his peers. After much thought and discussion, Sue and Sam have decided to have another child; because of Sue's age, they have chosen to adopt an 8-month-old daughter from an orphanage in northern China. Marika, who now is 16-months-old, definitely is different in temperament than Andrew! She is a very calm and undemanding baby, rarely cries, and is easy to console. In fact, the parents privately refer to her as their "easy baby"! Although Sue and Sam recognize that they are more experienced at parenting this time around, nonetheless, they wonder why Andrew and Marika are so different in temperament. What would you say in explanation? What shapes temperament?