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Chapter 2– Theories of Development Berger
What Theories Do
Developmental Theory
a systematic statement of principles and generalizations
provides a framework for understanding how and why people change as they grow older.
Grand Theories
Includes Psychoanalytic, Behavioral, and Cognitive theories.
All three are comprehensive, enduring, and widely applied.
Psychoanalytic Theory
A theory of human development that holds that irrational, unconscious drives and motives, often
originating in childhood, underlie human behavior.
Psychoanalytic theory originated with Sigmund Freud (1856– 1939)
Erickson’s Ideas
Erik Erikson (1902–1994)
Described eight developmental stages, each characterized by a challenging developmental
His first five stages build on Freud’s theory; but he also described three adult stages.
A theory of human development that studies observable behavior.
Also called learning theory as it describes the laws and processes by which behavior is learned.
Conditioning - the processes by which responses become linked to particular stimuli and
learning takes place.
Classical conditioning - Ivan Pavlov (1849-1936)
(also called respondent conditioning), a process in which a person or animal learns to associate a
neutral stimulus with a meaningful stimulus, gradually reacting to the neutral stimulus with the
same response as to the meaningful one.
Operant conditioning - B.F. Skinner (1904–1990)
(also called instrumental conditioning) a learning process in which a particular action is followed
either by something desired or by something unwanted.
Increasing the probability of a response
A technique for conditioning behavior
-Food for a hungry animal
-A pat on the back for a job well done
-An A for a well written paper
Social Learning Theory- Albert Bandura (b. 1925)
An extension of behaviorism that emphasizes the influence that other people have over a
person’s behavior.
Modeling- people learn by observing other people and then copying them.
Self-efficacy- how effective people think they are when it comes to changing themselves or
altering their social context.
Cognitive Theory
Thoughts and expectations profoundly affect action.
Focuses on changes in how people think over time.
Jean Piaget (1896–1980)
Cognitive Equilibrium
A state of mental balance, no confusion
Interpret new ideas through past ideas
Needed for intellectual advancement
Easy equilibrium not always possible
If new experience is not understandable,
cognitive disequilibrium can occur
Two types of cognitive adaptation:
Assimilation - new experiences are interpreted to fit into, or assimilate with, old ideas
Accommodation - old ideas are restructured to include, or accommodate, new experiences
Cognitive Theory
Information Processing
Not a single theory but a framework
Inspired by how a computer works
How people think before they respond
How attention and thought affects mental function
Relationship between one person’s thinking and another’s
Newer Theories
Sociocultural Theory
Lev Vygotsky (1896-1934)
Development results from a person’s interaction with their social and cultural surroundings
Culture is integral to development
Apprenticeship in thinking: how cognition is “taught” by the older and more skilled
Zone of proximal development
Made up of the skills, knowledge, and concepts that the learner is close to acquiring
Learner needs help to master
Learning must be individualized
The Universal Perspective
Abraham Maslow (1908-1970), Carl Rogers (1902-1987)
Stresses the potential of humans for good
All people have the same needs
Emphasize what people have in common
Evolutionary Theory
Based on Darwin’s ideas
Very controversial in psychological circles
Humans are more alike than different
Human development influenced by drives to survive and reproduce
Selective adaptation: process by which people adapt to their environment
What Theories Contribute
Eclectic perspective
The approach taken by most developmentalists
Aspects of each of the various theories of development are applied rather than adhering
exclusively to one
What Theories Contribute