Development psychology is responsible for mapping out the psychological changes that occur in human beings’ personalities as they live out the course of their lives. The study began with the observance of infants and children and the effects of their surroundings: physical and emotional, on their being. However, it has now expanded to cover all aspects of life: infancy, childhood, adolescence, adulthood, and age. Various factors are examined when viewing the psychological changes that develop in any individual after their birth. It includes the sphere of cognitive development where morals and concepts are understood as problems are understood and solved.
Along with this comes the acquisition of a language, the development of self, and social and emotional development, which matures as an ordinary individual grows older. There are various diverse ways of examining and understanding the knowledge of developmental psychology. These reign from arguments like a child’s birth with a mental structure or the experiences that affect the growth and maturity of the child. Thus, the researcher has a variety of ways to view the different stages of an individual’s life. It can be done by examining their environment and the impact of society on the child or by taking a more fundamental approach to the inane ability a child is born with. The concept of nature and nurture are pre-dominant in developmental psychology and will also be examined in this essay. It discusses the changes wrought into an infant as they mature between the time of birth to the age of one.
A child is seen as an infant from their birth to the time they learn to speak. Many developmental psychologists also consider the time before delivery to better understand the creation of an infant and its effects on them as they continue to mature later in life. Considering aspects like the life of the mother who conceives the child is essential in this study because habits like alcoholism and smoking are seen as detrimental to the fetus and create physical deformities in the child. Depression in the pregnant mother is also seen as dangerous for the mental aptitude of the infant before birth.
Habitation is another aspect vital to an infant’s growth. After constant exposure to a repeated stimulus, the infant decreases psychological and behavioral responses to it. Studies like habitation are successful when infants are shown something novel to grasp their attention. By offering an interest in the new object, the child indicates a level of interest that can decide the stimuli needed to influence them. In this way, a child begins to adapt and function in their given environment physically.
Reflexes are also developed in this stage as the child begins to show an affinity with their given environment. These motor skills help the infant develop their muscle and coordinate to fit better into the given environment. Walking is one of the vital aspects of this maturity (Newman 2008). The infant grows physically, but it also induces an intimate bond between them and the caregiver.
When infant is born into the world, the majority of their time is spent sleeping. While it is unevenly patterned in the first few months after birth, it becomes diurnal as time passes. This is seen as a regular pattern of growth in all infants. The five senses of the infant develop almost immediately. Amongst them, touch is the first reflex that keeps them aware of pain, and taste leans towards a preference for sweet things, the smell is chosen and preferred to be the infant’s mother’s, hearing is also determined to be the mother’s while sight allows them to pay attention to any moving object (Crawford). Thus, these senses mature if the environment set for them will enable them to grow.
Piaget spoke of the theory of cognitive development, which said of various aspects of an infant’s growth. The first is the development of the reflexes. Piaget divides this into six stages. As mentioned before, there is the maturity of the five senses, but amongst them are primal reflexes too. The first is that the sucking and grasping of objects are seen as a primary reflex, but it becomes more intentional (Gruber & Voucher). This shows the infant’s movement from an uninfluenced move to a more sensible form. Another stage of the infant’s development is moving towards a goal through logic and coordination. The infant uses their first form of actual intelligence in this process as they understand that their needs can be fulfilled through deliberate steps. Thus, at this stage, the infant the child realizes that crying can obtain their food if their parents have been feeding them accordingly.
Erikson discusses the different stages undergone by every human being in the various stages of their life where they realize and follow certain social and moral norms. The location discussed in this essay will be the one learned by an infant (Erikson 1950). This stage is necessitated by the oral demands of the infant being satisfied. By providing the child with sustenance and comfort, the parents ensure that the infant’s basic needs are being met. As the parents are the infant’s first sources of interaction with the world, warmth and affection will create an atmosphere of trust which will mature as the child continues to receive it. Conversely, if a secure environment is not provided, the child’s sense of mistrust will grow and affect his life and behavior in society in the future.
Bowlby talked of an attachment theory, which allows the infant to interact and communicate better with those they have developed an attachment with (1999). The idea of a goal-directed attachment is evident in this theory. It follows the claim that infants rely heavily on the caregiver. The attachment behavior can lead to anxiety and unhappiness if the infant is neglected by the individual they have attached themselves to. By responding through protests at the caregiver’s departure or clinging onto them when frightened. The individual continues this attachment theory later in life as they create and determine relationships with the rest of society.
Thus the psychological development of an infant is vital because it allows them to mature and lead healthy and prosperous lives in the future, which is beneficial not only to them but to society as a whole.
Bowlby J (1999), Attachment. Attachment and Loss, Basic Books, New York
Crawford K, Psychology of human development, Web.
Erikson H (1950), Childhood and Society. Norton, New York
Gruber H & Voneche J Piaget, J. (1977),The essential Piaget, Piaget J, Basic Books, New York
Newman P (2008), Development through life: A psychological approach, Wadsworth Publishing, pp 181