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Childhood and Development Term Paper

Identity development

Research has shown that the desire to know self dominates the minds of many adolescents. This is motivated by a combination of factors such as physical, cognitive and social changes, present in the life of any human being.

This is also spurred by the important life choices that are to be made, ranging from career choice to life partners (Erikson, 1968). Research findings illustrate that, adolescent behaviors vary depending on where they are and whom they are with. For example, one can be outgoing when with friends but shy at home (Sarnecka & Carey, 2008).

A pivotal part of identity development is ethnic identity development. According to Phinney (a researcher), the process of ethnic identity development to a big extent, follows the process of identity development. This means that the unquestioning view of oneself that people hold is altered during a period of crisis.

Many parents are known to make deliberate attempts to teach their children about their ethnic identity through telling them about it or even through exposing them to various cultural experiences. For most adolescents, ethnic identity is taken to involve the process of moving from a stage of naiveté about racial issues to a more reflective sense of self awareness (Berry & Broadbent, 1988).

From among all possible range of existing options, an adolescent must make a series of ever narrowing decisions relating to personal and occupational issues in a multicultural society (Phinney, 1990).

Research has shown that adolescents from minor ethnic groups generally have four possible ways of integrating their ethnicity in the larger sense of self. The first one is assimilation which refers to attempts to adopt the majority of cultural norms and standards at the expense of one’s own culture.

The second way is marginalization; which has to do with the adolescent living within the majority culture but feeling left out or out of place. The third one is separation which refers to sticking by all means to one’s culture and associating only with those of one’s own culture, thus rejecting the majority’s culture. The last one is biculturalism, which means a consensus between both cultures.

A number of researchers agree that biculturalism is more adaptive and hence many adolescents take it. They however don’t show how to measure biculturalism or how biculturalism moderates the effect of cultural primes (Spelke, 1998).

To investigate the impact of biculturalism on cultural primes, a study will be conducted. The participants will consist of 70 immigrant Chinese American students. The participants will be those who were born in China and have lived in China for at least 5 years and later lived at least 5 years in the United States.

Participants will be engaged in a somewhat unrelated inferential activity where they will be shown a computer-generated animation showing one fish swimming in front of a group of fish. After watching the display, participants will be required to interpret why the single fish and the group of fish were swimming apart.

If the prediction will prove true, then most participants will agree that the single fish is being influenced by the group through activities such as being chased, teased, or pressured by the members of the group.

If the theories hold, the findings will show that most participants are simply Chinese, who live in America and at times feel as individuals caught in between the two cultures. This supports that bicultural status is not a product of exogenous variables such as degree of exposure to mainstream and ethnic cultures (Stevens & Hauser, 2004).

Implicit and explicit levels in the development of cognitive skills

Implicit knowledge can be referred to as knowledge gained directly from experience. On the other hand, explicit knowledge is knowledge such as facts that are typically acquired through science instruction.

In most cases, educational settings focus on teaching conceptual knowledge other than setting up an opportunity for gaining substantial experimental or basically the implicit knowledge (Carey, 1998). This is however appropriate for some subject areas. Other subjects areas may call for learning information such as when learning features of a complex system.

Generally, while learning, experiments are necessary to promote implicit or what is called procedural learning. Lecturer’s method of instruction and use of textbooks largely promote explicit learning and gaining of conceptual knowledge.

Although it is important to acquire explicit knowledge, it is equally important not to downplay the significance of implicit learning and implicit knowledge in the overall learning experience.

A good example is when one wants to be a scientist. It is not simply a matter of getting large amount of specific and explicit knowledge, but it is actually more importantly, in matters of developing implicit understanding and procedural skills necessary in exploring scientific issues and scientific experiments (Sun, 1995). Substantial research has shown that there are two different but complementary types of cognitive processes.

Implicit and explicit learning differ on some broad characteristics and it is documented that implicit knowledge is acquired directly from the environment. It is also known to require substantially less mental effort during the learning process as opposed to explicit learning.

For instance, one can learn geographic information about an area by simply being in the area without any intention to learn. In this case, learning that same information by use of a map would be more effortful, and one would be consciously aware of trying to record such information to memory.

Research need to be advanced to investigate the interactions between implicit and explicit learning. A study can be done that involves learning an artificial language. The experiment will involve seeing many exemplars of letter strings which are created by a set of rules common in artificial grammar.

This study as it would be when learning a real language; will offer an opportunity to learn the effects of experiencing exemplars in implicit knowledge and teaching of the rules of artificial grammar common in explicit knowledge.

Although seen as a relatively effortless way of acquiring knowledge, the major misconception about implicit learning is that it does not require attention to the subject matter (Chi, 2000). It is viewed that most people going through explicit learning attend to their tasks without any deliberate motive from their side to acquire knowledge.

In the example of individual learning areas of geography by just attending the area, the individuals unintentionally try to remember the landscape. Another outright characteristic of implicit learning is the fact that it is more error tolerant than explicit learning.

This means that implicit learning is a little bit sensitive in its response to stimuli and hence more useful in the real world especially in the ability to check less important features of the environment.

Participants in the implicit training groups will be required to copy as many exemplars as they can in their response sheets in 30 minutes. Each letter of every exemplar will be copied into a given circle on the sheet. In this case, the participants will copy many exemplars without a need of time to reflect on the grammar rules.

On the other hand, explicit training condition will require that the participants observe a copy of the artificial grammar for 5 minutes then turn the paper over. After another 5 minutes, the participants will be asked to reproduce the artificial grammar diagram from memory by drawing it on a blank sheet. This will be repeated four times for a total of 20 minutes of the training time.

Success in this experiment will be measured by achievement. As such, implicit training would result in the best achievement. This establishes that implicit training can be very effective when speed is needed, but fails when high level of accuracy is the goal.

On the other hand, explicit training would lead to the highest accuracy and the slowest responding rate. In most cases, instructive surroundings center on coaching theoretical knowledge rather than setting up a chance for acquiring considerable experimental or essentially implicit knowledge.

Nature versus nurture- psychopathology

The nature-nurture issue can be rated as one of the most heated and exciting debates in the academic discourse. The main idea is that nature versus nurture is a false dichotomy. Despite the fact that almost everybody seems to agree with this fact and the fact that human beings are a product of an interaction between nature and nurture, the debate is not coming to an end soon (Warneken & Tomasello, 2009).

The debate is taken further to be issues of not nature-versus-nature, but nature-via-nurture. In this context, human genes are designed to take their characteristics from nurture. If we take up a major aspect on the genome, the gene becomes more vulnerable (Ridley, 1996). It should be noted that, environmental influences are at times less reversible than genetic ones.

In an attempt to reconcile the roles of genetics and the environment in risk for major depression, further research ought to be conducted. The researcher will particularly seek an answer on whether there is a relationship between stressful life events and risk for depression. The findings will address the issue that depression is greater among people at high genetic risk compared to people at low genetic risk.

The study can target 4 women with depression monozygotic and 4 without. If the theory holds, then it is expected that both stressful life events and genetic links have unique contributions to depression. The risk for depression is bigger among women at high genetic risk than it is for women at low genetic risk.

An argument is brought forth that the common view of evolution is a combination of two mistaken ideas, the first being the idea that traits are transmitted in heredity. This idea forms the basis of genetic programming that is ultimate quite pre-formation. Second, is the idea of developmental dualism.

This idea holds that there are two kinds of developmental process, one controlled primarily from within and another more open and controlled by external forces. It is however outright that developmental systems theory does not put into consideration the basis of both genetic determinism in the biological sciences and environmental determinism in the social sciences.


Berry, D. C. & Broadbent, D. E. (1988). Interactive tasks and implicit-explicit distinction. British Journal of Psychology, 79, 251-272.

Carey, S. (1998). Knowledge of number: Its evolution and ontogenesis. Science, 242, 641-642.

Chi, M.T.H. (2000). Self-explaining expository texts: the dual processes of generating inferences and repairing mental models. Advances in Instructional Psychology, 161-237.

Erikson, E. (1968). Identity: youth and crisis. New York: Norton.

Phinney, J. (1990). Ethnic identity in adolescents and adults. A review of research. Psychological Bulletin, 108, 499-514.

Ridley, M. (1996). The origins of virtue: human instincts and the evolution of cooperation. New York: Viking.

Sarnecka, B.W. & Carey, S. (2008). How counting represents number: what children must learn and when they learn it. Cognition, 108 (3), 662-674.

Spelke, E. S. (1998). Nativism, empiricism, and the origins of knowledge. Infant Behavior and Development, 21 (2), 181-200.

Stevens, J. R. & Hauser, M. D. (2004). Why be nice? Psychological constraints on the evolution of cooperation. Trends in Cognitive Sciences, 8 (2), 60-65.

Sun, R., Slusarz, P. & Terry, C. (2005). The interaction of the explicit and the implicit in skill learning: A dual-process approach. Psychological Review, 112 (1), 159-192.

Warneken, F. & Tomasello, M. (2009). Varieties of altruism in children and Chimpanzees. Trends in Cognitive Sciences, 13 (9), 397-402.

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