Supporting Teaching and Learning



Theories of Development

Critical Thinking Questions
1. Suppose someone comes up with a new theory of development called the “Food Theory,” which states that human development can be explained in terms of the foods we eat. Because no two people eat exactly the same foods, it follows that no two people develop in exactly the same way. Why would you accept or reject this theory? 2. If genetic scientists took one of your cells and cloned you—and then gave the cloned infant to the same caregivers you had—do you think the clone would turn out to be just like you? 3. Do theories of development aid us in understanding by providing a framework, or limit us by forcing connections? 4. In what ways is a theory that tries to explain how humans develop similar to a theory that attempts to explain how the universe developed?

THEORY: A DEFINITION PSYCHOANALYTIC THEORIES Sigmund Freud: Psychosexual Stages of Development Erik Erikson: Psychosocial Stages of Development BEHAVIORAL THEORY Ivan Pavlov: Classical Conditioning John Watson and B. F. Skinner HUMANISTIC THEORY Abraham Maslow and Carl Rogers COGNITIVE THEORY Jean Piaget: Cognitive Stages in Development Albert Bandura: Cognitive Learning ECOLOGICAL THEORY Urie Bronfenbrenner SOCIOCULTURAL THEORY Lev Vygotsky CLASSIFYING THE MODELS Mechanistic and Organismic Models Continuity and Discontinuity in Development Nature Versus Nurture Behavioral Genetics Evolutionary Adaptation ❖ Boxes: HUMAN DIVERSITY: Psychological Research and Spiritual Traditions FURTHER DEVELOPMENTS: Theories of Emotions or Playing Mind Games MORE INFORMATION YOU CAN USE: Putting Theory to Use in Your Life


heories allow us to see the world coherently and to act on the world in a rational way. Many theories have evolved over the past century in Western cultures that attempt to explain how human personality develops, why we behave as we do, what environmental conditions motivate us to act certain ways, and how these...