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Appraising the Human Developmental Sciences

Essays in Honor of Merrill-Palmer Quarterly

Edited by Gary W. Ladd

Publication Year: 2007

This volume sets out to celebrate the Quarterly’s significant contribution to developmental research and to highlight the advances made in the field since the early 1950s.

Published by: Wayne State University Press

Series: Landscapes of Childhood

Front Matter

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pp. i-iii


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pp. v

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Introduction: Merrill-Palmer Quarterly at Age 50, An Occasion for Appraising the Past, Present, and Future of the Human Developmental Sciences

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pp. 1-29

In 2004 Merrill-Palmer Quarterly: A Journal of Developmental Psychology marked its 50th anniversary, which provided an occasion to celebrate the journal’s heritage, its long history of scholarly contributions to the human developmental sciences, and its current and future mission as a purveyor of scientific discoveries. This juncture provided a vantage point from which...

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1. Celebrating the 50th Anniversary of Merrill-Palmer Quarterly

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pp. 16-29

Merrill-Palmer Quarterly has not always looked the way it does today, nor has it always enjoyed its current reputation as a scholarly scientific journal. In fact, MPQ, which is older than many of its contemporaries, has been through many transformations. Indeed..

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2. The Limitations of Concepts in Developmental Psychology

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pp. 30-37

Developmental psychology, like other domains in the social sciences, is being restrained by its history. One limitation is a derivative of its philosophical parents, for the first psychologists tried to gather laboratory evidence that would prove the validity of the abstract concepts of consciousness, perception, morality, and memory. The...

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3. Theory-of-Mind Development: Retrospect and Prospect

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pp. 38-55

Theory-of-mind development investigates the nature and development of our understanding of the mental world—the inner world inhabited by beliefs, desires, emotions, thoughts, perceptions, intentions, and other mental states. Since its beginnings in the mid-1980s, this area has grown to be one of the largest and liveliest in developmental psychology. One indication of this area’s size is...

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4. Cognitive Development Includes Global and Domain-Specific Processes

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pp. 56-66

Many foundational issues in child development research were traditionally framed in “either-or” terms. Development was thought to reflect the impact of either nature or nurture; developmental change was said to be either continuous or discontinuous; and children were said to be either active explorers of their environment or passive recipients of the...

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5. Learning About Learning

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pp. 67

The prominence of the area of learning within developmental psychology varied widely during the Merrill-Palmer Quarterly’s first 50 years. In the journal’s first decades, the 1950s and 1960s, the area of children’s learning occupied a central place within the field of child development. Consider the following observation...

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6. Temperament and the Pursuit of an Integrated Developmental Psychology

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pp. 83-96

When I began work in psychology in the late 1950s, social learning approaches dominated the field of developmental psychology. Individual differences were most often explained in terms of the child’s history of rewards and punishments, and little was said about the initial state of individual differences in infants or about influences other than social learning on developmental change. In the 1960s...

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7. Emotion-Related Regulation: An Emerging Construct

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pp. 97-120

Emotion regulation is a major topic of study in developmental psychology and related disciplines or subdisciplines. Its dominance is reflected in the number of books and monographs that have been published about emotion regulation since the mid-1990s (e.g., Baumeister & Vohs, 2004; Fox, 1994; Philippot & Feldman, 2004). However, the topic was...

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8. The Role of Mental Representation in Social Development

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pp. 121-137

Since the 1950s one of the most important advances has been the introduction of mental representation as a means of understanding development. Across all areas of developmental psychology, starting in earnest in the 1970s and 1980s, came the idea that children’s mental representations and concepts—number concepts, object concepts, representations of grammatical...

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9. Children’s Friendships: Shifts Over a Half-Century in Perspectives on Their Development and Their Effects

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pp. 138-155

Provocative ideas about the nature, development, and effects of children’s friendships were included in the lectures of Harry Stack Sullivan, which were edited and published in the 1950s. Sullivan emphasized the love, intimacy, and collaboration found in the close friendships that children form around 8 to 10 years of age. Subsequent research has shown that close friendships...

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10. Paying Attention to and Not Neglecting Social Withdrawal and Social Isolation

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pp. 156-185

The study of peer interaction has a long and rich history. We have long sought to understand how children learn to get along with one another and why this is important. Implicitly and explicitly enmeshed with our studies of peer interaction is the question of children who tend not to interact with peers. In this commentary we trace some of the origins of research on children’s...

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11. The Next 50 Years: Considering Gender as a Context for Understanding Young Children’s Peer Relationships

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pp. 186-199

The study of children’s peer relationships has a long and rich history (see Rubin, Bukowski, & Parker, 1998). This history is represented by investigations spanning such important topics as peer acceptance and rejection, friendship, leadership, peer group structure and formation, social conflict, and social...

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12. Understanding Children’s Family Worlds: Family Transitions and Children’s Outcomes

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pp. 200-210

During the last decades of the 20th century and the first decade of the new century, increasing numbers of children have experienced their parents’ separation and periods in single-parent families and in stepfamilies, with the dramatic rise in divorce, cohabitation, lone parenting, and repartnering of adults. These patterns of change have been documented around the...

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13. Fathers, Families, and the Future: A Plethora of Plausible Predictions

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pp. 211-225

For decades family research was synonymous with “mothering,” with fathers relegated to the socialization sidelines. Much has been written and much has changed since Lamb’s famous pronouncement that fathers were the “forgotten contributors to child development” (1975a, p. 245). In the 21st century fathers are clearly recognized as central players in the family and major contributors to children’s social, emotional, and cognitive...

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14. Progress and Prospects in the Psychology of Moral Development

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pp. 226-237

Since the 1970s the psychology of moral development has rightly come to occupy a position of central concern in the field. The vigorous research activity and scholarly debates reflect the significance of the study of morality both for developmental science and for practical applications to broader society. Morality is important for developmental science because it pervades human functioning; thus moral psychology is relevant to many different theoretical perspectives, processes, and content areas across developmental psychology. Morality is also...

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15. Conscience in Childhood: Past, Present, and Future

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pp. 238-249

Conscience, the inner guidance system, is perhaps the single most powerful factor that underpins individuals’ sociomoral competence and prevents destructive and callous conduct. Conscience is a core component of the child’s overall profile of mental health, sociomoral competencies, and vulnerabilities. A mature conscience...

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16. Genetics and Developmental Psychology

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pp. 250-261

The 50th anniversary of Merrill-Palmer Quarterly provides an occasion to look back on the history of genetic research in developmental psychology and to look forward to its future. This anniversary coincides with the 50th anniversary of the single most important event in the history of genetic research: the discovery...

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17. The Nature-Nurture Debate and Public Policy

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pp. 262-271

Perhaps the most important, and certainly the most contentious, debate in the history of developmental psychology has concerned the fundamental question of the role of genetic and biological factors versus environmental and learning factors in a child’s development. This debate is rooted in philosophical arguments about the nature of the human species as a tabula rasa (Locke, 1690/1913) to be shaped by experience versus a “noble savage” (Rousseau, 1754) to be reined in by environmental constraints on an otherwise biological destiny (Hobbes, 1651/1969). Much of the...

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18. Why We Need to Explore Development in Its Cultural Context

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pp. 272-289

If children grew up in a world devoid of cultural context, the picture painted of children by developmental psychology textbooks might be quite accurate and therefore adequate. The problem is that not even children confined to so-called bubble worlds because of severely impaired immune systems grow up in such a world. The result is that students of developmental psychology...

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19. Historical Lessons: The Value of Pluralism in Psychological

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pp. 290-299

The history of psychology includes a characteristic that I think has not served us well. I am referring to a tendency for scholars to proclaim that a particular perspective, theoretical orientation, worldview, or attention to a set of topics is the wave of the future that will transform psychology in the right and necessary direction and move it from its erroneous ways. More...

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20. Early Child Care: The Known and the Unknown

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pp. 300-328

The second half of the 20th century witnessed substantial changes in the lives of young children as maternal employment increased and more children participated in nonparental care arrangements. The available evidence indicates that these care arrangements vary widely in quality, amount, and type (NICHD ECCRN, 1996, 2000a; U.S. Census Bureau, 2003). These variations and the...

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21. Early Learning and School Readiness: Can Early Intervention Make a Difference?

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pp. 329-350

The United States continues to evolve into a society that requires all its adult members to be literate, proficient in basic math, and facile with means of acquiring and using new knowledge. As automation of routine jobs increases and as globalization of business results in the transfer of manufacturing and service jobs to less expensive foreign labor markets, the pressures increase to become an even more academically accomplished society. Thus...

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22. Contextual Factors in Risk and Prevention Research

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pp. 351-365

Efforts to understand the development of childhood psychopathology have placed growing emphasis on contextual factors that influence children’s developmental trajectories and lead to antisocial outcomes. A child’s developmental course is set within the child’s social ecology, and an ecological framework is...

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23. Integrating Developmental Scholarship and Society: From Dissemination and Accountability to Evidence-Based Programming and Policies

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pp. 366-381

Since the mid-1960s developmental scholarship has traveled an episodic and often bumpy road from isolation in the proverbial ivory tower to serious and meaningful attempts to integrate its knowledge with the needs of society and to contribute more directly to the welfare of children, youth, and families. While practitioners and policy makers have always demonstrated a certain receptivity to scholarly knowledge, today’s policy and practice mantra is evidence- based programming, in which policy makers want to implement programs that research has previously documented to be effective. As a result...


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pp. 383-384


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pp. 385-404

E-ISBN-13: 9780814335543
Print-ISBN-13: 9780814333426

Page Count: 416
Illustrations: 14
Publication Year: 2007

Edition: 1
Volume Title: N/a
Series Title: Landscapes of Childhood