Social development is the sub area of developmental psychology that concerns the description of children’s development of relationships with others, their understanding of the meaning of their relationships with others, and their understanding of others’ behaviors, attitudes, and intentions. The examination of the social, emotional, biological, and cognitive processes that account for these developmental changes in social development are of interest as well. The historical shifts in the understanding of social development from Darwin to the present can be traced by an examination of the major theoretical and methodological advances that have characterized this area of inquiry. The history of social development is divided into five time periods—the beginning years (1880–1915), a period of conceptual clashes (1915–1940), a period of expansion (1940–1960), an era that saw the rise of contemporary themes (1960–1985), and the current period (from 1985 to 2019). Finally, future directions and unresolved issues are noted.
Ross D. Parke
Kendall Cotton Bronk, Elyse Postlewaite, Betsy Blackard, Jordan Boeder, and Hannah Lucas
Social development refers to the process through which individuals learn to get along with others. It encompasses the formation of friendships and romantic relationships as well as experiences of bullying and loneliness. Across the life span, cognitive development enables increasingly complex social interactions, and the most important contexts for social development expand. Early in life, family is the primary context for social development, but in adulthood the social world grows to include peers, colleagues, and others. Social development is critical for well-being. Research finds that the lasting social bonds that individuals form are perhaps the most important ingredient in a life well lived.
Joshua Kirven and George Jacinto
Community healing and reconciliation have been a focus of many nations in response to civil war, genocide, and other conflicts. There have been increasing numbers of high-profile murders of African-American youths in the United States over the past 10 years. This article provides an overview of gun violence and its effects on African-American youths. Sanford, Florida, and Cleveland, Ohio, experienced the murders of Trayvon Martin and Tamir Rice, and the responses of the cities will be highlighted. The two cities provide potential models by communities to address historical injustices in the aftermath of high-profile fatal black male tragedies.
Donna Harrington and Karen Castellanos-Brown
This article focuses on the early childhood years, from 2 to 5 years of age. There are over 12 million children in this age range in the United States, many of whom face a number of challenges. In this article we discuss cognitive, language, motor, and social development, including relevant theories and major language and motor developmental milestones. We also discuss several family and environmental factors that influence development, including attachment, parenting, working parents, and poverty.
Imprinting is a form of rapid, supposedly irreversible learning that results from exposure to an object during a specific period (a critical or sensitive period) during early life and produces a preference for the imprinted object. The word “imprinting” is an English translation of the German Prägung (“stamping in”), coined by Konrad Lorenz in 1935 to refer to the process that he studied in geese. Two types of imprinting have traditionally been distinguished: filial imprinting, involving the formation of an immediate social attachment to the mother or a mother-substitute, and sexual imprinting, involving the formation of a sexual preference that is manifested later in life. Both types of imprinting were subject to extensive experimental study beginning around 1950. Originally described in precocial birds (ducks, geese, and domestic chickens), imprinting has also been used to explain the formation of early social attachments in other species, including human infants. Imprinting has served as a useful model for studying the neural processes involved in learning and behavioral development and has provided a framework for thinking about other developmental processes.
The attachment phenomenon is increasingly the focus of many social work interventions. Biologically described, differentiated types of attachment relationships result from qualities of repetitive interpersonal brain-to-brain encounters with caregivers that affect variations in emotional/affective arousal regulation; this research takes place within the field of interpersonal neurobiology. The particular focus of this entry is implicit and explicit manifestations of certain structures and functions of the brain and nervous system critical to the bio-regulation of emotions. In-born emotional circuitry is sculpted by postnatal caregiving, resulting in a pattern of emotion regulation that leads to certain attachment types. Although there is no attachment circuit per se, emotional circuits in the low brain can work together with other parts of the brain to create various types of attachment. Neurobiological influences act on the development of attachment styles during childhood that may persist into adulthood are briefly reviewed. Attachment research and often subtle biological arousal considerations are also mentioned. Over the years since John Bowlby first began to contribute his work on attachment, research has highlighted, more and more, the various biological aspects. These include the profound biological significance of the circular relationship between separation, responses to separation, and resulting attachment templates. The roles in the attaching process of neuroception, mirror neurons, transfer of affect, and long-term potentiation are described. Selected treatment theories, primarily from the social work literature, are examined for their implicit focus on aspects of the neurobiology of attachment relationships.