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Developmental Psychology on Environment - Economics Dictionary of Arguments

Economics Dictionary of Arguments

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Author Item Summary Meta data
Slater I 19
Environment/Developmental Psychology: new attention has been directed toward the substantial variability in how children respond to their environments. (>Parent-Child Relationship/psychological theories, >Situation/Harlow, >Experiment/Harlow, >Situation/Ainsworth). Many children raised under adverse conditions, ranging from institutions to neglectful or abusive parenting, have shown remarkable recovery in later emotional and cognitive functioning.
Child characteristics that contribute to “resilience” have been investigated in a wide range of human and animal studies (Sameroff, 2010)(1). These “child effects” have been conceptualized and measured at the genetic, physiological, and behavioral levels of analysis (Obradovic & Boyce, 2009)(2).
Molecular analyses have centered primarily on identifying genetic polymorphisms that increase or reduce the child’s vulnerability to adverse environments. Physiological measures have focused on autonomic or neuroendocrine measures of reactivity to stressful events, while behavioral measures have focused on individual differences in temperament conceived in terms of shy/inhibited or impulsive/aggressive dimensions (Suomi, 2006)(3). ((s) Cf. >Environment/Molecular Genetics.)
The ability to measure variability in both the caregiving environment and in children’s susceptibility to environmental exposures has fostered new research on the mechanisms through which early experience affects later adaptation (Meaney, 2010)(4). This dynamic transaction between the child and the caregiving environment is evident in studies of gene/environment interactions associated with psychiatric disorders (Caspi & Moffitt, 2006)(5). Work in rodents has identified how early experience can influence gene expression and produce stable epigenetic modifications that alter individual phenotypes across the lifespan (Roth & Sweatt, 2011(6).


1. Sameroff, A. (2010). A unified theory of development: A dialectic integration of nature and nurture. Child Development, 81, 6–22
2. Obradovic, J., & Boyce, W. T. (2009). Individual differences in behavioral, physiological, and genetic sensitivities to contexts: implications for development and adaptation. Developmental Neuroscience, 31, 300–308.
3. Suomi, S. J. (2006). Risk, resilience, and gene x environment interactions in rhesus monkeys. Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences, 1094, 52–62
4. Meaney, M. (2010). Epigenetics and the biological definition of gene × environment interactions. Child Development, 81, 41–79.
5. Caspi, A., & Moffitt, T. (2006). Gene-environment interactions in psychiatry: joining forces with neuroscience. Nature Reviews Neuroscience, 7, 583–590
6. Roth, T. L., & Sweatt, J. D. (2011). Annual Research Review: Epigenetic mechanisms and environmental shaping of the brain during sensitive periods of development. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 52, 398–408


Roger Kobak, “Attachment and Early Social deprivation. Revisiting Harlow’s Monkey Studies”, in: Alan M. Slater and Paul C. Quinn (eds.) 2012. Developmental Psychology. Revisiting the Classic Studies. London: Sage Publications

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Upton I 50
Environment/Developmental psychology/Upton: Current evidence (…) supports a greater role for the environment in the development of skills [like sitting up, crawling and walking]. Modern theories of motor skill development emphasise the interaction between nature and nurture. (>Nature and nurture). An important approach here is provided by the dynamic systems theory (Thelen, 1995)(1). >Dynamic systems theory/psychological theories.

1. Thelen, E. (1995) Motor development: a new synthesis. American Psychologist, 50: 79–95.


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Explanation of symbols: Roman numerals indicate the source, arabic numerals indicate the page number. The corresponding books are indicated on the right hand side. ((s)…): Comment by the sender of the contribution.
The note [Author1]Vs[Author2] or [Author]Vs[term] is an addition from the Dictionary of Arguments. If a German edition is specified, the page numbers refer to this edition.
Developmental Psychology


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