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25 Cards in this Set

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  • Back

developmental psychology

The branch of psychology that charts changes in people's abilities and styles of behaving as they get older and tries to understand the factors that produce or influence those changes.

embryonic phase

Developmental period that extends from the third to about the eighth week after conception, during which all major organ systems develop.

zygotic phase

Developmental phase lasting approximately 2 weeks, which starts when an egg is fertilized and ends when the zygote implants in the uterine wall.

fetal phase

Developmental period that extends from about 9 weeks until birth, which usually takes place about 38 weeks after conception.

shared attention (joint attention)

Two individuals both attending to the same thing or event and sharing that experience.

object permanence

Piaget's term for the understanding that an object still exists even when it is out of view.

social referencing

The process by which infants use the nonverbal emotional expressions of a caregiver as cues to guide their behavior.


In Piaget's theory of cognitive development, the process by which experiences are incorporated into the mind or, more specifically, into mental schemes. See also accommodation.


In Piaget's theory of cognitive development, the change that occurs in an existing mental scheme or set of schemes as a result of the incorporation of the experience of a new event or object. See also assimilation.


Piaget's term for the mental entities that provide the basis for thought and that change in a stage-like way through development. They contain information about the actions that one can perform on objects, either in reality or symbolically in the mind.


Piaget's term for a reversible action that can be performed either in reality or mentally upon some object or set of objects. For example, rolling a clay ball into a clay sausage is an operation because the sausage can be rolled back again to form the ball.

preoperational scheme

In Piaget's theory, mental structures that permit the child to symbolize objects and events that are absent, but do not permit the child to think about the operations that can be performed on objects. See also operation, schemes.

concrete-operational scheme

In Piaget's theory, the type of mental structure that allows a child to think logically about reversible actions (operations) but only when applied to objects with which the child has had direct (concrete) experience. See also operation.

formal-operational scheme

In Piaget's theory, the type of mental structure that allows a person to reason about abstract concepts and hypothetical ideas. See also operation, schemes.

sensorimotor scheme

In Piaget's theory, the type of mental structure that enables an infant to act on objects that are immediately present but does not permit thought about objects that are absent. See also schemes.

tools of intellectual adaptation

Vygotsky's term for tools a culture provides for thinking and problem solving.


A congenital (present-at-birth) disorder, typically marked by severe deficits in social interaction, severe deficits in language acquisition, a tendency to perform repetitive actions, and a restricted focus of attention and interest.

theory of mind

A person's concepts of mental activity; used to refer to how people conceptualize mental activity and how they attribute intention to and predict the behavior of others.


The entire set of rules that specify the permissible ways that smaller units can be arranged to form morphemes, words, phrases, and sentences in a language.


The set of grammatical rules for a given language that specifies how words can be arranged to produce phrases and sentences.

language-acquisition device (LAD)

Chomsky's term for the special, innate characteristics of the human mind that allow children to learn their native language; it includes innate knowledge of basic aspects of grammar that are common to all languages and an innate predisposition to attend to and remember the critical, unique aspects of the language.

creole language

A new language, with grammatical rules, that develops from a pidgin language in colonies established by people who had different native languages. See pidgin language.

pidgin language

A primitive system of communication that emerges when people with different native languages colonize the same region; it uses words from the various native languages and has either no or minimal grammatical structure. See also creole language.

language-acquisition support system (LASS)

The term used by social-learning theorists to refer to the simplification of language and the use of gestures that occur when parents or other language users speak to young children, which helps children learn language; developed as a complement to Chomsky's concept of the LAD (language-acquisition device).

end of chapter 11

end of chapter 11