There are four main developmental theories; Biophysical, Psychosocial, Cognitive and Moral development. These theories help to explain and predict human behaviour, giving a model of how and why people become who they are.
Biophysical development is the process of biological maturation. It compares the changes that occur as an infant grows into adulthood and attempts to describe why our bodies age, this process is based on recognised norms. Arnold Gesell initiated the study into physical growth and change. Through extensive observations Gesell developed norms that are still recognised in childhood development today. Fundamental to his theory was that, we grow according to our own ...view middle of the document...
Each stage builds on the successful completion of earlier stages. The theories proposed by Sigmund Freud stressed the importance of childhood events and experiences, but almost solely focused on mental disorders rather that normal functioning.
The theory of Cognitive development was created by Jean Piaget who suggested that children think differently than adults. He stressed that children actively construct their own cognitive worlds; information is not just poured into their minds from the environment. Piaget believed that children adapt their thinking to include new ideas. He also believed that we go through four stages in understanding the world. Each of the stages is age-related and consists of distinct ways of thinking, the sensorimotor stage, the preoperational stage, the concrete operational stage and the formal operational stage. It is the different way of understanding the world that makes one stage more advanced than another; knowing more information does not make the child’s thinking more advanced.
Moral development has been best described by Lawrence Kohlberg's and has three stages to it: Pre-conventional, conventional and post-conventional. In the Pre-conventional stage (infants and young children; occasionally in adults), is a basic level of moral reasoning. That is there is a punishment/reward system of what's right and wrong. In the conventional reasoning phase (children around age 7 and seen in many adults) is a good/bad system. This level of moral reasoning focuses a lot on what society says about a given action. Stealing is wrong and bad because society says it is. The latest stage, post-conventional (small percentage of adults) is a "what's truly right/wrong" system. They take time to think about what they individually believe is right and wrong and incorporate many of their own experiences and beliefs. These three stages of reasoning are significant because the way a person predominately reasons, particularly in important matters, is a sign of one's mental processes and capabilities.
The concept of developmental theory relies on the examination of an individual's life experiences, as well as the person's emotional and physical growth within their society. While there may be standard expectations of growth within certain age groups, there are also elements of growth that can only be determined within each individual. Each person has varying experiences within life and these experiences have a direct affect on the development of every individual. In this next section I will look at the difference and similarities between Erik Erikson’s psychosocial developmental theory and Jean Piaget’s cognitive developmental theory.
Erik Erikson’s theory of psychosocial development is one of the best-known theories of personality. He believed that personality develops in a series of stages. Erikson’s theory describes the impact of social experience...