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Essence and General Overview of Developmental Psychology

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Developmental psychology is concerned with age-related changes and inexperience and behavior,it aims to describe and explain development change from its starting point to old age Developmental characteristics studied include personality, development of relationships with other people, cognitive capacity and biological changes. In all these characteristics mentioned above, for instance, the level of biological development has an effect on the cognitive capacity, this, in turn, causes problems on social interaction and so on. and Social psychology- is about understanding individual behavior in a social context. Baron, Byrne & Suls (1989) define social psychology as the scientific area that is seeking to understand the cause and reason of individual behaviour in social situations.It also looks at human behavior as being influenced by other people and from the social context in which this occurs.

Social psychologists, therefore, deal with the areas that lead us to be acting in a given way within the presence of other people and then look at the situations in which certain behavior/actions and feelings occur. Social psychology is therefore to do with the way these feelings, thoughts, beliefs, intentions and goals are created and how such psychological factors, in turn, will have an effect on our interactions with others. Self-concept, social cognition, social influence and attribution theory are included in social psychology also group processes aggression attitudes and stereotyping. In this writing, I will be looking two theories from the two substantive areas of psychology which are Developmental and Social Psychology.

In Developmental Psychology the theory I will be looking at is the attachment theory. A Research theory which was carried out by Bowlby on the theory of attachment explained that babies placed in a new situation and taken away from their parents or legal guardians will react in one of three ways upon reunited with the parents or legal guardians.

The aim of this study is to find out how attachment theory works in different settings of the environment.

Harlow did a study on infant monkeys by conducting two groundbreaking experiments (as well as many more after the initial two):

Harlow separated infant[baby] monkeys from their mothers just a few hours after being born and gave them to two surrogate “mothers” to raise: both supplied the infant monkeys with the milk for them to survive, but one was made out of wire mesh and the other one was wire mesh covered with terry cloth. The infant monkeys who were given the freedom to choose which mother they wanted to associate with almost always chose to take milk from the terry cloth “mother.” This finding showed that infant attachment is not simply a matter of where the milk was coming from!

For his second experiment, Harlow modified his original setting the infant monkeys were provided either the bare wire mesh surrogate mother or the terry cloth mother but both of which provided the milk the baby monkeys needed to grow. Both groups of infant monkeys survived and thrived physically, but they presented extremely unsimilar behavioral actions. Those with a terry cloth mother went back to the surrogate when presented with strange, loud objects, while those with a wire mesh mother threw themselves to the floor, clutched themselves, rocked back and forth, or even “screamed in terror.” This provided a clear indication that emotional attachment in infancy, which was gained through hugging affected the monkey’s later responses to stress and emotional regulation (Herman, 2012). The findings of the study were the following:

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  1. Secure attachment – these babies showed signs of distress upon separation but found peace and comfort and were easily comforted when the parents or legal guardians returned.
  2. Anxious-resistant attachment – a smaller group n of infants went through greater levels of distress emotions and,when reunited with their parents or legal guardians , seemed all to seek comfort and try to resent their parents for leaving.
  3. Avoidant attachment – babies in the this third group of attachment style did not show stress or minimal stress when separated from their parents or legal guardians and either ignored their parents upon being brought back to them, or actively avoided their parents.

The theory helps explain how a childhood relationship with their parents or guardians can have a profound effect on their relationships with others as adults.

This experiment can be reliable as it was done under a controlled environment and it also shows the relationship between mothers or caregivers to infants, The close relations between monkeys and humans is also strong, hence the weakness on this experiment was that there was no total number of monkeys accounted and also would have been ideal if humans were used to carrying out the experiment or study. Through this study, it will be able to analyze a couple of social problems that are present in people on a personal level. There is a few theories that collaborate the subject of social psychology. These are very intriguing and can be studied on an independent basis as well.

Attribution theory is concerned with how people describe the events and relate them to what they are thinking and their behavior. It is a cognitive perception that affects their influence. This theory was first proposed in a book called The Psychology of Interpersonal Relations, written by Fritz Heider in 1958. According to Heider, humans present themselves as amateur scientists Attribution literally is defined as a grant of responsibility. Although the theory was first proposed by Heider (1958), Bernard Weiner (1972) and Harold Kelley (1967) later made a theoretical structure, which is now seen as an epitome of social psychology.

The theory divides the behavior attributes in two parts, external factors or internal factors. Internal attribution: When an internal attribution is produced, the problem of the given behavior is in the person, for example, the differences which make a person accountable like attitude, aptitude, character, and personality.

External attribution: When an external attribution is produced, the cause of the given behavior is directed to the situation in which the behavior was observed. The person who is responsible for that behavior may direct the causality to the environment or weather.

Case Study: Having just arrived in the department as a new Assistant Professor, Pauline found in her mailbox a letter that said [ “Let’s have lunch tomorrow. Faculty club at 12:30? –Fred.”] Pauline was a bit surprised that she met Fred W. during her interview, but she would not have expected him to ask her out for lunch. Pauline now tried to explain Fred’s actions of leaving the letter in her mailbox. Kelley’s attribution model would have claimed that Pauline’s choice is between a person attribution (something about Fred which caused the action) and the situational attribution (something about her or the actions which caused the action). But straight away, this is a confusing decision. Surely something about Fred must have been causing that action (his intention, his motive …) if putting the letter in her mailbox was done purposely. But of course, the situation showed into the action as well, or the situation as seen by Fred—he may have thought Pauline wanted to have some company or anticipated her to be an ideal collaborator. Either way, a reasonable answer for Pauline will never be “it was not about Fred” or “something about the situation.” What the search for person-situation attributions misses entirely is what the explainer actually does when faced with a situation like this. Pauline would simply try to find out Fred’s reasons for leaving the letter —his specific aim, beliefs, and assumptions. A theory of behavior explanation must now, therefore, incorporate the concept of actions into its theoretical repertoire. Finally, what is the historical basis for (PS)? Here, there is two major misunderstandings. To start, Lewin (1936) as one historical source of the person-situation dichotomy, meant that it as a sketch of the actual of social behavior—that scientists can start out with the imagining that behavior is a system of the person and the situation (including all their complex actions carried). But Lewin at no point argued that ordinary people saw this social behavior in this way. What is perhaps more interesting and surprising is that Heider (1958), the most widely cited historical source for (PS) did not claim either that laypeople divided the world into a person and situation causes (Malle & Ickes, 2000). Instead, Heider had argued that the fundamental distinction people ordinary people bring to social perception (Heider, 1958, pp. 100-101). One causal model applied to the domain of intentional behavior, where people assumed the involvement of an intention as the critical force that brought about the actions. The other causal model is for all other domains (for example unintentional human behavior as well as physical events), in which results in simply bringing about effects—without any involvement of the aim. This misunderstanding between Heider’s distinction of personal and impersonal causality (or intentional and unintentional behavior) on the other hand and the traditional person-situation 4 Bertram F. Malle dichotomy on the other is not just a curious historical accident 2; it had major theoretical problems. Attribution theories after Heider ignored the intentional-unintentional distinction and built models that applied to all the behaviors alike. But it was Heider’s (1958) point that not all of the behaviors are described the same way. He specifically emphasized that, whereas unintentional behaviors were explained simply by causes, intentional actions were explained by the “actions behind the intention”. But even in 1976, around the peak of attribution research, Heider’s observations made explanations of intentional age when they are trying to describe activities in the social world is between “personal causality” and “impersonal causality.” Besides not getting enough support for its two core claims, classic attribution theory and its successors has two additional limitations. For one thing, it makes explanations as a purely cognitive activity, so there is no accountability for the social functions of explanation, such as clearing something for another person or influencing the audience’s impressions. Moreover, classic attribution theory does not specify any psychological effects besides fresh information that influence the making of explanations. Specifying these factors would allow them to guess such important phenomena as actor-observer asymmetries, self-serving biases, and the like.

n Conclusion, both the two substantive areas Developmental and Social Psychology contribute to crucial areas in psychology, both areas give a wider understanding in Psychology.

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Essence and General Overview of Developmental Psychology. (2022, March 17). Edubirdie. Retrieved February 8, 2023, from
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