Comparing and Applying Theories of Development

1 January 2017

Let’s take a look at all three and compare some of their similarities, as well as a few differences and then we can look at how these and other theories are used to analyze and evaluate the development of a child. Sigmund Freud was a pioneer of his field. His Psychoanalytic theory was the first theory of modern psychology. Although some of Freud’s ideas have been discarded, most of them still influence the world of psychology today. According to Freud, human development is shaped by unconscious forces that motivate human behavior (Paplia & Olds, et al, 2006).

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Our awareness of the world around us is stored in our conscious mind; and our unconscious mind stores painful repressed memories, urges, feelings, or thoughts which is difficult to access. Freud believed that personalities consist of three parts: the id, the ego, and the superego. The id dwells in the unconscious part of our mind and is responsible for our pleasure principle. The superego also dwells mostly in the unconscious mind and is accountable for our knowledge of right and wrong.

Accountable for our reality pleasure is our ego, which is located in our conscious mind and is what we use to mediate our deepest selfish desires with the outside world. “According to Freud, an individual’s behavior is a result of all three interacting with one another, working together as a team under the leadership of the ego. ” (Roeckelein, 1998) For instance, when a teenager desires to skip school so they he can party with his friends, his superego tells him that he will get in trouble if he does, so his ego decides to go against skipping school, but makes plans to party with his riends that weekend so that his id is still satisfied. Freud also believed that children go through three different stages of personality development in the first 5-6 years of age called psychosexual stages. In each stage a child’s fulfillment shifts from oral to anal to genitals. If gratification is not achieved in any of these stages, the person will develop a fixation and ends up being stuck in that stage of development like in the case of smokers, whom according to Freud, have an oral fixation.

Freud developed the idea that people create defense mechanisms such as displacement (a way in which one diverts their feelings of anger from the person whom caused the emotion to another person or object), compensation (overcoming feelings of inadequacy in one area by excelling at another), or rationalization (looking for suitable explanations to justify our behavior). They use these mechanisms in order to cope with stressful and painful experiences. (Witt & Mossler, 2010) Erik Erickson was an apprentice of Sigmund Freud. He developed the Psychosocial Theory of development.

He also believed that the unconscious mind influenced behavior; however, he opposed the sexual aspect of development. According to his theory there are nine stages of human development. Trust vs. mistrust which occurs between birth and about 1 year old. The child must learn to trust his or her parents, but must be balanced with a sensible amount of mistrust so as not to become naive. The virtue learned is hope. Autonomy vs. shame and doubt is the second stage which occurs between the ages of 1-3 years old. Next is initiative vs. guilt which is usually occurs in 3-5 year olds. Children in middle childhood go through the industry vs. nferiority stage which begins around the age of 5 and continues until adolescence around 12 years old; and teenagers fall into the identity vs. confusion stage. Those in the intimacy vs. isolation are young adults between the ages of 18-25. Generativity vs. stagnation is the stage for older adults and is characterized with the desire to give back. Most people in this stage are between 25-65 year olds. Integrity vs. despair, and hope and faith vs. despair are the last two stages of life development, and they both are for those over the age of 65 years old. Each stage is like a test with a potential of passing or failing and the outcome f results is growth and a learned virtue or stagnation. A person will stay stuck in their current stage for however long it takes until the virtue is learned although there are accepted age approximations. (Witt & Mossler, 2010) An example of stagnation is when a woman in her thirties still acts like a teenager. Jean Piaget, a psychologist from Switzerland, also believed in stages of development; however he focused on cognitive development, mostly in children. Although Piaget’s theory has received some criticism, mostly in regards to underestimating the cognitive development of children, he has influenced psychology in a enduring way. Piaget defines operational as a mental routine that transforms information so it can be used. Operational routines include the use of logic by classifying, subdividing, recognizing parts of a whole, counting, and reversibility. ” (Witt & Mossler, 2010) According to Piaget, certain behaviors occur only when children reach the appropriate maturational stage and that four of those stages exist: sensorimotor (birth-2 years old), preoperational (2-7 years old), concrete operational thought (7-12 years old), and formal operational thought (12+ years old).

In each stage, a child will adapt to a new situation by using an inborn ability (Paplia & Olds, et al, 2006) process in which we integrate new information into a pre-existing mental structure (building blocks of thinking as mental units) called schemes. (Mitchell, P. , 1992. p12) He called this process assimilation. Later if the child learns something new about a previous assimilation experience, the child adds the latest information to the current knowledge, modifying the current mental structure based on experiences. He called this adaption of knowledge accommodation.

For instance, when a baby cries, he soon realizes that only his parent’s respond to his cry and not just anyone. There are three key concept similarities between Sigmund Freud’s Psychoanalytic Theory and Erik Erickson’s Psychosocial Theory. First of all, they both fall under the developmental perspective of psychoanalysis, which means that they both view development as shaped by unconscious forces that motivate human behavior. Additionally, they both believed that children go through stages of development and that each stage offers omething to learn in order to grow, or a danger of failure. Lastly, they both agree that when a stage is not mastered, its likely that they will be stuck in that stage of growth by developing a fixation according to Freud, and according to Erickson will be emotionally stagnant. In contrast, here are a few significant differences between Sigmund Freud’s Psychoanalytic Theory and Erik Erickson’s Psychosocial Theory. First of all, the most noteworthy difference is Erickson’s departure from the sexual emphasis of development that so strongly influences Freud’s point of view.

Although he agrees that unconscious mind influences personality development, he believed that heredity and the environment were more influential than sexual urges. Another major disagreement is that Freud believed that the genital stage begins during adolescence and continues throughout adulthood. Adults remain influenced sexually by their urge for genital gratification which is the driving force for all their afflictions compared to Erickson whom believed that human development is continuous, and that people go through four more stages of development after the adolescent stage.

Furthermore, Erickson emphasized a possibility for a healthy ego development through the stages. It suggested that people have some control of their development, which unlike Freud, “believed that people spend their entire lives trying to conquer the demands of the id. ” (Witt & Mossler, 2010) There are also a few similarities between Freud’s Psychoanalytic Theory and Piaget’s Cognitive Stage Theory. Once again, just like Erickson, Freud and Piaget agreed that development occurs in stages and both of them mostly focus on child development.

Another similarity is that they also both have had a major impact on the field of psychology. Freud was the Father of modern psychology while Piaget remains the most influential cognitive psychologist. Also, their theories have both received considerable criticism, but they still continue to influence the world of psychology significantly. On the other hand, there are a number of differences between Psychoanalysis and the Cognitive Stage Theory. The main difference is that they both fall under different developmental psychological perspectives, so they actually view growth and maturity differently.

Freud analyzes personality and emotional development; whereas, Piaget examines cognitive development. Another difference is that Freud emphasized sexual urges as the driving force for all humans, but Piaget believed that people were influenced by the current stage of their cognitive develop. Furthermore, Piaget did not recognize the unconscious mind influences that Freud considered. He favored observable, testable measurements in human development. Comparing similarities between Erik Erickson’s Psychosocial Theory and Jean Piaget’s Cognitive Stage Theory is a difficult task.

The differences are much more apparent. The reason is because they fall under two separate perspectives in the field of psychology just like comparisons between Freud and Piaget. Nevertheless, a couple of agreements they both had are that heredity and environment are important in human development; and that life development occurs in stages. That is where the similarities end. The most obvious disagreements are parallel to the comparisons between Freud’s and Piaget’s theory. For instance, like Freud, Erickson studies personality and emotional development; while, Piaget tests cognitive development.

In addition, Erickson and Freud believed that an immense amount of development is influenced by the unconscious mind, unlike Piaget whom does not validate the significance of the unconscious. The last difference is that Piaget’s theory focused on child development but Erickson’s theory included four more stages of human development which continues throughout adulthood. When analyzing the development of children, we can use the above theories, as well as others to predict the progress of the child, and compare them with other children in their age group.

In order to help a child reach full potential, it is important that doctors, parents, and educators know the normal rate of development. This is estimated by using developmental theories, and then applying research based studies that test the accuracy of those theories. As a child grows and learns, an assessment of their abilities can determine what stage of development the child is in, and whether or not they are developing normally. If a child appears to be learning and growing at a slower rate than other children in that current theoretical stage, then ction can be taken to accommodate the child and give them more consideration through different programs that have been constructed for children with learning disabilities. However, if a child appears to be developing at a faster rate, then their gifts can be encouraged and cultivated through the utilization of accelerated enrichment programs. In order to consider a child’s development as correctly as possible, one must consider all aspects of growth which includes cognitive, physical, and emotional characteristics of maturation.

Physical development relates to the growth and maturity of the body and brain which includes the increase in motor skills and brain development. Cognitive development is associated with the progress of logic and reason and increases in vocabulary usage. Emotional development deals with the development of feelings and emotions, but also includes the development of morals and beliefs. Although each category examines distinct types of human development, they are not separate.

For example, advances in cognitive abilities have been found to coincide with the child’s physical brain development and growth (like during brain growth spurts). Another instance is that a child’s physical maturity affects his/her emotional well being (like when an adolescent is a late bloomer, it can cause them to have a low self-esteem). As psychologists analyze a child’s development, they must take into account all three aspects of development because of their impact on each other and then apply them to the psychological theories of development in order to properly assess and encourage a child’s possible potential.

Sigmund Freud was a patriarch of modern psychology and Jean Piaget remains the most influential cognitive psychologist. Comparisons of the three theories discover that they are all similar in some ways, but also can be vastly different. Although Piaget and Freud have received a considerable amount of criticism for their ideas and parts of their theories were eventually discarded, they both continue to have a significant influence on the world of Psychology today.

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