Six Major Categories of Developmental Theories

Briefly describe the six major categories of developmental theories. Explain which category is most similar to your beliefs concerning development and why.

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The six major categories of developmental theories are Psychoanalytical theories, learning theories, cognitive theories, biological theories, socio-cultural theories, and ecological theories. The psychoanalytical theories emphasize the battle between unconscious and conscious forces, which are expressed as behavior. The learning theories center on Pavlov’s and Watson’s classical conditioning, Skinner’s operant conditioning, and Bandura’s social-learning theory (which stresses modeling as a learning instrument). The cognitive theories seek to uncover the mental constructs that constitute human thought through the use of the hypothetico-deductive form of the scientific method. For instance, Piaget proposed schemas to explain the mental structure, and the information-processing theory explains the flow of information in the brain through the analogy of the computer. The biological theories are the ones that interested me the most. It seems to me that these theories would be most important in a human development class, seeing as how many psychological changes in our lives are prompted by physical changes. I can still remember the day that I decided that girls did not really have cuddies. Furthermore, the socio-cultural theory goes to the extreme of the nature vs. nurture debate and states that learning is guided by social interaction (the environment) entirely. Lastly, the ecological theory seems to incorporate many of the aforementioned theories into one coherent bio-socioeconomic framework.

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Boyd, D. and Bee, H. (2006). Lifespan development (4th ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson/Allyn Bacon.

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