Chapter 2: Classical Theories of Social and Personality Development
The Psychoanalytic Viewpoint
We are driven by motives and conflicts of which we are largely unaware and that our
personalities are shaped by early life experiences.
Psychosexual theory: Freud’s theory that states that maturation of the sex instinct
underlies stages of personality development and that how parents manage children’s
instinctual impulses will determine the traits children come to display.
Freud viewed the newborn as a “seething cauldron”—an inherently selfish creature who
is relentlessly driven by two kinds of instincts that he called Eros and Thanatos.
Instinct: an inborn biological force that motivates a particular response or class of
Eros: Freud’s name for instincts such as respiration, hunger, and sex that help the
individual to survive.
Thanatos: Freud’s name for inborn, self-destructive instincts that were said to
characterize all human beings.
Unconscious motives: Freud’s term for feelings, experiences, and conflicts that influence
a person’s thinking and behaviour but lie outside the person’s awareness.
Repression: a type of motivated forgetting in which anxiety-provoking thoughts and
conflicts are forced out of conscious awareness.
The ways in which parents have managed these sexual and aggressive urges in the first
few years of life play a major role in shaping their child’s conduct and character.
Three components of Personality:
Id: psychoanalytic term for the inborn component of the personality that is driven by
Ego: psychoanalytic term for the rational component of the personality (conscious).
Superego: psychoanalytic term for the component of the personality that consists of
one’s internalized moral standards.
Stages of Psychological Development
Freud thought that sex was the most important of the instincts because he discovered that
the mental disturbances of his patients often revolved around childhood sexual conflicts
that they had repressed.
Phallic Stage: Freud’s third stage of psychosexual development (from 3 to 6 years of
age), in which children gratify the sex instinct by fondling their genitals and developing
an incestuous desire for the parent of the other sex.
Oedipus Complex: Freud’s term for the conflict that 3- to 6-year-old boys experience
when they develop an incestuous desire for their mothers and, at the same time, a jealous
and hostile rivalry with their fathers.
Electra Complex: female version of Oedipus complex, in which a 3- to 6-year-old girl
was believed to envy her father for possessing a penis and to seek him as a sex object in
the hope of sharing the organ that she lacks.
Identification: Freud’s term for the child’s tendency to emulate another person, usually
the same-sex parent.
Fixation: arrested development at a particular psychosexual stage, often occurring as a
means of coping with existing conflicts and preventing movement to the next stage,
where stress may be even greater.
TABLE 2.1 Freud
Contributions and Criticisms of Freud’s Theory
There is not much evidence that any of the oral, anal, and genital conflicts that Freud
thought so important reliably predict one’s later personality.
Focusing attention on the importance of early experience for alter development.
Erikson’s Theory of Psychosocial Development
Comparing Erikson with Freud
Erikson stressed that children are active, curious explorers who seek to adapt to their
environments, rather than passive salves to biological urges who are molded by their
Erikson places much less emphasis on sexual urges and far more emphasis on cultural
influences than Freud did.
Psychosocial theory: Erikson’s revision of Freud’s theory, which emphasizes
sociocultural (rather than sexual) determinants of development and posits a series of eight
psychosocial conflicts that people must resolve successfully to display healthy
TABLE 2.2 Erikson
Eight Life Crises
Each must be resolved successfully in order to prepare the individual for a satisfactory
resolution of the next life crisis.
Erikson believed that the problems of adolescents and young adults are very different
from those faced by parents who are raising children or by middle-age (or older) adults
who might be striving to become better mentors for younger coworkers, make lasting
contributions to their families or communities, and understand the meaning of life and
their place in the natural order.
Trust versus mistrust: the first of Erikson’s eight psychosocial stages, in which infants
must learn to trust their closest companions or else run the risk of mistrusting other
people later in life.
Contributions and Criticism of Erikson`s Theory
Erikson emphasizes many of the social conflicts and personal dilemmas that people may
remember, are currently experiencing, can easily anticipate, or can see affecting people
Vague about the causes of development.
Erikson`s theory is really a descriptive overview of human social and emotional
development that does not adequately explain how or why this development takes place.
Psychoanalytic Theory today
Many researchers have abandoned the psychoanalytic approach is because its
propositions are difficult to verify or disconfirm.
The Behaviourist (or Social-Learning) Viewpoint
Behaviourism: a school of thinking in psychology that holds that conclusions about
human development should be based on controlled observations of overt behaviour rather
than speculation about unconscious motives or other unobservable phenomena; the
philosophical underpinning for social-learning theories (John B. Watson= father)
Habits: well-learned associations between stimuli and responses that represent the stable
aspects of one`s personality (building blocks).
Tabula rasa: to be written on by experience; children have no inborn tendencies.
Watson was a social-learning theorist who believed that how children turn out depends
entirely on their rearing environments and the ways in which their parents and other
significant people in their lives treat them.
Development was viewed as a continuous process of behavioural change that is shaped
by the person`s unique environment and may differ dramatically from person to person.
Little Albert experiment.
Skinner`s Operant-Learning Theory (Radical Behaviourism)
Skinner proposed that both animals and humans will repeat acts that lead to favourable
outcomes and will suppress those that produce unfavourable outcomes.
Operant: the act being conducted.
Reinforcer: any consequence of an act that increases the probability that the act will
Punishers: any consequence of an act that suppresses that act and/or decreases the
probability that it will recur.
Operant Learning: a form of learning in which voluntary acts become either more or
less probable, depending on the consequences they produce.
Skinner’s operant learning theory claims that the directions in which we develop depend
very critically on external stimuli rather than on internal forces such as instincts, drives,
or biological maturation.
Chapter 2: classical theories of social and personality development. We are driven by motives and conflicts of which we are largely unaware and that our personalities are shaped by early life experiences. Psychosexual theory: freud"s theory that states that maturation of the sex instinct underlies stages of personality development and that how parents manage children"s instinctual impulses will determine the traits children come to display. Freud viewed the newborn as a seething cauldron an inherently selfish creature who is relentlessly driven by two kinds of instincts that he called eros and thanatos. Instinct: an inborn biological force that motivates a particular response or class of responses. Eros: freud"s name for instincts such as respiration, hunger, and sex that help the individual to survive. Thanatos: freud"s name for inborn, self-destructive instincts that were said to characterize all human beings. Unconscious motives: freud"s term for feelings, experiences, and conflicts that influence a person"s thinking and behaviour but lie outside the person"s awareness.