9/18/2011 6:10:00 PM
Chapter 2 Summary
Basic Theoretical Issues
What is a theory?
A set of logically related concepts or statements, which seks to describe and
explain development and to predict what kinds of behaviour might occur under
What is a hypothesis?
A possible explanation for phenomena, used to predict the outcome of research.
- The way theorists explain development depends in part on the way they view two basic
Whether children are active or passive in their own development.
o John Locke – A young child is like a ‘blank slate’ on which society
‘writes’. (Mechanistic Model: People are like machines that react to
environmental input E.g., Fill a car with gas, turn on ignition, accelerate,
and car will move)
o Jean Jacques Rousseau – Children are ‘noble savages’ who develop
according to their own positive natural tendencies unless corrupted by
society. (Organismic Model: Sees people as active, growing organisms
that set their own development in motion. Development occurs in a
sequence of qualitatively different stages)
o We now know that both views are too simplistic and both are correct.
Whether development is continuous or occurs in stages.
o Mechanistic theorists believe development is continuous, like walk or
crawling up a ramp, predicting later behaviours from earlier ones.
o Organismic theorists emphasize qualitative change and see development
as occurring in a series of distinct stages, like stair steps. Each stage
involved coping with different problems and developing abilities. Each
stage builds on the previous and prepares child for next stage.
Most early theoretical pioneers believed in the Organismic-stage approach (Freud,
Erikson, Piaget). Mechanistic approach gained popularity in the 60s with the increasing popularity of John
B. Watson’s learning theories.
Today much attention is focused on the biological and evolutionary bases of behaviour.
Developmental scientists today search for specific types of behaviour that show continuity
or lack of continuity and what processes are involved in each.
Instead of being active or passive, today we believe we are bi-directional: people change
their world even as the world changes them.
Theoretical Important Basic Belief Technique Stages Causal
Perspective Theories Used Emphasis?
-Freud’s psychosexual - Clinical
Psychoanalytic -Behaviour is controlled by -Yes -Innate factors
theory (Passive) powerful unconscious urges. observation modified by
(For both experience.
-Erikson’s psychosoci-Personality is influenced btheories) -Interaction or
theory (Active) society and develops through -Yes innate and
a series of crises experiential
Learning -Behaviourism, or - People are responders; Experimental -No -Experience
Perspective traditional learning environment controls procedures (for
theory (Pavlov, behaviour. both theories)
-Social Learning -Children learn in a social -No -Experienced
(social-cognitive) context by observing and modified by
theory (Bandura) imitating models. innate factors
[active and passive]
Cognitive -Piaget’s cognitive- -Qualitative changes in -Flexible -Yes -Interaction of
Perspective stage theory thought occur between interviews; innate and
(Active) infancy & adolescence. meticulous experiential
Person is active initiator oobservation factors (For both
-Information -Human beings are -Lab research -No
Processing Theory processors of symbols
(Active and Passive) Contextual - Bronfe