Developmental Psychology – Chapter 2
A scientific theory is nothing more than a set of concepts and propositions that
describe, organize, and explain a set of observations. These theories help us
organize our thinking about aspects of experience that interest us. Good theories
should be parsimonious(theory that uses fewest explanatory principles to explain
it), falsifiable(capable of generating predictions that could be disconfirmed), and
heuristic(build on existing knowledge and stimulate new discoveries).
Nature vs Nurture: The debate among developmental theorists about the relative
importance of biological predispositions(nature) and environments(nurture) as
determinants of human development.
Active vs Passive: Debate whether children are active contributors to their own
development or, rather passive recipients of environmental influences. The
assumption is that parents have control and are responsible for their child’s
Continuity vs Discontinuity: Debate whether changes are quantitative and
continuous or qualitative and discontinuous. Quantitative is incremental change in
degree without sudden transformations. Qualitative change is a change that makes
people different from what they were before. Discontinuity theorists claim we
progress through developmental stages, phase of life characterized by a set of
abilities, emotions, motives, or behaviours.
The psychosexual theory is Freud’s theory that states maturation of sex instinct
underlies stages of personality development. He relied heavily on methods such as
hypnosis, free association, and dream analysis because they gave indication to
unconscious motives and repressed memories. Instinct is an inborn biological force
that motivates a particular response or class of responses. ID is the term for what is
driven by instincts. Ego is the rational component of personality. Superego is the
component of personality that consists of one’s internalized moral standards.
Fixation is a development at a particular psychosexual stage that can prevent
movement to higher stages(such as sucking thumb can express oral fixation,
leading to smoking or giving oral sex).
Oral(Age 0-1): Sex instinct centres on the mouth because infants derive pleasure
from oral activities. Anal(1-3): Voluntary urination and defecation become primary
methods of gratifying sex instinct. Toilet accidents can lead to messiness, or being
wasteful. Phallic(3-6): Pleasure is derived from genital stimulation, Oedipus/Electra
complex. Latency(6-11) Traumas of this stage casue sexual conflicts to be
repressed and urges to be rechanneled. Genital(12+): Puberty triggers a
reawakening of sexual urges, must express these urges in socially acceptable ways.