Pagina principale Child Development

Child Development

A best-selling, topically organized child development text, Berk’s Child Development is relied on in classrooms worldwide for its clear, engaging writing style, exceptional cross-cultural and multi-cultural focus, rich examples, and long-standing commitment to presenting the most up-to-date scholarship while also offering students research-based, practical applications that they can relate to their personal and professional lives. 


Berk takes an integrated approach to presenting development in the physical, cognitive, emotional, and social domains; emphasizes the complex interchanges between heredity and environment; and provides exceptional attention to culture. 


Laura Berk, renowned professor and researcher, presents the latest theories and findings in the field to students in a manageable and relevant way. Berk’s signature storytelling style invites students to actively learn beside the text’s “characters,” who experience real issues in development, including physical, cognitive, and peer challenges, as well as parenting and educational concerns.  Berk also helps students connect their learning to their personal and professional areas of interest.  Her voice comes through when speaking directly about issues students will face in their future pursuits as parents, educators, heath care providers, social workers, and researchers.  As members of a global and diverse human community, students are called on to intelligently approach the responsibility of understanding and responding to the needs and concerns of children.     


While carefully considering the complexities of child development, Berk presents classic and emerging theories in an especially clear, engaging writing style, with a multitude of research-based, real-world, and cross-cultural examples. Strengthening the connections among developmental domains and among theory, research, and applications, this edition's extensive revision brings forth the most recent scholarship, representing the changing field of child development.


Note: MyDevelopmentLab does not come automatically packaged with this text. To purchase MyDevelopmentLab, please visit:

Categories: Psychology
Anno: 2012
Edizione: 9
Editore: Pearson
Lingua: english
Pagine: 816 / 827
ISBN 10: 0205149766
ISBN 13: 9780205149766
File: PDF, 103.62 MB
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Child Development

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Laura E. Berk
Illinois State University

Boston • Columbus • Indianapolis • New York • San Francisco • Upper Saddle River
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In loving memory of my parents, Sofie and Philip Eisenberg
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Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data
Berk, Laura E.
Child development / Laura E. Berk. — 9th ed.
p. cm.
Includes bibliographical references and index.
ISBN 978-0-205-14976-6
1. Child development. I. Title
HQ767.9.B464 2012










Student Edition
ISBN 10: 0-205-14976-6
ISBN 13: 978-0-205-14976-6
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ISBN 10: 0-205-14977-4
ISBN 13: 978-0-205-14977-3
Á la Carte
ISBN 10: 0-205-85435-4
ISBN 13: 978-0-205-85435-6

About the Author
Laura E. Berk is a distinguished professor of psychology
at Illinois State University, where she has taught child and
human development to both undergraduate and graduate
students for more than three decades. She received her
bachelor’s degree in psychology from the University of
California, Berkeley, and her master’s and doctoral degrees
in child development and educational psychology from the
University of Chicago. She has been a visiting scholar at
Cornell University, UCLA, Stanford University, and the
University of South Australia.
Berk has published widely on the effects of school
environments on children’s development, the development
of private speech, and recently, the role of make-believe play
in development. Her research has been funded by the U.S.
Office of Education and the National Institute of Child Health
and Human Development. It has appeared in many prominent
journals, including Child Development, Developmental Psychology, Merrill-Palmer Quarterly, Journal
of Abnormal Child Psychology, Development and Psychopathology, and Early Childhood Research
Quarterly. Her empirical studies have attracted the attention of the general public, leading to
contributions to Psychology Today and Scientific American. She has also been featured on National
Public Radio’s Morning Edition and in Parents Magazine, Wondertime, and Reader’s Digest.
Berk has served as research editor of Young Children and consulting editor of Early Childhood
Research Quarterly. Currently, she is associate editor of the Journal of Cognitive Education and
Psychology. She is a frequent contributor to edited volumes on early childhood development, having
recently authored chapters on the importance of parenting, on make-believe play and self-regulation,
and on the kindergarten child. She has also written the chapter on development for The Many Faces
of Psychological Research in the Twenty-First Century (Society for the Teaching of Psychology); the
article on social development for The Child: An Encyclopedic Companion; the article on Vygotsky
for the Encyclopedia of Cognitive Science; and the chapter on storytelling as a teaching strategy for
Voices of Experience: Memorable Talks from the National Institute on the Teaching of Psychology
(Association for Psychological Science).
Berk’s books include Private Speech: From Social Interaction to Self-Regulation; Scaffolding
Children’s Learning: Vygotsky and Early Childhood Education; Landscapes of Development: An
Anthology of Readings; and A Mandate for Playful Learning in Preschool: Presenting the Evidence. In
addition to Child Development, she is author of the best-selling texts Infants, Children, and Adolescents;
Development Through the Lifespan; and Exploring Lifespan Development, published by Pearson. Her
book for parents and teachers is Awakening Children’s Minds: How Parents and Teachers Can Make
a Difference.
Berk is active in work for children’s causes. In addition to service in her home community, she
is a member of the national board of directors and chair of the Chicago advisory board of Jumpstart,
a nonprofit organization that provides intensive literacy intervention to thousands of low-income
preschoolers across the United States, using college and university students as interveners. Berk is
a fellow of the American Psychological Association, Division 7: Developmental Psychology.

Brief Contents


1 History, Theory, and Applied Directions
2 Research Strategies




3 Biological Foundations, Prenatal Development, and Birth
4 Infancy: Early Learning, Motor Skills, and Perceptual Capacities
5 Physical Growth




6 Cognitive Development: Piagetian, Core Knowledge, and Vygotskian
7 Cognitive Development: An Information-Processing Perspective
8 Intelligence
9 Language Development




Emotional Development
Self and Social Understanding
Moral Development
Development of Sex Differences and Gender Roles



14 The Family
15 Peers, Media, and Schooling




Features at a Glance

Sweden’s Commitment to Gender Equality 536
The African-American Extended Family 583

Development of Civic Responsibility 508

Resilient Children 10
Prenatal Iron Deficiency and Memory
Impairments in Infants of Diabetic Mothers:
Findings of ERP Research 49
A Case of Epigenesis: Smoking During
Pregnancy Alters Gene Expression 125
“Tuning In” to Familiar Speech, Faces, and
Music: A Sensitive Period for Culture-Specific
Learning 156

Two Approaches to Bilingual Education:
Canada and the United States 397


Children Learn About Gender Through
Mother–Child Conversations 540

Family Chaos Undermines Children’s
Well-Being 29

Teaching Children to Challenge Peers’ Sexist
Remarks 545

Welfare Reform, Poverty, and Child
Development 36

School Recess—A Time to Play, a Time to
Learn 639

Children’s Research Risks: Developmental
and Individual Differences 68

Magnet Schools: Equal Access to High-Quality
Education 645

Brain Plasticity: Insights from Research on
Brain-Damaged Children and Adults 188

The Pros and Cons of Reproductive
Technologies 86

Low-Level Lead Exposure and Children’s
Development 193

A Cross-National Perspective on Health
Care and Other Policies for Parents and
Newborn Babies 118

Do’s and Don’ts for a Healthy Pregnancy 107

The Mysterious Tragedy of Sudden Infant
Death Syndrome 136

Reasons to Breastfeed 195

Children with Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity
Disorder 290
Infantile Amnesia 301
Deaf Children Invent Language 362
Language Development in Children with
Williams Syndrome 366
Parental Depression and Child
Development 404

Lesbian, Gay, and Bisexual Youth: Coming
Out to Oneself and Others 216
Does Child Care Threaten Infant Attachment
Security and Later Adjustment? 442

Development of Shyness and Sociability 422

Adolescent Suicide: Annihilation of the
Self 472

“Mindblindness” and Autism 457

The Transition to Parenthood 570

Two Routes to Adolescent Delinquency 520

Child Sexual Abuse 601

Sex Differences in Spatial Abilities 556

Adolescent Substance Use and Abuse 626

Does Parenting Really Matter? 578
Bullies and Their Victims 621


Can Musical Experiences Enhance
Intelligence? 59

!Kung Infancy: Acquiring Culture 26

Development of Infants with Severe Visual
Impairments 162

Immigrant Youths: Adapting to a New
Land 53

Sex Differences in Gross-Motor
Development 180

Cultural Variation in Infant Sleeping
Arrangements 134

Baby Learning from TV and Video: The Video
Deficit Effect 237

Social Origins of Make-Believe Play 270

Speech–Gesture Mismatches: Using the Hand
to Read the Mind 285

Children in Village and Tribal Cultures
Observe and Participate in Adult Work 273
The Powerful Role of Paternal Warmth in
Development 439
Cultural Variations in Personal Storytelling:
Implications for Early Self-Concept 451
Identity Development among Ethnic Minority
Adolescents 475
Ethnic Differences in the Consequences of
Physical Punishment 493
Impact of Ethnic and Political Violence on
Children 524

Soothing a Crying Baby 137
Communicating with Adolescents About
Sexual Issues 213
Enhancing Make-Believe Play in Early
Childhood 241
Handling Consequences of Teenagers’ New
Cognitive Capacities 255
Promoting Children’s Cognitive SelfRegulation 305
Supporting Emergent Literacy in Early
Childhood 309
Features of a High-Quality Home Life in
Infancy and Toddlerhood, Early Childhood,
and Middle Childhood: The HOME
Subscales 344
Promoting Children’s Creativity 355
Supporting Early Language Learning 373
Helping Children Manage Common Fears
of Early Childhood 411
Signs of Developmentally Appropriate
Infant and Toddler Child Care 443
Fostering a Mastery-Oriented Approach
to Learning 468

Media Multitasking Disrupts Learning 293

Supporting Healthy Identity
Development 474

Emotional Intelligence 327

Positive Parenting 495

High-Stakes Testing 343

Reducing Children’s Gender Stereotyping
and Gender-Role Conformity 563

The Head Start REDI Program: Strengthening
School Readiness in Economically
Disadvantaged Preschoolers 351
Parent–Child Interaction: Impact on
Language and Cognitive Development of
Deaf Children 372

Helping Children Adjust to Their Parents’
Divorce 594
Signs of Developmentally Appropriate Early
Childhood Programs 598
Regulating TV, Computer, and Cell Phone
Use 636


A Personal Note to Students
Preface for Instructors xiv




Research Strategies


Theory and Research in Child Development

History, Theory, and Applied Directions
The Field of Child Development 4
Domains of Development 4
Periods of Development 5
Continuous or Discontinuous Development? 7
One Course of Development or Many? 8
Relative Influence of Nature and Nurture? 8
A Balanced Point of View 9

Reliability 54
Validity 54

General Research Designs 55


Correlational Design 55
Experimental Design 56
Modified Experimental Designs


The Psychoanalytic Perspective 15
Behaviorism and Social Learning Theory 17
Piaget’s Cognitive-Developmental Theory 19

Designs for Studying Development 60
The Longitudinal Design 60
The Cross-Sectional Design 62
Improving Developmental Designs

Recent Theoretical Perspectives 21
Information Processing 21
Developmental Cognitive Neuroscience 23
Ethology and Evolutionary Developmental Psychology 23
Vygotsky’s Sociocultural Theory 24
CULTURAL INFLUENCES !Kung Infancy: Acquiring Culture
Ecological Systems Theory 26


SOCIAL ISSUES: HEALTH Family Chaos Undermines Children’s
Well-Being 29
New Directions: Development as a Dynamic System 30

Comparing Child Development Theories 31
Applied Directions: Child Development and Social
Policy 32
Culture and Public Policies 34
Contributions of Child Development Research


SOCIAL ISSUES: EDUCATION Can Musical Experiences Enhance
Intelligence? 59

Mid-Twentieth-Century Theories 14


SOCIAL ISSUES: HEALTH Welfare Reform, Poverty, and Child
Development 36
Looking Toward the Future 37

Summary 38
Important Terms and Concepts 39

BIOLOGY AND ENVIRONMENT Prenatal Iron Deficiency and
Memory Impairments in Infants of Diabetic Mothers: Findings of
ERP Research 49
The Clinical, or Case Study, Method 50
Methods for Studying Culture 51

Reliability and Validity: Keys to Scientifically Sound
Research 54

Medieval Times 10
The Reformation 11
Philosophies of the Enlightenment
Scientific Beginnings 13



CULTURAL INFLUENCES Immigrant Youths: Adapting to a
New Land 53

Basic Issues 6


From Theory to Hypothesis 41
Common Research Methods 42
Systematic Observation 42
Self-Reports: Interviews and Questionnaires
Neurobiological Methods 47


Historical Foundations



Ethics in Research on Children 66
SOCIAL ISSUES: HEALTH Children’s Research Risks: Developmental
and Individual Differences 68

Summary 70
Important Terms and Concepts 71



Foundations of Development


Biological Foundations, Prenatal
Development, and Birth 72
Genetic Foundations 73
The Genetic Code 74
The Sex Cells 75
Boy or Girl? 76


Multiple Offspring 76
Patterns of Genetic Inheritance 77
Chromosomal Abnormalities 82

Neonatal Behavioral Assessment 138
Learning Capacities 139

Motor Development in Infancy 147

Reproductive Choices 84
Genetic Counseling 84
Prenatal Diagnosis and Fetal Medicine 84
SOCIAL ISSUES: HEALTH The Pros and Cons of Reproductive
Technologies 86

BIOLOGY AND ENVIRONMENT “Tuning In” to Familiar Speech,
Faces, and Music: A Sensitive Period for Culture-Specific Learning 156
MILESTONES Development of Touch, Taste, Smell, and Hearing 158
Vision 158



Childbirth 107
The Baby’s Adaptation to Labor and Delivery 108
The Newborn Baby’s Appearance 109
Assessing the Newborn’s Physical Condition: The Apgar
Scale 109

Approaches to Childbirth 109
Natural, or Prepared, Childbirth 110
Home Delivery 111
Labor and Delivery Medication 112

Birth Complications 112
Oxygen Deprivation 112
Preterm and Low-Birth-Weight Infants 113
Birth Complications, Parenting, and Resilience


Heredity, Environment, and Behavior: A Look Ahead 118

BIOLOGY AND ENVIRONMENT A Case of Epigenesis: Smoking
During Pregnancy Alters Gene Expression 125

Summary 126
Important Terms and Concepts 127


SOCIAL ISSUES: EDUCATION Development of Infants with Severe
Visual Impairments 162
Intermodal Perception 166
MILESTONES Visual Development in Infancy 167
Understanding Perceptual Development 168

Early Deprivation and Enrichment: Is Infancy a
Sensitive Period of Development? 169
Summary 172
Important Terms and Concepts 173


SOCIAL ISSUES: HEALTH A Cross-National Perspective on Health
Care and Other Policies for Parents and Newborn Babies 118
The Question, “How Much?”
The Question, “How?” 121


Touch 153
Taste and Smell 154
Hearing 155

Conception 88
Period of the Zygote 89
MILESTONES Prenatal Development 90
Period of the Embryo 91
Period of the Fetus 92
Teratogens 95
Other Maternal Factors

The Sequence of Motor Development 147
MILESTONES Some Gross- and Fine-Motor Attainments of the
First Two Years 148
Motor Skills as Dynamic Systems 148
Fine-Motor Development: Reaching and Grasping 150

Perceptual Development in Infancy

Prenatal Development 88

Prenatal Environmental Influences




Physical Growth


The Course of Physical Growth 176
Changes in Body Size 176
Changes in Body Proportions 176
Changes in Muscle–Fat Makeup 177
Skeletal Growth 178
Gains in Gross-Motor Skills 178
MILESTONES Gross-Motor Development in Early and
Middle Childhood 179
SOCIAL ISSUES: EDUCATION Sex Differences in Gross-Motor
Development 180
Hormonal Influences on Physical Growth 181
Worldwide Variations in Body Size 183
Secular Trends 184

Infancy: Early Learning, Motor Skills,
and Perceptual Capacities 128

Brain Development 184

The Organized Infant 129

BIOLOGY AND ENVIRONMENT Brain Plasticity: Insights from
Research on Brain-Damaged Children and Adults 188
Advances in Other Brain Structures 189
Brain Development in Adolescence 190
Sensitive Periods in Brain Development 191

Reflexes 130
States 132
CULTURAL INFLUENCES Cultural Variation in Infant Sleeping
Arrangements 134
SOCIAL ISSUES: HEALTH The Mysterious Tragedy of Sudden Infant
Death Syndrome 136

Development of Neurons 185
Development of the Cerebral Cortex


Factors Affecting Physical Growth 192


and Children’s Development 193
Nutrition 194
Infectious Disease 201
Emotional Well-Being 202

Puberty: The Physical Transition to Adulthood

MILESTONES Some Cognitive Attainments of Early Childhood 248
Evaluation of the Preoperational Stage 248

The Concrete Operational Stage: 7 to 11 Years

Sexual Maturation in Girls 203
Sexual Maturation in Boys 203
MILESTONES Pubertal Development in North American Boys
and Girls 204
Individual and Group Differences in Pubertal
Growth 204

The Psychological Impact of Pubertal Events 205
Is Puberty Inevitably a Period of Storm and Stress? 205
Reactions to Pubertal Changes 206
Pubertal Change, Emotion, and Social Behavior 207
Pubertal Timing 208


The Core Knowledge Perspective 261
Infancy: Physical and Numerical Knowledge 262
Children as Naïve Theorists 264
Evaluation of the Core Knowledge Perspective 265

SOCIAL ISSUES: HEALTH Lesbian, Gay, and Bisexual Youths:
Coming Out to Oneself and Others 216
Sexually Transmitted Disease 217
Adolescent Pregnancy and Parenthood 217
A Concluding Note 221

Vygotsky’s Sociocultural Theory 266
Children’s Private Speech 266
Social Origins of Cognitive Development 267
Vygotsky’s View of Make-Believe Play 269

Summary 221
Important Terms and Concepts 223

Vygotsky and Education 269
CULTURAL INFLUENCES Social Origins of Make-Believe Play
Reciprocal Teaching 271
Cooperative Learning 271


Cognitive and Language Development

Hypothetico-Deductive Reasoning 253
Propositional Thought 254
Consequences of Adolescent Cognitive Changes 255
Follow-up Research on Formal Operational Thought 257

Is Piaget’s Account of Cognitive Change Clear and Accurate? 260
Does Cognitive Development Take Place in Stages? 260
Piaget’s Legacy 261



The Formal Operational Stage: 11 Years and Older 253

Piaget and Education 259
Overall Evaluation of Piaget’s Theory

Puberty and Adolescent Health 210
Eating Disorders
Sexuality 212


Concrete Operational Thought 249
Limitations of Concrete Operational Thought 252
Follow-Up Research on Concrete Operational Thought 252
MILESTONES Some Cognitive Attainments of Middle Childhood
and Adolescence 253

Evaluation of Vygotsky’s Theory 272
CULTURAL INFLUENCES Children in Village and Tribal Cultures
Observe and Participate in Adult Work 273


Summary 273
Important Terms and Concepts 275

Cognitive Development: Piagetian,
Core Knowledge, and Vygotskian
Perspectives 224



Cognitive Development: An InformationProcessing Perspective 276

Piaget’s Cognitive-Developmental Theory 226
Basic Characteristics of Piaget’s Stages 226
Piaget’s Ideas About Cognitive Change 226

The Information-Processing Approach 278
A General Model of Information Processing 278

The Sensorimotor Stage: Birth to 2 Years 228
Sensorimotor Development 228
Follow-Up Research on Infant Cognitive Development
Evaluation of the Sensorimotor Stage 236


SOCIAL ISSUES: EDUCATION Baby Learning from TV and Video:
The Video Deficit Effect 237
MILESTONES Some Cognitive Attainments of Infancy and
Toddlerhood 238

The Preoperational Stage: 2 to 7 Years 239
Advances in Mental Representation 239
Limitations of Preoperational Thought 243
Follow-Up Research on Preoperational Thought


Components of the Mental System 278
Implications for Development 280

Developmental Theories of Information Processing 282
Case’s Neo-Piagetian Theory 283
Siegler’s Model of Strategy Choice 284
SOCIAL ISSUES: EDUCATION Speech–Gesture Mismatches:
Using the Hand to Read the Mind 285



Sustained, Selective, and Adaptable Attention 286
Planning 289


BIOLOGY AND ENVIRONMENT Children with Attention-Deficit
Hyperactivity Disorder 290



Strategies for Storing Information

Early Intervention and Intellectual Development 347
Benefits of Early Intervention 347
Strengthening Early Intervention 349

Giftedness: Creativity and Talent
The Psychometric View



Summary 356
Important Terms and Concepts 357

Applications of Information Processing to
Academic Learning 307
Reading 307
Mathematics 310
Scientific Reasoning


Evaluation of the Information-Processing Approach 314
Summary 316
Important Terms and Concepts 317






Language Development


Components of Language 360
Theories of Language Development 360
The Nativist Perspective


BIOLOGY AND ENVIRONMENT Deaf Children Invent Language 362
BIOLOGY AND ENVIRONMENT Language Development in
Children with Williams Syndrome 366
The Interactionist Perspective 366

Definitions of Intelligence 320
Alfred Binet: A Holistic View 320
The Factor Analysts: A Multifaceted View



Strengthening School Readiness in Economically Disadvantaged
Preschoolers 351
A Multifaceted View 352


Metacognitive Knowledge 303
Cognitive Self-Regulation 304
MILESTONES Development of Information Processing


SOCIAL ISSUES: EDUCATION High-Stakes Testing 343
Home Environment and Mental Development 344


SOCIAL ISSUES: EDUCATION Media Multitasking Disrupts
Learning 293
Retrieving Information 294
Knowledge and Semantic Memory 296
Episodic Memory 297
Eyewitness Memory 300


Race and Ethnicity: Genetic or Cultural Groupings?
Cultural Bias in Testing 339
Reducing Cultural Bias in Testing 342


Prelinguistic Development: Getting Ready to Talk


Recent Advances in Defining Intelligence 323
Combining Psychometric and Information-Processing
Approaches 323
Sternberg’s Triarchic Theory 323
Gardner’s Theory of Multiple Intelligences 325

SOCIAL ISSUES: EDUCATION Parent–Child Interaction: Impact
on Language and Cognitive Development of Deaf Children 372

Phonological Development 373

Measuring Intelligence 326

The Early Phase 373
Phonological Strategies 374
Later Phonological Development 375

SOCIAL ISSUES: EDUCATION Emotional Intelligence 327
Some Commonly Used Intelligence Tests 327
Aptitude and Achievement Tests 328
Tests for Infants 329
Computation and Distribution of IQ Scores 330

Semantic Development 376

What Do Intelligence Tests Predict, and How Well? 330
Stability of IQ Scores 330
IQ as a Predictor of Academic Achievement 331
IQ as a Predictor of Occupational Attainment 332
IQ as a Predictor of Psychological Adjustment 333

Ethnic and Socioeconomic Variations in IQ 334
Explaining Individual and Group Differences in IQ


Receptivity to Language 368
First Speech Sounds 370
Becoming a Communicator 370

The Early Phase 376
Later Semantic Development 380
Ideas About How Semantic Development Takes Place 381

Grammatical Development 384


Genetic Influences 335
Adoption Studies: Joint Influence of Heredity and
Environment 337
CULTURAL INFLUENCES The Flynn Effect: Massive Generational
Gains in IQ 338

First Word Combinations 384
From Simple Sentences to Complex Grammar 385
Development of Complex Grammatical Forms 387
Later Grammatical Development 388
Ideas About How Grammatical Development Takes Place

Pragmatic Development 390
Acquiring Conversational Skills 390
Communicating Clearly 391
Narratives 392
Sociolinguistic Understanding 393


Development of Metalinguistic Awareness 394
Bilingualism: Learning Two Languages in Childhood

Attachment, Parental Employment, and Child Care

Language Development 395

SOCIAL ISSUES: HEALTH Does Child Care Threaten Infant Attachment
Security and Later Adjustment? 442

SOCIAL ISSUES: EDUCATION Two Approaches to Bilingual Education:
Canada and the United States 397

Summary 444
Important Terms and Concepts 445

Summary 398
Important Terms and Concepts 399




Personality and Social Development


Emotional Development


Functions of Emotions 401
Emotions and Cognitive Processing 402
Emotions and Social Behavior 402
Emotions and Health 403
BIOLOGY AND ENVIRONMENT Parental Depression and Child
Development 404
Other Features of the Functionalist Approach 405

Development of Emotional Expression 405
Basic Emotions 406
Self-Conscious Emotions 408
Emotional Self-Regulation 409
Acquiring Emotional Display Rules 412

Understanding and Responding to the Emotions of
Others 414
Social Referencing 414
Emotional Understanding in Childhood 415
Empathy and Sympathy 416
MILESTONES Emotional Development 417

Temperament and Development 418
The Structure of Temperament 420
Measuring Temperament 421
BIOLOGY AND ENVIRONMENT Development of Shyness and
Sociability 422
Stability of Temperament 423
Genetic and Environmental Influences 423
Temperament as a Predictor of Children’s Behavior 425
Temperament and Child Rearing: The Goodness-of-Fit
Model 426

Development of Attachment 428
Bowlby’s Ethological Theory 428
Measuring the Security of Attachment 430
Stability of Attachment 432
Cultural Variations 432
Factors Affecting Attachment Security 433
Multiple Attachments 437
CULTURAL INFLUENCES The Powerful Role of Paternal Warmth in
Development 439
Attachment and Later Development 439



Self and Social Understanding


Emergence of Self and Development of Self-Concept 448
Self-Awareness 448
The Categorical, Remembered, and Enduring Selves


CULTURAL INFLUENCES Cultural Variations in Personal Storytelling:
Implications for Early Self-Concept 451
The Inner Self: Young Children’s Theory of Mind 451
Self-Concept 456
BIOLOGY AND ENVIRONMENT “Mindblindness” and Autism 457
Cognitive, Social, and Cultural Influences on Self-Concept 459
MILESTONES Emergence of Self and Development of
Self-Concept 460

Self-Esteem: The Evaluative Side of Self-Concept


The Structure of Self-Esteem 461
Changes in Level of Self-Esteem: The Role of Social
Comparisons 462
Influences on Self-Esteem 463
Achievement-Related Attributions 464

Constructing an Identity: Who Should I Become? 468
MILESTONES Development of Self-Esteem 469
Paths to Identity 470
Identity Status and Psychological Well-Being 471
SOCIAL ISSUES: HEALTH Adolescent Suicide: Annihilation of the
Self 472
Factors Affecting Identity Development 472
CULTURAL INFLUENCES Identity Development Among Ethnic
Minority Adolescents 475

Thinking About Other People


Understanding People as Personalities 476
Understanding Social Groups: Race and Ethnicity


Understanding Conflict: Social Problem Solving
The Social Problem-Solving Process 480
Enhancing Social Problem Solving 481

Summary 482
Important Terms and Concepts 483



Moral Development


Morality as Rooted in Human Nature 486
Morality as the Adoption of Societal Norms
Psychoanalytic Theory and the Role of Guilt
Social Learning Theory 490




CULTURAL INFLUENCES Ethnic Differences in the Consequences
of Physical Punishment 493
Limitations of “Morality as the Adoption of Societal Norms”
Perspective 494

CULTURAL INFLUENCES Sweden’s Commitment to Gender
Equality 536
Environmental Influences 538
SOCIAL ISSUES: EDUCATION Children Learn About Gender Through
Mother–Child Conversations 540

Morality as Social Understanding 496

SOCIAL ISSUES: EDUCATION Teaching Children to Challenge Peers’
Sexist Remarks 545

Piaget’s Theory of Moral Development 496
Evaluation of Piaget’s Theory 497
Kohlberg’s Extension of Piaget’s Theory 499
Research on Kohlberg’s Stages 502
Are There Sex Differences in Moral Reasoning? 503
Influences on Moral Reasoning 504
Moral Reasoning and Behavior 506
Religious Involvement and Moral Development 507

Gender Identity 547

SOCIAL ISSUES: EDUCATION Development of Civic Responsibility 508
Further Challenges to Kohlberg’s Theory 509
The Domain Approach to Moral Understanding 510
MILESTONES Internalization of Moral Norms and Development
of Moral Understanding 513

Development of Morally Relevant Self-Control 514
Toddlerhood 514
Childhood and Adolescence 515
Individual Differences 516

Emergence of Gender Identity 548
Gender Identity in Middle Childhood
Gender Identity in Adolescence 550
Gender Schema Theory 551
MILESTONES Gender Typing 553


To What Extent Do Boys and Girls Really Differ in
Gender-Stereotyped Attributes? 553
Mental Abilities


BIOLOGY AND ENVIRONMENT Sex Differences in Spatial
Abilities 556
Personality Traits 558

Developing Non-Gender-Stereotyped Children 562
Summary 564
Important Terms and Concepts 565

The Other Side of Self-Control: Development of
Aggression 516
MILESTONES Development of Morally Relevant Self-Control
and Aggression 517
Emergence of Aggression 517
Aggression in Early and Middle Childhood 518
Aggression and Delinquency in Adolescence 518
Stability of Aggression 519



Contexts for Development

BIOLOGY AND ENVIRONMENT Two Routes to Adolescent
Delinquency 520
The Family as Training Ground for Aggressive Behavior 520
Social-Cognitive Deficits and Distortions 522
Community and Cultural Influences 523
Helping Children and Parents Control Aggression 523
CULTURAL INFLUENCES Impact of Ethnic and Political Violence
on Children 524



The Family


Origins and Functions of the Family 568
The Family as a Social System 569
Direct Influences 569
Indirect Influences 569
SOCIAL ISSUES: HEALTH The Transition to Parenthood
Adapting to Change 571
The Family System in Context 571

Summary 526
Important Terms and Concepts 527

Socialization Within the Family






Styles of Child Rearing 573
What Makes the Authoritative Style Effective? 575
Adapting Child Rearing to Children’s Development 577

Development of Sex Differences
and Gender Roles 528

BIOLOGY AND ENVIRONMENT Does Parenting Really Matter? 578
Socioeconomic and Ethnic Variations in Child Rearing 580

Gender Stereotypes and Gender Roles 530

CULTURAL INFLUENCES The African-American Extended Family

Gender Stereotyping in Early Childhood 531
Gender Stereotyping in Middle Childhood and
Adolescence 532
Individual and Group Differences in Gender Stereotyping
Gender Stereotyping and Gender-Role Adoption 534

Influences on Gender Stereotyping and Gender-Role
Adoption 535
Biological Influences


Family Lifestyles and Transitions 584

From Large to Small Families 584
One-Child Families 587
Adoptive Families 588
Gay and Lesbian Families 589
Never-Married Single-Parent Families
Divorce 590
Blended Families 594



Maternal Employment and Dual-Earner Families
Child Care 596
Self-Care 597



Vulnerable Families: Child Maltreatment 599
Incidence and Definitions 599
Origins of Child Maltreatment 600

Schooling 637
Class and Student Body Size 637
Educational Philosophies 638

SOCIAL ISSUES: HEALTH Child Sexual Abuse 601
Consequences of Child Maltreatment 602
Preventing Child Maltreatment 603

SOCIAL ISSUES: EDUCATION School Recess—A Time to Play,
a Time to Learn 639
School Transitions 640
Teacher–Student Interaction 643
Grouping Practices 643

Summary 604
Important Terms and Concepts 605


SOCIAL ISSUES: EDUCATION Magnet Schools: Equal Access to
High-Quality Education 645
Teaching Students with Special Needs 646
Parent–School Partnerships 647
How Well-Educated Are American Young People? 647


Peers, Media, and Schooling


Peer Relations 607

Summary 650
Important Terms and Concepts 652

Development of Peer Sociability 608
Influences on Peer Sociability 611
Friendship 613
Peer Acceptance 618
BIOLOGY AND ENVIRONMENT Bullies and Their Victims 621
Peer Groups 622
Dating 624
Peer Pressure and Conformity 625
SOCIAL ISSUES: HEALTH Adolescent Substance Use and Abuse


Television 629
Computers, Cell Phones, and the Internet 632
Regulating Media Use 635

Development of Peer Relations 628


Glossary G-1
References R-1
Name Index NI-1
Subject Index SI-1

A Personal Note to Students
My more than 30 years of teaching child development have brought me in contact with
thousands of students like you—students with diverse majors, future goals, interests,
and needs. Some are affiliated with my own field, psychology, but many come from
other related fields—education, sociology, anthropology, family studies, social service,
nursing, and biology, to name just a few. Each semester, my students’ aspirations have
proven to be as varied as their fields of study. Many look toward careers in applied
work with children—teaching, caregiving, nursing, counseling, social service, school
psychology, and program administration. Some plan to teach child development, and
a few want to do research. Most hope someday to become parents, whereas others are
already parents who come with a desire to better understand and rear their children.
And almost all arrive with a deep curiosity about how they themselves developed from
tiny infants into the complex human beings they are today.
My goal in preparing this ninth edition of Child Development is to provide a textbook
that meets the instructional goals of your course as well as your personal interests and
needs. To achieve these objectives, I have grounded this book in a carefully selected
body of classic and current theory and research brought to life with stories and vignettes
about children and families, most of whom I have known personally. In addition, the
text highlights the joint contributions of biology and environment to the developing
child, explains how the research process helps solve real-world problems, illustrates
commonalities and differences between ethnic groups and cultures, discusses the broader
social contexts in which children develop, and pays special attention to policy issues that
are crucial for safeguarding children’s well-being in today’s world. Woven throughout
the text is a unique pedagogical program that will assist you in mastering information,
integrating the various aspects of development, critically examining controversial
issues, applying what you have learned, and relating the information to real life.
I hope that learning about child development will be as rewarding for you as I have
found it over the years. I would like to know what you think about both the field of child
development and this book. I welcome your comments; please feel free to send them to
me at Department of Psychology, Box 4620, Illinois State University, Normal, IL 61790,
or in care of the publisher, who will forward them to me.
Laura E. Berk


Preface for Instructors
My decision to write Child Development was inspired by a wealth
of professional and personal experiences. First and foremost
were the interests and needs of thousands of students of child
development in my classes in more than three decades of college
teaching. I aimed for a text that is intellectually stimulating, that
provides depth as well as breadth of coverage, that portrays the
complexities of child development with clarity and excitement,
and that is relevant and useful in building a bridge from theory
and research to children’s everyday lives.
Today, Child Development reaches around the globe, with
editions published in six languages: English, Chinese, Georgian,
Japanese, Russian, and Spanish. Instructor and student enthusiasm for the book not only has been among my greatest sources
of pride and satisfaction but also has inspired me to rethink and
improve each edition. I am honored and humbled to have entrusted to me the awesome responsibility of introducing the field
of child development to so many students.
The 23 years since Child Development first appeared have
been a period of unprecedented expansion and change in theory
and research. This ninth edition represents these rapid transformations, with a wealth of new content and teaching tools:

Diverse pathways of change are highlighted. Investigators have
reached broad consensus that variations in biological makeup,
everyday tasks, and the people who support children in mastery
of those tasks lead to wide individual differences in children’s
paths of change and resulting competencies. This edition pays
more attention to variability in development and to recent
theories—including ecological, sociocultural, and dynamic
systems—that attempt to explain it. Multicultural and crosscultural findings, including international comparisons, are
enhanced throughout the text and in revised and expanded
Cultural Influences boxes.


The complex, bidirectional relationship between biology and
environment is given greater attention. Accumulating evidence
on development of the brain, motor skills, cognitive and language
competencies, temperament, emotional and social understanding, and developmental problems underscores the way biological factors emerge in, are modified by, and share power with
experience. The interconnection between biology and environment is revisited throughout the text narrative and in the Biology and Environment boxes with new and updated topics.
■ Inclusion of interdisciplinary research is expanded. The move
toward viewing thoughts, feelings, and behavior as an integrated
whole, affected by a wide array of influences in biology, social
context, and culture, has motivated developmental researchers
to strengthen their ties with other fields of psychology and with
other disciplines. Topics and findings included in this edition
increasingly reflect the contributions of educational psychology,
social psychology, health psychology, clinical psychology, neurobiology, pediatrics, sociology, anthropology, social service,
and other fields.


■ The links among theory, research, and applications—a theme
of this book since its inception—are strengthened. As researchers
intensify their efforts to generate findings relevant to real-life
situations, I have placed even greater weight on social policy
issues and sound theory- and research-based practices. Further
applications are provided in the Applying What We Know tables,
which give students concrete ways of building bridges between
their learning and the real world.

Both health and education are granted increased attention.
The home, school, community, and larger culture are featured
as contexts that powerfully influence children’s health and education, with lifelong consequences for their well-being. Research
on effective health- and education-related policies and practices
appears throughout the text narrative and in new and revised
Social Issues: Health and Social Issues: Education boxes.

The role of active student learning is made more explicit.
TAKE A MOMENT..., a feature built into the chapter narrative,
asks students to think deeply and critically as they read. Ask
Yourself questions at the end of each major section have been
thoroughly revised and expanded to promote four approaches
to engaging actively with the subject matter: Review, Connect,
Apply, and Reflect. This feature assists students in reflecting on
what they have learned from multiple vantage points. A new
Look and Listen feature, appearing periodically in the margins,
presents students with opportunities to observe what real children say and do and attend to influences on children in their
everyday environments.

Text Philosophy
The basic approach of this book has been shaped by my
own professional and personal history as a teacher, researcher,
and parent. It consists of seven philosophical ingredients that I
regard as essential for students to emerge from a course with a
thorough understanding of child development:
1. An understanding of major theories and the strengths and
shortcomings of each. The first chapter begins by emphasizing
that only knowledge of multiple theories can do justice to the
richness of child development. In each topical domain, I present
a variety of theoretical perspectives, indicate how each highlights previously overlooked facets of development, and discuss
research that evaluates it. If one or two theories have emerged
as especially prominent in a particular area, I indicate why, in
terms of the theory’s broad explanatory power. Consideration
of contrasting theories also serves as the basis for an evenhanded
analysis of many controversial issues throughout the text.
2. An appreciation of research strategies for investigating child
development. To evaluate theories, students need a firm grounding in research methods and designs. I devote an entire chapter


to a description and critique of research strategies. Throughout
the book, numerous studies are discussed in sufficient detail for
students to use what they have learned to critically assess the
findings, conclusions, and implications of research.
3. Knowledge of both the sequence of child development and the
processes that underlie it. Students are provided with a description of the organized sequence of development along with
processes of change. An understanding of process—how complex
combinations of biological and environmental events produce
development—has been the focus of most recent research.
Accordingly, the text reflects this emphasis. But new information about the timetable of change has also emerged. In many
ways, children have proved to be far more competent than they
were believed to be in the past. Current evidence on the
sequence and timing of development, along with its implications for process, is presented throughout the book.
4. An appreciation of the impact of context and culture on child
development. A wealth of research indicates that children live in
rich physical and social contexts that affect all aspects of development. In each chapter, the student travels to distant parts of
the world as I review a growing body of cross-cultural evidence.
The text narrative also discusses many findings on socioeconomically and ethnically diverse children within the United
States and on children with varying abilities and disabilities.
Besides highlighting the role of immediate settings, such as family, neighborhood, and school, I underscore the impact of larger
social structures—societal values, laws, and government programs—on children’s well-being.
5. An understanding of the joint contributions of biology and
environment to development. The field recognizes more powerfully than ever before the joint impact of hereditary/constitutional and environmental factors—that these contributions to
development combine in complex ways and cannot be separated
in a simple manner. Numerous examples of how biological dispositions can be maintained as well as transformed by social
contexts are presented throughout the book.
6. A sense of the interdependency of all aspects of development—
physical, cognitive, emotional, and social. Every chapter takes an
integrated approach to understanding children. I show how
physical, cognitive, emotional, and social development are interwoven. Within the text narrative and in a special series of Ask
Yourself Connect questions at the end of major sections, students
are referred to other parts of the book to deepen their grasp of
relationships among various aspects of change.
7. An appreciation of the interrelatedness of theory, research, and
applications. Throughout this book, I emphasize that theories
of child development and the research stimulated by them provide the foundation for sound, effective practices with children.
The links among theory, research, and applications are reinforced by an organizational format in which theory and research
are presented first, followed by practical implications. In addition, a current focus in the field—harnessing child development knowledge to shape social policies that support children’s


needs—is reflected in every chapter. The text addresses the current condition of children in the United States and around the
world and shows how theory and research have sparked successful interventions.

New Coverage in the
Ninth Edition
Child development is a fascinating and ever-changing field
of study, with constantly emerging new discoveries and refinements in existing knowledge. The ninth edition represents this
burgeoning contemporary literature, with more than 1,400 new
citations. Cutting-edge topics throughout the text underscore
the book’s major themes. Here is a sampling:
■ CHAPTER 1 ■ Introduction to the concept of plasticity
within the section on basic issues of development • Revised and
updated section on developmental cognitive neuroscience as a
new area of investigation • New Social Issues: Health box on
how family chaos undermines children’s well-being, illustrating
the power of the exosystem to affect development • Expanded
and updated section on child development and social policy •
Updated Social Issues: Health box on the impact of welfare
reform on children’s development, with U.S. welfare reform
policies compared to those of other Western nations

CHAPTER 2 ■ Attention throughout to the advantages of
combining research methods and designs • New examples of
research using systematic observation, structured interviews,
correlational design, field experimentation, and microgenetic
design • Expanded and updated section on neurobiological
methods, including salivary cortisol as a measure of stress
reactivity and new approaches to assessing brain functioning,
including the geodesic sensor net (GSN) and near-infrared spectroscopy (NIRS) • Updated Biology and Environment box on
prenatal iron deficiency and memory impairments in infants
of diabetic mothers, illustrating research using event-related
potentials (ERPs) • Updated Cultural Influences box on immigrant youths

CHAPTER 3 ■ Updated Social Issues: Health box on the
pros and cons of reproductive technologies • Enhanced attention to fetal brain development and behavior • Updated consideration of a wide range of teratogens • New evidence on the
long-term consequences of emotional stress during pregnancy
• New findings on older maternal age and prenatal and birth
complications • Updated Social Issues: Health box on health
care and other policies for parents and newborn babies, including the importance of generous parental leave • Introduction
to the concept of gene–environment interaction, with illustrative
research findings • Expanded section on epigenesis, including
new examples of environmental influences on gene expression




Enhanced attention to cultural influences—
including infant sleep, gross- and fine-motor development, and

perceptual development • New evidence on the impact of
“proximal care”—extensive holding of young babies—on reducing
infant crying • Updated findings on how environmental factors,
including caregiving practices and the baby’s physical surroundings, contribute to motor development • New evidence on the
perceptual narrowing effect in speech, music, and species-related
face perception and in gender- and race-related face perception
• New research on development of object perception, including the role of object manipulation • Expanded and updated
research on intermodal perception and its contributions to all
aspects of psychological development • New findings on children adopted from Romanian orphanages bearing on the question of whether infancy is a sensitive period of development
■ CHAPTER 5 ■ Updated Social Issues: Education box on
sex differences in gross motor development, including the role
of physical education • Updated consideration of advances in
brain development, with special attention to the prefrontal cortex
and the amygdala • New section on adolescent brain development • Updated Biology and Environment box on low-level
lead exposure and children’s development • Expanded attention to the impact of adult mealtime practices on children’s
eating behaviors • Revised and updated section on overweight
and obesity, including current U.S. prevalence rates, international
comparisons, and coverage of contributing factors and health
and psychological consequences • New research on infants
with growth faltering, highlighting the joint contributions of
feeding difficulties and a disturbed parent–infant relationship
• New findings on media exposure to sexual content and teenage sexual activity • New evidence on key elements of effective sex education programs • Updated research on adolescent
parenthood, including long-term adjustment of adolescent parents and their children and effective interventions

CHAPTER 6 ■ Updated section on infant and toddler
imitation, revealing toddlers’ ability to infer others’ intentions
• New section on symbolic understanding, including toddlers’
developing grasp of words and pictures as symbolic tools •
New Social Issues: Education box on baby learning from TV and
video, including discussion of the video deficit effect and the
negative impact of extensive early TV viewing • Updated Cultural Influences box on social origins of make-believe play •
New evidence on preschoolers’ magical beliefs • Enhanced
discussion of school-age children’s spatial reasoning, with
special attention to map skills • Expanded consideration of
infants’ numerical knowledge, including capacity to discriminate ratios and to represent approximate large-number values
• Expanded and updated research on adolescent decision making • New evidence on cultural variations in parental scaffolding of young children’s mastery of challenging tasks • New
findings on benefits of cooperative learning


CHAPTER 7 ■ Enhanced and updated consideration of
working memory, its assessment, and its implications for learning and academic achievement • New section on executive
function and its component processes • Expanded section on
inhibition and its contribution to many information-processing

skills • Updated Biology and Environment box on children
with attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) • New
Social Issues: Education box on the impact of “media multitasking” on learning • Revised and enhanced attention to development of episodic memory, including the relationship between
semantic and episodic memory • New research on children’s
eyewitness memory • Enhanced discussion of differences
between preschoolers from middle-income and low-income
families in emergent literacy and math knowledge, including
interventions that reduce the gap



Updated Social Issues: Education box on
emotional intelligence • Updated evidence on neurobiological correlates of mental test performance • New findings on IQ
as a predictor of psychological adjustment • New evidence on
how culturally acquired knowledge affects reasoning on mental
test items • Enhanced Social Issues: Education box on highstakes testing, including the impact of the U.S. No Child Left
Behind Act on quality of American education • Enhanced
consideration of the potential for supplementary programs to
strengthen the impact of Head Start and other preschool programs serving low-income children

CHAPTER 9 ■ Updated research on categorical speech
perception in humans and other animals • New evidence on
the contributions of joint attention and preverbal gestures to
early language development • Updated findings on toddlers’
earliest spoken words, including cultural variations • New
findings on how phonological features of the child’s native language influence early vocabulary growth • Enhanced consideration of research on young children’s grammatical knowledge,
including the influence of native-language syntactic forms •
Updated research on consequences of bilingualism for cognitive
and language development • Enhanced attention to the impact
of bilingual education on academic achievement and long-term
educational and occupational attainment




Updated consideration of the dynamic
systems perspective on development of emotional expression •
Updated evidence on contributions of language development
and parenting to preschoolers’ emotional self-regulation • New
research on consequences of effortful control for cognitive,
emotional, and social development • New findings on goodness of fit, with special attention to the interacting roles of genotype and parenting on child difficultness • Updated section on
consequences of early availability of a consistent caregiver for
attachment security, emotion processing, and adjustment, highlighting studies of children adopted from Eastern European
orphanages • New findings on the joint contributions of infant
genotype, temperament, and parenting to disorganized/disoriented attachment • New evidence on contributions of fathers’
play to attachment security and emotional and social adjustment
• Revised and updated Social Issues: Health box on child care,
attachment, and later adjustment • New section on grandparents as primary caregivers

CHAPTER 11 ■ New findings on development of explicit
body self-awareness in the second year, including scale errors •


New evidence on cognitive attainments and social experiences that contribute to preschoolers’ mastery of false belief
• Updated research on the school-age child’s theory of mind,
including development of recursive thought • Expanded section on implications of theory-of-mind development for social
skills • Updated Biology and Environment box on “mindblindness” and autism • New evidence on preschoolers’ selfconcepts, including their emerging grasp of personality traits •
New findings on the contribution of parent–child conversations
about the past to early self-concept • Enhanced attention to
cultural variations in self-concept • New research on personal
and social factors contributing to identity development in adolescence • Updated Social Issues: Health box on adolescent
suicide • Enhanced section on children’s understanding of
social groups, racial and ethnic prejudice, and strategies for
reducing prejudice • New evidence on the Promoting Alternative Thinking Strategies (PATHS) curriculum, a widely applied
intervention for enhancing preschoolers’ social problem solving

CHAPTER 12 ■ New evidence on the relationship of early
corporal punishment to later behavior problems, including
cross-cultural findings • Enhanced consideration of factors
that promote moral identity, along with its relationship to moral
commitment • Updated Social Issues: Education box on development of civic responsibility • New findings on socialcognitive deficits and distortions of aggressive children •
Updated Cultural Influences box on the impact of ethnic and
political violence on children, with expanded attention to the
September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks • New section on parent
training programs to reduce child conduct problems, with special attention to Incredible Years




New evidence on parents’ differential expectations for boys’ and girls’ academic achievement • Revised
Cultural Influences box on Sweden’s commitment to gender
equality, with coverage of Swedish “daddy-months” aimed at
encouraging fathers’ involvement in child rearing • Updated
findings on teachers’ differential treatment of boys and girls •
New research on the power of observed sex differences in adults’
occupations to affect children’s occupational interests • New
Social Issues: Education box on teaching children to challenge
peers’ sexist remarks • Updated evidence on gender intensification in adolescence • Updated consideration of factors
contributing to sex differences in verbal, mathematical, and
spatial abilities • New findings on sex differences in adolescent
■ CHAPTER 14 ■ Updated evidence on the impact of neighborhood poverty on family functioning, including communitywide prevention efforts of the Better Beginnings, Better Futures
Project • New research on long-term, favorable consequences
of authoritative child rearing • Updated section on parenting and adolescent autonomy, including research on immigrant families • New evidence on socioeconomic variations in
parenting • Updated research on family size and parenting
quality • New findings on sibling relationships, including cultural influences and interventions to reduce sibling animosity


• Updated discussion of the one-child policy in China • New
research on gay and lesbian families, including children’s
adjustment and gender identity • Expanded attention to the
role of fathers in children’s development, with special attention
to the transition to parenthood, blended families, and dualcareer families • Updated consideration of the consequences
of child maltreatment

CHAPTER 15 ■ Updated research on parental influences
on peer sociability • New findings on the role of positive peer
relations in school readiness • New research on characteristics
of adolescent friendships, including implications of other-sex
friends for adjustment • Updated findings on Internet friendships, with special attention to teenagers’ use of social networking sites • Updated Biology and Environment box on bullies
and their victims • Expanded consideration of the impact of
biased teacher judgments on ethnic minority children’s academic achievement • New statistics on U.S. children and adolescents’ use of diverse media forms, including TV, computers,
and cell phones • Updated evidence on the influence of various
media activities, including TV, video games, texting, and social
networking sites, on development and adjustment • New
research on the educational consequences of widespread SES
and ethnic segregation in American schools • New Social Issues:
Education box on magnet schools as a means of attaining equal
access to high-quality education • Revised and updated section on U.S. academic achievement in international perspective,
including education in the high-performing nations of Finland,
Korea, Japan, and Taiwan

The dedicated contributions of many individuals helped
make this book a reality and contributed to refinements and
improvements in each edition. An impressive cast of reviewers
provided many helpful suggestions, constructive criticisms,
and encouragement and enthusiasm for the organization and
content of the book. I am grateful to each one of them.

Reviewers for the First Through
Eighth Editions
Martha W. Alibali, University of Wisconsin, Madison
Ellen Altermatt, Hanover College
Daniel Ashmead, Vanderbilt University
Margarita Azmitia, University of California, Santa Cruz
Catherine L. Bagwell, University of Richmond
Lorraine Bahrick, Florida International University
Lynne Baker-Ward, North Carolina State University
David Baskind, Delta College
Carole R. Beal, University of Massachusetts
Rebecca S. Bigler, University of Texas, Austin
Dana W. Birnbaum, University of Maine at Orono
Kathryn N. Black, Purdue University
Paul Bloom, Yale University
James H. Bodle, College of Mount Saint Joseph

xviii PREFACE
Cathryn L. Booth, University of Washington
J. Paul Boudreau, University of Prince Edward Island
Sam Boyd, University of Central Arkansas
Darlene A. Brodeur, Acadia University
Celia A. Brownell, University of Pittsburgh
M. Michele Burnette, Community College of Allegheny County
Lori Camparo, Whittier College
Toni A. Campbell, San Jose State University
M. Beth Casey, Boston College
Robert Cohen, University of Memphis
John Condry, Cornell University
Robert Coplan, Carleton University
Rhoda Cummings, University of Nevada, Reno
James L. Dannemiller, University of Wisconsin, Madison
Zoe Ann Davidson, Alabama A & M University
Teddi Deka, Missouri Western State University
Laura DeRose, Adelphi University
Darlene DeSantis, West Chester University
Nancy Digdon, Grant MacEwan College
Rebecca Eder, Bryn Mawr College
Richard Ely, Boston University
Claire Etaugh, Bradley University
Bill Fabricius, Arizona State University
Beverly Fagot, University of Oregon
Francine Favretto, University of Maryland
Larry Fenson, San Diego State University
Jayne Gackenbach, Grant MacEwan College
James Garbarino, Cornell University
Jane F. Gaultney, University of North Carolina, Charlotte
John C. Gibbs, Ohio State University
Peter Gordon, University of Pittsburgh
Katherine Green, Millersville University
Suzanne Gurland, Middlebury College
Craig H. Hart, Brigham Young University
Joyce A. Hemphill, University of Wisconsin, Madison
Kenneth Hill, Saint Mary’s University, Halifax
Alice S. Honig, Syracuse University
Nina Howe, Concordia University
Carla L. Hudson Kam, University of California, Berkeley
Janis Jacobs, Pennsylvania State University
Scott P. Johnson, New York University
Patricia K. Kerig, Miami University of Ohio
Katherine Kipp, University of Georgia
Paul Klaczynski, Pennsylvania State University
Mareile Koenig, George Washington University Hospital
Claire Kopp, Claremont Graduate School
Beth Kurtz-Costes, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill
Gary W. Ladd, Arizona State University
Daniel Lapsley, Ball State University
Frank Laycock, Oberlin College
Elise Lehman, George Mason University
Mary D. Leinbach, University of Oregon
Richard Lerner, Tufts University
Marc Lewis, Ontario Institute for Studies in Education,
University of Toronto
Wilma M. Marshall, Douglas College
Robert S. Marvin, University of Virginia
Catherine Massey, Slippery Rock University
Ashley E. Maynard, University of Hawaii
Tom McBride, Princeton University

Carolyn J. Mebert, University of New Hampshire
Gary B. Melton, University of Nebraska, Lincoln
Mary Evelyn Moore, Illinois State University
Brad Morris, Grand Valley State University
Lois Muir, University of Wisconsin, La Crosse
John P. Murray, Kansas State University
Bonnie K. Nastasi, State University of New York at Albany
Geoff Navara, Trent University
David A. Nelson, Brigham Young University
Simone Nguyen, University of North Carolina, Wilmington
Larry Nucci, University of Illinois at Chicago
Peter Ornstein, University of North Carolina
Randall Osbourne, Indiana University East
Carol Pandey, Pierce College, Los Angeles
Thomas S. Parish, Kansas State University
B. Kay Pasley, Colorado State University
Kathy Pezdek, Claremont Graduate School
Ellen F. Potter, University of South Carolina at Columbia
Kimberly K. Powlishta, Northern Illinois University
Kathleen Preston, Humboldt State University
Bud Protinsky, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University
Daniel Reschly, Iowa State University
Stephen Reznick, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill
Rosemary Rosser, University of Arizona
Alan Russell, Flinders University
Jane Ann Rysberg, California State University, Chico
Phil Schoggen, Cornell University
Maria E. Sera, University of Iowa
Beth Shapiro, Emory University
Susan Siaw, California State Polytechnic University
Linda Siegel, University of British Columbia
Robert Siegler, Carnegie Mellon University
Barbara B. Simon, Midlands Technical College
Leher Singh, Boston University
Gregory J. Smith, Dickinson College
Robert J. Sternberg, Yale University
Harold Stevenson, University of Michigan
Daniel Swingley, University of Pennsylvania
Doug Symons, Acadia University
Lorraine Taylor, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill
Ross A. Thompson, University of California, Davis
Barbara A. Tinsley, University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign
Kim F. Townley, University of Kentucky
Tracy Vaillancourt, McMaster University
Janet Valadez, Pan American University
Cecilia Wainryb, University of Utah
Susan K. Walker, University of Maryland
Amye R. Warren, University of Tennessee at Chattanooga
Wenfan Yan, Indiana University of Pennsylvania
Yiyuan Xu, University of Hawaii
Laura Zimmermann, Shenandoah University

Reviewers for the Ninth Edition
Rebecca Bigler, University of Texas, Austin
Natasha Cabrera, University of Maryland
Beth Casey, Boston College
John Gibbs, Ohio State University
Sara Harkness, University of Connecticut
Maria Hernandez-Reif, University of Alabama, Tuscaloosa


Scott P. Johnson, University of California, Los Angeles
Michelle L. Kelley, Old Dominion University
Karen LaParo, University of North Carolina, Greensboro
Angela F. Lukowski, University of California, Irvine
Michael Morales, State University of New York College at Plattsburgh
David A. Nelson, Brigham Young University
Larry Nelson, Brigham Young University
Anna Shusterman, Wesleyan University
Doug Symons, Acadia University
Tracy Vaillancourt, McMaster University
Cecilia Wainryb, University of Utah
Corinne Zimmerman, Illinois State University

An outstanding editorial staff in my home community
contributed immeasurably to the entire project. Sara Harris,
Supplements Editor and visiting assistant professor of psychology, Bradley University, coordinated the preparation of the
teaching ancillaries and wrote major sections of the Instructor’s
Resource Manual, bringing to these tasks great depth of knowledge, impressive writing skill, enthusiasm, and imagination.
Amelia Benner and Rachel Trapp, Editorial Assistants, spent
countless hours searching, gathering, and organizing scholarly
literature. Rachel also assisted with specifications for several
highly creative MyDevelopmentLab simulations, contributed to
the Explorations in Child Development video guide, designed
the text’s back cover, and expertly handled many additional tasks
as they arose.
I have been fortunate to work with a highly capable editorial
team at Pearson Education. It has been a great pleasure to work
once again with Tom Pauken, Managing Editor, who oversaw
the preparation of the sixth edition of Child Development and
who returned to edit its ninth edition. His careful review of
manuscript, keen organizational skills, responsive day-to-day
communication, insightful suggestions, astute problem solving, interest in the subject matter, and thoughtfulness have
greatly enhanced the quality of the text and made its preparation
especially enjoyable and rewarding. Judy Ashkenaz and Lisa
McLellan, Development Editors, carefully reviewed and commented on each chapter, helping to ensure that every thought
and concept would be clearly expressed and well-developed.
My appreciation, also, to Jessica Mosher, Editor in Chief of
Psychology, for reorganizing the management of my projects to


enable the focused work that is vital for precise, inspired writing.
The supplements package benefited from the talents and diligence of several other individuals. Leah Shiro carefully revised
the chapter summaries and outlines in the Instructor’s Resource
Manual. Kimberly Michaud and Cheryl Wilms prepared the
superb Test Bank and MyDevelopmentLab assessments. Diana
Murphy designed and wrote a highly attractive PowerPoint
presentation. Maria Henneberry and Phil Vandiver of Contemporary Visuals in Bloomington, IL, prepared an extraordinarily
artistic and inspiring set of new video segments covering diverse
topics in child development.
Donna Simons, Senior Production Project Manager, coordinated the complex production tasks that resulted in an exquisitely beautiful ninth edition. I am grateful for her keen aesthetic
sense, attention to detail, flexibility, efficiency, and thoughtfulness. I thank Sarah Evertson for obtaining the exceptional
photographs that so aptly illustrate the text narrative. I am also
grateful for Judy Ashkenaz’s fine contributions to the photo
specifications and captions. Margaret Pinette, Bill Heckman,
and Julie Hotchkiss provided outstanding copyediting and
Wendy Albert, Executive Marketing Manager, prepared the
beautiful print ads and informative e-mails to the field about
Child Development, Ninth Edition. She has also ensured that
accurate and clear information reached Pearson Education’s sales
force and that the needs of prospective and current adopters
were met.
A final word of gratitude goes to my family, whose love,
patience, and understanding have enabled me to be wife,
mother, teacher, researcher, and text author at the same time.
My sons, David and Peter, grew up with my texts, passing from
childhood to adolescence and then to adulthood as successive
editions were written. David has a special connection with the
books’ subject matter as an elementary school teacher, and Peter
is now an experienced attorney and married to his vivacious,
talented, and caring Melissa. All three continue to enrich my
understanding through reflections on events and progress in
their own lives. My husband, Ken, willingly made room for yet
another time-consuming endeavor in our life together and communicated his belief in its importance in a great many unspoken,
caring ways.

About the Cover and Chapter-Opening Art
I would like to extend grateful acknowledgments to the International Museum of Children’s
Art, Oslo, Norway, and to the International Child Art Foundation, Washington, D.C.; to the World
Awareness Children’s Museum, Glens Falls, New York; and to the International Collection of Child
Art, Milner Library, Illinois State University, for the exceptional cover image and chapter-opening
art, which depict the talents, concerns, and viewpoints of child and adolescent artists from around
the world. The awe-inspiring collection of children’s art gracing this text expresses family, school,
and community themes; good times and personal triumphs; profound appreciation for beauty; and
great depth of emotion. I am pleased to share with readers this window into children’s creativity,
insightfulness, sensitivity, and compassion.

C H A P T E R


Patrick, 15 years, New Mexico
This artist represents his Taos Pueblo culture with intricate patterns and rainbows of color. As the
theories reviewed in this chapter reveal, a similarly complex blend of genetic, family, community,
and societal forces influences child development.
Reprinted with permission from the International Collection of Child Art, Milner Library, Illinois State University,
Normal, Illinois


History, Theory, and
Applied Directions

The Field of Child Development

Domains of Development • Periods of

Basic Issues

ot long ago, I left my Midwestern home to live for a year near the small
city in northern California where I spent my childhood. One morning,
I visited the neighborhood where I grew up—a place I had not seen
since I was 12 years old.
I stood at the entrance to my old schoolyard. Buildings and grounds that had
looked large to me as a child now seemed strangely small. I peered through the window
of my first-grade classroom. The desks were no longer arranged in rows but grouped in
intimate clusters. Computers rested against the far wall, near where I once sat. I walked
my old route home from school, the distance shrunken by my longer stride. I stopped in
front of my best friend Kathryn’s house, where we once drew sidewalk pictures, crossed
the street to play kickball, and produced plays in the garage. In place of the small shop
where I had purchased penny candy stood a child-care center, filled with the voices and
vigorous activity of toddlers and preschoolers.
As I walked, I reflected on early experiences that contributed to who I am and
what I am like today—weekends helping my father in his downtown clothing shop, the
year my mother studied to become a high school teacher, moments of companionship
and rivalry with my sister and brother, Sunday outings to museums and the seashore, and
visits to my grandmother’s house, where I became someone extra special.
As I passed the homes of my childhood friends, I thought of what I knew about the
course of their lives. Kathryn, star pupil and president of our sixth-grade class—today
a successful corporate lawyer and mother of two. Shy, withdrawn Phil, cruelly teased
because of his cleft lip—now owner of a thriving chain of hardware stores and member
of the city council. Julio, immigrant from Mexico who joined our class in third grade—
today director of an elementary school bilingual education program and single parent
of an adopted Mexican boy. And finally, my next-door neighbor Rick, who picked fights
at recess, struggled with reading, repeated fourth grade, dropped out of high school,
and (so I heard) moved from one job to another over the following 10 years.
As you begin this course in child development, perhaps you, too, are wondering about
some of the same questions that crossed my mind during that nostalgic neighborhood walk:








Continuous or Discontinuous
Development? • One Course of
Development or Many? • Relative
Influence of Nature and Nurture? •
A Balanced Point of View
Resilient Children

Historical Foundations

Medieval Times • The Reformation •
Philosophies of the Enlightenment •
Scientific Beginnings

Mid-Twentieth-Century Theories

The Psychoanalytic Perspective •
Behaviorism and Social Learning Theory •
Piaget’s Cognitive-Developmental Theory

Recent Theoretical Perspectives

Information Processing • Developmental
Cognitive Neuroscience • Ethology and
Evolutionary Developmental Psychology •
Vygotsky’s Sociocultural Theory •
Ecological Systems Theory • New
Directions: Development as a Dynamic
Infancy: Acquiring Culture
Undermines Children’s Well-Being

Comparing Child Development
Applied Directions: Child
Development and Social Policy

Culture and Public Policies •
Contributions of Child Development
Research • Looking Toward the Future
Reform, Poverty, and Child Development

In what ways are children’s home, school, and neighborhood experiences the same
today as they were in generations past, and in what ways are they different?
How are the infant’s and young child’s perceptions of the world the same as the
adult’s, and how are they different?
What determines the features that humans have in common and those that make
each of us unique—physically, mentally, and behaviorally?
How did Julio, transplanted at age 8 to a new culture, master its language and
customs and succeed in its society, yet remain strongly identified with his ethnic
Why do some of us, like Kathryn and Rick, retain the same styles of responding that
characterized us as children, whereas others, like Phil, change in essential ways?
How do cultural changes—employed mothers, child care, divorce, smaller families,
and new technologies—affect children’s characteristics?


PART I Theory and Research in Child Development

These are central questions addressed by child development, an area of study devoted
to understanding constancy and change from conception through adolescence. Child development is part of a larger, interdisciplinary field known as developmental science, which
includes all changes we experience throughout the lifespan (Lerner, 2006). Great diversity
characterizes the interests and concerns of the thousands of investigators who study child
development. But all have a common goal: to describe and identify those factors that influence the consistencies and changes in young people during the first two decades of life. ■

What is the field of child
development, and what
factors stimulated its
How is child development
typically divided into domains
and periods?

The Field of Child Development
The questions just listed are not just of scientific interest. Each has applied, or practical,
importance as well. In fact, scientific curiosity is just one factor that led child development
to become the exciting field of study it is today. Research about development has also been
stimulated by social pressures to improve the lives of children. For example, the beginning
of public education in the early twentieth century led to a demand for knowledge about what
and how to teach children of different ages. Pediatricians’ interest in improving children’s
health required an understanding of physical growth and nutrition. The social service profession’s desire to treat children’s anxieties and behavior problems required information
about personality and social development. And parents have continually sought advice about
child-rearing practices and experiences that would promote their children’s development
and well-being.
Our large storehouse of information about child development is interdisciplinary. It has
grown through the combined efforts of people from many fields. Because of the need to
solve everyday problems concerning children, researchers from psychology, sociology,
anthropology, biology, and neuroscience have joined forces with professionals from education, family studies, medicine, public health, and social service—to name just a few. The field
of child development, as it exists today, is a monument to the contributions of these many
disciplines. Its body of knowledge is not just scientifically important but also relevant and

Domains of Development
To make the vast, interdisciplinary study of human constancy and change more orderly and
convenient, development is often divided into three broad domains: physical, cognitive, and
emotional and social. Refer to Figure 1.1 for a description and illustration of each. In this
book, we will largely consider the domains of development in the order just mentioned.
Yet the domains are not really distinct. Rather, they combine in an integrated, holistic fashion to yield the living, growing child. Furthermore, each domain influences and is influenced by the others. For example, in Chapter 4, you will see that new motor capacities, such
as reaching, sitting, crawling, and walking (physical), contribute greatly to infants’ understanding of their surroundings (cognitive). When babies think and act more competently,
adults stimulate them more with games, language, and expressions of delight at their new
achievements (emotional and social). These enriched experiences, in turn, promote all
aspects of development.
You will encounter instances of the interwoven nature of all domains on almost every
page of this book. In the margins of the text, you will find occasional Look and Listen
activities—opportunities for you to see everyday illustrations of development by observing what real children say and do or by attending to everyday influences on children.
Through these experiences, I hope to make your study of development more authentic and



CHAPTER 1 History, Theory, and Applied Directions


Physical Development
Changes in body size, proportions,
appearance, functioning of body
systems, perceptual and motor
capacities, and physical health


Cognitive Development
Changes in intellectual abilities, including attention,
memory, academic and everyday knowledge,
problem solving, imagination, creativity, and

Emotional and Social Development
Changes in emotional communication,
self-understanding, knowledge about
other people, interpersonal skills, friendships,
intimate relationships, and moral reasoning
and behavior

Major domains of development. The three domains are not really distinct. Rather, they overlap and interact.

Also, look for the Ask Yourself feature at the end of major sections, designed to deepen
your understanding. Within it, I have included Review questions, which help you recall and
think about information you have just read; Connect questions, which help you form a
coherent, unified picture of child development; Apply questions, which encourage you to
apply your knowledge to controversial issues and problems faced by parents, teachers, and
children; and Reflect questions, which invite you to reflect on your own development
and that of people you know well.

Periods of Development
Besides distinguishing and integrating the three domains, another dilemma arises in discussing development: how to divide the flow of time into sensible, manageable parts. Researchers
usually use the following age periods, as each brings new capacities and social expectations
that serve as important transitions in major theories:
1. The prenatal period: from conception to birth. In this nine-month period, the most rapid
time of change, a one-celled organism is transformed into a human baby with remarkable capacities for adjusting to life in the surrounding world.
2. Infancy and toddlerhood: from birth to 2 years. This period brings dramatic changes in
the body and brain that support the emergence of a wide array of motor, perceptual, and
intellectual capacities; the beginnings of language; and first intimate ties to others.
Infancy spans the first year; toddlerhood spans the second, during which children take
their first independent steps, marking a shift to greater autonomy.
3. Early childhood: from 2 to 6 years. The body becomes longer and leaner, motor skills are
refined, and children become more self-controlled and self-sufficient. Make-believe play
blossoms, supporting every aspect of psychological development. Thought and language


PART I Theory and Research in Child Development
© UW E O M M E R, 1 , 0 0 0 FAM IL IES, TASCHE N E D


Child development is so dramatic
that researchers divide it into
periods. This large family of the
Ivory Coast includes children in
infancy, early childhood (boy in
front row, girl seated in second row),
middle childhood (girl in front row,
girl standing in second row), and
adolescence (girl standing in

Identify three basic issues on
which child development
theories take a stand.

expand at an astounding pace, a sense of morality becomes evident, and children establish ties
with peers.
4. Middle childhood: from 6 to 11 years. Children
learn about the wider world and master new
responsibilities that increasingly resemble those
they will perform as adults. Hallmarks of this
period are improved athletic abilities; participation in organized games with rules; more
logical thought processes; mastery of fundamental reading, writing, math, and other academic
knowledge and skills; and advances in understanding the self, morality, and friendship.
5. Adolescence: from 11 to 18 years. This period initiates the transition to adulthood. Puberty leads to
an adult-sized body and sexual maturity. Thought
becomes abstract and idealistic, and schooling
is increasingly directed toward preparation for
higher education and the world of work. Young
people begin to establish autonomy from the
family and to define personal values and goals.

For many contemporary youths in industrialized nations, the transition to adult roles
has become increasingly prolonged—so much so that some researchers have posited a new
period of development called emerging adulthood, which spans ages 18 to 25. Although
emerging adults have moved beyond adolescence, they have not yet fully assumed adult
roles. Rather, during higher education and sometimes beyond, these young people intensify
their exploration of options in love, career, and personal values before making enduring
commitments. Because emerging adulthood first became apparent during the past few
decades, researchers have just begun to study it (Arnett, 2007; Arnett & Tanner, 2006). Perhaps it is your period of development. In later chapters, we will touch on milestones of
emerging adulthood, which build on adolescent attainments. To find out more about this
period, consult the mini-chapter entitled “Emerging Adulthood,” available as an online
supplement to this text.
With this introduction in mind, let’s turn to some basic issues that have captivated,
puzzled, and sparked debate among child development theorists. Then our discussion will
trace the emergence of the field and survey major theories.

Basic Issues
Research on child development did not begin until the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. But ideas about how children grow and change have a much longer history. As
these speculations combined with research, they inspired the construction of theories of
development. A theory is an orderly, integrated set of statements that describes, explains,
and predicts behavior. For example, a good theory of infant–caregiver attachment would
(1) describe the behaviors of babies around 6 to 8 months of age as they seek the affection
and comfort of a familiar adult, (2) explain how and why infants develop this strong desire
to bond with a caregiver, and (3) predict the consequences of this emotional bond for future
Theories are vital tools for two reasons. First, they provide organizing frameworks for
our observations of children. In other words, they guide and give meaning to what we see.
Second, theories that are verified by research often serve as a sound basis for practical action.
Once a theory helps us understand development, we are in a much better position to know
how to improve the welfare and treatment of children.

CHAPTER 1 History, Theory, and Applied Directions


As we will see later, theories are influenced by cultural values and belief systems of their
times. But theories differ in one important way from mere opinion and belief: A theory’s
continued existence depends on scientific verification. This means that the theory must be
tested using a fair set of research procedures agreed on by the scientific community, and its
findings must endure, or be replicated over time. (We will consider research strategies in
Chapter 2.)
Within the field of child development, many theories offer very different ideas about
what children are like and how they change. The study of child development provides no
ultimate truth because investigators do not always agree on the meaning of what they see.
Also, children are complex beings; they change physically, cognitively, emotionally, and
socially. No single theory has explained all these aspects. But the existence of many theories
helps advance knowledge as researchers continually try to support, contradict, and integrate
these different points of view.
Although there are many theories, we can easily organize them by looking at the stand
they take on three basic issues: (1) Is the course of development continuous or discontinuous? (2) Does one course of development characterize all children, or are there many possible courses? (3) What are the roles of genetic and environmental factors—nature and
nurture—in development? Let’s look closely at each of these issues.

Continuous or Discontinuous Development?
Recently, the mother of 20-month-old Angelo reported to me with amazement that her
young son had pushed a toy car across the living room floor while making a motorlike
sound, “Brmmmm, brmmmm,” for the first time. When he hit a nearby wall with a bang,
FIGURE 1.2 Is development
Angelo let go of the car, exclaimed, “C’ash,” and laughed heartily.
continuous or discontinuous?
“How come Angelo can pretend, but he couldn’t a few months ago?” his mother asked.
(a) Some theorists believe that
“And I wonder what ‘Brrmmmm, brmmmm’ and ‘Crash!’ mean to Angelo? Does he underdevelopment is a smooth, continustand motorlike sounds and collision the same way I do?”
ous process. Children gradually add
more of the same types of skills.
Angelo’s mother has raised a puzzling issue about development: How can we best
(b) Other theorists think that develdescribe the differences in capacities and behavior among small infants, young children,
opment takes place in discontinuous
adolescents, and adults? As Figure 1.2 illustrates, major theories recognize two possibilities.
stages. Children change rapidly as
One view holds that infants and preschoolers respond to the world in much the same
they step up to a new level of develway as adults do. The difference between the immature and the mature being is simply one
opment and then change very little
for a while. With each step, the child
of amount or complexity. For example, little Angelo’s thinking might be just as logical and
interprets and responds to the world
well-organized as our own. Perhaps (as his mother reports) he can sort objects into simple
in a qualitatively different way.
categories, recognize whether he has
more of one kind than another, and
remember where he left his favorite toy
at child care the week before. Angelo’s
only limitation may be that he cannot
perform these skills with as much information and precision as we can. If this
is so, then Angelo’s development is
continuous—a process of gradually
adding more of the same types of skills
that were there to begin with.
According to a second view, Angelo’s thoughts, emotions, and behavior
differ considerably from those of adults.
His development is discontinuous—a
process in which new ways of underInfancy
standing and responding to the world
(a) Continuous Development
(b) Discontinuous Development
emerge at specific times. From this
perspective, Angelo is not yet able to


PART I Theory and Research in Child Development

organize objects or remember and interpret experiences as we do. Instead, he will move
through a series of developmental steps, each with unique features, until he reaches the highest level of functioning.
Theories that accept the discontinuous perspective regard development as taking place
in stages—qualitative changes in thinking, feeling, and behaving that characterize specific
periods of development. In stage theories, development is much like climbing a staircase,
with each step corresponding to a more mature, reorganized way of functioning. The stage
concept also assumes that children undergo periods of rapid transformation as they step up
from one stage to the next, alternating with plateaus during which they stand solidly within
a stage. In other words, change is fairly sudden rather than gradual and ongoing.
Does development actually occur in a neat, orderly sequence of stages? This ambitious
assumption has faced significant challenges. Later in this chapter, we will review some influential stage theories.

One Course of Development or Many?


Stage theorists assume that people everywhere follow the same sequence of development.
For example, in the domain of cognition, a stage theorist might try to identify the common
influences that lead children to represent their world through language and make-believe
play in early childhood, to think more logically in middle childhood, and to reason more
systematically and abstractly in adolescence.
At the same time, the field of child development is becoming increasingly aware that
children grow up in distinct contexts—unique combinations of personal and environmental
circumstances that can result in different paths of change. For example, a shy child who fears
social encounters develops in very different contexts from those of a
sociable agemate who readily seeks out other people (Kagan, 2003,
2008). Children in non-Western village societies encounter experiences
in their families and communities that differ sharply from those of children in large Western cities. These different circumstances foster different cognitive capacities, social skills, and feelings about the self and
others (Shweder et al., 2006).
As you will see, contemporary theorists regard the contexts that
mold development as many-layered and complex. On the personal side,
these include heredity and biological makeup. On the environmental
side, they include both immediate settings—home, child-care center,
school, and neighborhood—and circumstances that are more remote
from children’s everyday lives: community resources, societal values and
priorities, and historical time period. Finally, researchers today are more
conscious than ever before of cultural diversity in development.

Relative Influence of Nature and Nurture?

Will this toddler’s tantrums extend into a lifelong pattern of
difficult behavior? Some theorists, stressing the importance
of heredity, believe she will remain hard to manage. Others
think that change is possible, depending on how the
mother handles her child’s emotional outbursts.

In addition to describing the course of development, each theory takes a
stand on a major question about its underlying causes: Are genetic or
environmental factors more important in influencing development? This
is the age-old nature–nurture controversy. By nature, we mean inborn
biological givens—the hereditary information we receive from our parents at the moment of conception. By nurture, we mean the complex
forces of the physical and social world that influence our biological
makeup and psychological experiences before and after birth.
Although all theories grant roles to both nature and nurture, they
vary in emphasis. Consider the following questions: Is the older child’s
ability to think in more complex ways largely the result of an inborn
timetable of growth, or is it primarily influenced by stimulation from
parents and teachers? Do children acquire language because they are

CHAPTER 1 History, Theory, and Applied Directions

genetically predisposed to do so or because parents intensively teach them from an early age?
And what accounts for the vast individual differences among children—in height, weight,
physical coordination, intelligence, personality, and social skills? Is nature or nurture more
A theory’s position on the roles of nature and nurture affects how it explains individual
differences. Some theorists emphasize stability—that children who are high or low in a characteristic (such as verbal ability, anxiety, or sociability) will remain so at later ages. These
theorists typically stress the importance of heredity. If they regard environment as important,
they usually point to early experiences as establishing a lifelong pattern of behavior. Powerful
negative events in the first few years, they argue, cannot be fully overcome by later, more
positive ones (Bowlby, 1980; Johnson, 2000; Sroufe, 2005). Other theorists, taking a more optimistic view, see development as having substantial plasticity throughout life—as open to
change in response to influential experiences (Baltes, Lindenberger, & Staudinger, 2006;
Lerner & Overton, 2008; Lester, Masten, & McEwen, 2006).
Throughout this book, you will see that investigators disagree, often sharply, on the
question of stability versus plasticity. Their answers have great applied significance. If you
believe that development is largely due to nature, then providing experiences aimed at promoting change would seem to be of little value. If, on the other hand, you are convinced of
the supreme importance of early experience, then you would intervene as soon as possible,
offering high-quality stimulation and support to ensure that children develop at their
best. Finally, if you think that environment is profoundly influential throughout development, you would provide assistance any time children or adolescents face difficulties, in the
belief that, with the help of favorable life circumstances, they can recover from early negative events.

A Balanced Point of View
So far, we have discussed the basic issues of child development in terms of extremes—solutions favoring one side or the other. But as we trace the unfolding of the field in the rest of
this chapter, you will see that the positions of many theorists have softened. Today, some
theorists believe that both continuous and discontinuous changes occur. Many acknowledge
that development has both universal features and features unique to each individual and his
or her contexts. And a growing number regard heredity and environment as inseparably
interwoven, each affecting the potential of the other to modify the child’s traits and capacities (Cole, 2006; Gottlieb, Wahlsten, & Lickliter, 2006; Lerner, 2006; Rutter, 2007). We will
discuss these new ideas about nature and nurture in Chapter 3.
Finally, as you will see later in this book, the relative impact of early and later experiences varies greatly from one domain of development to another and even—as the Biology
and Environment box on pages 10–11 indicates—across individuals! Because of the complex
network of factors contributing to human change and the challenge of isolating the effects of
each, many theoretical viewpoints have gathered research support. Although debate continues, this circumstance has also sparked more balanced visions of child development.




■ What is meant by a stage of development? Provide
your own example of stagewise change. What stand do stage
theorists take on the issue of continuous versus discontinuous

Connect ■ Provide an example of how one domain of development (physical, cognitive, or emotional/social) can affect
development in another domain.

Apply ■ Anna, a high school counselor, has devised a program
that integrates classroom learning with vocational training to
help adolescents at risk for school dropout stay in school and
transition smoothly to work life. What is Anna’s position on
stability versus plasticity in development? Explain.

■ Cite an aspect of your development that differs
from a parent’s or grandparent’s when he or she was your age.
How might contexts explain this difference?



PART I Theory and Research in Child Development



ohn and his best friend, Gary, grew up in
a run-down, crime-ridden inner-city neighborhood. By age 10, each had experienced
years of family conflict followed by parental
divorce. Reared for the rest of childhood and
adolescence in mother-headed households, John
and Gary rarely saw their fathers. Both dropped
out of high school and were in and out of trouble with the police.
Then their paths diverged. By age 30, John
had fathered two children with women he never
married, had spent time in prison, was unemployed, and drank alcohol heavily. In contrast,
Gary had returned to finish high school, had
studied auto mechanics at a community college,
and became manager of a gas station and repair
shop. Married with two children, he had saved
his earnings and bought a home. He was happy,
healthy, and well-adapted to life. A wealth of
evidence shows that environmental risks—
poverty, negative family interactions and parental divorce, job loss, mental illness, and drug
abuse—predispose children to future problems
(Masten & Gewirtz, 2006; Sameroff, 2006;
Wadsworth & Santiago, 2008). Why did Gary
“beat the odds” and come through unscathed?
Research on resilience—the ability to adapt
effectively in the face of threats to development—is receiving increasing attention as

Describe major historical
influences on theories of child


Resilient Children
investigators look for ways to protect
young people from the damaging
effects of stressful life conditions.
This interest has been inspired by
several long-term studies on the relationship of life stressors in childhood
to competence and adjustment in adolescence and adulthood (Fergusson &
Horwood, 2003; Masten et al., 1995;
Werner & Smith, 2001). In each study,
some individuals were shielded from
negative outcomes, whereas others
had lasting problems. Four broad factors seemed to offer protection from
the damaging effects of stressful life

Personal Characteristics
A child’s biologically endowed characteristics can reduce exposure to
risk or lead to experiences that compensate for early stressful events. High
intelligence and socially valued talents
(in music or athletics, for example)
increase the chances that a child will
have rewarding experiences in school
and in the community that offset the
impact of a stressful home life. Temperament is particularly powerful.

This boy’s close, affectionate relationship with his father
promotes resilience. A strong bond with at least one parent
who combines warmth with appropriate expectations for
maturity can shield children from the damaging effects of
stressful life conditions.

Historical Foundations
Contemporary theories of child development are the result of centuries of change in
Western cultural values, philosophical thinking about children, and scientific progress. To
understand the field as it exists today, we must return to its early beginnings—to ideas about
children that long preceded scientific child study but that linger as important forces in current theory and research.

Medieval Times
Childhood was regarded as a separate period of life as early as medieval Europe—the sixth
through the fifteenth centuries. Medieval painters often depicted children wearing loose,
comfortable gowns, playing games, and looking up to adults. Written texts contained terms
that distinguished children under age 7 or 8 from other people and that recognized even
young teenagers as not fully mature. By the fourteenth century, manuals offering advice on
many aspects of child care, including health, feeding, clothing, and games, were common

CHAPTER 1 History, Theory, and Applied Directions

Children who have easygoing, sociable dispositions and who can readily inhibit negative emotions and impulses tend to have an optimistic
outlook on life and a special capacity to adapt to
change—qualities that elicit positive responses
from others. In contrast, emotionally reactive
and irritable children often tax the patience of
people around them (Mathiesen & Prior, 2006;
Vanderbilt-Adriance & Shaw, 2008; Wong et al.,
2006). For example, both