ED209 Temperament and Development

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an overview of ED209 book 1, chapter 5 temperament and development,

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Two approaches to development milestones - what makes people develop in similar ways individual differences - what makes people develop individual differences both look at underlying processes but individual differences approach focuses on the individuality
Type VS Trait Type categorises someone into one of a limited set of character types Trait views someone as varying on two dimensions Type - Hippocrates-Galen 4 types, Myers-Briggs Type Inventory (1995) 4 types Trait - Eysenck's Theory (EPI), the big -5, Tellegen's Multidimensional Personality Questionnaire, Cattell 16 -PF
Temperament - consists of biologically rooted individual differences in behaviour tendencies that are present in early life and are relatively stable across various situations and over time(Bates 1989a) Temperament is seen as separate from other aspects of development such as cognitive development, as empirical studies have found no association between temperament profiles and measures of ability such as intelligence.
The study of child temperament has focused on defining a limited number of traits and gathering data from large numbers to examine variation among them, but also attempts to incorporate types. Traits should be independent of each other in that one should not influence the other. However, it may be possible to identify profiles from patterns of high and low scores on traits that are often found together in sub-groups.
Dimensions of temperament Although there is disagreement about the exact number of traits that define the diffences between children, Bates (1898) describes 3 broad categories of dimension... Emotional Responses (mood, reaction to unfamiliar people) Attentional Orientation Patterns (how easily comforted, how easily distracted) Motor Activity (vigour and frequency of activity)
Stability - the degree to which a characteristic is present in comparison to other people over a period of time Continuity - the similarity in the structure of behavioural differences across age. Stability is shown when a child with high levels of activity in comparison to others shows the same level of difference 1 or 2 years on Continuity is tested by whether the child shows a similar range of behaviours indicating for example fearfulness at 18 months and 3 yrs.
The emergence of temperament There is developmental progression in the components of temperament that becomes apparent as the child gets older. by the end of their first year children are able to resist their tendency to approach the unfamiliar ( behavioural inhibition).
Abstract tendencies vs visible behaviours temperament refers to a general tendency to behave in particular ways over a wide range of situations. It is not a visible feature of everyday behaviour, rather these behaviours area reflection of underlying temperamental differences. In developmental psychology temperament refers to a general characteristic of the behaviour of an individual.In that sense it is an abstraction which is inferred from an individual's behaviour at different times and contexts.
Biological basis Hinde (1989) noted that Buss and Plomin (1984) used a criterion of 'genetically based' to differentiate temperament form other individual differences. Hinde argues all behaviour has genetic basis. Some individual differences may be more influenced by genetic factors and others may be more related to differences in the environment children experience. Heritability is a statistic defined as the proportion of variation of a characteristic in a population that is attributable to genetic differences between individuals.
Buss and Plomin suggest that high heritability might distinguish temperament from other individual differences which show lower heritabilities. Hinde argues there is no obvious cut-off point below which we would consider a behavioural dimension to not be a component of temperament. Additionally, heritability for a given characteristic can change with age and range of environments experienced.
Buss and Plomin (1984) summarized heritability data from 4 twin studies and found that Emotionality, Activity and Sociability may have a significant genetic component, as correlations between identical twins were high, but insignificant for DZ twins This study suggests that individual differences in temperament across all three dimensions are influenced by individual differences in genetic constitution at this pre-school age (the twins were all 4 years old).
According to Hinde, twin studies can only indicate the extent to which variation between children in an aspect of temperament is attributable to to variation in genetic make-up or the variety in experiences in children's lives. Therefore it is necessary to move on to look at the way child's biology influences their behaviour and the way this process interacts with the quality and variety of children's experiences. Studies such as the reward pathway need to investigate variation in CNS structure and function and how this relates to temperamental differences and how experience impinges on the relationship between physiology and behaviour.
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