Site MapHelpFeedbackGlossary
(See related pages)

child development  A field of study that seeks to account for the gradual evolution of the child's cognitive, social, and other capacities first by describing changes in the child's observed behaviors and then by uncovering the processes and strategies that underlie these changes.
maturation  A genetically determined process of growth that unfolds naturally over a period of time.
behaviorism  A school of psychology that holds that theories of behavior must be based on direct observations of actual behavior and not on speculations about such unobservable things as human motives.
classical conditioning  A type of learning in which individuals learn to respond to unfamiliar stimuli in the same way they are accustomed to respond to familiar stimuli if the two stimuli are repeatedly presented together.
operant conditioning  A type of learning in which learning depends on the consequences of behavior; rewards increase the likelihood that behavior will recur, whereas punishment decreases that likelihood.
cognitive social learning theory  A learning theory that stresses learning by observation and imitation mediated by cognitive processes and skills.
Piagetian theory  A theory of cognitive development that sees the child as actively seeking new information and incorporating it into his knowledge base through the processes of assimilation and accommodation.
sociocultural theory  A theory of development, proposed by Lev Vygotsky, that sees development as evolving out of children's interactions with more-skilled others in their social environment.
information-processing theories  Theories of development that focus on the flow of information through the child's cognitive system and that are particularly interested in the specific operations the child performs between input and output phases.
psychoanalytic theory of development  Freud's theory that development, which proceeds in discrete stages, is determined largely by biologically based drives shaped by encounters with the environment and through the interaction of three components of personality-the id, ego, and superego.
id  The person's instinctual drives; the first component of the personality to evolve, the id operates on the basis of the pleasure principle.
ego  The rational controlling component of the personality, which tries to satisfy needs through appropriate, socially acceptable behaviors.
superego  The personality component that is the repository of the child's internalization of parental or societal values, morals, and roles.
Oedipus complex  A primary dynamic of the phallic stage of Freudian development theory in which the boy is sexually attracted to his mother, is a rival with his father, and fears his father's retribution.
Electra complex  A primary dynamic of Freud's phallic stage in which a girl resents her mother for having deprived her of a penis and transfers her affections to her father.
psychosocial theory  Erikson's theory of development that sees children developing through a series of stages largely through accomplishing tasks that involve them in interaction with their social environment.
dynamic systems theory  A theory that proposes that individuals develop and function within systems and that studies the relationships among individuals and systems and the processes by which these relationships operate.
ecological theory  A theory of development that stresses the importance of understanding not only the relationships between the organism and various environmental systems but the relations between such systems themselves.
microsystem  In Brofenbrenner's ecological theory, the context in which children live and interact with the people and institutions closest to them, such as parents, peers, and school.
mesosystem  The interrelations that obtain among the components of the microsystem with which the child interacts.
exosystem  The collection of settings that impinge on a child's development but in which the child does not play a direct role.
macrosystem  The system that surrounds the microsystem, mesosystem, and exosystem, and that represents the values, ideologies, and laws of the society or culture.
chronosystem  The time-based dimension that can alter the operation of all other levels, from microsystem through macrosystem.
ethological theory  A theory that holds that behavior must be viewed and understood as occurring in a particular context and as having adaptive or survival value.
life span theory  A theory that sees development as a process that continues throughout the life cycle, from infancy through adulthood and old age.

Child PsychologyOnline Learning Center

Home > Chapter 1 > Glossary