Development during the early years

Betts, Lucy; Farrington-Flint, Lee; Stiller, James; Larkin, Rebecca and Williams, Gareth (2010). Development during the early years. In: Banyard, Philip; Davies, Mark; Norman, Christine and Winder, Belinda eds. Essential Psychology: A Comprehensive Introduction. London: Sage, pp. 257–274.



What goes on inside the mind of an infant? Remarkably we can never really know the answer to this despite the fact that we were all infants once ourselves. This chapter introduces you to the topic of developmental psychology during the early years, focusing on the cognitive and social skills developed through early infancy. The chapter explores some of the factors that influence an infant's early cognitive and social development. For the purpose of this chapter we have defined the "early years" from prenatal through to the age of four. The chapter explores whether we are born with innate capabilities or whether the skills we acquire are learnt from interactions with the environment. Additionally, we evaluate some of the methods used to examine development during the early years and consider whether the data generated from these can be interpreted in a way that clearly illustrates innate abilities in infants. We also discuss how infants make sense of the world, from early mental representations of the world to early language development, and also how the environment can assist in the development of social interactions.

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