Please respond to the discussion questions below. Each response should be 200-300 word count for a total of 500 word minimum.


Kathleen Stassen Berger


Part I

Theories of Development

Chapter Two

  • Grand Theories
  • Emergent Theories
  • Useful Application of Theories


In the first half of the 20th century, two opposing theories— psychoanalytic and behaviorism— began as general theories.

By mind-century, cognitive theory had emerged and these three theories are “grand” in that they are comprehensive, enduring, and widely applied.

Grand Theories


Psychoanalytic Theory

A grand theory of human development that holds that irrational, unconscious drives and motives, often originating in childhood, underlies human behavior.


Freud’s Ideas

The Psychoanalytic theory originated with Sigmund Freud (1856-1936).

  • Birth to 1 year – the mouth – the oral stage
  • 1-3 years – the anus – the anal stage
  • 3-6 years – the penis – the phallic stage
  • 6-11 years –“quite time”-latency stage
  • Adolescence and beyond – genital stage


Erikson’s Ideas

Erik Erikson – 1902-1994

Was a follower of Freud who emphasized:

  • culture diversity
  • social change
  • psychological crises
  • Family and culture, not sexual urges


Behaviorism Theory

A grand theory of human development that studies observable behavior.

John Watson 1878 – 1958

  • all behavior is learned
  • specific laws of learning apply

to conditioning

  • strongly believed in verifiable data with controlled experiments.
  • study what a person does, not what they think/feel



  • all behavior is learned step by step


  • the processes by which responses become linked to particular stimuli
  • “conditioning” = repeated practice

classical conditioning – (respondent conditioning)

  • a person or animal is conditioned to associate a neutral stimulus with a meaningful stimulus

Law of Behavior


operant conditioning-(instrumental conditioning)

  • learning process by which a particular action is followed by something desired.
  • the person will likely repeat the action


  • A technique for conditioning behavior where behavior is followed by something desired



What’s a Mother For?

According to Harlow, All primates are comforted by something soft, warm, and familiar to touch.


Social Learning Theory

  • extension of behaviorism
  • emphasizes the influence that other people have over a person’s behavior.

Modeling-a person observes the actions of others and then copies them

Self-efficacy-belief of some people that they are able to change themselves and effectively alter the social context


Cognitive Theory

  • Third grand theory
  • Focuses on changes in how people think over time.
  • According to this theory, our thoughts shape our attitudes, beliefs, and behaviors.

Jean Piaget 1896-1980

  • patriarch of cognitive theory
  • Swiss scientist trained in biology



Focuses of the Grand Theories


  • Multicultural and Multidisciplinary

sociocultural theory – drawing on research in education, anthropology, and history

epigenetic theory – arising from biology, genetics, and neuroscience

Emergent Theories


Sociocultural Theory:

development results from the dynamic interaction between each person and the surrounding social and cultural forces.


Cultural Variations

guided participation:

a technique in which skilled mentors help novices learn not only by providing instruction but also by allowing direct, shared involvement in the activity. Also called apprenticeship in thinking.


Lev Vygotsky, 1896-1934

  • Pioneer of the sociocultural perspective
  • Psychologist from the former Soviet Union who studied cognitive competency among the diverse peoples of his huge nation, as well as among children who were mentally retarded.
  • Concluded that each person learns from the more skilled members of the community.


The Zone of Proximal Development

In sociocultural theory, a metaphorical area or “zone,” surrounding a learner that includes all skills, knowledge, and concepts that the person is close to acquiring but cannot master without help.


Zone of Proximal Development


Epigenetic Theory:

considers both the genetic origins of behavior and the direct, systematic influences that environmental forces have over time on genes.


With, On, and Around the Genes

  • epigenetic is formed from the root word genetic and the prefix epi...
  • genetic refers to the entire genome including:
  • genes that make each person genetically unique (except monozygotic twins)
  • genes that distinguish our species as human
  • genes that all animals share
  • epi- means “with”, “around”, “before”, “after”, “on” or “near”.


Genetic Adaptation

Selective Adaptation

  • humans and other organisms gradually adjust to their environment.
  • This process is based on the frequency with which a particular genetic trait in a population increases or decreases over generations;
  • that frequency depends on whether or not the trait contributes to survival and reproductive ability of members of that population


Useful Application of Theories

Each major theory discussed has contributed a great deal to the understanding of human development.

  • Psychoanalytic theory has made us aware

of the importance of early childhood experiences.

  • Behaviorism has shown effect of the

immediate environment on learning.


Useful Application of Theories

  • Cognitive theory shows how intellectual

process and thinking affect actions.

  • Sociocultural theory has reminded us of the importance of culture in learning.

  • Epigenetic theory reminds us of the power

of genes and their interaction with the




Useful Application of Theories

  • A Developmental theory is a statement of principles that provide a coherent framework for understanding how and why people change as they grow older.

  • An eclectic perspective is the approach taken by most developmentalists, in which they apply aspects of each of the various theories of development.


The Nature-Nurture Controversy and ADHA

Nature - the genes that people inherit

Nurture - all the environmental influences

Nature and Nurture Always interact

Heredity vs. Environment

How much of any characteristic,

behavior, or pattern of development is

the result of genes and how much is

the result of experience?