Development psychology is a scientific method that is used to explain the changes that occur in adults and children over some period. It is a sub-field of psychology and it reveals that most changes that occur in the life cycle of an individual takes place during childhood. This explains why development psychology investigates various areas such as social, cognitive, emotional and biological to define, improve and elucidate the available knowledge on this topic of development psychology. There are two main patterns of change that are studied during development and these include the distinctive and normative patterns of change and the idiographic development that reflects the variations in change patterns.
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Most of development psychology theories pay attention to the changes that take place during childhood. Here are some of these theories:
Bronfenbrenner Theory of the Ecological Systems (1917 - 2005)
The theory is put forward by Urie Bronfenbrenner. It focusses on the role that the environment plays in the development and growth of children. He identifies four environmental aspects that impact the development of children and this include Macrosystem, Exosystem, Mesosystem, and Microsystem.
Erik Erickson’s Theory of Psychological Development (1950, 1963)
Sigmund Freud significantly influenced this theory by discovering three elements of personality namely the cultural/social identity, the personal identity, and the ego identity. This psychological development theory proposes the impact of parents, society, and external elements on the development of a newly borm baby all the way from childhood to adulthood. He provides eight distinctive stages that occur during the life of a human being in order to explain this theory. These include:
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Sigmund Freud asserted that development of personality results from a sequence of stages during the childhood stage and is driven by psychosexual energy that can also be termed to as libido. The concentration of the pleasure-seeking energies of the id increases in the definite erogenous regions. In case all the above stages undergo successful completion, there will be a development of a healthy personality. However, if even one of the above stages is not completed appropriately and the disputes that arise at the given stage are not addressed, there will be an occurrence of fixation that entails a concentration on the previous psychosexual stage. This theory stipulate that parents play a critical role in the initial years of development in managing the sexual drive of their kids. The three aspects of the psychosexual development theory are the superego, ego, and id. He explains this theory descriptively by introducing five stages that comprise of anal, oral, latency, phallic and genital.
The main person who influenced this theory was Lawrence Kohlberg who stated that morality in children begins from the years of early childhood and can be positive or negative depending on how the specific child accomplishes any duty that bumps before him at any moral development stage. Kohlberg proposes three moral development stages which include the pre-conventional level, the conventional level and the post conventional level.
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This theory is put forward by Jena Piaget. He was the first person to claim that all human beings progress through the similar path for cognitive development by displaying particular attributes at each stage. The primary objective of this theory is to explain the process through which child development into a mature adult who has the ability to think takes place. The cognitive theory by Piaget has three important components which include the schemas, accommodation, assimilation and equilibrium and stages of development.
Schemas: Schemas are also referred to as the units or building blocks of intelligent behavior. Some professionals define it as a set of the mental picture of the world that is connected. The theory emphasizes the role of schemas in the cognitive development of each person and describes the process that entails its acquisition and development. Piaget had an understanding that the schemas of newly born infants is low. Therefore, these neonatal schemas are the cognitive arrangements that underlay that innate reflex that is programmed genetically within human beings.
Accommodation, assimilation and Equilibrium: Piaget argues that assimilation entails using the existing schemas to handle very new situations. Similarly, accommodation implies current schemas that are not working require some modifications to handle the current situations. Equilibrium represents a balance between accommodation and assimilation where the current schemas will help in dealing with the new situations. However, when people get irritated or frustrated, we become accommodative to handle the new challenge.
Development Stages: According to Piaget, any child goes through four stages of cognitive development which include
Lev Vygotsky also puts forward another approach in development psychology. The theory has a strong belief that adults play a critical role in childhood development especially as they transit from one stage of development to the other.
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