Posted: February 14th, 2023
Video Discussion Assignment Instructions
You will complete 3 Discussion Videos in this course. For each Discussion, you will post one video thread of at least 3 minutes, and post 1 video reply of at least 1 minute. You can find instructions on how to submit a video discussion on each Video Discussion Assignment page under Video Discussion Resource.
Video Thread: You will create a video thread in response to the prompt provided below. Choose 1 of the 3 prompts below on which to comment.
Describe 1) the greatest opportunity for and 2) the main obstacle standing against the integration of Christian faith and developmental psychology. Support your response with examples.
Respond to the following statement: “I just can’t trust psychology…I mean, most of the theorists are secular. The only trustworthy source of truth is the Bible.”
From a biblical perspective, why should a person consider studying developmental psychology?
Note: Your assignment will be checked for originality via the Turnitin plagiarism tool.
Developmental Psychology in the Context of Other Behavioral Sciences
Robert A. Hinde St John’s College, Cambridge
and Medical Research Council Group on the Development and Integration of Behaviour Madingley, Cambridge, United Kingdom
Certain characteristics of psychology that have been instrumental to its success, such as emphases on an experimental approach, on group means, on theory-driven research, and on analysis but not synthesis, can be detrimental to progress if taken too far. In addition, psychology’s success has led to its fragmentation into subdisciplines, with too little cross-fertilization. Future progress may depend on a focus not only on individuals, but also on individuals in a network of social relation- ships whose course is influenced by social norms and values. In this connection, it is helpful to distinguish a number of levels of social complexity and to come to terms with the dialectical relations between them. We must pay more attention to description as a first stage in the analysis of process, recognizing that description can never be perfect and that it must embrace the several levels of social complexity. We must also come to terms with the relations between the several levels of complexity, and thus between the several subdisciplines appropriate to them. This multidisci- plinary approach can be based on a study of relatively stable human behavioral characteristics and must include the relations among individuals, relationships, and culture. Some pointers can be found in a judiciously used evolutionary approach.
A centenary is a time to look back, to see how much has been achieved in the preceding decades. But the enormous progress made by developmental psychology hardly needs underlining, and self-congratulatory backslapping would be out of place in a journal to be read by developmental psychologists. A centen- ary is also a time to look forward, to assess the present con- straints on further progress and ask how they can be overcome. Let us then start with some gross generalizations, not because I believe for a moment that they are without exceptions, but be- cause they help focus attention on some current problems in developmental psychology.
In its early days, psychology needed to establish itself as a distinct discipline and to achieve recognition as a respectable branch of science. It achieved distinctiveness from biology/phy- siology by focusing on the psyche, and from philosophy pri- marily by adopting an experimental approach. It achieved re- spectability by attempting to ape physics—again by the use of the experimental method—and also by attempting a hypothe- tico-deductive approach, by an emphasis on objectivity, and also by the use of statistical tools.
Each of these, taken too far, has brought problems. A focus on the psyche came into conflict with pressures to study behav- ior objectively, which in turn led to a neglect of process. An overemphasis on an experimental approach led to an underem- phasis on people in the real world and to single-variable studies.
I am grateful to Patrick Bateson (1991) for editing a series of essays that brought together many of the issues discussed in this article, and to him, John Fentress, and Joan Stevenson-Hinde for comments on an earlier draft of the article.
Correspondence concerning this article should be addressed to Rob- ert A. Hinde, The Master’s Lodge, St. John’s College, Cambridge CB2 1TP, United Kingdom.
Attempts to ape physics led to an underestimation of the im- portance of description: much of classical physics dealt with everyday events for whose analysis description was unneces- sary, but the complexity of human behavior demands an initial descriptive phase.
The undervaluing of description led also to a belief that re- search should always be theory-driven. This is fair enough if not overstated, but it can lead to an unwillingness to allow the data to suggest problems. During the forties and fifties, a hypothe- tico-deductive approach led to a particularly narrow, theory- driven approach, with a focus on limited experimental situa- tions. Although theory-driven research is often a first priority, important advances can also follow if novel phenomena are seized and studied with the best tools available. Examples are provided by Bowlby’s (e.g., 1969) following up of the finding that disturbed adolescents had had major and repeated separa- tion experiences in childhood, Andrew’s (1991) discovery of the effects of testosterone on the persistence of motor patterns and the duration for which events are held in the working mem- ory, or Horn’s (1985, 1991) discovery of asymmetries in brain function in chicks. Finally, an overemphasis on statistics can lead to a focus on group means with a neglect of individual differences.
These caveats are not intended to play down in any way the extraordinary progress made by psychology in general or by developmental psychology in particular. But a retrospective view and a recognition of past constraints can warn usof future dangers. And there is one further issue that is a direct result of psychology’s success: its fragmentation into subdisciplines. De- velopmental psychology has, properly, become a field in its own right but, as a result, has become partially cut off from clinical, personality, physiological, and social psychology and from biol- ogy. Developmental psychology has focused largely on changes
APA CENTENNIAL: INTEGRATING BEHAVIORAL SCIENCE 1019
with age and on group averages, but we need also to understand individuals, the primary concern of much clinical and personal- ity psychology. Physiological analysis leads to functions of parts, and although individuals function as wholes, that func- tioning depends on, but cannot be entirely explained by, pro- cesses within parts. And physiological analysis can aid behav- ioral understanding. A recent example is the manner in which Rosenblatt’s (1991) survey of the physiology of parturition poses new questions about the onset of maternal responsive- ness. Social psychology is concerned largely with group phe- nomena, and developmentalists—knowing that children grow up in groups, that relationships are crucial to their develop- ment, and that values, expectations, and hopes held by the child and others shape development—need social psychologi- cal expertise. And ethology, as we shall see, can contribute prin- ciples and perspectives of importance to developmental psy- chologists.
We have here demands that could conflict: science proceeds by analysis, but one needs synthesis and the study of wholes as well; one needs to specialize, but that means studying only parts of a whole; one needs to describe phenomena, but one also needs to understand process; one needs concepts to cope with intangibles, but one must not lose discipline. It would be folly to suggest that these problems can be readily solved, but the following sections address a series of relevant and interre- lated issues.
There are three main themes. The first concerns the need to focus not only on individuals, but also on individuals in a net- work of relationships, and this in turn requires us both to distin- guish levels of social complexity and to come to terms with the dialectical relations between them. The second is that descrip- tion is a necessary first step, but can never be perfect. Our categories and concepts are essential heuristically but are never absolute, because we have at present no entirely satisfactory way of coping with entities that are both isolatable and intercon- nected and mutually influence each other. The third is the need to integrate developmental psychology with other disciplines. Here, because of my own biases, I refer especially to ethology, though I am aware that some of the ideas I ascribe to ethology also had other roots.
Levels of Complexity
Children grow up in a network of relationships and usually within families, which form parts of larger groups. It is thus necessary to come to terms with a series of levels of social complexity: physiological and psychological systems, individ- uals, short-term interactions between individuals, relationships involving a succession of interactions between two individuals known to each other, groups, and societies (Figure 1). Each of these levels has properties not relevant to lower levels, and at each level new descriptive and explanatory concepts are needed. For instance, we may describe the behavior of two individuals in an interaction as “meshing” well, but meshing is a concept irrelevant to the behavior of an individual in isola- tion. Furthermore, each level affects and is affected by other levels. Thus the course of an interaction depends both on the natures of the participating individuals and on the relationship of which it forms a part, and the nature of a relationship is
influenced both by the component interactions and by the group in which it is embedded. Furthermore, each of these levels influences, and is influenced by, the physical environ- ment and by the sociocultural structure of ideas, values, myths, beliefs, institutions with their constituent roles, and so on, more or less shared by the individuals in the relationship, group, or society in question.
Recognition of these levels is in no way an argument for unidi- rectional reductionism, because the dialectical relations be- tween levels are crucial (cf. Fentress, 1991). Each level, includ- ing that of the individual, must be thought of not as an entity but rather in terms of processes continually influenced by the dialectical relations between levels (Hinde, 1987,199 la). It will be apparent that such an approach always demands liaison be- tween a variety of disciplines.
Each level, as well as the sociocultural structure, has both objective and subjective aspects. For example, relationships have objective aspects that are apparent to an outside observer and subjective aspects that are specific to each participant, known in their entirety only to him or her, and shared only partially. Similarly, the objective aspects of the sociocultural structure may be partially codified in laws and customs, but the subjective aspects may be subtly different for each indi- vidual.
The position taken here is not so extreme as that of some who espouse dialectical determinism (review Hopkins & Butter- worth, 1990). It is of course basic that development must be studied at several levels simultaneously and that stability is, if not always momentary, at least dynamic. But though emphasiz- ing process, 1 would argue that the view that organism and environment are inseparable is not helpful. Although the diffi- culties of boundary definition matter and must be borne in mind, the essential thing is to come to terms with the continu- ous interplay (e.g, Markova, 1990; Mead, 1934). And while re- jecting linear causal chains, I would stop short of saying that development can never be adequately predicted on the basis of individual elements, although that perhaps reflects an aspira- tion rather than an achievable goal.
How can one cope with multiple levels of analysis simulta- neously? How can one nail down entities constituted by continu- ous dynamic processes? Description and categorization are clearly necessary as a preliminary to—or as a part of (Carey, 1990)—analysis, but in describing such phenomena one inevita- bly simplifies the complexity of real life. A delicate balance must be struck between using categories and concepts that one can handle and distorting nature. And that one is compromis- ing must not be forgotten.
Place an order in 3 easy steps. Takes less than 5 mins.