Chapter 9: Theories of Social Development
o View of Children’s Nature
Freud- Behavior is motivated by the need to satisfy basic drives
Erikson- development is driven by a series of developmental crises related to age
and biological maturation
Central Development Issues
Within the framework of discontinuous development, psychoanalytic
theories stress the continuity of individual differences, emphasizing that
children’s early experiences have a major impact on their subsequent
Freud’s Theory of Psychosexual Development
Basic Features of Freud’s Theory
o Referred to as a theory of psychosexual development because he
thought that even very young children have a sexual nature that
motivates their behavior and influences their relationships with
o Psychic energy: Freud’s term for the collection of biologically based
instinctual drives that he believed fuel behavior, thoughts, and
o Erogenous zones: in Freud’s theory, areas of the body that become
erotically sensitive in successive stages of development.
The Developmental Process
o Helpless infant is hungry so it cries in order to be fed.
o Id: the earliest and most primitive personality structure. It is
unconscious and operates with the goal of seeking pleasure.
Ruled by the pleasure principle- the goal of achieving
maximal gratification maximally quickly.
o Oral stage (1 years old): the first stage in Freud’s theory, occurring in
the first year, in which the primary source of satisfaction and
pleasure is oral activity.
Include sucking and eating
o Ego: the second personality structure to develop. It is the rational,
logical, problem-solving component of personality.
Arises out of the need to resolve conflicts between the id’s
unbridled demands for immediate gratification and the
restraints imposed by the external world.
Operated under the reality principle- trying to find ways to
satisfy the id that accord with the demands of the real
world. o Anal stage (1-3 years old): second stage of the theory in which the
primary source of pleasure comes from defecation.
o Phallic stage (3-6 years old): the third stage in which sexual pleasure
is focused on the genitalia
During this time, children identify with their same-sex
parent, giving rise to gender differences in attitudes and
Boys become very interested in their penis, girls develop
o Superego: the third personality structure, consisting of internalized
Enables a child to control his or her own behavior on that
basis of beliefs about right and wrong
Based on the child’s internalization: the process of adopting
as one’s own the attitudes, beliefs, and standards of another
Guides the child to avoid actions that would result in guilt
o Oedipus complex: conflict experienced by boys in the phallic period
because of their sexual desire for their mother and their fear of
retaliation by their father
Son’s desire for mother and hostility towards father are so
threatening that the boy’s ego protects him through
repression, banishing his dangerous feelings to the
unconscious (mental storehouse where anxiety-producing
thoughts and impulses are held hidden from conscious
o Electra complex: conflict experienced by girls in the phallic stage
when they develop unacceptable romantic feelings for their father
and see their mother as a rival.
o Latency period (6-12 years old): the fourth stage in which sexual
energy gets channeled into socially acceptable activities
A relative calm
Sexual desires are safely hidden away in the unconscious
o Genital stage (12+ years): the fifth and final stage in which sexual
maturation is complete and sexual intercourse becomes a major
o If any of the needs are not met, children may become fixated on
those needs, continually attempting to satisfy them and to resolve
Erikson’s Theory of Psychosocial Development Accepted the basic elements of Feud’s theory but incorporate social factors
The Developmental Process
o Proposed eight age-related stages of development that span infancy
to old age.
o Each stage is characterized by a specific crisis, or set of
developmental issues, that the individual must resolve.
o If the dominant issue is not successfully resolved before maturation
and social pressures usher in the next stage, the person will
continue to struggle with it.
o 1. Basic Trust vs. Mistrust (first year)
The crucial issue for the infant is developing a sense of trust
The baby comes to feel good and reassured by being close
to other people
If the ability to trust others does not develop- person will
have difficulty forming intimate relationships
o 2. Autonomy vs. Shame and Doubt (1- 3 ½ )
Challenge is to achieve a strong sense of autonomy while
adjusting to increasing social demands
If parents provide supportive atmosphere that allows
children to achieve self-control without the loss of self-
esteem, children gain a sense of autonomy.
o 3. Initiative vs. Guilt (4-6)
Children come to identify with and learn from their parents
Want to be just like their parents
Crucial attainment is the development of conscience- the
internalization of the parents’ rules and standards, and the
experiencing of guilt when failing to uphold them.
Parents not highly controlling- develop high standards and
the initiative to meet them without being crushed by worry
about not being able to measure up.
o 4. Industry vs. Inferiority (6-puberty)
Crucial for ego development
Master cognitive and social skills that are important to
Learn to work industriously and to cooperate with peers
Successful given child sense of competence, failure leads to
feelings of inadequacy
o 5. Identify vs. Role Confusion (adolescence to early adulthood)
Adolescents must resolve the question of who they really
are or live in confusion about what roles they should play as
adults. Current Perspectives
o Emphasis on the importance of early experience and emotional
relationships and his recognition of the role of subjective experience
and unconscious mental activity.
o Emphasis on the quest for identity in adolescence has had a lasting
Weakness for both theories is that they are stated too vaguely to be
testable and many elements are regarded as highly questionable.
o View of Children’s Nature
Emphasis on the importance of cognitive factors and the active role children play in
their own development.
o Watson’s Behaviorism
Believed that children’s development is determined by their social environment and
that learning through conditioning is the primary mechanism of development.
Systematic desensitization: a form of therapy based on classical cond