Free Essay on Human Development Psychology Theories
Provide a summary of three major development theories discussed in the text. – human growth and development essay
Include discussion and at least one example of using each theory in mental health treatment of children and/or adolescents.
Compare and contrast by indicating at least four similarities and at least four differences of the three theories in how they account for normal child and adolescent psychological and physical development versus non-normal psychological and physical development in children and adolescents. Areas to be discussed in development are physical, cognitive, and psychosocial. Evidenced-based research is to be provided supporting all theoretical positions.
Must begin with an introductory paragraph that has a succinct thesis statement.
Must address the topic of the paper with critical thought- human growth and development essay.
Human Development Essay Introduction
Development theories usually are studies aimed at understanding the growth and development of human beings from infancy to adulthood and in some cases during adulthood (Harris, 2008). Theories are a way of rationalizing the world and the way living and non living natural things behave. The growth and development of human physical and psychological being has been explained by many theories over the years. The diversity of individualism and the variables that character is dependent on are diverse and different for different individuals. Personality traits differ among human beings with different people possessing combinations of different character traits. The determinants of these traits have been debated over the years hence emergence of the many different theories.
Psychological development theories attempt to explain why human beings behave the way they do and the different social, physical and environmental aspects that affect behavior during growth and development. The nature versus nurture debate on growth and development stems from the effort to explain human behavior, with the nurture theorists asserting that behavior is nurtured in human beings especially during growth, while the nature theorists assert that human beings are born with intrinsic character traits which affect the way they behave. Some of these theories assert that there are universal growth and development theories that apply to every human being. Their universality has been challenged over the last couple of decades by a number of theorists who believe otherwise.
The history of psychology is owed to one Sigmund Feud, the psychologist who came up with the theory of personality explaining the human thought process. This theory in spite of being criticized is considered the beginning of the study of human psychology. This theory known as the psychoanalytic theory asserts that personality is shaped in an individual as they grow and go through different psychosexual stages. These stages according to Freud are divided into three stages; he Id, Superego and Ego stage.
The Id stage is the first that human beings go through usually from infancy to early adulthood. The Id seeks self gratification indefinitely. At the superego stage, the individual seeks to do what is ethical and moral. At this stage, the individual knows right from wrong and seeks to do right by other people. The ego stage usually is the rationale between the Id’s self gratification objective and the superegos aim to be moral.
Freud also asserts that human beings go through three different psychosexual stages that are progressive, that is, the successful transition in latter stages depends on how well the individual goes through the former stages. These psychosexual stages are oral stage, anal stage and phallic stage. These stages involve the progressive discovery of the body’s erogenous zones and their success is said to determine the individual’s behavior. Whenever an individual does not successfully go through a certain stage, then they become fixated on that stage and try to solve the problem by over engaging in that particular stage. For instance, individuals who get fixated on the oral stage may indulge in excessive oral behavior such as smoking, overeating, drinking or nail biting. An individual fixated on the anal stage may become defiant and hostile especially towards authority figure.
Freud’s theory however was criticized because it could not be scientifically tested making it difficult to determine its authenticity. The only way this theory can be tested is through mind reading, and since the victims often do not understand in their conscious mind where the problem stems from, the scientists would have use hypnosis as a means of drawing out the individual’s subconscious. This however is also controversial in some circles. Freud’s theory therefore eventually lost a lot of its popularity as it could not be proven scientifically through testing.
This theory is considered by some as way of treating mental illness. This is because; some psychologists believe that high levels of fixation could cause mental illness. In such a case, they assert that hypnosis could help the psychologists trace the problem or more specifically the stage on which the mentally ill individual is fixated on. They can then determine how to assist the individual successfully navigate that stage and complete the psychosexual stages in order to regain mental health (Watts, 2009). This theory however was disregarded a couple of decades ago as more psychologists began to embrace the psychobiology theory.
The psychobiology theory looks at mental illness as a result of natural defects as opposed to nurture defects. These psychologists believe that while childhood traumas and missed development stages may affect individual behavior, they do not cause mental illness. Rather, these psychologists believe that mental illness is caused by neurochemical factors. These are entirely dependent on nature and cannot be triggered by nurture during human development. This also explained how mental illnesses were passed down generations. The brain’s biochemistry and genes were the only explanation for the heredity in mental illnesses.
Erik Erickson was an imaginative psychologist who drew some of his theory foundation from Freud’s theory. Freud’s theory challenged Freud’s assertion that the first five to six years of an individual’s life determine their personality. He observed that this would imply that an individual’s personality was someone else’s fault, completely undermining one’s capabilities in deciding who they become. It would also nullify the measures taken to enforce consequences for actions, such as rewarding good deeds and punishing wrong doing. Erickson’s theory asserted that personality growth began in childhood and continued through one’s lifespan. This implies that one’s character depending on one’s choice among other factors could continually improve or decline over their lifespan. The individual’s society, culture and mentors especially but not limited to during their childhood is likely to affect their behavior as well. The brain also develops over time and as it does, perceptions are changed, dropped while others are taken on. The result usually is changes in personality for the better or for worse.
Erickson supported the psychosocial approach to determinants of human behavior. Unlike Freud’s theory which asserted that development occurred as individuals sought tension release during psychosexual stages, Erickson viewed behavior formation as influenced by social factors. Erickson came up with the eight stages of development (Shwalp, 2005).
The first stage is trust versus mistrust, usually undergone during the first year after birth. Depending on the relationship that the infant ha with its guardian, they learn to trust themselves, other people and the world in general. The second stage is autonomy versus shame and doubt which occurs between the first and third year after birth. During this stage the individual learns how to assert their will and chooses whether or not to. At this stage, they learn that they can assert their will without losing the world’s affection. The successful passing of this stage teaches them self control while maintaining their self esteem.
The third stage is the initiative versus guilt stage which occurs between the fourth and fifth year. At this stage, children explore their curiosity and learn how to manipulate conditions and people to get what they want. At this stage they learn purpose and direction in activities. The next stage which is industry versus inferiority occurs between the ages of six to puberty. At this stage, the individual is curious to learn how things are made, why and how they work. They develop competence during this stage.
Then, there follows an important stage during adolescence known as identity versus identity confusion. At this stage the individual the individual seeks to know themselves and become aware of themselves. This stage develops their identity, ego and sense of self. This stage usually may prove to be intense and usually to some extent, the individual explores their limits, become more curious and more self conscious. This stage is often important for the development of self esteem.
Intimacy versus isolation is the stage an individual goes through during early adulthood. At this stage, the individual seeks to connect with other people and form relationships. At this stage, the individual also begins to think about and work towards a career. At this stage, individuals also connect with someone special in many cases with the intention of marriage. The next stage occurs during middle adulthood and involves is known as generativity versus stagnation. At this stage, the individual develops a family and seeks to take care of loved ones. They look beyond self and embrace society. Integrity versus despair takes place in late adulthood. The individual derives satisfaction or despair from looking at their past.
Erickson came up with these eight stages, but his wife published a ninth stage after his death. This stage she called despair versus hope and faith. At this stage, the individual is old and often wise. However, the body begins to shut down and they become increasingly in need of care. They also attain a new sense of self in spite of their body’s obvious falling apart.
These stages above show the positive effect that manifests when they are successfully passed. However, at these different stages the effect could be quite the opposite. In treating mental illness it is important to understand whether or not the individual experienced the adverse side in any of the development stage. This could therefore be used to treat mentally ill children and/or adults.
Jean Piaget was the pioneer of cognitive development theory. This theory critically looks at the thought process of an individual as the main determinant of their behavior. He asserts that the difference between a child and an adult’s thinking process is both qualitative and quantitative. To some extent, the quality of these though processes depends on maturity level and mental IQ. He for instance asserted that play during childhood was a great contributor to children’s mental and psychological growth. For instance, play taught children that they all differed in likes and decisions and taught them to get along in a society where opinions differ and that this is okay. He also believed that children’s make believe games helped them internalize social norms and expectations. By making believe, they began to comprehend what really goes on around them, aiding in their mental growth and preparing them for latter stages (Damon, 2006).
Usually this theory is embraced widely in the diagnosis and treatment of mental illness. Mental health usually dictates that an individual have sane and rational thought processes, as well as have self control. Therefore, this theory determines mental health in that it serves as a measuring board for normal thought process.
Vygotsky is known for the sociocultural theory. His theory was very close to cognitive theory as it also suggested that play during childhood was very important for children’s cognitive and social competence. One of the main similarities between Piaget’s and Vygotsky’s theories is the fact that they both believed that childhood play was vital for the development of a child’s cognitive ability as well as social competence. They also were similar in that they both asserted that behavior was dependent on the development of the thought process and or brain, in which case the development of the two determined how an individual behaved. A similarity in all these theories is that the psychologists all assumed that the stages in their theories were universal and applicable to all individuals (Salkind, 2004).
The theories are similar in the sense that they all agree that behavior is largely a result of nurture at whatever life stage. These theories in all their stages imply that behavior and/or character results from learning or not learning some fundamental life principles over an individual’s lifespan. They also assert that uncovering the determinants of human behavior could help understand hence control behavior. They are all similar in the sense that they assert that behavior can be changed.
Piaget and Vygosty’s theories however differ from Erickson’s on the fact that while Piaget only focuses on the thinking, Erickson focuses on the social development of the individual. Erickson’s theory incorporates the effect of the environment as a determinant of behavior. Freud’s theory also differs in the sense that he considers the conflict that arises as an individual goes through psychosexual stages as the determinants for human behavior, while Erickson implies that there are eight stages each with two different outcomes depending on whether or not the individual successful goes through each stage. Another difference between Erickson’s theory and the other theories would be the fact that he narrows human behavior down to conscious choice as opposed to narrowing it down to one’s childhood experiences. He places emphasis on individuals’ capabilities and ability to determine how to act in any situation. The theories differ in the number of stages and in the emphasis they place on different stages. Each theory places emphasis on different stages.
In conclusion, development theories are still being studied with different people believing different theories. They may all differ, but they all offer amazing insight into human behavior and all in their different ways explain different important aspects of human behavior. These theories prove important every day especially in treating mental illness, solving crime, mentoring children and adolescents, understanding why we behave the way we do, among other reasons. As psychologists continue to study development theories, it becomes clear that behavior for different people is determined by different things and the effect of the environment and society is different for different people.
References: Get help with human development essay for free and also human development essay topics online at an affordable price
Salkind, N. J. (2004). An introduction to theories of human development. Thousand Oaks, Calif: Sage Pub.
Harris, M. (2008). Exploring developmental psychology: Understanding theory and methods. London, UK: Sage Publications.
Damon, W. (2006). Handbook of Child Psychology Volume 1. Hoboken: John Wiley & Sons.
Watts, J., Cockcroft, K., & Duncan, N. (2009). Developmental psychology. Cape Town, South Africa: UCT Press.
Shwalb, D. W., Nakazawa, J., & Shwalb, B. J. (2005). Applied developmental psychology: Theory, practice, and research from Japan. Greenwich, Conn: Information Age Publishing.- Help on essay on developmental theories, theories of child development essay free.