flowchart LR

A(Theories of Human Development)

subgraph psychoanalytic

B(Psychosocial Theory by Erik Erikson)

C(Psychosexual by Freud)



subgraph cognitive

E(Piaget's Cognitive Dev)

F(Vygotsky's Social Cognitive)

G(Information Processing Theory)



subgraph etho

S(Lorenz's Ethological)

V(Bowlby's Attachment)

R(Ainsworth's Attachment)



A---Q(Urie's Ecological)



see also: Key issues in Lifespan Development

Psychoanalytic Theories

focuses on the influence of unconscious symbolism early experiences with parents extensively shape development

Psychosexual Theory by Freud

Psychosexual Theory by Freud

Freud, through analysis of his patients, began to believe that their problems were the result of early experiences in their life. According to him, our adult personality is determined by the way we resolve conflicts between sources of pleasure at each stage and the demands of reality.

erogenous zones, sexual stages, Oedipus complex, Electra complex

  1. Oral
  2. Anal
  3. Phallic
  4. Latency
  5. Genital
StageAgeErogenous ZoneFixationDescription
OralBirth to 1 yearMouthOral fixation leads to oral personality, i.e., selfishness, depression, aggressionBaby obtains gratification through mouth; feeding, thumb sucking, biting. All provide pleasure. First emotional tie with external world.
Anal2 - 3; during potty trainingAnal areaResult of conflict arising due to toilet training. Orderliness, miserliness, and obstinacyChild gains control over bodily functions of urination and excretion; they gain pleasure from retaining bowels
Phallic4 - 6Genital area-Understand gender, become aware of sexuality and sexual relationship bw parents. Oedipus Complex (Boy develops love for his mother, thinks of father as rival, develops a fear of punishment from father “castration anxiety” . For girls - Electra Complex. Both repress desires and identify with parent of same gender and adopt gender roles
Latency7 - Puberty-Physical growth. Relatively low sexual urges; Repression of sexual instincts. Learns values of family and culture
GenitalPuberty - AdulthoodGenitalsFixation leads to regression to an earlier stageLast stage. Learns to deal with opposite sex in socially and sexually matured way. Sexual energy directed towards opposite sex.
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Erik Erikson's Psychosocial Stages

Erikson’s Psychosocial Theory

like Freud’s theory, focuses on unconscious. But instead of sexual, focuses on social aspects connection, attribution, love, care

Stages of Erikson’s Theory

1. Trust Vs Mistrust

shapes worldview age - 0-1 negative outlook or positive outlook wrt the world around them

2. Autonomy Vs Shame

1 year - 3 year sense of self, independence

3. Initiative Vs Guilt

age - 3-5 either takes initiative and makes friends, or feels guilty

4. Industry Vs Inferiority

mastering of knowledge, intellectual skills negative outcome = sense of inferiority; incompetent; unproductive

5. Identity Vs Identity Confusion (or Identity diffusion)

10 - 20 / adolescence finding your self identity who they are, where they’re going in life, their values etc failure to answer these - they are confused, negatively affects esteem

6. Intimacy Vs Isolation

Early adulthood, 20s - 30s Developing intimate relationships Forming healthy friendships failure - social isolation

7. Generativity Vs Stagnation

40s - 50s, middle adulthood Generativity = want to help younger generation Stagnation = having done nothing to help the younger gen

8. Integrity Vs Despair

60+, late adulthood reflects on past; retrospective was life spent well? satisfaction doubt vs gloom, despair sad about and unsatisfied about the kind of life they lived close to death, how they react to aging and concept of death???

Mnemonic for Erikson’s Psychosocial Stages

Peg Word Mnemonic One is a bun, Two is a shoe, Three is a tree, Four is a door, Five is a hive, Six is sticks, Seven is heaven, Eight is bait peg word mnemonic for erikson's theory

mnemonic for the goals of each stage: He Will Probably Come Fast, Literally Can’t Wait! 💦

visual aid for mnemonic Rusted Bun (tRust) Shoe run over by Shane in his car (Sha(n)me vs autonomy)

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Cognitive Theories

Piaget's Cognitive Theory of Development


accd to him, the way they think, not how much they know, decides their cognitive development children actively construct their understanding of the world four stages of cognitive development two processes that the cognitive construction of the world

  • Organization
  • Adaptation We organize our experiences and observations We adapt to situations and new environmental demands

4 Stages

1. Sensorimotor Stage (birth to 2) infants construct an understanding of the world by coordinating sensory experiences with physical, motoric actions—hence the term sensorimotor 2. Preoperational Stage (2 - 7) represent the world with words and images 3. Concrete Operational Stage (7-11) can now reason logically about concrete events and classify objects into different sets 4. Formal Operational Stage (11+ to adulthood) can understand complex abstract concepts

Mnemonic:: SPCF

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Vygotsky's Sociocultural Cognitive Method

Vygotsky’s Sociocultural Cognitive Method

emphasizes on how culture and social interaction mould cognitive development child’s development as inseparable from social and cultural activities importance to social aspects importance to language importance of being around skilled adults Zone of Proximal Development Scaffolding


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Information processing theory

3. Information Processing Theory

No structure or stages; continuous/gradual monitoring, manipulating, strategizing information #todo (?/)

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Ethological Theory

Ethological Theory

says behavior is strongly influenced by biology and is tied to evolution characterized by critical or sensitive periods or specific time frames during which certain experiences can have a long-lasting influence

Lorenz's Ethological Theory

Lorenz’s Ethological Theory, Imprinting

Konrad Lorenz, a zoologist studied the behavior of greylag geese, which will follow their mothers as soon as they hatch


the rapid, innate learning that involves attachment to the first moving object seen

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Bowlby's Attachment Theory

Bowlby’s Attachment Theory

attachment to a caregiver over the first year of life has important consequences throughout the life span. if attachment = positive and secure, individual develops positively in childhood and adulthood. If attachment = negative and insecure, not optimal development

says caregiver and infant are predisposed to form attachments baby clings, coos, cries. immediate result is to keep the primary caregiver near by and the long-term effect is to increase the infant’s chances of survival

Phases of Attachment

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Mary Ainsworth's Attachment Theory

Mary Ainsworth’s Attachment Theory

emphasized the importance of early relationships built on John Bowlby’s work Bowlby’s Attachment Theory

Strange Situation Assessment

a researcher observes a child’s reactions when a mother briefly leaves her child alone in an unfamiliar room. The way the baby reacts in presence of a stranger can tell us about the attachment style

Attachment Styles

Secure attachment: Securely attached children seek comfort when frightened and prefer parents to strangers. Insecure-avoidant attachment: Anxiously attached children are wary of strangers, exhibit great distress when a parent leaves, but are not comforted by a parent’s return. Insecure-resistant attachment: Avoidantly attached children show little preference for parents over strangers and seek little comfort from their caregivers.

Separation AnxietyDistressed when mother leavesIntense distress when the mother leavesNo sign of distress when the the mother leaves
Stranger AnxietyAvoidant of stranger when alone, but friendly when the mother is presentThe infant avoids the stranger – shows fear of the strangerThe infant is okay with the stranger and plays normally when the stranger is present
Reunion behaviorPositive and happy when mother returnsThe infant approaches the mother, but resists contact, may even push her awayThe Infant shows little interest when the mother returns
OtherUses the mother as a safe base to explore their environmentThe infant cries more and explores less than the other two typesThe mother and stranger are able to comfort the infant equally well
% of infants70%15%15%


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Ecological Theory

Ecological Theory

these place emphasis on the environmental factors

Bronfenbrenner’s Ecological Theory

Urie Bronfenbrenner proposed the ‘Ecological Systems Theory’ based on dynamic interactions that environments have on the child.

5 Stages

environment of the child is a nested arrangement of structures, each contained within the next Microsystem immediate environment; parents, siblings, teachers, peers Mesosystem Interaction between child’s microsystems. eg. teacher and parents interaction Exosystem external system, not immediately encompassing the child eg neighbourhood Macrosystem cultural elements, socioeconomic factors, geography, ethnicity, etc Chronosystem normative and non-normative events/transitions in an individual’s life moving to a different house, historical events, etc

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