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Chapter 2

Chapter 2-Theories of Human Development.docx

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University of Guelph
PSYC 2450
Anneke Olthof

Chapter 2: Theories of Human Development The Nature of Scientific Theories  Scientific theory is a set of concepts and propositions that describe, organize and explain a set of observations  Good theories are parsimonious, and yet able to explain a broad range of phenomena, falsifiable and heuristic (building on existing knowledge by continuing to generate testable hypotheses) The Psychoanalytic Viewpoint  Freud challenged prevailing notions about human nature by proposing that we are driven by motives and conflicts of which we are largely unaware and that our personalities are shaped by our early life experiences Freud’s Psychosexual Theory  He was a neurologist who formulated his theory of human development from his analyses of his emotionally disturbed patients’ life histories  Relied heavily on hypnosis, free association, and dream analysis as they gave some indication of unconscious motives that patients had repressed  Concluded that human development is a conflictual process: as biological creatures, we have basic sexual and aggressive instincts that must be served but society dictates that many of these drives are undesirable and must be restrained  Freud believed that how parents manage these sexual and aggressive urges in first few years of their children’s life play a major role in shaping their children’s personality Three Components of Personality  Id—present at birth. Sole function is to satisfy inborn biological instincts, and tries to do so immediately  Ego—is the conscious, rational component of personality that reflects the child’s emerging abilities to perceive, learn, remember, and reason o Finds a realistic means of gratifying instincts. As the ego matures the children become better at controlling their irrational ids and finding realistic ways to gratify their needs  Superego—is the final component of personality and is the seat of the conscience o Develops between the age of 3-6 as children internalize the moral values and standards of their parents o Once this emerges children don’t need an adult to tell them that they have been good or bad as they are now aware of their own transgressions and will feel guilty of their unethical conduct  3 components will come into conflict  In the mature, healthy personality, a dynamic balance operates: o Id communicates basic needs, ego restrains the impulsive id long enough to find realistic methods of satisfying needs, superego decides whether ego’s problem-solving strategies are morally acceptable Stages of Psychological Development  F thought that sex was the most important instinct was sex as he discovered many of his patients’ mental disturbances revolved around around childhood sexual conflicts that they had repressed  Believed that as sex instinct matured, its focus shifted from one part of the body to another and that each shift brought on a new stage of psychosexual development  Stages: o Oral (birth-1 year): sex instinct centres on mouth as infants derive pleasure from such oral activities as sucking, chewing, and biting. Feeding activities are important o Anal (1-3 years): voluntary urination and defecation are primary methods of gratifying the sex instinct. Emotional climate parents create during toilet- training can have lasting effects o Phallic (3-6): pleasure now derived from genital stimulation. Develop incestuous desire for the opposite-sex parent (Oedipus complex for boys and Electra complex for girls). Anxiety stemming from this conflict causes children to internalize the sex-role characteristics and moral standards of their same-sex parent rival o Latency (6-11): traumas of the phallic stage cause sexual conflicts to be repressed and sexual urges to be rechanneled into schoolwork and vigorous play. Ego and superego continue to develop o Genital (12-onward): puberty triggers reawakening of sexual urges. Adolescents must now learn how to express these urges in socially acceptable ways. If development has been healthy, mature sex instinct is satisfied by marriage and raising children  Believed permitting too much or too little gratification of sexual needs caused child to become obsessed with whatever activity was strongly encouraged or discouraged o Could result in child fixating on that activity and retain some aspect of it throughout life Contributions and Criticism of Freud’s Theory  Not many strong proponents of Freud’s theory  Not much evidence that the conflicts he stresses predict adult personality  Greatest contribution was concept of unconscious motivation o Early psychologists focused on aspects of conscious experience and it was F who first proclaimed that the vast majority of psychic experience lay below the level of conscious awareness  Also first to concentrate on influence of early experience on later development  Instigated study of emotional side of human development Erikson’s Theory of Psychosocial Development  Neo-Freudian scholar Comparing Erikson with Freud  Differed from F in 2 important respects: o Stressed that children are active, curious explorers who seek to adapt to their environments, rather than passive slaves to biological urges o Places much less emphasis on sexual urges and far more emphasis on cultural influences than Freud did  For this reason, Freud’s theory is labeled psychosexual and Erikson’s is psychosocial Eight Life Crises  Labeled these psychosocial stages  Each conflict arises at a distinct time dictated by biological maturation and social demands that developing people experience at particular points in life  Each crisis must be resolved successfully in order to prepare for a satisfactory resolution of the next life crisis  Unlike F’s theories, E’s extend throughout a person’s entire life  Psychosocial Crises: o Basic trust vs. mistrust (birth-1): infants must learn to trust others to care for their basic needs. If caregivers are rejecting or inconsistent, infant may view world as a dangerous place unworthy of trust. Primary caregiver is key social agent o Autonomy vs. shame and doubt (1-3): learn to be autonomous. Failure to do so may force child to doubt its own abilities and feel shameful. Parents are key social agents o Initiative vs. guilt (3-6): attempt to act grown up and will try to accept responsibilities that are beyond their capacity to handle. Sometimes goals will conflict with those of parents or other family members, which might make them feel guilty. Resolution requires a balance as the child must learn to not impinge on the rights, privileges, or goals of others. Parents are KSA o Industry vs. inferiority (6-12): must master important social and academic skills. Compares itself to peers, if sufficiently industrious, they acquire social and academic skills to feel self- assured. If not they experience feelings of inferiority. Peers and teachers are KSA o Identity vs. role confusion (12-20): crossroad between childhood and maturity. Grapples with question “who am I?” adolescents must establish basic social and occupational identities or they will remain confused about roles they should play as adults. KSA is society of peers o Intimacy vs. isolation (20-40): task is to form strong friendships and to achieve a sense of love and companionship with another person. Feelings of loneliness will result from inability to form friendships. KSA lovers, spouses, and close friends o Generativity vs. stagnation (40-65): adult faces task of becoming productive or risk stagnation in their work, as well as raising their families or looking after needs of young people. Standards of generativity is defined by ones culture. Those who are unable to assume these responsibilities become stagnant and self-centered. KSA are spouse, children and social norms o Ego integrity vs. despair (old age): looks back at life, viewing it either a meaningful, productive, and happy experience or a major disappointment full of unfulfilled promises and unrealized goals. One’s life experiences, especially social experiences, determine outcome of this final life crisis Contributions and Criticisms of Erikson’s Theory  Many prefer his theory to Freud’s b/c they don’t believe people are dominated by sexual instincts  E’s theory emphasizes many of the social conflicts and personal dimemmas that people may remember, are currently experiencing or can easily anticipate  Criticized for being vague about the causes of development as his theory is really a descriptive overview of human social andemotional development that doesn’t adequately explain how this development takes place Psychoanalytic Theory beyond Freud and Erikson  Karen Horney challenged F’s ideas about sex differences in development and is now widely credited as a founder of psychology of women  Alfred Adler was among the first to suggest that siblings (and sibling rivalries)are important contributors to social and personality development  Harry Stack Sullivan wrote about how close, same-sex friendships during middle childhoods set the stage for intimate love relationships later in life  Most contemporary Developmentalists have rejected the psychoanalytic perspective in favour of other, more compelling perspectives The Learning Viewpoint  John Watson was a developmentalist who claimed he could take a dozen healthy infants and mould them to be whatever he chose regardless of their background or ancestry  Strong proponent of importance of learning in human development and the father of behaviourism Watson’s Behaviourism  Believed conclusions about development should be based on observations of over behaviour instead of anything unobservable  Believed that well-learned associations between external stimuli and observable responses (habits) are the building blocks of human development  Believed that development was a continuous process of behavioural change shaped by a person’s unique environment and can differ dramatically from person to person  To prove this he did an experiment with Albert where he presented a white rat with a fear stimulus  Believed that children shouldn’t be coddled and treated like young adults Skinner’s Operant Learning Theory (Radical Behaviourism)  Through research with animals, Skinner proposed that animals and humans repeat acts that lead to favourable outcomes and suppress those that lead to unfavourable out comes  Freely emitted response is called the operant and something that strengthens a response is called a reinforcer o Punishers are consequences that suppress a response and decrease the likelihood that it will recur  Believed that majority of habits children acquire are freely emitted operants that have been shaped by their consequences  Many believe that he placed too much emphasis on operant behaviours shaped by external stimuli while ignoring important cognitive contributors to social learning Bandura’s Cognitive Social Learning Theory  Believed that people are cognitive beings who are more affected by what they believe will happen than by what they actually experience  Emphasized observational learning as a central development process o Is learning that results from observing the behaviour of other people (called models)  Must attend to a model’s behaviour; digest or encode what we observe; and then store this information in memory in order to imitate what we have observed at a later time  Observational learning permits children to quickly acquire thousands of new responses in a variety of settings where their models are pursuing their own interests and not trying to teach them anything  B claims that children are continually learning both desirable and undesirable behaviours by observation which is why child development proceeds very rapidly along many different paths  Was able to show that children who watched the Bobo doll demonstration all learned similar amounts but the willingness to perform the behaviour they observed was dependent on if they had seen the model rewarded or punished for his behaviour Social Learning as Reciprocal Determinism  Early versions of learning theory were mostly tributes to Watson’s doctrine of environmental determinism: young, unknowing children were viewed as passive recipients of environmental influence  Bandura disagrees, stressing that children and adolescents are active, thinking beings who contribute in many ways to their own development  He also has proposed the concept of reciprocal determinism to describe his view that human development reflects an interaction among an active person, the person’s behaviour, and the environment  Unlike Watson and Skinner, he and others propose that links between people, behaviours, and environments are bidirectional o A child can influence his environments by virtue of his own conduct  Cognitive learning theorists argue that child development is best described as a continuous reciprocal interaction between children and their environments Contributions and Criticisms of Learning Theories  Has provided a wealth of information about developing children and adolescents  Learning theories are very precise and testable which has allowed for the beginning of understanding towards how and why children form emotional attachments, adopt gender roles, make friends, learn to abide by moral rules, and change in countless other ways over the course of childhood and adolescence  Has also allowed for the production of important clinical insights and practical applications o E.g. a therapist can now identify the reinforcers sustaining unacceptable habits and eliminate them while modeling or reinforcing alternative behaviours that are more desirable  Many view it as a grossly oversimplified account of human development as it fails to take into a person’s unique genetic endowment that provides an equally plausible explanation for individuality  Ecological systems theorists argue that the environment that so powerfully influences development is really a series of social systems that interact with each other and with the individual in complex ways that are impossible to simulate in a laboratory o Argue that we need to study children and adolescents in their natural settings to understand how environments truly influence development  Critics also argue that learning theorists devote too little attention to cognitive influences on development o These people argue that a child’s impressions of and reactions to the environment depend largely on their level of cognitive development The Cognitive-Developmental Viewpoint  Swiss scholar who was interested in why children of about the same age produced the same kinds of wrong answers Piaget’s View of Intelligence and Intellectual Growth  Defined intelligence as a basic life process that helps an organism adapt (cope with the demands of its immediate situation) to its environment  As children mature, they acquire ever more complex cognitive structures that help them in adapting to their environments  Cognitive structure (scheme) is an organized pattern of thought or action that is used to cope with or explain some aspect of experience o E.g. children who believe that the sun is alive are relying on a simple cognitive scheme that things that move are alive  Earliest schemes, formed in infancy, are motor habits such as rocking, grasping, and lifting  In childhood, cognitive schemes take the form of actions of the head that allow children to manipulate information and think logically about issues and problems they encounter in everyday life o Since cognitive schemes take different forms at different ages, younger and older children may often interpret and respond to the same objects and events in different ways  Piaget claims that infants have no inborn knowledge about reality and that they actively construct new understandings of the world based on their own experiences o Watch what goes on around them, experiment with objects they encounter; make connections or associations between events; and they are puzzled when their current understandings fail to explain what they have experienced  Assimilation is the process where a child clings to an understanding that they have created based on their own worldly experiences. All new experiences will be interpreted in terms of their current cognitive structures o When the child encounters contradictions to their schemes this is called a disequilibrium and that the scheme must be revised. The disconfirming experiences prompt the child to accommodate—alter their existing scheme so that they provide a better explanation of the distinction between events  Piaget believed we continually rely on this process: attempt to understand new experiences using out current cognitive schemes (assimilation). But if we find our existing schemes are inadequate for these tasks, we are prompted to revise them (through accommodation) so that they provide a better fit with reality  May also create new schemes to adapt to the disequilibriums experienced in our environment  Biological maturation plays an important role as well: as the brain and nervous system mature, children become capable of increasingly complex cognitive schemes that help them construct better understandings of what they have experienced Four Stages of Cognitive Development  Proposed 4 major stages of cognitive development: o Sensorimotor stage (birth-2): infants use sensory and motor capabilities to explore and gain basic understanding of environment. At birth they have only innate reflexes with which to engage the world. By the end of sensorimotor period, they are capable of serious sensorimotor co- ordinations.  Acquire a primitive sense of self and others, learn that objects continue to exist when they are out of sight (object permanence), and begin to internalize behavioural schemes to produce images or mental schemes o Preoperational stage (2-7): use symbolism (images and language) to represent and understand various aspects of the environment. Respond to objects and events according to the way things appear to be. Thought is egocentric, thinking that everyone sees the world in much the same way as they do  Become imaginative in their play activities. Gradually begin to recognize that other people may not always perceive the world as they do
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