Over the ages, as the world expands and develops new challenges present themselves and pose questions that need to be answered. Most of these questions are not direct and cannot be a hundred percent proven and because of this, we develop theories. As new circumstances arise, they can provide a means for theories to develop and grow to further explain the question being asked. The authors of our textbook most likely included so many theories because it is important to know what the reasoning was in the past, what was the current reasoning, and what is going to be the reasoning in the future as to how humans developed.
Like most subfields, Human Development does not have one overall theory, instead, it has five principles that help steer today’s research. These five perspectives are psychodynamic theories, learning theories, cognitive theories, ecological and systems theories, and theories involving the life-course perspective, selective optimization/ compensation theory, and life-span theory.
Its roots trace back to Sigmund Freud “The psychodynamic approach includes all the theories in psychology that see human functioning based upon the interaction of drives and forces within the person, particularly unconscious, and between the different structures of the personality [Mcleod].
” Although most of Freud’s beliefs are no longer recognized by one of his followers, Erik Erikson founded the psychosocial theory which is still widely recognized today. The psychosocial theory described the eight stages of life that everyone goes through, beginning with basic trust vs. mistrust and ending with integrity vs.
despair. Each stage is important and must be completed first before the individual can move on to the next stage this is commonly referred to as the epigenetic principle. This is important to the study of human development because it provides insight into an individual’s strengths and weaknesses when it comes to overcoming barriers.
Unlike psychodynamic theory, learning theories are focused on an individual’s acquired behavior throughout life and contribute it to the environment rather than an individual psyche. There are two major learning theory principles, they are behaviorism and social learning theory. “Behaviorism is the belief that instruction is achieved by observable, measurable, and controllable objectives set by the instructor and met by the learners who elicit a specific set of responses based upon a controlled set of stimuli. [Leonard, 16]” Whereas Social learning theory is the belief that people don’t learn by a system of punishment and rewards but instead by observing other people’s behaviors. For example, when a child grows up around a parent who uses profanity, that child is more likely to imitate that parent when they grow older and use profanity themselves. This is all very valuable to the study of human development because it demonstrates that people learn and grow based on their knowledge and personal experiences.