AP Psychology Practice Test: Developmental Psychology

This AP Psychology practice test covers developmental psychology. This is an important component of the AP curriculum, with key topics including the life-span approach, research methods, developmental theories, gender development, and the interaction of nature and nurture. You will also need to be familiar with the physical, cognitive, social, and moral dimensions of development. Start your test prep now with our developmental psychology quiz.


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Question 1
Although 3-year-old Austin happily explores the colorful toys located in the doctor’s office’s waiting room, he periodically returns to his mother’s side for brief moments. Austin is most clearly displaying what?

A
Conservation
B
Egocentrism
C
Avoidant attachment
D
Secure attachment
E
Stranger anxiety
Question 1 Explanation: 
The correct answer is (D). A child who is mildly distressed in response to the absence of a caregiver, but is still able to function without issue exhibits what is called secure attachment. Children with secure attachment feel protected by their caregivers, and they know that caregivers will always return after leaving them.
Question 2
“I don’t care whether you want to cut the grass, you will do so, because I said so!” This statement is most indicative of what type of parenting style?

A
Authoritarian
B
Authoritative
C
Laissez-faire
D
Preconventional
E
Conventional
Question 2 Explanation: 
The correct answer is (A). Authoritarian parenting is characterized by strict rules, harsh punishments, and little warmth. An authoritative parenting style, on the other hand, is marked by a democratic, open, collaborative effort between parent and child.
Question 3
The process of developing a sense of identity during adolescence was highlighted by what developmental theory?

A
Harlow’s attachment theory
B
Erikson’s psychosocial development theory
C
Kubler-Ross’ stages of grief
D
Piaget’s cognitive development theory
E
Kohlberg’s moral development theory
Question 3 Explanation: 
The correct answer is (B). During adolescence (age 12 to 18 years), the transition from childhood to adulthood is most important. Erikson describes the major conflict here as Identity vs. Role Confusion. Children become more independent and begin to look at the future in terms of career, relationships, families, and housing. The individual wants to belong to and fit in with society.
Question 4
What is the last stage of a human fertilized egg?

A
Embryonic stage
B
Fetal stage
C
Germinal stage
D
Neonate
E
Spermic stage
Question 4 Explanation: 
The correct answer is (B). The final result of a human fertilized egg is a newborn baby, or neonate. The 2nd to 4th weeks after fertilization mark the germinal stage. Weeks 4 to 8 are described as the embryonic stage. The last stage of fertilization is called the fetal stage and lasts until the birth of the baby.
Question 5
Which of the following is not one of Piaget’s stages of cognitive development?

A
Postoperational
B
Pre-operational
C
Concrete operational
D
Sensory and motor
E
Formal operational
Question 5 Explanation: 
The correct answer is (A). Piaget’s stages of cognitive development are, in order: the sensory motor stage, the pre-operational, the concrete operational stage, and lastly the formal operational; the postoperational stage is not one of Piaget’s stages of cognitive development.
Question 6
In what level of morality might a person have an internal set of values that may conflict with societal values?

A
Preconventional morality
B
Conventional morality
C
Postconventional morality
D
Both A & B
E
Both B & C
Question 6 Explanation: 
The correct answer is (C). Kohlberg’s model of morality begins with pre-conventional morality, which is marked by egocentrism and a focus on the direct consequence of actions. Conventional morality primarily entails a comparison with what society deems morally acceptable. Postconventional morality consists of the individual’s understanding that rules are not absolute and that an individual’s principles may supercede what society deems acceptable. In the postconventional stage, individuals may find themselves in conflict with societal values.
Question 7
According to Freud, what is fixation?

A
Inability to move
B
The Oedipus Complex
C
Inability to move beyond a broken relationship
D
Seduction
E
Persistence of anachronistic sexual traits
Question 7 Explanation: 
The correct answer is (E). Fixation refers to an individual who is stuck in a particular stage of psychosexual development. It emerges in response to a lack of proper gratification during an earlier stage of development.
Question 8
Research indicates that which factor may impact the development of sexual orientation?

A
Being assaulted or molested as a child
B
Fear of the opposite sex
C
Left-handedness
D
Hormones during pregnancy
E
Parenting styles
Question 8 Explanation: 
The correct answer is (D). Research has shown a correlation between certain hormones taken during pregnancy and the sexual orientation of the person that develops.
Question 9
Grandma Edith knows you are studying psychology and asks you what physical changes she can expect to experience as she grows older. Which of the following statements is most accurate?

A
Her senses won’t change much but her memory will decline.
B
Sight, smell and hearing usually begin a steep decline around age 65.
C
She shouldn’t expect any changes until she reaches senile dementia.
D
There is no way to predict what will happen.
E
She will most certainly develop anterograde amnesia.
Question 9 Explanation: 
The correct answer is (B). Through the aging process, a natural reduction in the sensitivity of senses can be expected.
Question 10
Which of the following is most likely to be influenced by a culture’s social clock?

A
Being diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease
B
Declining fluid intelligence
C
Going through menopause
D
Giving birth to a first child
E
Prevalence of Schizophrenia within the culture
Question 10 Explanation: 
The correct answer is (D). A social clock is a culturally specific timetable for particular events to occur. In this case, the only non-biological event listed is choosing to have a child. The time at which a couple decides to have a child is most likely to be influenced by the surrounding culture.
Question 11
Which of the following kinds of development would be least affected by early life experiences?

A
Attachment development
B
Cognitive development
C
Moral development
D
Motor development
E
Social development
Question 11 Explanation: 
The correct answer is (D). Motor development refers to changes in a child’s ability to control his or her body’s movements. In comparison with the other answer choices, motor development is least affected by early life experiences because it occurs primarily independently from external events.
Question 12
A second-grader develops the idea that all teachers are female because she only encounters female teachers. This idea is an example of what psychological concept?

A
Conservation
B
Formal operation
C
Convention
D
Temperament
E
Schema
Question 12 Explanation: 
The correct answer is (E). A schema is used to organize categories of information and the relationships among them in order to develop a working model of the surroundings. These schemata can be used to draw conclusions.
Question 13
Which stage is considered the critical period during prenatal development?

A
Embryonic stage
B
Fetal stage
C
Germinal stage
D
Egg stage
E
Zygotic stage
Question 13 Explanation: 
The correct answer is (A). Rapid development occurs during the embryonic stage. Anything that interferes with this development will have a major impact on the developing embryo.
Question 14
Experiments show that infants register the strongest preference for which one of the following visual stimuli?

A
Animals
B
Bright colors
C
Geometric shapes
D
Plain colors
E
The human face
Question 14 Explanation: 
The correct answer is (E). Newborns show a distinct preference for the human face over all other stimuli.
Question 15
Which play pattern is most prevalent among toddlers?

A
Associative play
B
Cooperative play
C
Facilitative play
D
Parallel play
E
Solitary play
Question 15 Explanation: 
The correct answer is (D). Beginning after a child’s first birthday, children typically engage in parallel play, that is, playing independently but alongside others.
Question 16
Theories of human development have been most criticized for placing too much emphasis on what?

A
Cognitive changes during adult development
B
Discrete age-linked stages
C
Maturation during adolescent development
D
Interaction of nature and nurture
E
Interpretations of observable behavior
Question 16 Explanation: 
The correct answer is (B). Developmental stage theorists have been criticized for putting age-links in the stages that may not take into account other developmental differences.
Question 17
Shelly is constantly seeking reassurance from her husband, Jack, concerning the stability of their relationship. Shelly likely formed what kind of attachment to her mother as a child?

A
Anxious/Ambivalent
B
Avoidant
C
Confused
D
Secure
E
All of the above
Question 17 Explanation: 
The correct answer is (A). A child with an insecure attachment will avoid or ignore the caregiver, showing little emotion when the mother departs or returns. The child will not explore very much regardless of who is there. One manifestation of this kind of attachment style is instability in future romantic relationships.
Question 18
In which of the following ways did Erikson’s stage theory differ from Freud’s?

A
Freud and Erikson both theorized about psychosocial and psychosexual development.
B
Freud covered the entire life span while Erikson only went through early adulthood.
C
Freud dealt with the Oedipus complex and Erikson dealt with the Electra complex.
D
Freud theorized on psychosexual development, while Erikson theorized on psychosocial development.
E
Freud theorized on psychosocial development, while Erikson theorized on psychosexual development.
Question 18 Explanation: 
The correct answer is (D). These two theorists both dealt with the resolution of conflicts at each developmental stage in their theories, but they focused on different concepts—Freud focused on the psychosexual and Erikson focused on the psychosocial.
Question 19
Elderly people are not increasingly susceptible to:

A
Alzheimer’s disease
B
Common cold viruses
C
Dementia
D
Pneumonia
E
None of the above; the elderly are more susceptible to each of these.
Question 19 Explanation: 
The correct answer is (B). As people age, they do not become more susceptible to common cold viruses.
Question 20
Which sense is most dominant at birth?

A
Hearing
B
Smell
C
Taste
D
Touch
E
Vision
Question 20 Explanation: 
The correct answer is (A). Hearing is the most dominant sense at birth; this is because the other senses are less developed.
Question 21
Jacqueline has no meaningful occupational goals and has switched college majors several times. Erikson would have suggested that Jacqueline lacks:

A
Autonomy
B
Competence
C
Identity
D
Initiative
E
Trust
Question 21 Explanation: 
The correct answer is (C). Jacqueline is grappling with identity versus role confusion, which is the stage of adolescence in Erikson’s theory most prominent from the ages of 12 to 18.
Question 22
From the perspective of Erik Erikson, why are life stages important?

A
Each involves a crisis or dilemma.
B
Each is an expression of biological programming.
C
Each signals a new stage of cognitive development.
D
Their failure to appear is evidence of psychopathology.
E
None of the above.
Question 22 Explanation: 
The correct answer is (A). At each of Erikson’s stages, an individual grapples with the resolution of a conflict. From birth to 12-18 months, the infant deals with trust vs. mistrust. The child from 18 months to 3 years deals with autonomy vs. shame; the child from 3 to 6 years old deals with initiative vs. guilt; then from 6 to 12 years old with industry vs. inferiority. The adolescent from 12 to 18 struggles with identity vs. role confusion; the young adult from 19 to 40 faces intimacy vs. isolation, and the adult faces generativity vs. stagnation from 40 to 65. The final conflict is ego integrity vs. despair from 65 until death.
Question 23
Cody, a 9-month-old, has learned that his Daddy has two legs, glasses, and is losing his hair. One day at the grocery stores, while passing a bald man with glasses, Cody says, “Daddy!” This is a case of:

A
Ebbinghaus’ forgetting curve
B
Faulty imprinting
C
Overgeneralizing
D
Representative heuristic
E
Semantic encoding
Question 23 Explanation: 
The correct answer is (C). By calling the man in the grocery store “Daddy” because he has similar characteristics to his own father, Cody is demonstrating the concept of overgeneralizing. This is common in the early stages of a child’s concept formation.
Question 24
A newborn demonstrates the Babinski reflex. You would expect to see:

A
Eye-blink
B
Grasping in response to an object touching the hands or fingers
C
Head-turn toward a mild cheek stimulus
D
Outstretched arms, legs, and crying
E
Toes stretched outward and upward in response to a sole-of-the-foot touch
Question 24 Explanation: 
The correct answer is (E). The newborn’s toes stretch outward and upward when the sole of the foot is touched.
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