[Please: This should not take the place of your regular reading.  This is here to assist you with the note taking process.]


I.  Developmental theories and the issues they raise

            A.  The Importance of Theories

                        1.  Guides the collection of new information

a.  what is most important to study

b.  what can be hypothesized or predicted

c.  how it should be studied

            B.  Qualities of a Good Theory

                        1.  Internally consistent-- its different parts are not contradictory

                        2.  Falsifiable-- generates testable hypotheses

                        3.  Supported by data-- describes, predicts, and explains human development

C.  Four Major Theories (psychoanalytic, learning, cognitive developmental,


            D.  Nature/Nurture

                        1.  Nature-- genetic/biological predisposition

2.  Nurture-- emphasis on experience/environmental impact

            E.  Goodness/Badness of Human Nature

1.  Hobbes-- children are selfish and bad and society must teach them to behave in

     civilized way

                        2.  Rousseau-- children are innately good and society must not interfere with

                             innate goodness

                        3.  Locke-- child born neither good nor bad, but like a tabula rasa or “blank slate”

            F.  Activity and Passivity

                        1.  Activity-- control over one’s development

                        2.  Passive-- product of forces beyond one’s control (environmental or biological)

            G.  Continuity/Discontinuity

                        1.  Continuity-- gradual change (small steps)

                        2.  Discontinuity-- abrupt change

                        3.  Qualitative or quantitative change

a.  qualitative-- changes in a degree

                                    b.  quantitative-- change in kind

                                    c.  developmental stages part of discontinuity approach

            H.  Universality/Context-Specificity

                        1.  Universality-- developmental change common to everyone

                        2.  Context-specific-- developmental changes vary by individual/culture


II.         Freud: Psychoanalytic theory

A.     Sigmund Freud: Viennese Physician and Founder of Psychoanalytic Theory

1.  Emphasis on motive and emotions of which we are unaware

                        2.  Theory less influential than in the past

            B.  Instincts and Unconscious Motives

                        1.  Instincts-- inborn biological forces that motivate behavior

2.  Unconscious motivation-- instinctive and inner force influences beyond our


3.  Emphasis on nature (biological instincts)

            C.  Id, Ego, and Superego

                        1.  Id

                                    a.  all psychic energy contained here

                                    b.  basic biological urges

                                    c.  impulsive

                                    d.  seeks immediate gratification

                        2.  Ego

                                    a.  rational side of personality

                                    b.  ability to postpone pleasure

                        3.  Superego

                                    a.  internalized moral standards

                                    b.  perfection principle (adhere to moral standards)

                        4.  Id, ego and superego conflict common/inevitable

                        5.  Problems arise when level of psychic energy unevenly distributed

            D.  Psychosexual Development

                        1.  Importance of libido-- sex instinct’s energy shifts body locations

                        2.  Five stages of psychosexual development

                                    a.  oral stage

                                    b.  anal stage

                                    c.  phallic stage

                                    d.  latency period

e.  genital stage

                        3.  Conflict of id and social demands leads to ego’s defense mechanisms

defense mechanisms-- unconscious coping mechanisms of the ego

                                                i.    fixation-- Development arrested at early stage

                                                ii.    regression-- Retreat to earlier stage

4.  Phallic stage--  Oedipus and Electra complexes (incestuous desire)

resolve by identifying with same-sex parent and incorporating parent’s values into the super ego

5.      Genital stage-- experienced during puberty

a.  conflict and distance from parents

b.  greater capacity to love and have children in adulthood

c.  teen pregnancy due to inability to manage sexual urges because of

     childhood experiences

            E.  Strengths and Weaknesses

                        1.  Difficult to test and ambiguous

2.  Weak support for specific aspects of the theory (e.g., sexual seduction by


                        3.  Greater support for broad ideas

                                    a.  unconscious motivation

                                    b.  importance of early experience, especially parenting


III.  Erikson:  Neo-Freudian Psychoanalytic Theory

            A.  Neo-Freudians-- Important Disciples of Psychoanalytic Theory

                        1.  Notable neo-Freudians: Jung, Horney, Sullivan, Anna Freud

                        2.  Erikson is most important life span neo-Freudian theorist

                        3.  Erikson’s differences with Freud

                                    a.  less emphasis on sexual and more on social influences

                                    b.  less emphasis on id, more on rational ego

                                    c.  more positive view of human nature

                                    d.  more emphasis on developmental changes in adulthood

            B. Psychosocial Development

                        1.  Resolution of eight major psychosocial crises

                                    a.  trust versus mistrust-- key is general responsiveness of caregiver

                                    b.  autonomy versus shame-- terrible twos

                                    c.  initiative versus guilt-- preschool sense of autonomy

                                    d.  industry versus inferiority-- elementary age sense of mastery

                                    e.  identity versus role confusion-- adolescence acquisition of identity

                                    f.  intimacy versus isolation-- young adult commitment

g.  generativity versus stagnation-- middle age sense of having produced

     something meaningful

                                    h.  integrity versus despair-- elderly sense of life meaning and success

                        2.  Personality strengths “ego virtues” developed during stages

3.  Stage development due to biological maturation and environmental demands

4.  Teen pregnancy explained as due to weak ego or super ego (management of

     sexual urges rooted in early childhood)

            C.  Strengths and Weaknesses

1.  Its emphases on rational, adaptive nature and social influences easier to accept

2.  Captures some central development issues

                        3.  Influenced thinking about adolescence and beyond

                        4.  Like Freud, vague and difficult to test

                        5.  Provides description, but not adequate explanation of development


IV.  Learning theories

            A.  Watson: Classical Conditioning

            1.  Emphasis on behavioral change in response to environmental stimuli

2.  Behaviorism-- belief that only observed behavior should be studied

3.  Rejected psychoanalytic theory and explained Freud using learning principles

                        4.  Conducted classical conditioning research with colleague Rosalie Rayner

                             Watson and Rayner condition infant “Albert” to fear rat

                                    a.  loud noise was unconditioned (unlearned) stimulus

                                    b.  crying (fear) was unconditioned (unlearned) response

                                    c.  white rat became conditioned (learned) stimulus producing conditioned

                                         response of crying after it was paired with loud noise

5.  Classical conditioning involved when children learn to “love” caring parents

6.  Reject stage conceptualization of development

7.  Learning is learning

            B.  Skinner:  Operant Conditioning

1.  In operant (instrumental) conditioning learning thought to become more or less

     probable depending on consequences

2.  Reinforcement-- consequences that strengthen a response (increase probability

     of future response)

3.  Positive-- something added

                                    a.  positive reinforcement-- something pleasant added in attempt to

                                         strengthen behavior

                                    b. positive reinforcement best when continuous

                        4.  Negative-- something removed

                                    a.  negative reinforcement-- something unpleasant taken in attempt to

                                         strengthen behavior

                        5.  Punishment-- consequences that suppress future response

                                    a.  positive punishment-- something unpleasant added in attempt to

                                         weaken behavior

                                    b.  negative punishment-- something pleasant taken in attempt to

                                         weaken behavior

                        6.  Extinction-- no consequence given and behavior becomes less frequent

                        7.  Skinner emphasized positive reinforcement in child rearing

                        8.  Physical punishment best used in specific circumstances like…

                                    a.  administered immediately following act

                                    b.  administered consistently following offense

                                    c.  not overly harsh

                                    d.  accompanied by explanation

                                    e.  administered by otherwise affectionate person

                                    f.  combined with efforts to reinforcement acceptable behaviors

                        9.  Too little emphasis on role of cognitive processes

            C.  Bandura:  Social Cognitive Theory

                        1.  Humans’ cognitive abilities distinguish them from animals-- can think about behavior and anticipate consequences

                              2.  Observational learning (learning from models) most important mechanism for

                                   behavior change

                        3.  Classic experiment using “Bobo” doll showed that children could learn from


            4.  Vicarious reinforcement-- learner changes behaviors based on consequences

                 observed being given to a model

                                    5.  Human agency-- ways in which humans deliberately exercise control over

                                         environments and lives self-efficacy-- sense of one’s ability to control self or environment

            6.  Reciprocal determinism-- mutual influence of individuals and social

                 environments determines behavior

                        7.  Doubt the existence of stages

8.  View cognitive capacities as maturing over time

9.  Learning experiences differentiate development of child of same age

            D.  Strengths and Weaknesses of Learning Theory

                        1.  Learning theories are precise and testable

                        2.  Principles operate across the life span

                        3.  Practical applications

                        4.  Doesn't show that learning actually causes observed developmental changes

                        5.  Oversimplifies development by focusing on experience and downplay biological influences


V.  Cognitive developmental theory

            A.  Jean Piaget Swiss Scholar Greatly Influences Study of Intellectual Development in


                        1.  Emphasizes errors in thinking (wrong answers)

                        2.  Argues that cognitive development is qualitative in nature

            B.  Piaget's Constructivism

                        1.  Constructivism-- active construction of knowledge based on experience

            2.  Stage progression due to interaction of biological maturation and environment

C.  Stages of Cognitive Development (sensorimotor, preoperational, concrete operational,

      formal operations)

                        1.  Sensorimotor stage

                                    a.  birth to age 2

                                    b.  deal with world directly through perceptions and actions

                                    c.  unable to use symbols

                        2.  Preoperational stage

                                    a.  ages 2 to 7

                                    b.  capacity for symbolic thought

c.  lack tools of logical thought

d.  cling to ideas they want to be true

                        3.  Concrete operations stage

                                    a.  ages 7 to 11

                                    b.  use trial-and-error strategy

                                    c.  perform mental operations in their heads

                                    d.  difficulty with abstract and hypothetical concepts

                        4.  Formal operations stage

                                    a.  ages 11 and later

                                    b.  think abstractly and can formulate hypotheses

                                    c.  can devise “grand theories” about others

            D.  Strengths and Weaknesses

                        1.  Pioneer with long lasting impact

                        2.  Many of Piaget’s concepts accepted (e.g., children active in own development)

                        3.  Influential in education and child rearing practices

                        4.  Too little emphasis on motivation and emotion

                        5.  Questioning of stage model

                        6.  Underestimated children’s cognitive skills


VI.  Contextual/Systems Theories

            A.  Changes Over Life Span Arise from Ongoing Transactions and Mutual Influences

                  Between Organism and Changing World No single end-point to development

            B.  Vygotsky:  A Sociocultural Perspective

                        1.  Russian psychologist who took issue with Piaget

2.  Sociocultural perspective-- development shaped by organism growing in culture

3.  Tools of a culture impact development

                        4.  Cognitive development is social process

                        5.  Children co-construct knowledge through social dialogues with others

                        6.  Paid too little attention to biology

            C.  Gottlieb: An Evolutionary/Epigenetic Systems View

                        1.  Some contextual/systems theories have arisen from work by evolutionary


a.  influenced by Darwin’s work

b.  genes aid in adapting to the environment

2.  Ethology-- study evolved behavior of species in natural environment

a.  birdsongs in the wild

b.  species-specific behavior of humans

3.  Evolutionary/epigenetic systems perspective of Gottlieb

a.  evolution has endowed us with genes

b.  predisposition to develop in certain direction

                                                genes do not dictate, make some outcomes more probable

c.  Gottleib’s emphases:

            i.  activity of gene

            ii. activity of neuron

iii. organism’s behavior

iv. environmental influences

d.  interaction between genes and environmental factors

e.  instinctive behaviors may not be expressed if environmental conditions

     do not exist

            i.  duckling vocalizations

            ii.  baby rats seeking water

                                    f.  normal development is combination of normal genes and normal early


                                    g.  experience can influence genetic activity and change course of


                                                i.    mice chewing and impact on genes

ii.    lactose tolerance higher in cultures with dairy farming tradition

h.  difficult to predict outcome (multifactor influence)

i.  view people in continual flux and change is inevitable

C.     Strengths and Weaknesses

1.  Complex like human development

2.  Cannot predict outcome (wide range of paths)


 VII.  Theories in Perspective

            A.  Stage Theorists: Freud, Erikson, Piaget

                        1.  Development guided in universal direction

                        2.  Influenced by biological/maturational forces

            B.  Learning Theorists: Watson, Skinner, Bandura

                        1.  Emphasis on influence of environment

                        2.  Deliberate steps taken by parents to shape development

            C.  Contextual and Systems Theorists:  Vygotsky, Gottleib

                        1.  Focus on dynamic relationship between person and environment

                        2.  Focus on impact of both biology and environment

                        3.  Potential exists for qualitative and quantitative change

                        4.  Developmental pathways depend on interplay of internal and external


            D.  Changing World Views

                        1.  Our understanding of human development is ever changing

                        2.  Contextual/systems theories prevalent today

                        3.  Less extreme, but more complex positions