PSYC 2450 Chapter Notes - Chapter 2: Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Ob River, Informed Consent
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11-09-18 10:10 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,
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.
-Behaviour is controlled by
powerful unconscious urges.
-Personality is influenced by
society and develops through
a series of crises
[active and passive]
- People are responders;
-Children learn in a social
context by observing and
(Active and Passive)
-Qualitative changes in
thought occur between
infancy & adolescence.
Person is active initiator of
-Human beings are
processors of symbols
factors (For both
(Active or passive)
- Vygotsky’s socio-
between a developing
person and five
contextual systems of
-Socio-cultural context is
central to development.
factors (For both
- Humans have the
adaptive mechanisms to
survive; critical and
sensitive periods stressed;
biological and evolutionary
bases for behaviour and
learning are important.
Freud- Psychosexual theory
Unvarying sequence of stages of personality development during infancy, childhood,
and adolescence, in which gratification shifts from the mouth to the anus and then to the
Erikson- Psychosocial theory
Eight stage theory, the socially and culturally influenced process of development of
the ego, or self.
Pavlov, Skinner, Watson- Behaviourism
Emphasizes the predictable role of environment in causing observable behaviour.