Theories of Development

Study Unit 1 - Chapter 1 - Topic 2 Theories of Development ©2013 SIM UNIVERSITY. All rights reserved. Learning Outcomes At the end of the study to...
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Study Unit 1 - Chapter 1 - Topic 2

Theories of Development

©2013 SIM UNIVERSITY. All rights reserved.

Learning Outcomes

At the end of the study topic, you will be able to:



Summarise the main characteristics of the six categories of the theories of development (Psychoanalytic; Cognitive; Behavioural and Social Cognitive; Ethological; Ecological; and An Eclectic Theoretical Orientation).



Relate and discuss the application, research, and research challenges of life-span development.



Relate the application, research, and research challenges of lifespan development to the role of social workers.

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Theories of Development - Overview



Theories are part of the science of life-span development.



This section introduces you to the theories and methods that are the foundation of the science of life-span development.



All scientific knowledge stems from a rigorous, systematic method of investigation.



The diversity of theories makes understanding life-span development a challenging undertaking.



Just as you think one theory has the correct explanation of life-span development, another theory crops up and makes you rethink your earlier conclusion.



Rather than getting frustrated, remember that life-span development is a complex, multifaceted process and that each theory contributes an important piece to the lifespan development puzzle.



Although the theories sometimes disagree about certain aspects of life-span development, much of their information is complementary rather than contradictory.

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What is a Theory?

Theory is: • An interrelated, coherent set of ideas that:  Helps to explain phenomena and  Make predictions and hypotheses Based on :

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Assumptions and/or



Observations by the theorist/ researcher.

1

2 Psychoanalytical Theories

3 Behavioural and Social Cognitive Theories

6

Developmental Theories

Cognitive Theories

4

5

Ethological Theories

Ecological Theories

Click any one of the buttons to read the explanation.

Eclectic Theoretical Orientation

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Psychoanalytical

Psychoanalytical Theories



Psychoanalytic theory describes development as primarily unconscious (beyond awareness).



Emphasises the understanding of the symbolic meanings of behaviour and the inner workings of the mind.



Behaviour merely is at the surface level, whereas development is unconscious and affected by our emotions.



Psychoanalytic theorists emphasise that behaviour is merely a surface characteristic and that a true understanding of development requires analysing the symbolic meanings of behaviour and the deep inner workings of the mind.



Symbolic of deeper inner mental issues.



Early childhood shapes development.



Although unconscious thought remains a central theme, nowadays, psychoanalysts stress that conscious thought makes up more of the mind than in Freudian theory.

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Psychoanalytical

Two Commonly Quoted Psychoanalytic Theories Click the below buttons to read the explanation.

Sigmund Freud

(1856 – 1939) • 5 stages of psychosexual development • Oral, anal, phallic, latency and genital • Over-emphasis of sexual instincts.

Erik Erikson

(1902 – 1994) • 8 Psycho-social stages • Marked by conflict/crisis and resolution . • Successful resolution leads to healthier development.

Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Sigmund_Freud_LIFE.jpg http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Erik_Erikson.png

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Freud’s Psychosexual Theory

Psychoanalytical

Sigmund Freud •

His theory of attachment was based on observations and psychoanalysis of his patients, that problems in adulthood were the result of early childhood experiences. Freud (1917) proposed 3 structures that make up human personality:  Id: consists of instincts, which are an individual’s reservoir of psychic energy

Source: http://en.wikipedi a.org/wiki/File:Si gmund_Freud_L IFE.jpg

 Ego: the personality structure that deals with reality  Superego: “conscience” or the moral branch of personality that decides whether something is right or wrong •

Adult personality is shaped by how we resolve these early sources of pleasure – mouth, anus and genitals (id) – and the demands of reality (ego).



Therefore when these needs are over or under-gratified / conflicts are not resolved, then we become fixated or locked at an earlier developmental stage e.g. oral fixation.

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Freud’s 5 Stages of Psychosexual Development

Psychoanalytical

Sigmund Freud

Source: http://en.wikipedi a.org/wiki/File:Si gmund_Freud_L IFE.jpg

1

Oral Stage (birth to 1½ years)

2

Anal Stage (1 ½ o 3 years)

Infant’s pleasure centres on the mouth (Sucking, chewing, biting is pleasurable and reduces tension in the infant) Child’s pleasure focuses on the anus (Exercising anal muscles and the eliminative functions associated with it is pleasurable and relieves tension)

3

Phallic Stage (3 to 6 years)

Child’s pleasure focuses on the genitals (In personality development, the Oedipus complex occurs at this stage, which is the young child’s intense desire to replace the same-sexed parent so that she/he can enjoy the affections of the opposite-sexed parent)

4

Latency Stage (6 years to puberty)

Child represses sexual interest and instead channels energy into safe areas such as : developing social and intellectual skills

5

Genital Stage (puberty onwards)

It is a time of sexual awakening whereby the source of sexual pleasure shifts to outside the family - conflicts that were unresolved with parents re-emerge during adolescence

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Erik Erikson’s Psychosocial Theory

Psychoanalytical

Erik Eriksion

Source: http://en.wikipedi a.org/wiki/File:Eri k_Erikson.png



Recognising Freud’s contribution but believing that there were some misjudgements in the psychosexual development theory.



Erikson argued that we develop in psychosocial stages, rather than in psychosexual stages.



The primary motivation for human behaviour, according to the psychosocial view, is social and reflected a desire to affiliate with other people.



Erikson emphasised developmental change throughout human life-span, in contrast to Freud’s first five years of life.



Each stage of development consists of a unique developmental task that confronts individuals with a crisis that must be resolved.

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Erikson’s 8 Stages of Human Development:

1

Trust vs. Mistrust (1st years of life)

Trust develops when infants consistently receive loving care from caregivers, most commonly parents.

2

Autonomy vs. Shame and Doubt (1 to 3 years)

Autonomy develops when children are supported in their efforts to perform tasks, such as putting on shoes on their own or becoming toilettrained.

3

Initiative vs. Guilt (3 to 5 years)

Initiative develops when adults encourage and reward children’s efforts to explore and take on new challenges.

4

Industry vs. Inferiority (6 years to puberty)

Industry develops when learners acquire a sense of competence through mastery of tasks.

5

Identity vs. Identity confusion (10 to 20 years)

Identity develops when adolescents are allowed to test their attempts at increasing independence within clearly established limits.

6

Intimacy vs. Isolation (20s, 30s)

7 8

Generativity vs. Stagnation (40s, 50s) Integrity vs. Despair (60s onwards)

Intimacy develops when individuals with a clear sense of identity are able to give themselves over to another.

Generative adults are committed to guiding the next generation. Integrity occurs when people believe they’ve lived their lives as well as possible and accept the inevitability of death with few regrets.

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Psychoanalytical

Main Contributions & Critiques: Psychoanalytic Theories

MAIN CONTRIBUTIONS

CRITIQUE



Early experiences play an important part in development.

• Concepts are difficult to be tested scientifically.



Family relationships are a central aspect of development.



Personality can be better understood if it is examined developmentally.

• Much of the data used to support theories come from individual’s reconstruction of the past.



The mind is not all conscious; unconscious aspects of the mind need to be considered.



Changes take place in adulthood as well as in childhood.

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• The sexual underpinning of development are given too much importance (especially Freud’s) • The unconscious mind is given too much credit for influencing development. • Presents an image of humans that is too negative (especially Freud’s) • Culture- and gender-biased (especially Freud’s) .

Cognitive Theories



Whilst psychoanalytic theories emphasise the importance of unconscious thoughts, cognitive theories focus on conscious thought.



Cognitive theories look into how one develops one’s understanding of the world around us

Cognitive

 connecting ideas,  explaining and organising experiences, and  adjusting to external demands. Three important cognitive theories are

Jean Piaget

Vygotsky

InformationProcessing Theory

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Piaget’s Cognitive Development Theory

Cognitive

Jean Piaget

Source: http://upload.wikimedia.org/w ikipedia/en/thumb/6/67/Jean _Piaget_in_Ann_Arbor.png/1 90pxJean_Piaget_in_Ann_Arbor. png

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Jean Piaget’s (1896-1980) theory is the main cognitive theory which states that children actively construct their understanding of the world



Piaget believed that we adapt to our environment in two ways: assimilation and accommodation



Assimilation and accommodation always bring one to a higher level of cognitive competency

Piaget’s Cognitive Development Theory (cont’d)

Jean Piaget

Children go through

Cognitive

4

Stage 1

Stage 2

Sensorimotor stage (birth to 2 yrs): The infant constructs an understanding of the world by coordinating sensory experiences with physical actions.



Pre-operational stage (2-7 yrs): The child’s understanding of the world expands with the symbolic use of language when he learns to associate physical objects and actions with words.

stages of cognitive development. Stage 3

Stage 4

Concrete operational stage (7-11 yrs): The child can now reason logically about concrete events and classify objects into different sets.

Formal operational (11 - 15 yrs till adulthood): The adolescent reasons in more abstract, idealistic, and logical manners.

Each of the stages is age-related and consists of distinct ways of thinking. The different ways of understanding the world makes one stage more advanced than another, not simply knowing more information. Source: http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/thumb/6/67/Jean_Piaget_in_Ann_Arbor.png/190pxJean_Piaget_in_Ann_Arbor.png

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Vygotsky’s Sociocultural Cognitive Theory

Cognitive

Lev Vygotsky



Compared to Piaget, Vygotsky gave social interaction and culture far more important roles in cognitive development.



The sociocultural theory portrays the child’s development as inseparable from social and cultural activities.



Vygotsky believed that the development of memory, attention, and reasoning involves learning to use the inventions of society, such as language, mathematical systems, and memory strategies.



More-skilled adults and peers are extremely important in children’s social interaction.



For example, when a skilled reader regularly helps (scaffolds) a child learn how to read, this not only advances a child’s reading skills but also communicates to the child that reading is an important activity in the culture.

Source: http://lh4.ggpht.com/_NNjxeW9ewEc/TKM38u0qu2I/AAAAAAAAE5g/b3hrpz7J298/tmp896 0_thumb3.jpg

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Information-Processing Theory

Cognitive



Psychologists drew an analogy between the computer’s hardware (brain) and software (cognition) and how the human mind works.



According to this theory, individuals develop a gradually increasing capacity for processing information, which allows them to acquire increasingly complex knowledge and skills.



Central to this theory are the processes of memory (perceive, encode, represent, store, and retrieve information) and thinking.



This theory views human being as active information processors which bring forth the process of thinking.



Robert Siegler (1998, 2006, 2007) emphasised that an important aspect of development is to learn good strategies for processing information.

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Main Contributions & Critiques: Cognitive Theories

Cognitive

MAIN CONTRIBUTIONS •

Present a positive view of development, emphasising conscious thinking.



Emphasise the individual’s active construction of understanding (especially Piaget’s and Vygotsky’s theories).





Piaget’s and Vygotsky’s theories underscore the importance of examining developmental changes in children’s thinking. The information-processing theory offers detailed descriptions of cognitive processes.

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CRITIQUE •

There is scepticism about the pureness of Piaget’s stages.



Do not give adequate attention to individual variations in cognitive development.



The information-processing theory does not provide an adequate description of developmental changes in cognition.



Psychoanalytic theories argue that the cognitive theories do not give enough credit to unconscious thought.

Behavioural

Behavioural and Social Cognitive Theories



Behaviourists essentially proposed that scientifically we can study only what can be directly observed and measured.



They believe that development is observable behaviour that can be learned through interaction (experience) with the environment. The three main versions of behavioural approach are:

1

2

Pavlov: Classical Conditioning

3

Skinner: Operant Conditioning

Bandura: Social Cognitive Theory

Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Ivan_Pavlov_LIFE.jpg http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:B.F._Skinner_at_Harvard_circa_1950.jpg

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Pavlov’s Classical Conditioning

Behavioural

Ian Pavlov

Source: http://en.wikipedia.o rg/wiki/File:Ivan_Pa vlov_LIFE.jpg



Ian Pavlov (1927) started off as a physiologist.



He became curious when he observed that dogs salivate to various sights and sounds before eating their food.



From his various experiments, he discovered the principle of classical conditioning, in which neutral stimulus (e.g. ringing a bell) acquires the ability to produce a response originally produced by another stimulus (e.g. food).



Many of our fears, e.g. fear of the dentist from a painful experience, can be learned through classical conditioning.

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Skinner’s Operant Conditioning

Behavioural

B.F. Skinner

Source: http://en.wikipedia.o rg/wiki/File:B.F._Ski nner_at_Harvard_cir ca_1950.jpg



According to B.F. Skinner’s theory of operant conditioning, the consequences of behaviour produce changes in the probability of the behaviour’s occurrence.



This means a behaviour followed by a rewarding stimulus is more likely to recur, whereas a behaviour followed by a punishing stimulus is less likely to recur.



For example, when a teacher praises a child for paying attention in class, he is more likely to remain attentive than when the teacher gives him a hard stare for not paying attention.



Operant Conditioning – Rewards and punishment shape development. – Key aspect of development is behaviour, not thought or feelings. – Behaviour is learnt.

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Behavioural

Bandura’s Social Cognitive Theory



Social cognitive theory is the view of psychologists who emphasise behaviour, environment, and cognition (the person) as the key factors in development.



Albert Bandura, the leading architect of this theory, emphasised that cognitive processes have important links with the environment and behaviour.



An important process is observational learning which is also called imitation or modelling.



This type of learning occurs through observing what others do.



In such a case, Bandura proposes that people cognitively represent the behaviour of others and then sometimes adopt this behaviour themselves.



For example, a young boy might observe his father’s aggressive outbursts and hostile interchanges with people and imitate this behaviour when interacting with his own peers.



This theory highlights the importance of adults e.g. parents and teachers acting as positive role models for young children under their care.

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Behavioural

Main Contributions and Critiques: Behavioural and Social Cognitive Theories

MAIN CONTRIBUTIONS • •





CRITIQUE

The importance of scientific research.



The environmental determinants of behaviour.



The importance of observational learning (Bandura).



Person/cognitive factors (social cognitive theory).



Too little emphasis on cognition (Pavlov, Skinner). Too much emphasis on environmental determinants. Inadequate attention to developmental changes. Too mechanical and inadequate consideration of the spontaneity and creativity of humans.

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Ethological

Ethological Theories



The Ethological perspective stresses that behaviour is strongly influenced by biology, is tied to evolution, and is characterised by critical or sensitive periods.



Ethologists believe that the presence or absence of certain experiences at particular times in the life-span influences individuals well beyond the time they first occur.



They also stress the powerful roles that evolution and biological foundations play in development (Rosenzweig, 2000).



One of the most important applications of ethological theory to human development involves John Bowlby’s (1969, 1989) theory of attachment.



Bowlby argued that attachment to a caregiver over the first year of life has important consequences throughout life-span.



In his view, if this attachment is positive and secure, the individual will likely develop more positively in childhood and adulthood.



On the other hand if the attachment is negative and insecure, life-span development will likely not be optimum.

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Main Contributions & Critiques: Ethological Theories

Ethological

MAIN CONTRIBUTIONS •





Increased focus on the biological and evolutionary basis of development. Use of careful observations in naturalistic settings. Emphasis on sensitive periods of development.

CRITIQUE •



• •

Concepts of critical and sensitive periods perhaps too rigid. Too strong an emphasis on biological foundations. Inadequate attention to cognition. Better at generating research with animals than with humans.

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Ecological

Ecological Theories

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Source: Santrock, Chapter 1.

Main Contributions & Critiques: Ecological Theories

Ecological

MAIN CONTRIBUTIONS •





A systematic examination of macro and micro dimensions of environmental systems. Attention to connections between environmental settings (mesosystem).

CRITIQUE •



Too little attention to biological foundations of development, even with the added discussion of biological influences in recent years. Inadequate attention to cognitive processes.

Consideration of sociohistorical influences on development (chronosystem).

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Eclectic

Eclectic Theoretical Orientation



An eclectic theoretical orientation does not follow any one theoretical approach, but rather selects from each theory whatever is considered its best features.



No single theory mentioned thus far can explain entirely the rich complexity of life-span development.



Each of the theories has made important contributions to our understanding of development, but none provides a complete description and explanation.



For example: Psychoanalytic theory best explains the unconscious mind. Erikson’s theory best describes the changes that occur in adult development. Piaget’s, Vygotsky’s and the information-processing views provide the most complete description of cognitive development. The behavioural and social cognitive and ecological theories have been the most adept in examining the environmental determinants of development.



The ethological theories have made us aware of biology’s role and the importance of sensitive periods in development.



Therefore, it is important to recognise that, although theories are helpful guides, relying on a single theory to explain human development is inadequate.

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Reflective Questions

The main purpose of looking at all the different theories of development is to help us understand others as well as ourselves better.

• Which of the life-span theories do you think best explains your own development? • Why?

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Application of Life-Span Development



Understanding the basics of life-span development can help us understand many contemporary issues in society.



Some examples of contemporary issues are: 

moral issues involved in gene research.



long-term effect of emotional abuse.



mental retardation and special needs of children.



the impact of parenting styles on child development.



issues related to gender equality, homosexuality.



midlife career change.



divorce and midlife crisis, addiction.



stress and mental health, ageing and retirement.

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Research in Life-Span Development

Research in life-span development comes in various forms. As we are trying to make sense of the subjective nature of human beings, three basic types of research are used:

1

2

3

Descriptive Research

Correlational Research

Experimental Research

Observing and recording behaviour (Observation, survey and interview, standardised test, case study, life-history record, psychological measures).

Describes the strength of the relationship between two or more events or characteristics.

Carefully regulated procedure in which one or more factors believed to influence the behaviour being studied are manipulate while all other factors are held constant.

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©2013 SIM UNIVERSITY. All rights reserved.

©2013 SIM UNIVERSITY. All rights reserved.

©2013 SIM UNIVERSITY. All rights reserved.

©2013 SIM UNIVERSITY. All rights reserved.

Reflective Question

Verify the theories/principles that you read from the text book in the local context.

• In what ways will gender, cultural and ethnic bias affect the outcome of a research study?

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Summary

In this topic, you learnt that:



There are 5 components of theories that attempt to provide explanation and understanding of the complexity of life-span development.



No one theory can sufficiently and satisfactorily explain the changes in life-span, and so, an eclectic approach is essential.



There are different kinds of research done in order to understand various processes in life-span development.



There are some common research methods as well as research challenges in studying the life-span of human beings.



In applying various theories and/or principles of life-span development, one needs to be aware of the nature and the context of the research which give rise to the principles.

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References and Additional Learning Resources



Santrock, J. W. (2013). Life-Span Development (14th Edition), McGraw-Hill International. (Chapter 1)



Note: All references not listed here are based on the text in Santrock (2014).

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