CHILD PSYCHOLOGY LECTURE 2
What is a theory? A theory is a set of concepts or propositions that describe and explain some
aspect of our experience
o A theory is a set of concepts or prepositions that describe some aspect of experience
Scientific theory: a public pronouncement by a scientist, of what the scientist believes to be true
Theory: organizes our thinking about a broad range of topics
What makes a theory good?
o 3 characteristics of a good theory
o 1. Theory should have parsimony
A theory should be concise , yet it should be able to explain a wide range of
phenomena, a theory that has few principles but explains a wide range of
Falsifiability: theory is capable of making explicit predictions
Heuristic value: can be applied to unknown situations and cases. Can apply it
outside of where it was initially developed.
Question and Controversies about human development
Assumptions about human nature- whether children are born inherently good/evil
o Innate purity vs. original sin children are born innately noble/pure, puritans thought
the child was born evil original sin
o Tabula rasa child is neither good or evil , the child is a blank slate and not born either
o Nature vs. nurture whether human beings are a product of their heredity or other
biological predispositions or being shaped by environmental factors and the experiences
they undergo as they age.
o The midground positiongenes and environment interact in shaping development.
Complex human attributes , such as intelligence , personality , it is not just biologically or
environmentally driven because the two factors interact . What is the nature of the
Activity vs. passivity: childs own role in his /her development. Is the child an active creature or is
the child a passive recipient of what the world inflicts on his or her development
Continuity of development:
o Stages of development:
o Quantitative vs. qualitative change
Are there stages in development or is development more continuous (smooth
There arent any sudden changes?
Child moves through discrete, discontinuous steps ( the child is at one level, and
something happens and they jump up to the next level) (stepped graph)
o Quantitative vs. qualitative change Quantitative : changes in degree ( as you get older you get taller, or run faster )
o Qualitative: changes in kind (discontinuous, where the organism is fundamentally
different than the organism was before)(caterpillar turns into butterfly
Connectedness of development: how much of a relationship is there in
developmental attributes earlier in life, vs. later in life?
Does a aggressive child turn into a delinquent teenager?
An earlier behavior is unrelated to a later behavior , the later behavior
replaces the earlier behavior . Infants will smile at anyone at a young
age. At around 12-18 months they stop smiling and become very fearful
of people they dont know. The weariness of strangers goes away in
time. The lack of connection between earlier and later developmental
Similarity vs. differences: the changes we experience are universal/similar
across different environments and culture or do they differ around different
areas, places and from person to person.
How universal is development? Is individual development an individual
Humans all acquire language, and sexual maturity occurs in early
Developmental changes vary greatly from culture to culture
o Mathematical reasoning, literacy can vary from culture to
culture and individual. Development is very individualistic
THEORIES OF CHILD DEVELOPMENT PSYCHOANALYTIC VIEWPOINT
- SIGMUNDS THEORY OF PSYCHOSEXUAL DEVLEOPMENT
- Attempting to uncover unconscious motivations of the individuals
- The conflicts between biological drives and social expectations
- Determines the nature and structure within the individuals personality
- Components of the personality
o The id: legislator of personality (fulfill drives)
o The ego: executive of the personality (conscious , rational part of the mind)
o The superego: judicial branch of the personality (moral arbiter)
o When the baby is born it just wants to satisfy biological needs, and the superego
emerges between 3-6 years of age, and the child is capable of making decisions
- PSYCHOSEXUAL DEVELOPMENT: parents manage psychosexual drives, and how these drives are
managed was a critical component of their personality and identity
o Children have sexual impulses (called libido) the impulses focus on different parts of the
body at different ages, and these impulses caused conflicts. Libido focused on different
parts of the body
o Oral stage (birth-1 year) mouth gave the child pleasure, sucking , biting, spitting, gave
the child pleasure The nature of how the child resolves conflicts , shows personality development
o Anal stage (1-3 years) : the libido centres in the anal region, the ability to go to the
bathroom, there is a conflict because the child has to go through toilet training. The
parent has to impose a structure on the nature of the childs behavior. How the child
resolves the conflict has a lot to say about the nature of the personality
o Phallic stage (3-6): genitals have matured, and the child is interested in his/her genitals
The child begins to develop incestuous desires for the opposite sex parent
Oedipus complex: child desired his mother, boys developed a sexual desire
towards their mothers, and are jealous of their fathers. Child fears castration
(castration anxiety) , this fear becomes too intense. TO deal with castration
anxiety, they repress their desire for their mom, they begin to act like their
father as a means of dealing with this.
ELECTRA COMPLEX: girls develop an sexual desire for their fathers, their
resolution is not as strong , it fades away as they get older.
The process of identification with the same sex parent isnt as strong , one of
the consequences is the development of the superego.
Freuds theory predicts that women are going to develop weaker superegos than
men because there is less a process of identificatio