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72 Part One | Introduction to Developmental Psychology

TABLE 2.4

A Summary of the Philosophies Underlying Seven Major


Developmental Perspectives
Active
vs.
Passive
Child

Continuous
vs.
Discontinuous
Development

Nature
vs.
Nurture

Holistic
vs.
Modular
Development

Theory

Child
inuences
her own
development
Or
Development
is primarily a
function of
environmental
inuence

Development
is primarily a
matter of growth
and renement
Or
Development
proceeds through
a series of
qualitatively
distinct stages

Genetics &
biology are the
primary
determinants
of development
Or
Experience is
the primary
determinant of
development

Biological,
cognitive, and
social
development all
interact
Or
Each aspect of
development is
considered
separately

Psychoanalytic
perspective

Active

Discontinuous

Both

Modular

Learning perspective

Passive

Continuous

Nurture

Modular

Piagets cognitive
developmental theory

Active

Discontinuous

Both

Holistic

Ethological perspective

Active

Both

Nature

Holistic

Information-processing
perspective

Active

Continuous

Both

Modular

Vygotskys sociocultural
theory

Active

Continuous

Both

Holistic

Ecological systems
perspective

Both

Both

Nurture

Holistic

individuals who rely on many theories, recognizing that none of the grand theories can
explain all aspects of development and that each makes some contribution to our understanding. For the remainder of this book, we will borrow from many theories to integrate their contributions into a unied, holistic portrait of the developing person. Yet,
we will also continue to explore theoretical controversies, which often produce some of
the most exciting breakthroughs in the eld. So as you prepare to move on to the next
chapter, join us in examining not just the specic facts about human development but
also the broader theoretical insights that have helped to generate these facts and give
them a larger meaning.

SUMMARY
The Nature of Scientic Theories
A theory is a set of concepts and propositions that describe and explain observations. Good theories are:
parsimonious (concise and yet applicable to a wide
range of phenomena);
falsiable (able to be disconrmed by scientic research); and
heuristic (they build on existing knowledge by continuing to generate testable hypotheses, leading to new
discoveries and important practical applications).

The Psychoanalytic Viewpoint


The psychoanalytic perspective:
originated with Sigmund Freuds psychosexual theory, with basic tenets:
People are driven by inborn sexual and aggressive
instincts that must be controlled.
Peoples behavior was said to reect unconscious
motives that people repress.
Freud
proposed ve stages of psychosexual
development:

Chapter 2 | Theories of Human Development

oral, anal, phallic, latency, and genital


During development, three components of personality, the id, ego, and superego, become integrated.
Eric Eriksons psychosocial theory extended Freuds
theory by:
concentrating less on the sex instinct;
concentrating more on sociocultural determinants of
development; and
arguing that people progress through a series of eight
psychosocial conicts.
The conicts begin with trust versus mistrust in
infancy and conclude with integrity versus despair
in old age.
Each conict must be resolved in favor of the positive trait (trust, for example) for healthy development.

The Learning Viewpoint


The learning viewpoint, or behaviorism, originated
with John B. Watson:
viewed infants as tabulae rasae who develop habits
from learning experiences;
viewed development as a continuous process; and
viewed the environment as responsible for the direction of individuals development.
B. F. Skinner proposed operant learning theory:
claimed that development reects the operant conditioning of children who are passively shaped by the
reinforcers and punishments that accompany their
behaviors.
Albert Bandura proposed social cognitive theory:
viewed children as active information processors;
viewed observational learning as the source of childrens learning;
rejected Watsons environmental determinism; and
proposed reciprocal determinism, in which children
have a hand in creating the environments that inuence
their development.

The Cognitive-Developmental Viewpoint


Jean Piaget pioneered the cognitive-developmental viewpoint:
This theory views children as active explorers who
construct cognitive schemes.
The processes of assimilation and accommodation
enable children to resolve disequilibriums and adapt to
their environments.
Piaget described cognitive development as an invariant sequence of four stages:
sensorimotor;
preoperational;
concrete-operational; and
formal-operational.

73

The childs stage of development determines how she


will interpret various events and what she learns from
her experiences.
Lev Vygotsky proposed the sociocultural theory:
views cognitive growth as a socially mediated activity;
and
views cognitive growth as heavily inuenced by
culture.
Information-processing perspectives were adapted to
explain cognitive development:
view the mind as a complex symbol-manipulating
system:
Information ows into the system, is operated on,
and is converted to output (answers, inferences, and
solutions).
view cognitive development as continuous:
Children
and adolescents gradually become
better at:
attending to information;
remembering and retrieving information; and
formulating strategies to solve problems.

The Ethological and Evolutionary Viewpoints


The ethological and evolutionary viewpoints:
view humans as born with adaptive attributes that
have evolved through natural selection;
say that adaptive attributes channel development to
promote survival;
view humans as inuenced by their experiences;
argue that certain adaptive characteristics are most
likely to develop during sensitive periods, provided that
the environment fosters this development; and
emphasize that humans biologically inuenced attributes affect the kind of learning experiences they are
likely to have.
The Ecological Systems Viewpoint
Urie Bronfenbrenner proposed the ecological systems
theory:
views development as the product of transactions between an ever-changing person and an ever-changing
environment.
Bronfenbrenner proposes that the natural environment actually consists of interacting contexts or
systems:
microsystem
mesosystem
exosystem
macrosystem
chronosystem
This detailed analysis of personenvironment interactions has stimulated many new interpretations of
development.

74 Part One | Introduction to Developmental Psychology

Themes in the Study of Human Development


Theories of human development differ with respect to
their stands on four basic themes:
Is development primarily determined by nature or
nurture?
Are humans actively or passively involved in their
development?
Is development a quantitative and continuous process, or a qualitative and discontinuous process?

Are various areas of development interrelated (and


holistic), or basically separate and distinct?
Most contemporary developmentalists are theoretically
eclectic:
They recognize that no single theory offers a totally
adequate account of human development.
They believe that each theory contributes importantly
to our understanding of development.

CHAPTER 2 PRACTICE QUIZ


Multiple Choice: Check your understanding of developmental psychology and its research methods by selecting
the best choice for each question. Answers appear in the
Appendix.
1. A __________ theory is capable of making explicit predictions about future events so that the theory can be
supported or disconrmed.
a. heuristic
b. parsimonious
c. falsiable
d. harmonious
2. A __________ theory builds on existing knowledge by
continuing to generate testable hypotheses that may
lead to a deeper understanding of the phenomena of
interest.
a. heuristic
b. parsimonious
c. falsiable
d. harmonious
3. A __________ theory uses a small number of principles
to explain a large range of phenomena.
a. heuristic
b. parsimonious
c. falsiable
d. harmonious
4. In Freuds theory, transitions between the stages of development occur when the individual
a. faces a major life crisis, and the crisis must be resolved positively for the individual to move on to the
next stage
b. begins to represent and manipulate knowledge in a
qualitatively different manner than she or he did in
the preceding stage
c. enters a distinct time dictated by biological maturation, and the social demands that developing people
experience at certain points in their lives
d. faces a maturing sex instinct and its focus shifts from
one part of the body to another

5. The view that human behavior is determined by experience rather than hereditary endowment and that psychologists should study observable behavior rather than
unconscious motives or cognitive processes, was put
forth by
a. Piaget
b. the information-processing perspective
c. Watson
d. the evolutionary theory
6. Which of the following statements best represents the
relationship between ethological approaches and evolutionary approaches?
a. Both emphasize evolutionary adaptations and survival of the gene.
b. Both emphasize evolutionary adaptations and survival of the individual.
c. The ethological approach emphasizes the survival
of the gene; the evolutionary approach emphasizes
the survival of the individual.
d. The ethological approach emphasizes the survival
of the individual; the evolutionary approach emphasizes the survival of the gene.
7. Which statement best summarizes Freuds and Eriksons stage theories?
a. Freuds stops at adulthood; Eriksons continues
throughout life.
b. Freuds continues throughout life; Eriksons stops at
adulthood.
c. Both theories continue throughout life.
d. Both theories stop at adulthood.
8. Hildegardes parents want to encourage her to do her
homework every night so that she will do better on her
fth-grade reading level. They make an agreement with
her that if she does her reading homework, she wont
have to wash the dinner dishes. Hildegardes parents are
using __________ to help her manage her behavior.
a. positive reward
b. negative reward
c. positive punishment
d. negative punishment