ORIGIN:  An attempted integrating of "parts" of several theories that all ask "maturational" questions, such as  how we get from infancy to old age. Developmental theories basically deal with the evolution of personality across the lifespan. Theories here deal with:

Developmental theories are lumped together here, but often have little to do with each other outside the general idea of developmental stages. All tend to explain human behavior due to the stage of maturity  or phase of development.

Freud's Psychoanalytic Theory is really a theory of psychosexual development, where older ages are less important than early childhood.  For example, adolescence is much less important because, according to the theory, personality is almost completely determined by age 12. It is a structural theory, with fixed sequences of stages and approximate ages. Each stage is distinct from the others, and development is discontinuous.

Psychoanalytic theory has had an impact on the social sciences.
It was the first set of ideas to be both widely accepted and to possess the look and feel of theory.
To fully embrace psychoanalytic theory, one must make some assumptions about human behavior and development:

Major Concepts: the mind consists of three layers (id-ego-superego).
Id is the seat of instinct and drive satisfaction/gratification.  The motivation for primary-process thinking (pleasure principle).
Ego is the rational mind (reality testing occurs here, with superego's help--secondary-process thinking here).
Superego mediates between Id and Ego (Conscience, guilt, fears are here), and keeps us in line.

Human development occurs in psychosexual stages,  each stage being the physical/anatomical (erogenous zone) region where gratification (pleasure) is most likely to enter:

Defense Mechanisms are the most intuitively attractive aspect of Frued's thinking.  Theoretically,  human beings use defense mechanisms to protect the ego away from painful anxiety arousing wishes of the id.  For example,  repression pushes unacceptable Id impulses back into the unconscious. Sublimation  converts distasteful actions into socially acceptable ones.  Regression  allows the personality to revert to earlier stages of development when life events become painful to perceive or get difficult to understand.  Reaction formation occurs when an unacceptable impulse is transformed into its opposite.  Through defense mechanisms, an individual is able to protect himself/herself from ideas that run contrary to their beliefs or wishes.

Neofreudian theorists de-emphasize the importance of sexual instincts in determining adolescent personality. The focus is on rational thought, developmental tasks, and social relationships.  Freud's world view emphasizes biological heritage (mechanistic) and rigid stages (mechanistic).

Freud's Ideas about development and later adulthood
* or *
Once Upon a Time There Were Three Little Pigs

The Id - the contents and processes of this part of the personality are exclusively unconscious.  Id is the obscure, inaccessible and unorganized part of the personality.  The oldest of the mental processes - everything inherited, including instinct and the Ids of countless past generations in one's family.   Functions of the Id - sole purpose is to provide for the free and untrammeled discharge of quantities of libidinal energy while obeying the "constancy" and "pleasure" principles.  Constancy is the state of "Nirvana"  in which no excitation remains in the organism (Death instinct). The Pleasure Principle is the same thing in some kind of different way.

Ego is the organized subdivision of personality. It is the executive hand of  the personality, controlling perception, learning, memory, and reasoning.  It occupies a central position in the personality, standing equally between the Id, the Superego, and the external world.  Ego is the product of the interaction between experience and the Id.  Functions of the Ego - to protect the life of the individual against the perils arising in the external world.  It does so by storing up perceptions (experience) and using that information to either adapt to the external world or change it.  Here, "Reality testing" occurs by organizing the individual's mental activities to "fit" the perceived reality.  The Reality Principle inhibits the discharge of excitation until the appropriate object or condition for action arises.  The reality principle serves the pleasure principle by postponing immediate gratification (and its likely painful consequences) in favor of later, more favorable moments.

Superego represents morality.  It is the last of the personality elements to be formed and reflects the standards of the society in which the child is raised.  Striving for social perfection, the Superego has two aspects: 1) the conscience and 2) the ego ideal (ego ideal sets the standards for ethical conduct, and the conscience acts in the capacity of a judge).  The superego is formed out of the Ego in childhood as a consequence of the dissolution of the Oedipus complex (this is accomplished by substituting identification with the parents for feelings of love and hate toward parents).  Parents (their qualities as punishing and rewarding) are interjected into the ego and become a separate institution (superego) primarily via auditory impressions from parents (commands, accusations, threats, and exhorations).  Functions of the Superego - when ego breaks a superego rule, the superego punishes the ego by making the person feel guilty in the same way that a child is make to feel guilty by parental admonition.  The superego withdraws its approval as parents once withdrew their love, so that the reproaches of conscience  correspond to the child's fear of losing parents' love.

Freud's Motivational Theory
We are motivated by Instincts - the mental representative in the Id of an inner somatic source of stimulation.  For Sigmund, instincts are psychologically inherited in an evolutionary sense, while needs are biological in nature.  Instincts want to abolish the tension created by needs, thus returning to an earlier state of psychological equilibrium.  You got your Eros (life instincts) having as their goal the preservation of life and the species (sexual instincts reside here - oral, anal, and phallic stages of development). And you got your Death instincts (no latinus equilibriato = roughly translated meaning "Yes, We have no Havanas").  Of course, the aim of this instinct is death, or therapeutically correct "post-life" stage of development.

Freud rambles on about anxiety, regression, suppression, repression, sublimation and loss of other allegorical representations of reality.  Oh yes - penis envy - women are supposed to be as strange as they are because they want to own a penis, but since they can only borrow one for a while, they are always frustrated and in real pain.  This psychic distress is manifested in illogical thought processes.

Personality development is completed, for the most part by the end of early  childhood.  The primary agents in this process, are parents - particularly mother- because she has the goods. Men are "biological accidents" having little to contribute to personality development of children.  Freud felt men had no purpose past impregnation and insurance against financial disaster.  Mothers not only had the physiological equipment to care for children, they also had maternal drives motivating them toward nurturance.  Thus, adults with mental disorder are urged to trace their difficulties back to such events as unresponsive mothers, an unresolved Oedipal complex (in the case of boys only), and the transference of repressed sexual urges toward mother (boys only) to other "objects"  (i.e., persons, places, vegetables with funny shapes, etc.).  The psychology of women was largely left to the penis envy idea.  For Freudians, all mental illness can be attributed to ineffective parenting on the part of the mother.

Most of Freud's theoretical notions dealt with the personality of males.
All of Freud's patients were women.
Freud wasn't a very good scientist.

This tradition of talking outside one's experience continues today when movie and rock stars want to inform the public about politics and ecology.

Behavioral Psychology - B.F. Skinner
Around 1950, the American psychological community bought into a new idea--Operant Conditioning, also known as Behavioral Psychology--B.F. Skinner being the major proponent.  Skinner's point was that there was no need to understand how the mind works, or cognates, if we are able to manipulate behaviors as we want.  We can modify behavior, in fact we already do, to achieve the behaviors we desire in people.  All that is necessary is to find the correct  stimulus.
The black box, all unseen and inferred mental constructs  pertaining to cognitive activity, is simply the gizmo that applies meaning to stimuli, and all gizmos are more or less the same.  According to Operant conditioning, all predictors of behavior are in the environment:

As mentioned in the discussion of Social Exchange theory, Skinnerians are certain of their assumptions about the selfish nature of human beings.  We seek pleasure and avoid punishment to the exclusion of the welfare of others.  Skinnerians were very successful in applying the principles of operant conditioning in the laboratory.  Ethological studies (lab rats) were run by the thousands in the 1950s and 1960s with stunning statistical accuracy.  Once out of the lab, the theory fails to a very great extent.  Outside a controlled environment, and when human beings replaced the Canadian white rats, results got much more tenuous.

Bandura's Cognitive Social Learning Theory, a correlary of Behavioralism, had one big idea driving it which was Reciprocal Determinism.  Here, the concerted efforts between actors which shape  attitudes and desires include  imitation, modeling, and vicarious learning.  The world view here is mechanistic with a little organismic thrown in.  Bandura added strength to behaviorism by widening theoretical explanations of behaviors to include social elements. Bandura's additions to theory were limited, since his explanation of personality development was repackaged symbolic interaction theory expressed in behavioral terms.  However, he reopened the theoretical door to include the black box. 

Piaget's Cognitive Development Theory
In about 1963, Piaget emerged from the social science shadows to say that there was plenty of important stuff going on inside the black box.  In fact, if we (as a society) are interested in getting the most out of each individual's potential value, we have to attend to the environmental factors that nurture that potential.  Inside the box, there are expectations, insights, attention, memory, plans, imagery, problem solving, decision making, and thinking.

Piaget's views on development were not well received among U. S. psychologists in the 1960s, primarily because of his diametrical opposition to the mainstays of  1) European psychology(Freud), American psychology (Skinner), and intelligence testing.   Further, Piaget's ideas have a classlessness about them, which flies in the face of American pragmatism.
For example, he would say  that intelligence is neither genetically determined, nor quantifiably static.

Instead, he argued that intelligence is derived from the richness of the environmental stimuli surrounding the developing child, and occurs naturally within the normal child's unfolding cognitive processes.  A socially impoverished child is one who is deprived of a stimulating environment (his epistemology--the nature of the origin of knowledge).

Piaget's Stages of Development

I. Sensori-Motor Intelligence (0-2yrs) Babies organize their physical action schemes, such as sucking, grasping, hitting, walking, making early attempts at speaking--all efforts to make sense of the world.

II. Preoperational Thought (2-7yrs) Children learn to think,  to use symbols and internal images, but their thinking is unsystematic and illogical.  It is very different from adults.  Classifying things in the world is one of the main functions of this stage.

III. Concrete Operations (7-11yrs) Children develop the capacity to think systematically and logically, but only when they can refer to concrete objects and activities.  In Concrete operational thought,  the same amount of stuff can come in different shapes and sizes (conservation). Objects must be present in order for them to be ruminated over. Classification of objects  is the main concern in Concrete Operations. Putting things into categories for later recognition.

IV. Formal Operations (11 to adulthood) Young people develop the capacity to think systematically on a purely abstract and hypothetical level. In Formal operation thought, which begins just about the time that puberty and adolescence begins, the ability to think in abstract terms marks the difference from concrete. In formal operations, we can conjure up make believe situations, events that are strictly hypothetical.  We can think thoughts about thinking thoughts--pretty abstract. Other aspects of the formal operations stage:

 The teenager's advanced pragmatism in the use of language sometimes borders on manipulation.  Adolescents are learning to use conversation and behavior to move others over to their way of thinking.  Instead of "Dad, could you take me to the mall on Saturday?" it becomes, "Say Dad? My youthful dad.  What do you have planned on Saturday?"   Adolescents begin to understand the utility of conversation, taking turns in discussions instead of all talking at once, using questions to convey commands, using words to enhance understanding by placing emphasis. Try using the following words in a single sentence.  As an adult, you will find this a little difficult, especially if you have that nasty grammar hang up.

This sentence was actually spoken in real life by a teenager:
 I was, like you know, chillin' at Sulls when this radically awesome chick, who was obviously underwhelmed with the high school experience, just devastated every dude in the room. I felt like Kennedy's head.

Conversation is appropriate to the situation, polite, carefully worded and cooperative when goals are  to be achieved.  Stories and jokes become more complex, intricate.  Perspective taking and empathy are also  elements of Formal Operations.

The Value of Piaget's Theory
1. Indicates what behaviors and abilities to look for in cognitive development.
2. Indicates appropriate ways education can enhance cognitive development of all kids.
3. Asserts that the environment, not child's capabilities, are what limit learning during development.
4. Explains that changes in mental activity are qualitative as well as quantitative.
5. Offers an alternative to "statistical testing" for intelligence, since intelligence is irrelevant to the theory.

Social Cognition
Moving from the cognitive development to the social development of individuals, social cognition (social intelligence) develops right along side increases in cognitive abilities.  Social Cognition refers to the ability to reason about oneself in relation to others, about others, and their place in one's network of friends.  It involves a new sense of self, apart from relationships in family, to relationships with others (specifically and in general).

Beginning with a set of facts, the adolescent is able to "put" new ideas, that sometimes do not fit, into his or her repetoire of ideas. With formal operations one is now able to hold two conflicting thoughts in mind at the same time.  This is the process of accomodation and and assimilation.   It is painful to do so, and the individual will work to resolve the conflict, but it is possible to know:

 1. You are a great kid even though your biology grades are the pits.
 2. We love you very much and your nose is too big.

Such a realization may cause enough uncomfortable feelings to cancel out one or the other statement.  However, the well-adjusted adolescent will be able to live with the dichotomy long enough to resolve it.

David Elkind offers two aspects of adolescent life.
Egocentrism, unlike Mead's (SI) use of the term,  means that all eyes are on us, Everybody knows what we have done.  We get a pimple in the middle of our forehead and it shines like a very large ruby. The imaginary audience suggests the belief that other people are as preoccupied with the adolescent's behavior as he or she is.  There is a battle going on inside each teenager: the desire to be noticed, visible and on stage versus the desire to remain anonymous and unnoticed.   Adolescents try to adjust to these conflicting desires by believing in themselves in two ways at the same time.

At once there is the Abiding self - adolescent's willingness to reveal characteristics of the self that are believed to be permanent or stable - temperament, coolness, easy going nature, and the
Transient self - features that are believed to vary over time or that seem to occur once      in a while but are not really part of the true self.

 Information processing theory says that developmental information processing ability geometrically enhances overall  intelligence.  All human beings process information in the same basic way:


Increased information processing ability also means improvements in the speed of retrieval of information bits in memory, and improvements in the accuracy and precision of the retrieved items. This ability improves throughout adolescence. Erikson's Psychosocial Stages of Human Development Erik Erikson focuses on adolescence as a time for the development of identity through a process he calls psychosocial development. A student of Freud's, Erikson made a very definite departure from his mentor's idea of personality development as exclusively determined by gratification in early childhood. For Erikson, maturation is a life long process that is motivated by interaction with others.  Therefore, he posed psychosocial, rather than psychosexual (Freud), model of development in his eight stage life-cycle perspective on human development.

Development is guided by the epigenetic principle: that is, anything that grows has a plan, out of which the parts arise, each having a special time of ascendancy, until all of the parts have developed to form a functioning whole. (Very eloquent and orderly stuff.).  Note that Erikson is as faithful to his beliefs in order and natural justice as Talcott Parsons, or any other theorist covered thus far.  In order the stages of the Epigenetic Principle are, by age and stage of development:

Epigenetic Principle:

Erikson's world view emphasizes sociocultural views (contextual and organismic). Strengths are his focus on past events which lead to development of personality, and the role of unconscious conflict which carry forward into social relations. Weaknesses - lack of testabilityof concepts and lack of empirical data.
However, some research certainly possible, even with cross-sectional methodological techniques.

Additional  theory has been generated by Marcia and his theory of identity formation. Based on Erikson's  idea of adolescence as an important stage of development for one's own theory of self (Identity).   According to Marcia, young people may be faced with choices (he calls them crises) regarding their identity.  An adolescent may then  personally invest in a commitment to their choice on a particular value, morality, or life choice, or not. The results can be seen in a 2 by 2 table.

For example, a teenager who is faced with the prospect of being monogamous may have "foreclosed" on the issue of love with one person forever  (made a commitment before actually having to resolve a real life love dilemma).  He or she may also have been presented with a crisis of monogamy, but decided not to make any commitment (i.e., "so many sweeties, so little time!").  For this kid, monogamy has been placed in Moratorium. He or she may have no feelings about the subject at all--Identity Diffusion.

Any particular crisis may never be presented in the life of an adolescent, yet teenagers must make a wide variety of choices about the values they hold, the people they want to become.  When a crisis is presented, and a choice is made, the individual is said to have "achieved identity" on this issue.  By the end of adolescence, an individual has made enough life choices to begin adulthood. Confidence in parental support, a sense of industry, and an ability for self-reflection are important in processing crises.  Most advances in identity formation occur post-high school.  College extends the moratorium period. Research on Identity achievement shows that vocational and ideological factors dominate the identity concerns of adolescent males, while females are concerned with affiliative needs, and interpersonal relationships. The culture can also facilitate the identity formation process, allowing a longer or shorter moratorium period, allowing more of a variety of experiences.

Family Developmental Framework

The Family Developmental Framework (FDF) is the result of a combination of factors.  Family studies has long been sensitive to the charge that it is a "soft" science, and thus, chooses to name any theory a framework, rather than a theory.  It has something to do with the language of science, and not the actual predictive, explanative, or descriptive power of the ideas in family studies.  The main concept in the FDF is the family life cycle idea.  Simply put, it is theorized that all families that are in the same stage of the family life cycle will resemble each other in important ways.

The concept "family life cycle" is used as a demographic factor (Sorokin, Zimmerman, Rountree, Loomis). It is seen as a control variable in research, and is used to explain variations in family standard of living, consumption patterns, and social status.  Family size at various stages of the life-cycle has also been related to family economics and poverty.  Family life cycle is also a process variable (Glick, Duvall), associating changes in interactive processes (symbolic interaction) with changes in the family constellation (number and ages of members).

From Human Development theories, FDF theorists borrowed Havighurst's concept of  the developmental task  (e.g.,  a "task which arises at or about a certain period in the life of an individual). The successful completion of developmental tasks lead to the individual's growth, development, maturation, happiness and success with later, more difficult tasks.  The failure of achievement of developmental tasks leads to unhappiness, low self-concept, and difficulty with later tasks. Theoretically, families have developmental tasks too.  Imagine a young couple, madly in love.  One of their first developmental tasks is to pare down their friendship network to only those who support their union.  In other words, the couple will alter their single lifestyles to a common, coupled one.

Family Developmental Framework proponents  first posed a definitional dilemma:  What is a family?  Several definitions vied for "best definition" status, from the vague (A unity of interacting personalities , Burgess, 1926), to the more restrictive
(Any family group that tends to be more or less a closed system of social interaction ... in order to explain events within the family of interaction, we must often have recourse to events outside the system, but we may also very frequently explain family events by means of other family events. - Waller & Hill, 1951). Given this type of thinking, it is easy to conceptualize those interacting personalities, each at a different stage of development, all contributing to the relative development of all others. However, given the statistical fact of abnormality among human beings, conceptualizing is about all that ever gets done with this theoretical framework.

The notion of family structure, taken from structural functionalism, describes a family ideal with positions tied together by roles and guided by norms. Here the family has functional value for society, as well as for individuals. The concepts of  role strain, role clusters, and development of personality are borrowed from symbolic interaction theory.

Understanding individual development is aided by human developmental ideas, such as the acquisition of language. In fact, Piagetian ideas about development through adolescence and Eriksonian notions about the developmental stages through to adulthood are also part of the theory. Concepts of the sequential regularity of normal family history (e.g., every family goes through the same stages), family careers, and role sequences follow the line of simple age/role content ratios,  including the number of children, ages of family members, parental marital stability, and so on. Individual Development occurs in a growing, changing family, therefore, it is theoretically important to consider the individual in that context.

In other words, the individual stages from infancy through early childhood and school age to adolescence are mediated by the quality of individual family members and the integrity of family structure.

The stages of family life begin with Young Adulthood and the Transition to Marriage.
These are research topics on their own, with a very large body of supporting literature. According to FDF, we should view families in the process of growth and development. 

 There are generally agreed upon ages for developmental tasks to be completed.  Of course, these change from one historical era to the next. 

Research has attempted to operationalize the concept of developmentalism.  However, in every case the family developmental framework never has predicted behaviors or conditions any better than age of respondent or length of marriage.  Methodologically, developmental research demands longitudinal sampling, which is expensive. There have been some intergenerational studies, but only a few.

Some nice things about the approach:  Stages are used in the classroom because they are easily understood and presented. Life-span development (adult development) was first considered by these people.  It has the conceptual potential to explain family change from several points of view - individual, family, lifespan, history.

Disadvantages of the theory: Little empirical support for strict "stage" development past the Piagetian ideas of formal operations. Critical periods versus important phases.  Nearly impossible to operationalize all variables and follow whole families across multiple lifespans.  Problems of internal consistency - some propositions generated from this perspective violate each other: Nature vs. Nurture is still a controversy, but developmental theories house both sides of the dispute.

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