PSY104: Child and Adolescent Development
Theories of Development
Dr. Craig Allen
November 1, 2000
There are five major theoretical perspectives that focus on different aspects of Child Development, they are; (1) Psychoanalytic, which focuses on the unconscious, emotions, and drives that are shaped by unconscious forces. (2) Learning, this studies observable behavior; People react, to the environment that controls behavior. (3) Cognitive, which analyzes thought processes; Children are natural initiators of development. (4) Contextual, which emphasizes the impact of the historical, Social, and Cultural context; (5) Evolutionary/Socio-biological, which considers evolutionary and biological underpinnings of behavior. Papalia, Olds, Wendkos, Feldman, Duskin (2008) A Child’s world infancy through adolescence (11thed.) New York; McGraw-Hill p. 27 ch.2 The essay will attempt to discuss three of the major perspectives listed above which are Learning, Cognitive, and Contextual.
The learning perspective upholds that development is a result from lasting change that stems from behavior, experience or adaptation to the environment. Learning theorist see development as a constant and never ending development that stays with us through our lives and not in just adult stages. Many theorists have help to make the study of human development a science that can be studies in the laboratory. There are two major learning theories, behaviorism and social learning or social cognitive. Papalia, Olds, Wendkos, Feldman, Duskin (2008) p.30 Behaviorism
Behaviorism is a mechanistic theory meaning a predictable observed behavior without response to experience. Behaviorist hold that humans of all ages learn the same way as other organisms do by reacting to conditions of their environment involving pain, pleasure and threats. (Papalia 2008). Behavioral research focuses on two kinds of learning; they are classical conditioning and operant conditioning. (Papalia 2008) Classical conditioning involves experiments in which dogs learn to salivate at the sound of a bell that indicated feeding time. The ringing of the bell stimulates salivation a (stimulus) the bell, which meant food. Learning based on stimuli that elicit a particular response was created to the Russian Physiologist Ivan Pavlov (1849-1936). (Papalia 2008) Operant conditioning on the other hand is a conditioning based on behavior with consequences, because individual learns from voluntary behavior. The individual learns from the consequences of operating on the environment. (Papalia 2008) p.31 Cognitive
The cognitive perspective main emphasis is on the process of thought and behavior; both are influenced theories by Piaget’s cognitive-stage theory and Vygotsky’s sociocultural theory of cognitive development. Much of todays understand of how children think is owed to the work of Swiss born theorist Jean Piaget (1896-1980) with importance on mental processes. Papalia, Olds, Wendkos, Feldman, Duskin (2008). A child’s world: infancy through adolescence (11th Ed.) New York: McGraw-Hill. “Cognition referred to knowing and thinking, therefore it involves the storing, retrieving, transforming, and manipulating, information that is obtained through the senses”Ashman, Adrian F. Conway, Robert N. (May/1997) Introduction to Cognitive Education: Theory and Applications p.283 Retrieved from an electronic database e-brary October 31, 2010. Piaget explains cognitive development in four qualitatively stages they are; (1) Sensor motor occurs from birth to two years of age, Infant gradually becomes able to organize activities in relation to the environment through sensory and motor activity. (2) Pre-operational, occurs from two to seven years of age, Child develops a representational system and uses symbols to represent people, places, and events. (3) Concrete operations, occurs from seven to eleven years of age,...
References: Papalia, Olds, Wendkos, Feldman, Duskin (2008). A child’s world: infancy through adolescence (11th ed.) New York: McGraw-Hill
Sean Brotherson (April/2006). Understanding Physical Development In young children Retrieved from web page November 1, 2010
Sarah Ganly (October/2007) Physical, Cognitive and Social-Emotional Human Development Retrieved from web page November 1, 2010
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