Child Development 138 (03) - Hembree
Social and Emotional Development
California State University, Sacramento
Spring, 2011 


Modern Theoretical Approaches


I.  Biological perspectives

A.     Ethology

1.  Assumptions





2.  As applied to human development

 - -  innate behaviors as well as a predisposition to learn particular things


 - -  behavior is adaptive and ensures survival



 - - early experience important - critical (sensitive) periods  



 --  methodology, e.g.,  


-- ethogram    



-- deprivation study  




          3.  Examples:

  • Attachment - Bowlby  





  • Peer relations  - Dominance hierarchies 






4.      Evaluation






B.     Behavior-genetics

1.  Assumptions





2. Methodology

   family studies (twin study, adoption study)    




3. Estimates of genetic contribution  

-  Concordance rates





- Heritability coefficients






   4.  Problems with behavior-genetics approach




C.  Gene/Environment Interactions (Scarr & McCartney, 1983)

1. Passive



2. Evocative 


3. Active/niche-picking



  4.   A developmental perspective




II. Bronfenbrenner - Bio-Ecological approach

 A.   Importance of person, process and context




           B.  Series of nested systems  















C.   Family as context






D. Natural experiments




 E. Role of biology and proximal processes




III. Cognitive Perspectives

A.  Vygotsky

1. Assumptions



2 . Differences between Vygotsky and Piaget

        the role of play  



        the role of language (as our social tool)  




        the role of adults/peers  



      3.  Processes



     4. Evaluation




B.  Social Information Processing

1 . Assumptions

  • Focus on mental processes associated with social situations ; like any other cognitive process  



  • thinking influences social behavior



2. Example: Guerra & Slaby





3. Evaluation





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Send problems, comments or suggestions to:

California State University, Sacramento
College of Education
Department of Child Development

Updated: January, 2011

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