Theories in developmental psychology: contributions and limitations

Developmental psychology is the analysis of humans from preconception to loss of life. It covers all aspects of human development such as internal, cultural, sociable and biological. The study focus on development techniques, mechanisms and changes that occurs to humans over their life expectancy. You will discover five major ideas in life-span and development which makes an attempt to make clear the growth processes, mechanisms and changes in a organized and understandable way to be able to build a construction for future research. They may be psychodynamic, behavioural, cognitive, evolutionary and humanistic theory. However no matter how much a theory attempts to make clear a sensation there seems to be limits to how much it can clarify using that approach.

Psychodynamic theory contributions

This school of thought was founded by Sigmund Freud and it emphasized that the unconscious head has affect over behavior. According to Freud your brain comprises the identification, the ego and the superego. Identification is the tone of desire, the unconscious feeling of need. The superego is the ideal moral teachings internalised into self applied which is learnt from parents or population. The ego is the personality that makes an attempt to balance between your id urges and the superego.

Sigmund Freud's psychosexual periods of development are how he tries to explain human development. Freud thinks that personality is expanding through some childhood periods between which the id become focused on erogenous areas and when a certain issue is not solved in a certain stage a fixation can occur. A fixation is a relentless focus to an earlier psychosexual stage. A fixation will not go away before issue is resolved. The phases are oral, anal, phallic, latent and genital level.

The oral level begins from labor and birth to one year old. An infant main interaction with the entire world is through the mouth which is very important to weaning and the newborn gets pleasure from oral activation such as tasting and sucking. If these need is not found a fixation can occur leading to thumb sucking, nail biting, overeating or smoking later in life.

The anal stage occurs from one to 3 years old. Freud areas that the principal emphasis of the identification in this stage is the handling of bladder or bowel motions. Toilet training is the primary issue here for the child and parent. Freud thinks that too much parental pressure will result in excessive dependence on order or cleanliness in later life and too little parental pressure will lead to messy or harmful behaviour in later life.

The phallic stage occurs from age three to six years old. Freud says that the emphasis of the identification in this stage is on the genitals. The child will get started to vie for his or her opposite intimacy parents attention and start to see the same making love parents as competitors for affection. It is now time where in fact the child learns about gender.

The latent stage occurs from seven to eleven years of age where during this stage Freud states that sexual desires are being suppressed as the kid concentrates on school and making friends. This stage is important in expanding communication, self-confidence and sociable skills.

The genital level age groups 12 to 18 targets children exploring passionate relationships and rather than caring for themselves they figure out how to look after others. At this time the target is to be balanced in every life areas.

Erik Erickson's psychosocial level theory of personality widened on Freud's theories and adds the effect of social experience through the whole life span. In each stage, Erikson believed people experience a issue that serves as a turning point in development. In Erikson's view, these conflicts are centred on either developing a mental quality or failing woefully to develop that quality. Of these times, the potential for personal growth is high, but so is the prospect of failure. Psychosocial level issues are trust versus mistrust, autonomy versus shame and doubt, effort versus guilt, industry versus inferiority, personality versus role distress, intimacy versus isolation, generativity versus stagnation and ego integrity versus despair.

Trust versus mistrust commences from birth to one year old. Erikson says that if the child grows trust with caregivers will feel safe and secure while inconsistency or rejection of caregivers triggers mistrust leading to insecurity and the fact that the entire world is unstable.

Autonomy versus pity and doubt takes place during early youth. Toilet training is important in this stage as Erikson feels that having control in one bodily functions causes sense of control and freedom while those who do not will have a feeling of inadequacy and home doubt.

Initiative versus guilt takes place during preschool years where children assert their electric power and control around the world through directing play and interpersonal relationships. Children who are successful in this stage will feel able and in a position to lead others while those who fail will wallow in guilt, self applied doubt and lack of initiative.

Industry versus inferiority occurs during early on school years from five to 11years old. The kid begins to truly have a sense of take great pride in in their accomplishments and abilities. Encouragement and commendations received by the kid will develop a sense of competence and perception in their abilities while receiving little if any praise will cause questions in their capability to reach your goals.

Identity versus role bafflement occurs during adolescence when they are discovering their self-reliance and sense of self. Those who obtain proper encouragement and reinforcement will have a strong sense of do it yourself and the feeling of self-reliance and control while those who are unsure of these beliefs and dreams will be insecure and baffled about themselves and the near future.

Intimacy versus isolation occurs in early on adulthood when the individual commences to explore personal connections. Those who grows close committed romantic relationships have a strong sense of personal while those who don't have intimate relationship show poor sense of self leading to less committed interactions and are likely to suffer psychological isolation, loneliness or depression.

Generativity versus stagnation occurs during adulthood focusing on profession and family. Those who are successful during this stage feel that they are adding to the world when you are active in their house and community while those who neglect to attain this skill will feel unproductive and uninvolved on the globe.

Integrity versus despair happens during later years and is focusing on reflecting back life. Folks who are unsuccessful in this stage will feel bitterness and despair that their life has been wasted while successful people will feel a sense of accomplishment and have few regrets in life. The successful people will attain intelligence even when facing fatality.

Psychodynamic theory limitations

Psychodynamic theory is mostly based from circumstance studies rather than empirical research. Freud's is situated from recollections of his adult patients rather than real observation of children. Some of Freud's ideas such as libido cannot be assessed and therefore can't be tested and it is typically about male development little is mention about woman psychosexual development. Freud's predictions of ramifications of fixation are vague and attributing current behavior specifically to earlier childhood experience by forgoing other possible factors behind the behavior leaves a huge distance unanswered.

Cognitive theory contributions

Jean Piaget's periods of cognitive development derive from concepts in cognitive mindset such as schemas, assimilation, accommodation and equilibration. Schemas are categories of knowledge that assist in interpreting and understanding the world. Assimilation is a process of consuming new information into existing schemas. Accommodation is changing and changing schemas because of the new information or experience which can bring about new schemas. Equilibration is process in balancing assimilation and accommodation which explains how children move from one level of cognitive development to another. The levels in cognitive development will be the sensorimotor stage, the preoperational stage, the concrete functional level and the formal functional stage.

The sensorimotor level begins from beginning to two years old. It targets the child trying to make sense of the world around them. Their behavior is limited to simple engine responses triggered by sensory stimuli. Children use skills they are born with such as looking, sucking, grasping and hearing learn about the planet.

The preoperational stage occurs between age ranges two to six years of age. Language development is one of the high details of this period. Piaget discovered that children in this stage do not yet understand concrete logic, cannot emotionally manipulate information, and cannot take the idea of view of other people, which he termed egocentrism. Through the preoperational level, children also become significantly adept at using symbols, as evidenced by the upsurge in participating in and pretending.

The concrete functional stage starts around seven to around eleven years of age. Children gain a much better knowledge of mental functions. Children begin pondering logically about concrete situations, but have a problem understanding abstract or hypothetical ideas.

The formal operational stage occurs around age group 12 till adulthood. When in this period the person can think of abstract principles and skills such as rational thought, deductive reasoning and systematic thought could be learnt.

Cognitive theory limitations

Piaget's ideas were form from his observation of his three children and other children from his research small test were from high social economic status so that it is harder to generalize his results to the whole population as his sample does not stand for the rest of the people. His formal operational stage did not take into account the role of environmentally friendly factors that can affect the individuals development. Research has shown that Piaget acquired underestimated the children's capability because so many children display more capacity at a youthful get older than Piaget recommended in his theory.

Sociocultural theory contributions

Lev Vygotsky's area of proximal development matching to him is the length between real developmental level which is determined by of independent problem solving and the amount of potential development that may be achieved when the child does the challenge solving with adult advice or ready peers. Vygotsky emphasised how development proceeds therefore of social relationships between members of a culture. Vygotsky also state that in order to understand the span of development you have to think about what is meaningful to people of confirmed culture.

Sociocultural theory limitations

Vygotsky's theory emphasis on society and culture didn't cover the physical and erotic aspects of individual development. The idea is also imperfect as Vygotsky passed away of tuberculosis at a young age of 38 before he completed his theories.


The ideas in developmental psychology are use to clarify human development. However there are numerous aspects to human growth so that it is hard for a branch of mindset which has its own uniqueness in getting its information, preferred school of thought or origins to totally describe everything in individuals development. Therefore a variety of branches of mindset are necessary for their theories to hide for what the other branch of mindset is missing out.

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