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Theories of Human Development

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1 Theories of Human Development
CHAPTER 2 Theories of Human Development

2 Theories of Human Development
Theory: Ideas proposed to describe/explain certain phenomena Organizes facts/observations Guides collection of new data Should be internally consistent Falsifiable: Hypothesis can be tested Supported by data


4 Freud: Psychoanalytic Theory
Instincts and unconscious motivation Id, Ego, and Superego formed from psychic energy (Libido) Id: Instinctual nature of humans Ego: Rational and objective Superego: Internalized moral standards Dynamic system: Regular conflicts within

5 Freud’s Psychosexual Development
Child moves through five stages Stages result from conflict between Id & Superego Conflict creates anxiety Ego defends against anxiety with defense mechanisms Early experiences have long-term effects on personality

6 Strengths and Weaknesses of Freud’s Theory
Awareness of unconscious motivation Emphasized important early experience Weaknesses Ambiguous, inconsistent, not testable Not supported by research

7 Erik Erikson Most influential neo-Freudian Some differences with Freud
Less emphasis on sexual urges More emphasis on rational ego More positive, adaptive view of human nature Development continues through adulthood

8 Erikson’s Stages Integrity vs. Despair: Old Age
Trust vs. Mistrust: Importance of responsive caregiver Autonomy vs. Shame & Doubt: Preschool Initiative vs. Guilt: Preschool Industry vs. Inferiority: School-age children Identity vs. Role Confusion: Adolescence Intimacy vs. Isolation: Young adult Generativity vs. Stagnation: Middle age Integrity vs. Despair: Old Age



11 Strengths and Weaknesses of Erikson
Focus on identity crisis of adolescence still most relevant Emphasis on rational and adaptive nature Interaction of biological & social influences Weaknesses Sometimes vague and difficult to test Does not explain how development comes about

12 Learning Theories: Classical Conditioning
Behaviorism: Conclusions should be based on observable behavior only Tabula Rasa - Environmental view Association Learning UCS: Built-in, unlearned stimulus UCR: Automatic, unlearned response CS: Stimulus causes learned response CR: Learned response

13 The three phases of classical conditioning

14 Learning Theories: Operant Conditioning
Probability of behavior based on environmental consequences Reinforcement Pleasant consequence Increases probability Punishment Decreases probability Unpleasant, aversive

15 Possible consequences of whining behavior.
Moosie comes into the TV room and sees his father talking and joking with his sister. Lulu, as the two watch a football game. Soon Moosie begins to whine, louder and louder, that he wants them to turn off the television so he can play Nintendo games. If you were Moosie’s father, how would you react? Here are four possible consequences of Moosie’s behavior. Consider both the type of consequences – whether it is a pleasant or aversive stimulus – and whether it is administered (“added to”) or withdrawn. Notice that reinforcers strengthen whining behavior, or make it more likely in the future, whereas punishers weaken it.

16 Bandura: Social Cognitive Theory
Formerly called social learning theory Humans think, anticipate, believe, etc. Cognitive Emphasis: Observational learning BoBo doll studies Model praised or punished Child learned to imitate rewarded model Vicarious reinforcement

17 Learning Theory: Strengths & Weaknesses
Precise and testable theory Carefully controlled experiments Practical applications across lifespan Weaknesses Inadequate account of lifespan changes Ignored genetic and maturational processes

18 Piaget: Cognitive Developmental Theory
Intelligence: Ability to adapt to environment Constructivism: Understanding based on experience Interactionist Both biological maturation and experience required for developmental progress At each new stage, children think in a qualitatively different way


20 Cognitive Developmental Theory
Strengths Well-accepted by developmentalists Well-researched, mostly supported Influenced education and parenting Weaknesses Ignores motivation and emotion Stages not universal especially the last one

21 Contextual/Systems Theories
Lev Vygotsky: Sociocultural perspective Cognitive development is a social process Problem solving aided by dialogues Gottlieb: Evolutionary/Epigenetic Systems Genes, neural activity, behavior, and environment mutually influential Normal genes and normal early experiences most helpful

22 Gottlieb – Developmental Psychobiology
Interaction: Biological & environmental influences Individual programmed through evolution Current behavior results from past adaptation Ethology: Behavior adaptive to specific environments E.g., food scarcity creates nomadic behaviors Species-specific behavior of animals & humans

23 Gottlieb: Epigenesis Instinctual behavior may or may not occur
Depends on early physical and social environments Genes alone don’t influence behavior A system of interactions People develop in changing contexts Historical Cultural

24 Strengths and Weaknesses
Stresses the interaction of nature and nurture Weaknesses Only partially formulated and tested No coherent developmental theory


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