How Do Theories Inform Our Thinking About Human Development?

2172 words - 9 pages

Child and adolescent developmental PsychologyThere are many theories that have been developed over the years in order to help us understand how and why we develop as we do. While some aspects may appear odd and limited by today's standards there are undeniably at least some parts of these theories which still hold significant relevance. Whether we agree with all that is put forth by these various theorists or not they still remain influential in the way in which we make sense of the way we develop.This essay will critique the various theories put forth by some of Psychology's most renown psychologists it will also discuss how these various developmental theories influence the way that we think about human development while questioning their adequacy in describing how and why we develop in the way that we do.The value of human development theories goes undisputed, they offer a systematic means to understand the processes that define our existence. They provide a way to catagorize data, compare behaviour and identify specific patterns. These theories enable us to make generalisations about what it is that we understand. As such they are the basis of recognizing the differences and variationsin development and behaviour and thus enable us to make decisions appropriate to the stages that children are going through. Theories also provide a means of gaining insight into future events thus enabling us to anticipate future occurrences ( Goldhaber, D.E, 2000 ).Having an understanding of how we develop can ensure a child is nurtured in the best way according to their culture and family situation (Smith, 2002).There are many theorists that come to mind when one thinks of human development, Bronfenbrenner, Vygotsky, Erickson, Watson to name just a few, but we could not begin a discussion on development without first mentioning the father of psychology, Sigmund Freud.Freud's psychosexual theories on development and abnormal behaviour were controversial to say the least. Over the years they have received much criticism and not much credence in aiding the understanding of later development (Thurschwell, 2001). Freud's theories were largely passive and discontinuous. His theory assumed developing individuals to be dominated by their sexual desires. He maintained that one must satisfactorily pass through each stage of his five stages of development with as little parental conflict as possible in order to get to the next stage unscathed. This aspect of his theory is pretty much accepted although ideas do differ on whether development is quite as rigid in it's succession as he suggests. However it is his more nurture based focus on how the influence of early experiences affects later development that is very much influential on how we view development today ( Shaffer, 2002). Most people would not question that early experiences and reactions would have an affect on later development and most if theories are based upon this concept to some extent (Thurshwell,...

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