AP Psychology : Studying Developmental Psychology

Study concepts, example questions & explanations for AP Psychology

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Example Questions

Example Question #21 : Theories Of Psychological Development

Dr. Jones studies how a person’s learning styles change over time. Given this information, Dr. Jones is most likely what kind of psychologist? 

Possible Answers:

Evolutionary

Health

Developmental 

Clinical

Correct answer:

Developmental 

Explanation:

Developmental psychology studies changes throughout a person’s entire lifespan. This includes the physical, social, and cognitive developments and changes observed in a person. 

Example Question #22 : Theories Of Psychological Development

A 10-month-old child is brought to a family gathering by his parents. The child cries when he first meets his extended relatives and clings to his parents as they try to introduce him to the new people. Which of the following developmental behaviors is this child exhibiting?

Possible Answers:

Separation anxiety 

Stranger anxiety

Disorganized attachment 

Generalized anxiety

Correct answer:

Stranger anxiety

Explanation:

Stranger anxiety is a characteristic of secure attachment and usually begins around 8 months of age. It is more commonly described as a fear of strangers.

Example Question #371 : Individual Psychology And Behavior

Fourteen-year-old Audrey and her 8-year-old brother, Aaron, participated in a cognitive task. The experimenter presented the following scenario to each of them: “Here is the rule: Tapping a glass softly will cause it to break. A little boy then taps the glass. What happened next?” According to Piaget's Cognitive Developmental Theory, Audrey and Aaron are in two different cognitive stages. How might Audrey and Aaron each respond? 

Possible Answers:

Both Audrey and Aaron would say the glass did not break. 

Audrey would say the glass did not break, whereas Aaron would say the glass broke. 

Audrey would say the glass broke, whereas Aaron would say the glass did not break.

Both Audrey and Aaron would say the glass broke. 

Correct answer:

Audrey would say the glass broke, whereas Aaron would say the glass did not break.

Explanation:

Audrey is currently in the formal operational stage, whereas Aaron is currently in the concrete operational stage. Children in the concrete operational stage such as Aaron fixate on the physical properties of objects and what they know to be true based on past experiences. In contrast, adolescents can think and reason more abstractly even when given hypothetical scenarios or specific rules to follow. So, when both Audrey and Aaron are asked about the glass, Audrey was able to follow the rule, but Aaron focused on the concrete validity of the rule; therefore, the children would respond in the following manner: “Audrey would say the glass broke, whereas Aaron would say the glass did not break.”

Example Question #23 : Theories Of Psychological Development

Compared to children in the concrete operational stage, which of the following is not a cognitive gain that first appears during the formal operational stage according to Piaget? 

Possible Answers:

Hypothetico-deductive reasoning 

Idealism 

Conservation

Propositional thought 

Correct answer:

Conservation

Explanation:

The ability to conserve physical properties first appears during middle childhood during the concrete operational stage (ages 7-11 approximately), not during the formal operational stage. Adolescents are first able to engage in hypothetical-deductive reasoning and propositional thought during the formal operational stage. Adolescents are also idealistic, which can be a gain or limitation cognitive ability. 

Example Question #23 : Theories Of Psychological Development

Randall is a high school senior. He wants to go to college and medical school after he graduates so he can become a doctor like both of his parents. He does not want to consider any other career options and wants to make his parents proud. Which of the following best explains Randall’s identity status? 

Possible Answers:

Identity moratorium 

Identity foreclosure

Identity achievement 

Identity diffusion 

Correct answer:

Identity foreclosure

Explanation:

According to James Marcia's theory of identity statuses, Randall has made a commitment without exploring any additional options in terms of his field of study and career (i.e. identity foreclosure). Moratorium is when an individual is actively exploring an identity but has yet to commit. Achievement is when one has actively explored an identity and made a final decision. Diffusion is when one is indifferent and does not explore or commit to any one identity. 

Example Question #31 : Developmental Psychology

Joe is 55-years-old and unmarried. He does not have children and has no interest in interacting with young people. He is self-absorbed with his own life and what other people can do for him, especially at work. According to Erikson’s psychosocial theory of the stages of development, which of the following would best describe Joe? 

Possible Answers:

Despair

Isolation

Stagnation

Self-doubt

Correct answer:

Stagnation

Explanation:

Erikson's theory proposes that individuals have to resolve certain psychological conflicts across the lifespan, which in turn affects their personality development as well as their social and emotional well-being. During middle age, individuals must resolve the generativity vs. stagnation conflict. Individuals who resolve this conflict positively have children and grandchildren, give back to younger generations by mentoring or coaching in their careers, and feel a sense of achievement or accomplishment with passing down their knowledge. Those who resolve the conflict negatively do not interact with young adults and are still focused on themselves and what other people can do for them. 

Example Question #31 : Developmental Psychology

Vickie has achieved ego integrity. Which of the following statements regarding Vickie is most likely true?

Possible Answers:

Vickie does not accept help from others even when it is needed

Vickie fears death and is overwhelmed with hopelessness

Vickie acknowledges a few challenges in her life, but she has a sense of fulfillment and has a close relationship with her adult children

Vickie feels that she has made many wrong decisions, yet time is too short to correct them

Correct answer:

Vickie acknowledges a few challenges in her life, but she has a sense of fulfillment and has a close relationship with her adult children

Explanation:

Ego integrity vs. despair is the last stage of Erikson's psychosocial theory of the stages of development and corresponds to late adulthood. Individuals who have ego integrity reflect back on their lives and feel as if they have fulfilled their goals related to work and family. They often recognize that any challenges or problems they encountered were necessary for them to grow and make it to the point where they are currently in their lives. They often are not hopeless or regretful and typically do not fear death. 

Example Question #23 : Theories Of Psychological Development

According to Eriskon’s psychosocial theory of the stages of development, which of the following does not influence whether someone will successfully resolve the intimacy vs. isolation conflict? 

Possible Answers:

He/she has a secure identity

He/she is self-absorbed

He/she has a secure attachment pattern

He/she makes a romantic commitment to someone

Correct answer:

He/she is self-absorbed

Explanation:

During early adulthood, individuals who have established their identities (i.e. their career, gender, ethnic/racial, moral/religious, political, or sexuality preferences) are often easily able to commit to another person in a romantic relationship. Often times, they have developed secure attachment patterns with their parents/caregivers during infancy and toddlerhood, which impacts their future relationships and friendships. If they are self-absorbed,  then they are more likely to isolate themselves from other people. 

Example Question #21 : Theories Of Psychological Development

Which of the following is true according to the evolutionary perspective of mate selection? 

Possible Answers:

Men are attracted solely to ambition and financial status in women.

Women’s reproductive capacity is limited, and it “costs” them more if they do not seek a partner who is financially stable, protective, and committed.  

Women are drawn to attractiveness and domestic skills in men.

Men do not consider physical attractiveness an important quality. 

Correct answer:

Women’s reproductive capacity is limited, and it “costs” them more if they do not seek a partner who is financially stable, protective, and committed.  

Explanation:

The evolutionary perspective suggests that women are more attracted to financial stability and ambition because it signals that their mate will protect, provide, and commit to the family. Since women have a limited reproductive capacity and have to carry children, they have to be more selective in who they choose. On the other hand, men are not limited by their reproductive capacity and are attracted to women who seem physically healthy and are able to bear and take care of children. 

Example Question #24 : Theories Of Psychological Development

When 35-year-old Jake saw the Heinz dilemma video, he immediately thought, “The law that prohibits stealing the drug may need to be revised, especially if it’s infringing on his wife’s right to live. Heinz should steal the drug.” According to Kohlberg’s theory of moral development, Jake’s moral reasoning reflects which stage? 

Possible Answers:

Level II: Conventional—maintaining social order 

Level III: Post-conventional—social contract/individual rights

Level III: Post-conventional—universal principles  

Level II: Conventional—good interpersonal relationships 

Correct answer:

Level III: Post-conventional—social contract/individual rights

Explanation:

Individuals at Level II in their moral reasoning focus on upholding laws to prevent anarchy and maintain good relationships with and approval from others around them. On the other hand, individuals at Level III in their moral reasoning understand if certain laws infringe on human rights, then in certain circumstances it may be appropriate to break a law (i.e., there are exceptions to a rule). This particular scenario focuses on revising the flawed law that is prohibiting Heinz' wife from living, which is why it is most related to maintaining social contracts with the law, while also acknowledging individual rights. Individuals who focus on universal principles reason beyond laws they consider unjust and adhere to maintaining the dignity of all people. 

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