Most theories agree that both biological and environmental factors play a role in development.
No major theories support either side of the extreme.
Two types of theories for speed of development. Continuous (gradual), and discontinuous
(gradual set of steps until new behaviors are sudden leaps). Most researchers look for a middle
ground here as well.
5 general approaches to field of child development: 1) structural organismic 2) learning 3)
dynamic systems 4) contextual 5) ethological and evolutionary.
Structural Organasmic Perspective Theoretical approaches that describe psychological
structures and processes that undergo qualitative or stage-like changes over the course of
Psychodynamic Theory Freuds theory that development, which proceeds in discreet stages is
determined largely by genetic makeup combined with environmental encounters and the
interactions of the id, ego, and superego.
Freud, interested in emotions and personality, Piaget interested in thinking. Both used structural
Psychosocial Theory Erik Eriksons theory of development that sees children developing
through a series of stages largely accomplishment in social environment.
Piagetian Theory a theory of cognitive development that sees the child as actively seeking new
information and incorporating it into his knowledge base through the process of assimilation.
Two stages: organization (view that intellectual development is a biological process, thus childs
understanding changes in an organized manner over the course of development) and
adapatation (intellectual changes occur as child becomes adapted to the world).
Behaviourism (Watson, Pavlov, and Skinner) Focuses on learning of behavior. Theories of
behavior must be based on direct observations of rewards and consequences of behavior and
not on unobservable things such as human motive.
Cognitive Social Learning Theory- Children learn through a combination of operant/classical
conditioning and observation/imitation. Albert Bandura showed that children who were shown
violent behavior were likely to repeat it. Four cognitive processes dictate how a child will learn
by observation, they are: attend, retain, reproduce, and motivation to repeat.
Information Processing approaches Focus on the flow of development through a childs
cognitive system and on the specific operations the child performs between input and stimulus
Dynamic Systems Theory- individuals develop and function within systems. It encompasses a
wide range of studies and topics but all topics discuss how development arises from the system
as a whole and not one single factor. (Child learning to walk: gravity, muscle strength, surface
Sociocultural Theory - proposed by Lev Vygotsky that sees development as evolving out of
childrens interactions with more skilled others in their social environment.
Bronfenbrenners ecological theory stresses the importance of understanding not only the
relationships between children and environmental systems (family, community) but among
environmental systems themselves. There are five environmental systems: 1)microsystem
(context in which children interact with institutions closest to them such as school and family.)
2) mesosystem (interrelations that occur among the components of the microsystem such asparent teacher conferences.) 3) exosystem (collection of settings that affect the childs
environment but in which the child does not play a role such as friends of family, mass media,
legal system) 4) macrosystem (represents values, ideologies, and laws of the society). 5)
chronosystem (time based dimension that can alter the operation of all other levels such as
puberty or the birth of a sibling.)
The Lifespan perspective Sees development as a process that continues throughout the
lifecycle. This incorporates historical factors that may influence development. For example,
children born in the 50s were teenagers during the 60s and their development occurred during
major social upheaval. Elder and Colleagues studied children who lived through the great
depression. As a result of teenager boys being forced to work earlier to support the family and
girls doing more housework, boys who had taken jobs preferred more modest but more secure
jobs and women who married men who lacked ambition and raised children who were prone to
angry outbursts due to ill-tempered parents.
Ethiological and Evolutionary approach requires you to view and understand behavior in
relation to the biology of the organism.
Ethiological theory behavior must be viewed and understood as occurring in a particular
context and as having adaptive of survival value. It is useful in for understanding that many
behaviors may have a biological basis. For example crying can be seen as an elicitor to let the
mother know that the baby needs something. This displays clear survival value. Although they
view many elicitors as being biologically based, they also assume these behaviors are modified
by environmentally based experiences (ex. Learning to mask emo