What Is Personality Development?

1. Internal and External Influences on Personality: Each individual is born into a different time and place—an “experiment of one.” Infants can develop well—sometimes even under demanding circumstances. What do psychologists call the quality that enables them to do so?

2. Developmental Research Defined: A key element of developmental studies is that they include time as a central feature of their study. In thinking about development over the life span, it is often convenient to divide growth into stages. What are Erikson’s stages from birth through adolescence? How is time included in developmental research; what is the difference between longitudinal and cross-sectional research design?


Do Infants Have a Personality?

3. The Infant’s Challenge: The newborn infant already has some organized perception of the surrounding environment. Can you distinguish a few examples of what is not a “blooming, buzzing, confusion” in the infant’s mind?

4. Infant Temperament: Temperament qualities are described as the building blocks of traits. What were some of the original dimensions of temperament studied by Chess, Thomas, and their colleagues? How were these simplified by later researchers?

5. Infant Attachment: Infants develop models of other people in their lives. The models for intimate relationships are sometimes called attachment patterns. What are the major attachment patterns?


How Does the Young Child’s Personality Develop?

6. The Young Child’s Self-Concept: What are the young child’s challenges? Does the young child have a sense of self? How is this different from the infant’s sense of self?

7. Self-Control as a Part of Temperament: What sorts of activities during young childhood reveal levels of self-control? Why is this important to parents, and how is it reflected in temperament?

8. Parents and the Family Context: The growing child is dependent upon and greatly influenced by parents and the family constellation. Children from larger families often obtain less education; what variable can eliminate that negative effect? Sulloway studied historical acceptance of scientific and political revolutions. What characteristics distinguished firstborn from later-born children? Two dimensions of parenting are nurturance and control. How do these combine to form parenting styles?

9. The Gendered World: Girls and boys learn about their culturally assigned gender roles as they grow. How similar are some of the perceived differences between males and females across cultures? Is there something different about the case of Japan? Do biological influences change sexual identity? If so, how early does it begin?


What Are the Challenges of Middle Childhood?

10. Middle Childhood’s Challenges: What are the tasks faced by the growing person in middle childhood?

11. From Temperament to Traits: Features of temperament are thought to underlie traits. In middle childhood, children can begin to fill out personality questionnaires. How would you characterize the relationship between temperament and traits such as the Big Five?

12. Over-Controlled, Under-Controlled, and Flexible Children: Under-controlled children have difficulties with controlling their impulses; over-controlled children are often shy. Some children change groups over time; why might this be?

13. Friendship Patterns: Children have a very accurate understanding of the importance of friendship to social support, intimacy, and having fun. At the same time, not all children benefit from friendship. Who is likely to be bullied in childhood; who is likely to bully? How can the existence of a friend affect bullying?


What Are Adolescents Doing?

14. Puberty and the Changing Self-Concept: Puberty represents the stage in which children mature sexually. During this time, they often feel as if all eyes are on them, and they become particularly self-conscious. What are some of the tasks of adolescence?

15. Sex, Sex-Role, and Ethnic Identity Development: What are some of the differences that arise between girls, boys, and their peer groups at this time? How does ethnic identity factor in?

16. Establishing Identity in Adolescence: Identity is often said to involve the exploration of possible roles for the self, coupled with making a commitment to one particular role. These two dimensions—exploration and commitment—have been said to describe four types of identity status. What is identity status and what are the four statuses that might arise?