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The Developing Person
Through the Life Span 8e
by Kathleen Stassen Berger
Chapter 2– Theories of Development
PowerPoint Slides developed by
Martin Wolfger and Michael James
Ivy Tech Community College-Bloomington
Reviewed by Raquel Henry
Lone Star College, Kingwood
What Theories Do
Developmental Theory
• a systematic statement of principles and
• provides a framework for understanding
how and why people change as they grow
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
• Psychoanalytic theory originated with Sigmund
Freud (1856– 1939)
Psychoanalytic Theory
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.
Psychoanalytic Theory
• A theory of human development that studies
observable behavior.
• Also called learning theory as it describes the
laws and processes by which behavior is
• Conditioning - the processes by which
responses become linked to particular stimuli
and learning takes place.
Classical conditioning - Ivan Pavlov
• (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
• (also called instrumental conditioning) a learning
process in which a particular action is followed
either by something desired or by something
Operant Conditioning
• 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.
• 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
• Focuses on changes in how people think over
• Jean Piaget (1896–1980)
Cognitive Theory
Cognitive Theory
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
Cognitive Theory
Two types of cognitive adaptation:
• Assimilation - new experiences are
interpreted to fit into, or assimilate with, old
• 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
• 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
Culture is integral to development
Apprenticeship in thinking: how cognition
is “taught” by the older and more skilled
Sociocultural Theory
Zone of proximal development
• Made up of the skills, knowledge, and
concepts that the learner is close to
– 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
The Universal Perspective
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
– Aspects of each of the various theories of
development are applied rather than adhering
exclusively to one
What Theories Contribute