SCIE 655
Life-Span Development

William Arsenio               

Course Description

This class provides an overview of developmental issues across the life span. One theme involves the ways that we are all similar at different ages – what does it mean to be a 1-year-old, a 7-year-old, or a 42-year-old? And how do we change over time, what are the common human developmental trajectories that we travel during our lifetimes? Another major theme is how, despite our commonalties, we differ from one another beginning even in infancy. For example, some infants sleep through the night and are easy to soothe, while others are irritable and fussy almost from birth. A 3rd theme is whether these individual differences really matter in the long run. Does the fussy baby become an even-tempered toddler; does the aggressive preschooler just grow out of it? In more general terms, is development relatively continuous or discontinuous for most of us? Our overall goal will be to explore how Life-Span Psychology addresses the social-emotional and cognitive psychological underpinnings of who we are as humans and how we got that way.  

Among the topics that will be covered are: life-span attachment issues (e.g., early parent-child relationships); developmental psychopathology (i.e., risk and resilience); normative and atypical emotional development; personality development; different approaches to cognitive functioning; and a general focus on developmental continuities and discontinuities.  

Class sessions will typically include a lecture during the first part of the class, followed by breakout discussion groups and ad-hoc group summaries of discussion themes. In addition to lectures and class discussions, we will also see several developmentally relevant movies (including 28-Up and Piaget on Piaget) and participate in one informal class experiment. During the last week, each student will give a brief oral summary of a theme related to his or her final research paper.

Course Requirements

1) The major written requirement is a 12-15 page term paper on a topic relevant to Life-Span Psychology. (The exact due date will depend on GLSP deadlines.) On-going feedback will be provided regarding possible topics, guidelines on how to write papers in the Psychology, how to use available library resources at Wesleyan, etc.  

2) A brief oral summary (10 minutes) on a theme related to the term paper. 

Please complete the readings for the first week (Santrock, J. (2007). Chapters 1 & 2 in A Topical Approach to Life-Span Development. Boston: McGraw Hill) prior to attending the first class.  

Additional details on course requirements will be distributed to all registered students.

Required Text

Santrock, W., (2007). A Topical Approach to Life-Span Development (3rd Ed.). Boston: McGraw Hill. 

Other readings in the form of xeroxed articles and chapters will be available from PIP Printing.

Course Schedule
Class 1

Class Overview- Readings, Assignments, & Major Themes

Santrock, J. (2007). Chapters 1 & 2 in A Topical Approach to Life-Span Development. Boston: McGraw Hill. 

Movie – First half of 28-Up

Class 2

Attachment Across the Life Span

Santrock, J. (2007). Chapter 10, “Emotional Development” (pp. 348-359 only) in A Topical Approach to Life-Span Development. Boston: McGraw Hill. 

Ainsworth. M, & Bowlby, J. (1991). An ethological approach to personality development. American Psychologist, 46, 333-341.  

Thompson, R. (2000). The legacy of early attachments. Child Development, 71, 145-152. 

Collins, N., Guichard, A., Ford, M., Feeny, B. (2004). Working models of attachment: New developments and emerging themes. In W. Rholes, & J. Simpson (Eds.), Adult attachments: Theory, research, and clinical implications (pp. 196-239). New York:  

Movie – Second half of 28-Up

Class 3

Cognitive Development  

Santrock, J. (2007). Chapters 6, “Cognitive Developmental Approaches” and 7 “Information-Processing” in A Topical Approach to Life-Span Development. Boston: McGraw Hill. 

Movie – Piaget on Piaget

Class 4

Emotions and Emotional Development – Basic Themes 

Santrock, J. (2007). Chapter 10 (skip pp. 348-359), “Emotional Development” in A Topical Approach to Life-Span Development. Boston: McGraw Hill. 

Plutchik, R (1984). Emotions: A general psychoevolutionary theory. In K. Scherer & P. Ekman (Eds.), Approaches to emotions (pp. 197-219). Hillsdale NJ: LEA.  

Bates, J. (2000). Temperament as an emotion construct: Theoretical and practical issues. In M. Lewis & J. Haviland-Jones (Eds.), Handbook of emotions, 2nd Ed. (pp. 253-264). New York: Guilford Press. 

Movie – Emotional Development

Class 5

Emotions – From Individual Differences to Psychopathology 

Cole, P., Michel, M., & Teti, L. (1994). The development of emotion regulation and dysregulation: A clinical perspective. In N. Fox (Ed.), The development of emotion regulation: Biological and behavioral considerations (pp. 73-100). Monographs of the Society for Research in Child Development, 59 (2-3, Serial No. 240).  

Magai, C., & MacFadden, S. (1995). A discrete emotions functionalist analysis of personality development: The fundamentals. Chapter 9 in The role of emotions in social and personality psychology. New York: Plenum               

Izard, C., Fine, S., Mostow, A., Trentacosta, C., & Campbell, J. (2002). Emotion processes in normal and abnormal development and preventive intervention. Development and Psychopathology, 12, 761-787.

Arsenio, W., Sesin, M., & Siegel, L. (2004). Emotion-related abilities in depressed and non-depressed Latina mothers and their children. Development & Psychopathology, 16, 95-112. 

In-class experiment on Emotion Knowledge

Class 6

The Self, Identity, and Personality  

Santrock, J. (2007). Chapter 11 in A topical Approach to Life-Span Development. Boston: McGraw Hill. 

McCrae, R., Costa, P., Lima, M., Simoes, A., & Ostendorf, F, et al., (1999). Age differences in personality across the lifespan: Parallels in five cultures. Developmental Psychology, 35, 466-477.
Class 7

Gender, Sexuality  & Cultural Issues in Life-Span Development 

Santrock, J. (2007). Chapter 12, “Gender and Sexuality” in A topical Approach to Life-Span Development. Boston: McGraw Hill. 

Garcia Coll, C., Akerman, A., & Cicchetti, D. (2000). Cultural influences on developmental processes and outcomes: Implications for the study of development and psychopathology. Development and Psychopathology, 12, 333-356.  

Movie - First half of 42-Up

Class 8

Parent-Child Interactions and the Family 

Santrock, J. (2007). Chapter 14, “Families, Lifestyles, & Parenting” in A Topical Approach to Life-Span Development). Boston: McGraw Hill. 

Gottman, J, Katz, L. & Hooven, C. (1996). Parental meta-emotion philosophy and the emotional life of families: Theoretical models and preliminary data. Journal of Family Psychology,10, 243-269.

van den Boom, D., & Hoeksma, J. (1994). The influence of temperament and mothering on attachment: An experimental manipulation of sensitive responsiveness among lower-class mothers of irritable children. Child Development, 65, 1457-1477. 

Movie- Second half of 42-Up

Class 9

Social Relations – Peers & Friends  

Santrock, J. (2007). Chapter 15, “Peers and the Sociocultural World” in A Topical Approach to Life-Span Development. Boston: McGraw Hill. 

Bierman, K. (2004). Chapters 2, 10, & 11 in Peer Rejection: Developmental Processes and Interventions Strategies. New York: Guilford Press. 

Class Oral Presentations

Class 10

Social Relations – School, Work, & Achievement 

Santrock, J. (2007). Chapter 16 in A topical Approach to Life-Span Development. Boston: McGraw Hill. 

Aronson, J., & Steele, C. (2005). Stereotypes and the fragility of academic competence, motivation, and self-concept. In A. Elliot & C. Dweck (Eds.), Handbook of competence and motivation (pp. 436-456). New York, Guilford. 

Good, C, Aronson, J., & Inzlicht, M. (2004). Improving adolescents’ standardized test performance: An intervention to reduce the effects of stereotype threat. Journal of Applied Developmental Psychology, 24, 645-662. 

Class Oral Presentations

Class 11

Risk & Resilience: Developmental Psychopathology   

Werner, E. (1989, April). Children of the garden island. Scientific American, 106-111. 

Sameroff, A. (1996). Democratic and Republican Models of Development: Paradigms or perspectives. Developmental Psychology Newsletter, Fall. 

Masten, A., & Coatsworth, J. (1998). The development of competence in favorable and unfavorable environments: Lessons from research on successful children. American Psychologist, 53, 205-220.  

Conger, R., Wallace, L., Sun, Y., Simons, R., McLoyd, V., & Brody, G. (2002). Economic pressure in African American families: A replication and extension of the family stress model. Developmental Psychology, 38, 179-193.  

Luthar, S. (2003). The culture of affluence: Psychological costs of material wealth. Child Development, 74, 1581-1593.  

Class Oral Presentations

Class 12

Late Adulthood: Aging, Living, & Dying                  

Santrock, J. (2007). Chapter 17, “Endings” in A topical Approach to Life-Span Development. Boston: McGraw Hill.

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