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Theories of Human Development

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  1. Theories of Human Development Chapter 2

  2. Main Points • Developmental Theories and the Issues They Raise • Freud: Psychoanalytic Theory • Erikson: Neo-Freudian Psychoanalytic Theory • Learning Theories • Piaget: Cognitive Developmental Theory • Systems Theories • Theories in Perspective

  3. Developmental Theories and the Issues They Raise • Introduction to Main Theories • Guides the collection of new information • What is the most important to study • What can be hypothesized or predicted • How it should be studied • Four main theories • Psychoanalytic (Freud, Erikson, and neo-Freudians) • Learning (Pavlov, Watson, Skinner, Bandura) • Cognitive (Piaget) • Systems theory (Bronfenbrenner)

  4. Developmental Theories and the Issues They Raise • Criteria of a Good Theory • Internally consistent- its different parts are not contradictory • Falsifiable- generates testable hypotheses • Supported by data- describes, predicts, and explains human development • Five key issues on which theorists disagree • Goodness or badness of human nature • Nature or nurture • Activity or passivity • Continuity or discontinuity • Universality or specificity • Engagement Box on where you stand on major development issues)

  5. Developmental Theories and the Issues They Raise • The Goodness/Badness of Human Nature • Hobbes- children are inherently selfish and bad, and society must teach them to behave in a civilized way • Rousseau- children are innately good, and society must not interfere with innate goodness • Locke- children are born neither good nor bad, but are like a tabula rasa or “blank slate”

  6. Developmental Theories and the Issues They Raise • Nature vs. Nurture • Development as product of nature (Rousseau champion of innate goodness in children) • Individual genetic makeup • Universal maturational processes guided by genes • Biological based predispositions • Change driven by biology • Individual differences due to genetic differences • Development as product of nurture (Locke claim that experience shapes development) • Emphasis on environment • Physical environment (e.g. pollution) • Social environment (e.g. societal trends)

  7. Developmental Theories and the Issues They Raise • Activity vs. Passivity • Activity- have control over one’s development (Rousseau) • Passive- shaped by forces beyond one’s control (e.g. environmental or biological) (Locke) • Continuity vs Discontinuity • Continuity- gradual change (small steps) • Discontinuity- abrupt change (a series of steps) • Qualitative or quantitative change • Quantitative- change in degree (continuity) • Qualitative- change in kind (discontinuity) • Discontinuity theorists propose the existence of developmental stages- distinct phase of the life cycle

  8. Developmental Theories and the Issues They Raise • Universality vs. Context- Specificity • Universality- developmental change common to everyone • Stage theorists typically believe that stages are universal • Context-specific- developmental changes vary by individual, culture, subculture • Are both universal and context-specific aspects to human development • Poet Mark Van Doren: “Two statements about humans beings that are true: that all human beings are alike, and that all are different”

  9. Freud: Psychoanalytic Theory • Sigmund Freud: Viennese Physician and Founder of Psychoanalytic Theory • Psychoanalytic theory- focus on development and dynamics of personality • Emphasis on humans being driven by motive and emotions of which we are unaware • Belief that we are shaped by earliest experiences in life • Theory far less influential than in the past • Instincts and Unconscious Motives • Instincts- inborn biological forces that motivate behavior • Unconscious motivation- instinctive and inner force influences beyond our awareness/control • Emphasis on nature (biological instincts)

  10. Freud: Psychoanalytic Theory • Id, Ego, and Superego • Id • All psychic energy contained her • Impulsive, irrational, selfish part of personality • Seeks immediate gratification • Ego • Rational side of personality • Realistic ways to gratify instincts • Capable of postponing pleasure • Superego • Internalized moral standards (developed age 3-6) • Superego insists that people find socially acceptable outlets for id’s undesirable impulses • Id, ego, and superego conflict common/inevitable • Problems arise when level of psychic energy unevenly distributed • Antisocial personality may have weak superego • Unable to undress in from of spouse may have overly strong to a superego • Analysis of dynamics among three parts of personality used to describe and understand human behavior

  11. Freud: Psychoanalytic Theory • Psychosexual Development • Importance of libido- sex instinct’s energy shifts body locations • Five stages of psychosexual development (oral, anal, phallic, latency, genital) • Oral and anal stage conflict of id and social demands leads to heightened psychic conflict and anxiety • Fixation- development arrested at early stage • Chronic thumb sucker or chain smoker stuck (fixated) at oral stage • During anal stage of toilet training, parents who are punitive way created children who are anxious and who resist demands from authority figures • Parent’s goal- allow some (but not too much) gratification of impulses while helping child achieve some (but not too much) control over impulses

  12. Freud: Psychoanalytic Theory • Psychosexual Development • Phallic stage- Oedipus and Electra complexes (incestuous desire) resolve by identifying with same-sex parent and incorporating parent’s values • Oedipus complex- boy loves mother and fears castration by father • Oedipus complex resolved through identification with father- taking on or internalizing attitudes or behaviors • Electra complex- girl desires father (penis envy), views mother as rival, resolves conflict through identification with mother • Latency stage- sexual urges are tamed (age 6-12) • Genital stage- experienced during puberty • Trouble accepting new sexuality • Reexperience conflict and distance self from parents • Greater capacity to love and have children in adulthood

  13. Freud: Psychoanalytic Theory • Defense mechanisms- Unconscious Coping Mechanisms of the Ego • Repression- removing unacceptable or traumatic thoughts from consciousness • Regression- retreating to an earlier stage • Projection- seeing in others the motives we fear we possess • Reaction formation- expressing motives the opposite of one’s real motives • Defense mechanisms can be healthy and function despite anxiety or they can distort reality • School refusal result of separation anxiety (Exploration Box of Freudian explanation of school refusal) • Strengths and Weaknesses • Difficult to test and ambiguous (not easily falsifiable) • Weak support for specific aspects of the theory (e.g., rate of sexual fantasy and child sexual abuse) • Greater support of broad ideas • Unconscious processes underlying behavior • Importance of early experience • Important emphasis on the role of emotions in development

  14. Erikson: Neo-Freudian Psychoanalytic Theory • Neo-Freudian- Important Disciples of Psychoanalytic Theory • Notable neo-Freudians: Adler (sibling rivalry), Jung (midlife crisis, expression of both masculine and feminine sides of personality), Horney (challenged ideas about sex differences), Sullivan (importance of close friendships in childhood for intimate relationships in later life), daughter Anna Freud (psychoanalysis of children) • Erik Erikson is most important lifespan neo-Freudian theorist • Like Freud, was concerned with inner dynamics of personality and saw development in stages • Unlike Freud, • Less emphasis on sexual urges as drivers of development • Less emphasis on unconscious, irrational, selfish id and more on rational ego • More positive view of human nature • More emphasis on development after adolescence

  15. Erikson: Neo-Freudian Psychoanalytic Theory • Neo-Freudian- Important Disciples of Psychoanalytic Theory • Psychosocial stages • Erikson saw resolution of eight major psychosocial crises as critical • Trust vs. mistrust- key is general responsiveness of caregiver (healthy balance of trust with some skepticism is optimal) • Autonomy vs. shame- concerning ability to act independently • Initiative vs. guilt- preschool sense of autonomy • Industry vs. inferiority- elementary age sense of mastery • Identify vs. role confusion- adolescent acquisition of identity that may involve an “identity crisis” • Intimacy vs. isolation- young adult commitment to a long-term relationship • Generativity vs. stagnation- middle-age sense of having produced something meaningful (family, work, or volunteer related) • Integrity vs. despair- elderly sense of life meaning and success • Did not agree with Freud that personality “set in stone” during first five years • Stage development due to biological maturation and environmental demands • School refusal explained by Freud as due to separation anxiety (mother-child relationship from birth), and by Erikson as a crisis of industry vs. inferiority (Exploration Box on school refusal from Erikson’s perspective)

  16. Erikson: Neo-Freudian Psychoanalytic Theory • Strengths and Weaknesses • Strengths • Its emphasis on rational, adaptive nature, and social influences easier to accept that Freudian ideas • Captures some central development issues within the eight stages • Influenced thinking about adolescence and beyond • Weaknesses • Like Freud, vague and difficult to test • Provides description, but not adequate explanation of development

  17. Learning Theories • Watson’s Classical Conditioning • Behaviorism- belief that only observed behavior should be studied • Rejected psychoanalytic theory and explained Freud using learning principles • Children have no inborn tendencies, as environment determines which way they grow up (like Locke) • Classical conditioning- simple form of learning in which a stimulus that initially has no effects comes to elicit a response through association with something that already elicits the response • First discovered by Russian physiologist Ivan Pavlow • Accidently discovered while studying digestive system of dogs • Famous study in which Pavlov demonstrated that dogs could learn to salivate to a bell when bell was paired with meat powder that naturally elicits the reaction of salivation • Key elements of classical conditioning • Unconditioned stimulus (UCS)- unlearned stimulus (food) • Unconditioned response (UR)- unlearned response (salivation) • Conditioned stimulus (CS)- stimulus created by pairing UCS (meat powder) with a new stimulus (bell ring) which becomes a learned stimulus • Conditioned response (CR)- learned response of salivation in response to CS of ringing bell

  18. Learning Theories • Watson’s Classical Conditioning • Classical conditioning study with colleague Rosalie Rayners in which infant “Albert” was conditioned to fear a rat • Loud noise created by banging steel rod with a hammer was unconditioned stimulus (UCS)- unlearned stimulus • Crying (fear) was unconditioned response (UR) • White rat became conditioned response (CR) learned response of crying after it was paired with loud noise • Study clearly demonstrated that emotional response of fear can be learned • Fear generalized from white rate to other furry items like rabbit and Santa Claus mask • Fear can be unlearned if fear stimulus is paired with UCS for happy emotions • Classical conditioning involved when children learn to “love” caring parents • Rejects stage conceptualization of development • Learning is a behavioral change that is context specific and differs enormously from person to person

  19. Learning Theories • Skinner: Operant Conditioning • Operant conditioning- learning thought to become more or less probable depending on consequences it produces • Reinforcement- consequences that strengthen a response (increase probability of future response) • Positive- something added • Positive reinforcement- something pleasant added in attempt to strengthen behavior • Positive reinforcement best when continuous and when skill first being learned • Can shift to a “partial reinforcement schedule” once behavior is learned to maintain the behavior • Negative- something removed • Negative reinforcement- something unpleasant taken in attempt to strengthen behavior • Fastening seatbelt to escape annoying noise illustrates negative reinforcement • Bad habits may develop because they allow person to avoid or escape unpleasant events (e.g., lying to avoid parental lecture) • Punishment- consequences that decrease a future response (weaken a behavior) • Positive punishment- something unpleasant added in attempt to weaken behavior • Negative punishment- something pleasant taken in attempt to weaken behavior

  20. Learning Theories • Skinner: Operant Conditioning • Extinction- no consequence given and behavior becomes less frequent • Skinner emphasized positive reinforcement and generally discouraged the use of physical punishment in childrearing • Many parents believe that spanking is necessary in raising children • Physical punishment best used in specific circumstances • Administered immediately following act • Administered consistently following each offense • Not overly harsh • Accompanied by explanation • Administered by otherwise affectionate person • Used sparingly and combined with efforts to reinforce acceptable behaviors • Carefully, designed research indicates that physical punishment can have negative effects on child development • Berlin and colleagues found spanking associated with aggressive behavior and lower developmental scores • Punishment may make children anxious and teach that hitting is an appropriate way to solve problems • Skinner and Watson believed that development depends on learning experiences • Skinner’s operant conditioning principles help explain many aspects of development and is still applied in areas like cognitive-behavioral interventions in education and therapeutic settings • Some psychologists believe that Skinner placed too little emphasis on the role of cognitive processes

  21. Learning Theories • C. Bandura: Social Cognitive Theory • Social cognitive theory formerly called “social learning theory” • Humans are cognitive beings with active information processing skills • Humans’ sophisticated cognitive abilities distinguish them from other animals • Agrees that Skinner’s operant conditioning is an important type of learning but… • Humans can think about behavior and anticipate consequences • Humans engage in self-reinforcement and self-punishment • Cognition affects behavior • Observational learning- (from models) most important mechanism for behavior change • Imitating allows children to learn many behaviors • Observational learning is a more cognitive form of learning in that it requires paying attention, constructing, and remembering mental responsibilities

  22. Learning Theories • C. Bandura: Social Cognitive Theory • Classic Bandura experiment using “Bobo” doll showed that children could learn a behavior neither elicited by a conditioned stimulus (as in classical conditioning) nor performed and strengthened by a reinforce (as in operant conditioning) • Children shown movie of adult hitting Bobo doll with a mallet and harming it in other ways (e.g. with rubber balls) • Children then saw adult in movie praised, punished, or receive no consequences • Children seeing reward and no-consequence imitate models more • Children seeing punishment did not model but did demonstrate learning- process called latent learning • Children displayed vicarious reinforcement- learner changes behaviors based on consequences observed being given to a model • Observation learning important in our society but more important in traditional societies • Mayan children were more attentive to siblings playing with a new toy and learned more an European American children

  23. Learning Theories • C. Bandura: Social Cognitive Theory • Human agency- ways in which humans deliberately exercise control over environments and lives • Self-efficacy- sense of one’s ability to control self or environment • Watson and Skinner believed people are passively shaped by environment, but Bandura disagreed • Reciprocal determinism- mutual influence of individuals and social environments determines behavior • Like other learning theorists, Bandura doubts the existence of stages • View cognitive capacities as maturing over time • Learning experiences differentiate development of child of same age • Learning theorists do not give a general description of the course of normal development • School refusal explained by learning theorists as learned through classical conditioning (traumatic fire drill), punishing or reinforcing consequences, or via observational learning (Exploration Box on learning theory explanations for school refusal)

  24. Learning Theories • Strengths and Weaknesses • Learning theory strengths • Precise and testable • Controlled experiments show how people learn many things • Principles operate across the lifespan • Many important practical applications (e.g., optimizing development and treating development problems) • Learning theory weaknesses • Doesn’t show that learning actually causes observed developmental changes (just that it might) • Oversimplifies development by focusing on experience and downplaying biological influences • Today’s learning theorists appreciate how factors like genetic endowment, previous learning history, personality, and social context affect learning experiences

  25. Piaget: Cognitive-Development Theory • Jean Piaget • Swiss scholar: began studying children’s intellectual development in the 1920s • Greatly influenced study of intellectual development in children • First scientific work (study of albino sparrows) at age 11 • Blended interest in zoology and philosophy • Devoted life to study of how knowledge is acquired and used to adapt to the world • Worked on IQ testing with Binet • Emphasis on intelligence testing is on number of correct answers • Piaget emphasized errors in thinking (wrong answers) • Questions children to find out how they are trying to solve problems • Argues that differences in cognitive development are qualitative in nature

  26. Piaget: Cognitive-Development Theory • Constructivism • Constructivism- active construction of new knowledge based on experience • Children are curious and active explorers of their environment • Children use current knowledge to solve problems but also revise understanding to fit reality • Stage progression due to interaction of biological maturation and environment

  27. Piaget: Cognitive-Development Theory • Stages of Cognitive Development • Four major periods (stages) of cognitive development: sensorimotor (birth to age 2), preoperational (ages 2 to 7), concrete operational (ages 7 to 11), formal operations (ages 11 to 12 or older) • Sensorimotor stage • Preschoolers • Capacity for symbolic thought • Egocentric thinkers who have difficulty adopting perspectives of others • Fooled by appearance as demonstrated on conservation tasks • Famous conservation liquid quantity task • Child shown two short, wide glasses with equal levels of water • Water from one glass poured into a taller, thinner glass • Tricked by height of tall glass into thinking that that glass now has more water (ignore width and focus on height) • Fait to appreciate the concept of reversibility and believe that if water poured from tall glass into short glass, it would overflow

  28. Piaget: Cognitive-Development Theory • Stages of Cognitive Development • Concrete operations stage • School-aged children • Use trial-and-error strategy • Perform metal operations in their heads on concrete objects (thus the term “concrete operations”) • Can solve conservation tasks • Difficulty with abstract and hypothetical concepts • Formal operations stage • Adolescents • Can think abstractly and define abstract terms (e.g., justice in terms of fairness versus the cop on the corner) • Can formulate hypotheses in their head and will eventually adopt systemic and experiential ways to test these hypotheses • Can devise “grand theories” about others • School refusal discussed in terms of thoughts concerning home life and school and an assessment of current stage of development (e.g. preoperational logic that murder on television may occur in school) (Exploration Box on Piaget’s explanation of school refusal)

  29. Piaget: Cognitive-Development Theory • Strengths and Weaknesses • Strengths of Piaget’s approach • Pioneer with long-lasting impact on thinking about human development • Many of Piaget’s concepts accepted (e.g., children active in own development, change in thinking can be qualitative, development occurs through an interaction between nature and nurture) • Much of the description of intellectual development supported through research • Very influential in education and childrearing practices • Weaknesses of Piaget’s approach • Too little emphasis on motivation and emotion • Questioning of stage model • Underestimated children’s cognitive skills • Too little emphasis on role of others in influencing cognitive development

  30. Piaget: Cognitive-Development Theory • Other Perspectives on Cognitive Development • Sociocultural perspective and information-processing approach challenged some of Piaget’s ideas • Lev Vgotsky’ssociocultural perspective- development shaped by organism growing in culture • Russian psychologist who took issue with Piaget’s notion of universal stages of cognitive development • Cognitive development shaped by sociocultural context that occurs and grows out of interactions with members of the culture • Tools of thought in a culture, especially in the form of language, shapes behavior • Cognitive development varies by social and historical context • Children are social beings who develop through guided participation by others (e.g. parents, teacher) in culturally important activities • Information-processing theory • Dominant approach to cognitive development beginning in the 1980s • Likens mind to computer software and hardware • Focus on fundamental processes like memory, decision-making, and attention • Developmental changes in capacity and speed of information processing and information in memory are important

  31. Systems Theories • Contextual, Systems and Contextual Theories • Some systems theories called contextual theories because they emphasize interaction between human and the contexts in which they develop • Some systems theories called system/dynamic theories because they claim that develop arises from ongoing transactions in which changing organism and changing environment affect each other • Changes over lifespan arise from ongoing transactions and mutual influences between organism and changing world • Development takes a variety of paths • Bronfenbrenner’sbioecological model illustrates a systems perspective • Individuals with biological characteristics interacts with four environmental systems • Thelen’s theory of motor development is an example of a dynamic theory • Gottlieb’s viewed in context of evolutionary history and interaction between individual and environment • Bronfenbrenner began by focusing environment and realized the importance of biological factors • Gottlieb began by focusing on biological factors (genetic influences) and realized the importance of environment factors

  32. Systems Theories • Evolutionary Theory and Ethology • Gottlieb’s perspective influenced by Darwin’s work on animal and human development in the context of evolutionary theory • Darwin maintained that genes aid in adapting to the environment and are passed on to future generations • Evolutionary theory prompted research into how characteristics and behaviors may have helped our ancestors adapt • Ethology- studies evolved behavior of species in natural environment • Behavior adaptive in particular environments • Must study behavior of animals in natural context • Observe or experimentally study species-specific behavior • Attachment theory is viewed in terms of psychoanalytic and ethological theory • Evolutionary psychology- application of evolutionary theory to understanding the thinking and behavior of humans

  33. Systems Theories • Gottlieb’s Epigenetic Psychobiological Systems Perspective • Epigenetic Psychobiological Systems Perspective • Development product of interacting between biological and environmental forces in a larger system • Species change • Starting point of epigenetic psychobiological systems perspective is recognition that evolution has endowed us with genetic makeup (not tabula rasae) • Predisposition to develop in certain direction • Genes and environments interact because humans actively and deliberately change their environments • New environments make different genes more critical to survival • Genes associated with high tolerance for lactose milk have become more prevalent as dairy farming has become more common

  34. Systems Theories • Gottlieb’s Epigenetic Psychobiological Systems Perspective • Epigenesis • Genes do not dictate, just make some outcomes more probable • Epigenesis- process through which genes and environment co-act to bring forth particular course of development • Gottlieb’s emphasized • Activity of genes which turn on and off at different points in development • Activity of neurons • Organism’s behavior • Environmental influences of all kinds • Gottlieb accused biologists of wrongly claiming genes dictate what happens in development and genetic factors more important than environment • Behavior cannot be explained by reducing it to simpler components (e.g., genes); need to appreciate that behavior and environment influence gene activity • Stimulation from the environment, gained partly through an infant’s exploratory behavior, not only produces neural activity and changes the brain but also affects the activity of the genes, which in turn influence the formation and function of the neural network necessary for further development and behavior

  35. Systems Theories • Gottlieb’s Epigenetic Psychobiological Systems Perspective • Epigenesis • Instinctive behaviors may not be expressed if environmental conditions do not exist • Duckling vocalizations: if duckling embryos are exposed to chicken calls before they hatch and prevented from vocalizing at birth (having no experience with hearing ducklike calls), they come to prefer the call of a chicken to that of a duck • Epigenetic psychobiological systems perspective helps us appreciate that development is driven by genetic, neural, behavioral, and environmental influences • The nature-nurture issue vanishes in Gottlieb’s perspective • The developmental story cannot be predicted until we see what emerges from epigenesist • Bronfenbrenner and Gottlieb’s models are in close agreement • School refusal could be the result of interaction between factors like genetic predisposition toward anxiety, the amount of neural activity in response to a noisy and chaotic classroom, the behavioral ability to cope, and an environmentally gruff teacher (Exploration Box on Gottlieb’s perspective on school refusal)

  36. Systems Theories • Strengths and Weaknesses • Strengths of systems theories • Complex view of human development makes sense because human behavior is complex • Weaknesses of systems theories • Fail to provide a picture of the course of development (and may never be able to do so) • Development may be more predictable than Gottlieb’s theory implies • May not be able to make exact predictions but can talk in terms of attainments that are more or less probable

  37. Theories in Perspective • Theoretical Perspectives • Stage Theorists: Freud, Erikson, Piaget • Development guided in universal direction • Influenced by biological/maturational forces that unfold according to a master plan (assuming a normal environment), evolving through distinct or discontinuous stages • Parents subscribing to this theory would • See selves as supporters of their child’s development • Trust their child’s tendencies to seek learning experiences • Not feel compelled to structure all their child’s experiences (basic philosophy in Montessori schools) • Learning Theorists: Watson, Skinner, Bandura • Emphasis on influence of environment over biological factors • Parents subscribing to this theory would • See themselves as “trainers” and take deliberate steps to shape their child’s development

  38. Theories in Perspective • Theoretical Perspectives • Systems Theorists: Vygotsky, Gottlieb • Focus on impact of both biology and environment with individual as an active agent • Potential exists for qualitative (stage) and quantitative change • Parents subscribing to Gottlieb’s theory would • See themselves as partners in the developmental process and appreciate the fact that as they influence their child, their child is also influencing them • Change of World Views • Our understanding of human development is ever changing • Systems theories more prevalent today • Moved beyond black and white positions on nature and nurture influences • Understand potential to develop in good and bad directions • Understand that development is both continuous and discontinuous • Understand that there are both universal and cultural and time-specific aspects of human development • Different theories make different assumptions and stimulate different research • Theories guide practice (Application Box on different theories’ take on ways of reducing teenage pregnancy)